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Death and the Dervish (Writings from an Unbound Europe) [Paperback]

Mesa Selimovic
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.07
Price: 14.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press (23 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810112973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810112971
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinaily condensed psychological drama 1 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
This book was commended to me a Bosnian Writer some years ago as Bosnia's finest written work, encapsulating in style and the characters in the book, the essence of Bosnia Culture.
The style of writing is so extraordinarily condensed, with such an exceptionally intense focus on analysis of a psychological nature,that it is easily one of the most difficult novels one can hope to read. Yet as you read, you cannot help but be struck by the sheer brilliance of a mind that can create such intense and demanding dialogue with its reader. Using the plot of a witnessed murder and the immense problems with conscience the witness thereafter experiences as a result of what he has seen, set in the backdrop of Ottoman Bosnia, a malevolent Byzantine like world of intrigue is revealed.
It is a truly astounding piece of work, doubtlessly as the Bosnian reviewer pointed out, needing patience and several readings, operating as it does on several levels.
If you want to get a strong feel for the Bosnian Culture, this book beyond any other will take you to the heart of this complex and talented people.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex indeed 2 May 2007
Format:Paperback
This is not the kind of book that can be reduced to the sort of nationalist rhetoric indulged in by some reviewers. It is slow, ponderous and as some have suggested a difficult read but one that reveals layers and depths on subsequent readings. Despite what some would suggest this book is not about some mythic tortured Bosnian soul but the soul of a single individual in an undefined period of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Reading it as lesson in Balkan history or of Turkish misrule would strike this reviewer as a misreading.The book focuses on Ahmed Nuruddin's chronic indecisiveness through a series of meditations informed by images gleaned from the Koran and the Islamic culture of the Balkans. This would suggest that it may be profitable to read this novel in parallel with modern poetry from Bosnia such as Abdulah Sidran or Hadzem Hajdarevic or with Turkish writers like Sadik Yalsizucanlar, Sezai Karakoc or Cahit Zarifoglu. Such a reading may move us away from simplictic nationalist interpretations and allow us to see that yes the Bosnians are indeed a complex people, one of many throughout the world.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bosnian riddle 10 May 2003
Format:Paperback
“Bismilahir-rahmanir-rahim!
I call for the witness Time that is the beginning and the end of everything and that tells how everyone human being is loser. “
Each chapter of this novel begins with verses from the Koran. Each verse is proverb or assumption how we are small and complicated, how in the end we are all equal for Death is something unavoidable; for beggar and for King. Dervish Ahmed Nurudin guides us through way or thinking that most of Bosnian Muslims grown up with. Not just Muslims even Christians and Jews grown in our cites and villages. Mighty be a reader that is not familiar with us asks, “Where is the difference”. The difference is that Bosnian Muslim world is much more irrational and unmaterialistic. One gain respect by deeds not by money. Our tragedy is that we were /are always colony to some Imperia. Turkish Imperia that brought Islam and made frame for converting from one old religion of Bogumils to something New. Ahmed tells about this colonization, the difference between Bosnian thinking and Turkish. – Master /Servant relations that in present days many Bosnian Muslims tend to forget. And search for friend where we never historical had them /read in the novel/.
They try to forget Time of fermans and hatisherifs /Sultans decisions many times on life and death sent to Bosnia and other provinces of the Great Empire/.
We are nation that needs many readings before summarizing and conclusion so do not be discouraged if you did not get a point after the first reading.
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By H. Tee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the most famous Bosnia novel by Author Selimovic written in 1966. It is the first person narrative based around 1700s Sarajevo Islamic tekke (monastery).

The basic story is the narrator Sheikh Nuruddin, an ex-soldier of about 40 years old, is a leading member of a religious order (a Dervish) on the outskirts of the town (kasba). He lives along side Mustafa, deaf and married with kids; Mullah Yusaf, a 25 year old ill pale individual; and finally Hufiz-Mohammed, a knowledgeable youth and initial friend of Hassan. We learn that the local kadi (town leader) has had Nuruddin’s brother (a simple clerk, 15 years his junior) arrested. He’s invited to Hassan’s father’s house where the sister tries to persuade him to get Hassan to deny his inheritance (for dishonouring behaviour Constantinople). Nuruddin sees the potential to gain influence and get his brother released. Hassan grows to be Nuruddin’s close friend whilst horse trading and womanising (possibly Catholics).

Nuruddin is an existential, over thinker. He plans, schemes and visits important people to effect his goals which start with freeing his brother but about half way turn to revenge on the town’s people and leaders. We certainly get in side his head; and for all his religion, his God plays surprising little on his mind – he still seems very much wedded to this earth in his views, personal and selfish behaviour. Nuruddin is ultimately a complex and unforgiving character and we have 450 pages of detailed, hard going, narrative based in a multicultural historic setting. Ultimately, I think, the tale is about betrayal on many levels social, religious, family and friends.
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