Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ivo Andrić: The Significance of Bridges

The Yugoslavian writer, Ivo Andrić, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote these perceptive words about bridges:

In everything that man pushes by his vital instinct, builds and raises, nothing is more beautiful or more precious than bridges. Bridges are more important than houses, more sacred because they are more useful than temples.

They belong to everybody and they are the same for everybody, always built in the right place in which the major part of human necessity crosses, more durable than all other constructions and they do not serve for anything secret or bad.

In the end, everything through which this life of ours is expressed—thoughts, efforts, glances, smiles, words, sighs—is all reaching out to another shore, as towards its aim, and only there will it be granted its true meaning.

Everywhere there is something to overcome or to bridge: disorder, death, meaninglessness. Everything is a transition, a bridge whose ends are lost in infinity, beside which all the bridges of this earth are only children’s toys, pale symbols. And all our hope lies on the other side.

Source: Ivo Andrić, The Bridges (Short Story), 1963.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: The Stari Most (Old Bridge) is the most distinctive image of Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and it gives its name to the town. Built in the Ottoman period, it stood for 427 years until it was bombed in 1993, striking the heart of the town’s unity and beauty. The bridge was reconstructed it using the ancient building techniques. In July 2005, this Old Bridge and the old city came under the Cultural Heritage recognition of UNESCO.