<<< Das Kreuz mit dem Halbmond: Ethnische und religiöse Transformationen in europäischen Kontexten / The Crux of Islam in Europe: Ethnic and Religious Transformations in European Contexts
Between Kadare and Andrić: Approaches to European Muslims in 20th-century Balkan Literature
John K. Cox (Department of History, North Dakota State University)
Compared to the newer Muslim communities of Western Europe, Muslim populations in the Balkans receive relatively little attention today. Two countries in South-Eastern Europe, however, have a majority Muslim population: Bosnia-Hercegovina and Albania. These two regions have also produced two of the giants of recent European literature: Ivo Andrić (1892–1975), a Bosnian Serb who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, and Ismail Kadare (b. 1936), a versatile Albanian novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, and memoirist. Andrić is known mostly for his psychologically penetrating novels and stories about life in Ottoman Bosnia, his existentialist world view, and his unique assertion of a Serbian cultural identity; Kadare is famous for his allegories, fictional glosses on folklore and the historical record, and a search for idioms to characterize both Europe's classical past and its recent totalitarianisms. This paper will provide historical context and adduce examples from the works of these writers to contrast one possible set of Serbian and one possible set of Albanian attitudes towards local Muslims: "They are ours" in relation to "We are not theirs." Some reference will be made in the Serbian discussion to the writers Meša Selimović (Bosnia) and Ćamil Sijarić (Sandak). My goal is to point out trends and tendencies in historical and political understandings of inter-communal relations, not ironclad or exclusive oppositions.