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Robert Elsie

Studies in modern Albanian literature and culture

East European Monographs CCCLXXIX

ISBN 0-88033-252-9
East European Monographs, Boulder
Columbia University Press, New York 1996
188 pp.


    Albania’s long-standing isolation, and in particular the half a century of surrealist rule under the ever-vigilant Albanian Party of Labour, had an extremely negative impact on intellectual and cultural exchange. In Albania, these long dark years created a conspicuous lack of objective knowledge about the outside world, and in the Western world, they created an equally conspicuous lack of information about Albania, a country which, for most people, had ceased to exist until tens of thousands of refugees suddenly washed up onto the shores of southern Italy in 1991.
    This volume comprises a selection of critical writings and reviews devoted to contemporary Albanian literature and culture as seen from a distant, but hopefully not blurred perspective. The primary aim of this work, originally published over the last ten years, has been to create an awareness for Albanian literature and Albanian culture at the international level.
    Although many of these publications circulated among writers and intellectuals in Albania at the time of their issue, very few were ever republished there under the dictatorship, and those which were translated and printed in the Tirana literary newspaper Drita,were abridged for obvious political reasons.
    While perusing the present collection of literary reviews, the reader may wonder why certain works were chosen for review and others were not. I can offer no satisfactory reply. In general, it has always been my endeavour to present to the Western reading public, works of Albanian literature which may be seen to be of major cultural significance. The books reviewed here are, however, obviously only a selection of many which could have been chosen.
    With the collapse of communism in Europe, the American literary journal ‘World Literature Today’ devoted its issue of spring 1991 to “Literature and revolution in Eastern Europe.” In addition to articles on literary developments in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, an article on Albanian writing was included. This article, which I entitled “Evolution and revolution in modern Albanian literature,” offered the first substantial survey of modern Albanian literature since the fifties to be published in English.
    In addition to the above-mentioned introductory article and the fifty-seven literary reviews, I have included a short and perhaps rather subjective essay on the Kosovo situation, a tragedy which gnaws at the souls of us all.
    In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to those who have assisted me over the past years in my endeavours to present Albanian literature and culture to the English-speaking world. Many thanks go, in particular, to Flutura Greva in Washington, the once faithful Muse of the Writers’ Union in Tirana, for helping me with books and material.
    Robert Elsie
    Eifel Mountains, Germany, autumn 1995


