The 3 arched bridge by Ismail Kadare



The 3 arched bridge by Ismail Kadare

Albanian fiction

Original title Ura Me Tri Harqe 

Translator – John Hodgson

Source – Library book

On the way to your brother’s house in the valley deep
By the river bridge, a cradle floating beside me
In the whitest water on the bank against the stone
You will lift his body from the shore and bring him home

Oliver James washed in the rain
No longer
Oliver James washed in the rain
No longer

Oliver James by fleet foxes is a nice match to this traditonal fable story .

Well yesterday saw me review  a book by Roberto Bolano today I’m reviewing Ismail  Kadare another writer whom has featured a number of times on this blog , I have reviewed three of his book before now .Kadare is one of the names often mentioned as a potenial Nobel prize winner .

As expected , the news of the bridge to be built over the Ujana e Kepe spread rapidly ,Bridges had been built now and then in all sorts of places , but nobody remembered any of them causing such commotion .They had been built with virtually not a word of comment , to the muffled sounds of hammers on wood

The bridge is built but keeps falling down why !

This rather like an earlier novel I reviewed by Kadare the pyramid  which is also  set in a past , although  this book is not as far back as the pyramid .The book  is set in  the 14th century .The book is based on a legend /myth of the region about a castle being built , for this book  thou Kadare has changed the castle to a bridge that connects the then split up into tiny regions Albania to the rest of Europe via this bridge .Which keeps being destroyed  , also the men working on the bridge keep falling ill , is it by the ferry men or is it something else happening , the people start sing songs about the bridge and the ferry men also a tale of a castle like the original tale that Kadare based this book on  and it is decided that a sacrifice  is needed to save the bridge but whom ? Who will be willing to let them selves be killed to have a bridge built , the victim face is remembered in plaster on the bridge .All this is narrated to us by a monk Gjon .

A few days before the final work on the bridge , one of the foreman’s two assistants  , the fat one , fell ill with a rare and frightening disease : all the hairs on his body fell out . They shut him in a hut and tried in every possible way to keep his sickness secret , but there was no way it could be concealed .

Another worker falls sick , as they try to get the bridge built .

Rather like the book the pyramid which I have also reviewed  , I felt this maybe more than it seems on the surface  which is an Albanian folktale retold with a few changes in the story  a bridge instead of a castle .No to me this is more a book of its time  which is the mid seventies  , than a story of something that happened over five hundred years before that .I feel the book , which was written in 1976 , maybe shows the events in Albania at the time using the myth and legend to maybe show the isolation of the Hoxha regime of the time , maybe the bridge falling is the way he kept Albania separate from Europe .I feel the sacrifice maybe eludes to what he felt at that time , what people had to do to get the bridge built (or the links and more open regime in Albania ) .I do prefer these books that have been translated directly from Albanian and like in places that John Hodgson has manage to keep a traditional feel to the piece of old songs and words used by Gjon

have you read any books by Ismail kadare ?

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. roughghosts
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 10:12:44

    Although I have collected a few of his books including this one, the only one I have read to date is The Siege. It was enjoyable as an historical tale with a mythical feel, but although it was presented in a simple manner, I felt that I was likely missing some of the underlying allusions to the more contemporary history of his homeland. I really must pull some more Kadare off the shelf, seems to me I recently added another.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 30, 2015 @ 10:16:16

      There is a number of historic books by him the allusions don’t always come through in translation I feel this one didn’t come through as much as it maybe did in original maybe knowledge of legends and history of Albania may help


  2. erdeaka
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 10:37:19

    The Pyramid has been translated into Indonesian, but I couldn’t get my hands on it because it’s one of those rare books published by the indie publisher here. so sad 😦


  3. Lisa Hill
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 11:06:15

    You have chosen one of my favourite authors, Stu:) I discovered him when he won the first Man Booker International Prize and his books began to be available in Australia. I’ve read The Palace of Dreams, The Siege, The Accident and (when we did the IFFP Shadow Jury) The Fall of the Stone City. I’ve got four more on the TBR, and now I shall add this one and The Pyramid. The Palace of Dreams is my favourite, but it’s the only one not reviewed on my blog because I read it before I started blogging.


  4. hastanton
    Jan 30, 2015 @ 11:53:43

    I am a huge fan of Kadare and have visited his birthplace Gjirokaster twice ! Haven’t read this one and will do so directly …..thanks for the review.


  5. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Jan 31, 2015 @ 07:45:43

    I have one of his on the shelf which I must dust off and add to the reading pile! Ok, just checked, it’s called Broken April.


  6. BookerTalk
    Feb 01, 2015 @ 11:21:12

    When you first described the plot I wondered if this was meant to be an allegory of Albania’s history but since I don’t know anything about that I couldn’t tell. Reading the review more closely it seems that is certainly the case.


  7. parrish lantern
    Feb 02, 2015 @ 05:02:48

    Like a otherside here ive a couple of his books on my bookshelf which I must read at some point


  8. Mytwostotinki
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 13:08:23

    As I already mentioned before, Kadare is one of my favorite writers since the time I lived in Albania. His historical novels like this one have of course always at least a second layer beyond the simple retelling of an old story (that a person has to be sacrificed when a bridge is built is a widespread belief in the Balkans; a similar story is told in Ivo Andric’s The Bridge on the Drina). For those who read several books of Kadare it is also interesting to see the many (hidden) cross-references in his books. To mention just one example: the inn called “The Two Roberts” (Dy Roberteve) is mentioned in several of his works (e.g. in Broken April), although the narrative covers completely different centuries.


  9. Trackback: The traitors Niche by Ismail Kadare | Winstonsdad's Blog

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January 2015


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