Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars4
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
3
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item
Share your thoughts with other customers

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 1 October 2002
This is one of the most sublime reads I have had in an awfully long time. Within this gentle feeling of being lifted away to some other country, some other century, this short novel also manages to be one of the most harrowing reads I have ever experienced. The effect is achieved by the subtlety of Hodgson's evocative and sparse translation, conveying the full horror of the situation the book descibes.
The legend of the three brothers, who immured one of their wives in a constantly sabotaged wall, is brought to a horrible reality as the company constructing the new bridge offer substantial renumeration to those that would sacrifice themselves for the sake of progress. Set in the late 14th Century, the book echoes down the corridors of time, realising several modern day parallels which are frankly enough to frighten one into putting the book down. Yet I urge you not to; this is an important landmark in world literature, and one of the best novels I have read in a very long time. You will not be disappointed.
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Three Arched Bridge is ostensibly a story of the construction of a bridge in 14th Century Arberia, set against a backdrop of the slowly encroaching Byzantine army bringing Islam in its wake. The novel is bookended by sentences told in a pseudo-mediaeval language by the narrator, a monk called Gjon. But throughout the middle, the feel is of a people more sophisticated and more individualistic than we might expect of those earlier times.

One suspects that this is a veiled metaphor for mid 20th century Albania with the bridge representing modernisation and Byzantium/Islam representing imported models of Communism. Thus, the people are initially resistant to the bridge but ultimately end up protecting it even as it brings them ruin.

Running alongside the bridge, there is a story of political intrigue between the various lords and leaders. This may also have parallels in Albanian politics of the 1970s and at least some of the lords appear to represent Albania's neighbouring countries. But this is perhaps something that would be better understood by Albanian readers of a certain age.

The parable, as it is told, is striking in its imagery, none more so than the willing human sacrifice to the bridge, buried up to his neck and having plaster splashed over his torso, including eyes fixed open for ever. Of course, the one thing that nobody mentions is that a willing and live human sacrifice could not have kept his eyes open as plaster set over them. There were fine examples of people saying one thing whilst demonstrably doing another, subtly rewriting history in more convenient ways. The end result, though, was an Arberia overrun by foreign ideals, having sold its soul for the expedience of a bridge.

Ismail Kadare does not write easy books. They might appear superficial, but they are steeped in hidden meaning. The Three Arched Bridge is a fine example.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 August 2014
Kadare's reputation as Albania's greatest export might at first sight seem a slight, faint praise for a big fish in a small pool, but the fact that we know of him at all serves to remind us that things might not be as they seem.
Translation might throw a diffusing veil over much of the author's original nuance, but John Hodgson has produced a version of persuasive texture, with natural rhythm, and an authentic aroma.
The premise of the story is remarkably simple, as ancient ferrymen are put out of business by bridge builders. Set in the context of a superstitious and powerless community, the ramifications are severe, and there is always tell of far more terrible changes just over the horizon, as the tide of a foreign empire oozes closer.
I often find the most rewarding books are slight, quick reads, as is this one. It will continue to reward at further sittings.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Three Arched Bridge is ostensibly a story of the construction of a bridge in 14th Century Arberia, set against a backdrop of the slowly encroaching Byzantine army bringing Islam in its wake. The novel is bookended by sentences told in a pseudo-mediaeval language by the narrator, a monk called Gjon. But throughout the middle, the feel is of a people more sophisticated and more individualistic than we might expect of those earlier times.

One suspects that this is a veiled metaphor for mid 20th century Albania with the bridge representing modernisation and Byzantium/Islam representing imported models of Communism. Thus, the people are initially resistant to the bridge but ultimately end up protecting it even as it brings them ruin.

Running alongside the bridge, there is a story of political intrigue between the various lords and leaders. This may also have parallels in Albanian politics of the 1970s and at least some of the lords appear to represent Albania's neighbouring countries. But this is perhaps something that would be better understood by Albanian readers of a certain age.

The parable, as it is told, is striking in its imagery, none more so than the willing human sacrifice to the bridge, buried up to his neck and having plaster splashed over his torso, including eyes fixed open for ever. Of course, the one thing that nobody mentions is that a willing and live human sacrifice could not have kept his eyes open as plaster set over them. There were fine examples of people saying one thing whilst demonstrably doing another, subtly rewriting history in more convenient ways. The end result, though, was an Arberia overrun by foreign ideals, having sold its soul for the expedience of a bridge.

Ismail Kadare does not write easy books. They might appear superficial, but they are steeped in hidden meaning. The Three Arched Bridge is a fine example.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

£9.99

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.