The Banquet in Blitva
Miroslav Krleza Northwestern University Press, 2004 Library of Congress PG1618.K69B3413 2004 | Dewey Decimal 891.8235
Colonel Kristian Barutanski, overlord of the mythical Baltic nation of Blitva, has freed his country from foreign oppression and now governs with an iron fist. He is opposed by Niels Nielsen, a melancholy intellectual who hurls invective at the dictator and the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of society. Barutanski himself despises the sycophants beneath him and recognizes in Nielsen a genuine foe; but Nielsen, haunted by his own lapses of conscience, struggles to escape both the regime and the role of opposition leader that is thrust upon him.
Miroslav Krleza is considered one of the most important Central European authors of the twentieth century. In his career he was a poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, essayist, journalist, and travel writer. He also suffered condemnation as a leftist and a practitioner of modernism and his books were proscribed in the 1930s. The first two books of the trilogy The Banquet in Blitva were written in the thirties and their comments on political, psychological, artistic, and ethical issues earned him the enmity of Yugoslavia's increasingly fascist government. He did not write and publish the third book in the trilogy until 1962.
The Fortress: A Novel
Mesa Selimovic, translated from the Serbian by Edward Dennis Goy and Jasna Levinger-Goy Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PG1419.29.E43T913 1999 | Dewey Decimal 891.82354
The Fortress is one of the most significant and fascinating novels to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Published as Tvrdava in Serbian, it is the tenth and among the best-known novels by Mesa Selimovic (1910-1982). In the novel, Ahmet Shabo returns home to seventeenth-century Sarajevo from the war in Russia, numbed by the death in battle or suicide of nearly his entire military unit. In time he overcomes the anguish of war, only to find that he has emerged a reflective and contemplative man in a society that does not value, and will not tolerate, the subversive implications of these qualities.
Set in Bosnia in the late 1700s, the novel sometimes functions as an artful metaphor for the communist Yugoslavia of Selimovic's day. At other times, the author explores the nuances of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Muslim Ahmet's sustaining marriage to a young Christian woman provides a multicultural tension that strongly resonates with contemporary readers and sensibilities.