Death and the Dervish

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Overview


Sheikh Nuruddin is a dervish at a Sarajevo monastery in the eighteenth century during the Turkish occupation. When his brother is arrested, he descends into the Kafkaesque world of the Turkish authorities in order to find out what has happened. As he does so, he begins to question his relations with society as a whole and, eventually, his life choices in general. Hugely successful when published in the 1960s, Death and the Dervish appears here...
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Overview


Sheikh Nuruddin is a dervish at a Sarajevo monastery in the eighteenth century during the Turkish occupation. When his brother is arrested, he descends into the Kafkaesque world of the Turkish authorities in order to find out what has happened. As he does so, he begins to question his relations with society as a whole and, eventually, his life choices in general. Hugely successful when published in the 1960s, Death and the Dervish appears here in its first English translation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lauded by the publisher for its contribution to understanding "the current crisis" in the former Yugoslavia, this tale of moral failure takes place at some undefined point during the Ottoman occupation of Muslim Bosnia. It was a bestseller when published in Yugoslavia in 1966, but it seems probable that its popularity lay more in its portrayal of a Yugoslavia oppressed than in any intrinsic artistry. Ahmed, the dervish of the title, has lived in religious seclusion for most of his life; his searching, self-centered and at times deranged internal dialogue constitutes most of this lengthy narrative. Selimovic (The Island; The Fortress) portrays a man hopelessly out of touch with himself and others, viciously in need of being right, secretly coveting power for himself. Groveling before authority, he knowingly betrays innocent people, yet rationalizes everything with perverted interpretations of the Koran. His brother's death, towards the beginning of the novel, and the near-destruction of the community's purest and most generous soul, by the end, enclose a tortuous psychological exposition of the perils of delusion and the ease with which fear destroys the most unyielding moral good. It is a probing portrait containing some valuable insights, yet with a character as insipid as Ahmed, it is hard to really care. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Sheikh Ahmed Nuruddin is a dervish (an Islamic ascetic) and spiritual leader of a community during the Turkish occupation of Bosnia. Having spent most of his adult years deliberately avoiding the turmoil of everyday life, he finds himself sucked into its vortex by the arrest of his brother. His reluctant investigation into the matter brings him face to face with his own moral cowardice and causes a devastating crisis of faith that calls into question the value of his entire life. Originally published in Yugoslavia in the 1960s, and subsequently translated into several languages, this late author's chef-d'oeuvre is highly recommended both for Eastern European collections as well as any collection of serious fiction.Sister M. Anna Falbo, Villa Maria Coll. Lib., Buffalo, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
Death And The Dervish ( paper Aug. 1996; 480 pp.; 0-8101-1296-5; paper 0-8101-1297-3): A famous novel, originally published in 1966 in Yugoslavia, by an eminent Bosnian author who died (in 1982) before completing the trilogy it was intended to initiate. It's the strange, legendlike story, set in an indeterminate past that appears to be the 18th century, of a Muslim sheikh (or dervish) whose brother is arrested and presumably executed by occupying Turkish rulers. Sheikh Ahmed Nurudin thereafter dedicates his life to destroying the "government" that took his brother from him—and in so doing sets in motion a maelstrom of deception and revenge that causes him to betray his closest friend and, ultimately, ruins his own life. A slow, digressive, tortuous novel that generates enormous power—worthy of comparison with Selimovi's great countryman and forerunner Ivo Andric. It's by no means a perfect work of art, but there is greatness in it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810112971
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Series: Writings from an Unbound Europe
  • Pages: 473
  • Sales rank: 692,123
  • Product dimensions: 4.75 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2008

    A masterpiece

    I have no idea what the previous reviewer is talking about. If he has some political agenda to work out, a book review might not be the best place to do that. Dervish and the death is a unique book in the ways that it has nothing to do with time and place it describes. It¿s a masterpiece psychological drama that chronicles moral struggle of a man torn between everything he was thought to believe and follow and what he feels. This is a book about the price we all have to pay when we try to ignore our feelings and moral values in exchange for conformity. Dervish and the death transcends time and space and it¿s uniquely universal. In addition, it is a literal masterpiece. The sentences create a strange music of their own, that grips you until the last page. You will remember this book long after you finish it. This is one truly exceptional book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2004

    Sketchy introduction

    The book itself is great. Accurate portrayal of the sentiments in Bosnia during the Ottoman rule and a high literary standard. I am somewhat puzzled by the introduction. As a reader I am lead to believe that the works should be regarded as some kind of a Serbian great contribution to Bosnia/culture/literature. Given that the translation took place during the last conflict in the Balkans it is highly unlikely that anyone in their right mind can be convinced of `Serbian tolerance¿ referred to at the beginning of the book. Selimovic may have sympathised with the Serbian rebellious tendencies at the time but if anything, this novel should be a praize to the writer¿s critical view of his own nation (he was after all a Bosnian Muslim although wrote `Serbian national¿ as it was fashionable if not necessary to be either a Croat or a Serb at the time), rather than a reflection of Serbian alleged quest for justice. Rather arrogant and irresponsible to present the first ever English translation of this masterpiece in such a light. And what an insult to the Bosnian peoples. Skip the intro and read on the novel for what it really is ¿ just a great Bosnian novel written by a great Bosnian visionary.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2014

    Exceptional book. Must read. The book that took my breath away.

    Exceptional book. Must read.
    The book that took my breath away.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    Great book

    Great book, mainly very difficult to understand without the knowledge of colorful history in that part of the Balkans. Therefore read it once more than you think is necessary. The author indeed described some political moments since his brother was jailed and died under new communist regime in Yugoslavia.And Dervish is dedicated to the writer's brother. As for comment of 'introductory remarks' Selimovic refered to his Serbian etnicity because his predecessors indeed were Serbs 'Vujovic family from Bileca' who changed their religino and last name .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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