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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone reading Slavic or Bosnian literature
One of essential books in Bosnian, Balkan or Slavic literature...Ahmed Shabo returns home to 18th century Sarajevo from the war in Russia. Numbered by the deaths in battle or by suicide of nearly his entire military unit, he is devastated to learn that most of his family has died of disease during his absence. Through the help of a friend and the love of a woman Ahmed...
Published on 16 Jan 2003 by Lejla Somun-Krupalija

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading but difficult to feel sympathy with the main character
This is well worth reading even if it may be at first a little difficult to get into. Not least, because we in Western Europe know almost nothing about Eastern Europe and much of the novel assumes pre geographical and historical knowledge of the area. That aside, this along with his Death and the Dervish is an excellent read.

Set in Ottoman Bosnia the story...
Published on 14 July 2008 by Gogol


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone reading Slavic or Bosnian literature, 16 Jan 2003
By 
Lejla Somun-Krupalija "bookrunner" (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe) (Paperback)
One of essential books in Bosnian, Balkan or Slavic literature...Ahmed Shabo returns home to 18th century Sarajevo from the war in Russia. Numbered by the deaths in battle or by suicide of nearly his entire military unit, he is devastated to learn that most of his family has died of disease during his absence. Through the help of a friend and the love of a woman Ahmed overcomes the psychological anguish of war only to find that he as emerged a reflective and contemplative man in a society that does not value and often will not tolerate the subversive implications of these qualities. Some remarks Ahmed makes at a party - about human decency and fairness and the tendency of the powerful to trample over them - lead him into the dark labyrinth of the novel's plot, in which his encounters with love and violence, intrigue, tyranny and intellectual adventure continuosly reshape his destiny and his sense of the meaning of his life. (excerpt from back of book)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Masterpiece, 11 July 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe) (Paperback)
Ahmet Shabo is a young man from 18th century Ottoman Bosnia, who returns to his native Sarajevo after experiencing all the horrors of war during battles in distant Russia. The war has a major psychological effect on him, and he seems unable or unwilling to rejoin the society. A kind friend offers him a decent job with which he'll be able to support himself and perhaps even advance in social circles. Things go wrong for Ahmet, however, after a party that he gets invited to thrown by some very important city officials. His struggles to reclaim a place in the World become the main focal point of the book from then on.

Like in his more famous novel "The Death and the Dervish," Selimovi'c manages to embed the personal struggles of one man under a totalitarian communist regime into a much more distant past and an equally oppressive medieval Ottoman rule. One can imagine that writing under the keen watchful eye of a communist state made Selimovi' resort to this tactic. Selimovi'c is also an exceptional stylist. You can find remarkable and insightful sentences on almost every page of the book. Also, almost all of the dialogues have a deep philosophical undertone to them. Selimovic''s insights into human psyche are uncanny, and the lessons that he draws from them are timeless. Perhaps the most famous of his insights is the claim, put into the mouth of one of the protagonists, that there are three major vices that we are tempted towards: alcohol, gambling and power. While we can overcome the first two, the last one is unconquerable.

The main struggle that Ahmet is engaged in is not with his opponents who make his life extremely difficult. It is rather an internal struggle between accepting one of the two opposing worldviews: a fatalist one where the life's events are so far outside one's control that is meaningless to take any personal initiative, and a much more individualist worldview that affirms the value of an individual and supports the notion that our individual strivings have a meaning and a positive effect on our lives.

The fortress from the title is the motif that acquires many different meanings throughout the book. It is a physical place that is instrumental to the plot, but it also represents several different life circumstances and states of mind. Selimovi' adroitly exploits all of these multiple meanings, and effortlessly shuffles between them without the danger of overusing the metaphor.

This is one of two Selimovic''s great works and in every respect as good as "The Death and the Dervish." It needs to be read by anyone who wants to get a better understanding of the life, relationships, and the historical circumstances that have shaped Bosnia through the centuries. The book also cements Selimovi''s place as one of the great World writers of the twentieth century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Fortress, 15 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe) (Paperback)
I have alredy read Dervis and Death from the same author. I love the writer's style, the lightness in presenting his thoughts and inside struggle and how devoted one can be to following the truth and principles whilst trying to preserve the dignity in most difficult circumstances.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading but difficult to feel sympathy with the main character, 14 July 2008
By 
Gogol (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe) (Paperback)
This is well worth reading even if it may be at first a little difficult to get into. Not least, because we in Western Europe know almost nothing about Eastern Europe and much of the novel assumes pre geographical and historical knowledge of the area. That aside, this along with his Death and the Dervish is an excellent read.

Set in Ottoman Bosnia the story surrounds the life of a former soldier who returns to his native Bosnia after the Ottoman - Russian wars and the trials he faces both from his former comrades at the front and the powers that be. One of the main problems with the book however I feel is that the main character Ahmet is just one you fail to sympathise with. Too busy moping around feeling sorry for himself, too busy drinking himself into stupidity why his wife is the one who has to hold things together not only financially but with common sense also.

While reading this book I found a lot of comparison with early classical Russian writers such as Chekov and Tolstoy and (maybe it is the Ottoman connection) with the Turkish writer Yasar Kemal.

An interesting read if a little disappointing after Death and the Dervish but one worth buying.
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The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe)
The Fortress (Writings from an Unbound Europe) by Mesa Selimovic (Paperback - 16 Sep 1999)
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