The Fortress by Mesa Selimovic

The Fortress

Mesa Selimovic

I found this a difficult book to get into - the style of the translation made it heavy going - but the story of how a young Bosnian copes when he returns home after fighting in Russia in the eighteenth century is vividly portrayed. There are some flashes of humour and hope but, on the whole, this is a bleak novel.

Extract

And so ... I begin to contemplate what no one had ever solved, but which no one, achieving maturity, ever completely dismisses from their thought: what are we, and what is life, in what webs are we entangled, into what traps do we fall by our own will or against it, what depends on us, and what can we do with ourselves? I was no good at thinking, I preferred life to thinking about it, but no matter how I turned it all over, it seemed to me that most things took place beyond our will, without our decision.

Parallels
  • The Bridge over the Drina by Ivo Andric
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides