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The Houses of Belgrade (Writings from an Unbound Europe) Paperback – 31 Mar 1994

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About the Author

Borislav Pekic was born in 1930 in Podgorica, Yugoslavia. Arrested in 1948 for terrorism, armed rebellion, and espionage after the theft of a few typewriters and mimeographs, Peki spent five years in prison, where he began to write. He worked as a screenwriter and editor of a literary journal before publishing his first novel at age thirty-five. Constant trouble with the authorities led him to emigrate to London in the early 1970s. His novels include The Houses of Belgrade (1994) and The Time of Miracles (1994), both published by Northwestern University Press. He died of cancer in 1992 in London. Stephen M. Dickey is an assistant professor of Slavic linguistics at the University of Virginia. He co-translated Mesa Selimovi 's Death and the Dervish (Northwestern, 1996).Bogdan Rakic is a visiting associate professor of Slavic Literature at Indiana University. He co-translated Mesa Selimovi 's Death and the Dervish (Northwestern, 1996) and edited In a Foreign Harbor (Slavica, 2000). He is currently working on Borislav Peki 's literary biography."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8fe682e8) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91ddf78c) out of 5 stars A neccessary piece of literature 26 Mar. 2002
By K. - Published on
Format: Paperback
In his book "Houses of Belgrade (the original serbian title "A Pilgrim of Arsenije Njegovan"), continues his masteful work on the history of family Njegovan. Through the history of one typical serbian family Pekic depicts the last two centuries of Serbian (+ Balkan + East Europian) history. His previous 7-volume work "Golden Fleece" (Zlatno Runo) illustrates the historical events in that part of the world from 1848 through 1941. This book presents a logical continuation of events from 1945 through 1968. Through the story about Arsenije Njegovan, one of the last descendant of one-time rich and powerful family Njegovan, Pekic depict historical events that took place after the arrival of communism in Serbia.
Borislav Pekic, one of the most prolific serbian authors after the World War II, and more importantly, the greatest serbian intellectual in that period, uses his unsurpassed observation skills, sharp cinicism and self sarcasm to both critice and explain the unfortunate turn of events that placed Serbia in the jaws of communism. This book as well as the whole Pekic's opus had an decisive impact on the generations of Serbs. Furthermore, his opus is a must for all people interested in the history and national mentality of Serbs.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91ddf7e0) out of 5 stars Interesting attack on communism 17 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The main character's love of architecture (and, in particular, the houses he owns) and his genuine emotional attachement to them might seem odd at first (such as the fact that he gives classic Serbian women's names to them), but, over time, the message becomes clear. Pekic's take on communism: the fact that we should not give up our possesions to share with others, whether they be our human relationships, or, as in this case, material things. To add to this thought provoking theme, the book is also a nicely done chronicle of this century's history of one of the major Balkan cities (Belgrade) ; it is a story often overshadowed by Holocaust memoirs and the like. All in all, this book was a provoking , and , above all, very entertaining (due to its irony) read.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f4ee03c) out of 5 stars convinced to explore the "unbound" series 25 Feb. 2001
By Bryan Thompson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked "Houses" up on a remainder shelf in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. The story is set around certain historical events in Belgrade: student riots in 1968; Germany's attack in 1941; and Serbia's entry into World War One. Horrible to admit in a review, I am sure, but I did not fully understand the references in the book.
Pekic tells the story in the first-person; the character is a landlord of several houses in the city. Arsenie Negovan is losing his sanity. What better character to relate the tale of a city half-heartedly embracing communism: a landlord, losing his mind, recalling his houses when they were young, lamenting their loss. Here is a sample: "For just as people who have done nothing at all wrong are got rid of simply because they stand in the way of something, so houses too are destroyed because they impede somebody's view, stand in the way of some future square, hamper the development of a street, or traffic, or of some new building." Again, on being a landlord and a man of commerce, "...the very act of possession would be so completely reciprocal that sometime, perhaps in some perfect world, it would become one with the act of self-perception."
With this ironic tone, the deranged voice of a once decent man of property, the history of human struggle in the city unfolds. Buildings are talked about as beings. People are inanimate. Yet human action transforms the place. The loss of the old city is tragic. The grand old houses decay. Present buildings are inferior to their predecessors-- a succinct way to measure the progress of a society. Within this narrative about property and architecture, Arsenie explains his motives, wonders about his soul, and spouts what he has learned during a lifetime of accumulation.
The book was exactly what I was looking for when I plucked it off the remainder shelf: a new direction in my reading. I will look for others in the series, and I recommend "Houses" to readers looking for something different. (My apologies to more knowledgable readers of Pekic.) I will be reading other titles in the "Writings from an Unbound Europe" series.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x91ddfa68) out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 Sept. 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
School curriculum requirement.
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