  • Preface
  • Evolution and revolution in modern Albanian literature
  • A survey of recent publications
    Dhimitër S. Shuteriqi (ed.)
    History of Albanian literature [Historia e letërsisë shqiptare], Tirana 1983
    Alexandre Zotos (ed.)
    Anthology of Albanian poetry [Anthologie de la poésie albanaise], Tirana 1983
    Nebil Duraku (ed.)
    The writers of Kosovo ‘43-‘83 [Shkrimtarët e Kosovës ‘43-‘83], Prishtina 1984
    Ismail Kadare
    Doruntine [Qui a ramené Doruntine?], Paris 1986
    Ismail Kadare
    Epoch of writings [Koha e shkrimeve], Tirana 1986
    Ismail Kadare
    Chronicle in stone, London 1987
    Lasgush Poradeci
    The death of the pelican [Vdekja e nositit], Prishtina 1986
    Ismail Kadare
    The great winter [Der große Winter], Kiel 1987
    Ali Podrimja
    Happy ending [Fund i gëzuar], Prishtina 1988
    Ismail Kadare
    The caravan of veils [Die Schleierkarawane], Berlin 1988
    Mensur Raifi (ed.)
    Roads lead only one way. A survey of modern poetry from Kosova, Prishtina 1988
    Teodor Laço
    All the rivers flow [Të gjithë lumenjtë rrjedhin], Prishtina 1988
    Ismail Kadare
    The concert [Koncert në fund të dimrit], Tirana 1988
    Din Mehmeti
    Neither on earth nor in heaven [As në tokë as në qiell], Prishtina 1988
    Namik Ressuli
    Albanian literature, Boston 1988
    Ismail Kadare
    Aeschylus or the eternal loser [Eschyle ou l’éternel perdant], Paris 1988
    Koço Bihiku (ed.)
    Studies in Albanian literature 2. Problems of the Albanian literature of socialist realism [Studime për letërsinë shqiptare 2. Probleme të letërsisë shqiptare të realizmit socialist], Tirana 1988
    Bardhyl Londo
    Only Ithaca [Vetëm Itaka], Prishtina 1989
    Mimoza Ahmeti
    Especially tomorrow [Sidomos nesër], Tirana 1989
    Rrahman Dedaj
    Poetry [Poezi], Tirana 1989
    Neshat Tozaj
    The knives [Thikat], Tirana 1989
    Sabri Hamiti
    Literary self-knowledge [Vetëdija letrare], Prishtina 1989
    Adem Demaçi
    The snakes of vendetta [Gjarpinjtë e gjakut], Prishtina 1990
    Natasha Lako
    Quiet nature [Natyrë e qetë], Tirana 1990
    Agim Vinca
    Poetry hours [Orët e poezisë], Prishtina 1990
    Ismail Kadare
    Broken April, New York 1990
    Dritëro Agolli
    The splendour and fall of comrade Zylo [Splendeur et décadence du camerade Zulo], Paris 1990
    Ismail Kadare
    The H dossier [Dosja H], Tirana 1990
    Martin Camaj
    Selected Poetry, New York 1990
    Ismail Kadare
    The General of the dead army, New York 1991
    Chronicles of a Northern city and other prose [Chroniques d’une ville du Nord et autres proses], Paris 1990
    Ismail Kadare
    Invitation to the studio [Ftesë në studio], Tirana 1990;
    Albanian spring. Chronicle, lettres, reflections [Printemps albanais. Chronique, lettres, réflexions], Paris 1991;
    From one December to the next. Chronicle, correspondence, reflections [Nga një dhjetor në tjetrin. Kronikë, këmbim letrash, përsiatje], Paris 1991
    Rexhep Ismajli (ed.)
    Modern Arbëresh poetry [Poezia e sotme arbëreshe], Prishtina 1990
    Ismail Kadare
    The monster [Përbindëshi], Tirana 1991;
    The monster [Le monstre], Paris 1991
    Ismail Kadare
    The weight of the cross [Pesha e kryqit], Paris 1991;
    Invitation to the writer’s studio, followed by The weight of the cross [Invitation à l’atelier de l’écrivain suivi de Le Poids de la croix], Paris 1991
    Xhevahir Spahiu
    A mad age [Kohë e krisur], Tirana 1991
    Shaip Beqiri
    The challenge of genius: Kadare, exile, Kosovo [Sfida e gjeniut. Kadare, ekzili, Kosova], Prishtina 1991
    Arshi Pipa
    Contemporary Albanian literature, Boulder 1991
    Kasëm Trebeshina
    The season of seasons [Stina e stinëve], Prishtina 1991
    Gjergj Fishta
    The highland lute [Lahuta e malsisë], Rome 1991
    Pal Duka-Gjini
    The life and works of Gjergj Fishta [Jeta dhe veprat e Gjergj Fishtës], Rome 1992
    Besnik Mustafaj
    A summer of no return [Un été sans retour], Arles 1992
    Ismail Kadare
    The pyramid [La Pyramide], Paris 1992
    Ferdinand Laholli
    Enough of this bitter paradox [Mjaft ky paradoks i hidhur], Tirana 1992
    Fatos Arapi
    We, the grief of lights [Ne, pikëllimi i dritave], Tirana 1993
    Ali Podrimja
    The smile in a cage [Buzëqeshja në kafaz. Das Lächeln im Käfig], Klagenfurt 1993
    Visar Zhiti
    The memory of the air [Kujtesa e ajrit], Tirana 1993
    Zejnullah Rrahmani
    The Albanian national journey [Udhëtimi arbdhetar], Prishtina 1992
    Jorgo Bllaci
    The voices of the night [Zërat e natës], Tirana 1993
    Ismail Kadare
    A moonlit night [Clair de lune], Paris 1993;
    The Great Wall, followed by the Blind Firman [La Grande Muraille, suivi de Le Firman aveugle], Paris 1993
    Dritëro Agolli
    The belated pilgrim [Pelegrini i vonuar], Tirana 1993
    Lazër & Josef Radi
    The walls of twilight [Muret e muzgut], Tirana 1993
    Rexhep Qosja
    Death comes with such eyes [La mort me vient de ces yeux-là], Paris 1994
    Eqrem Basha
    The snail’s march [Marshi e kërmillit], Peja 1994
    Hasan Hasani
    Lexicon of Albanian writers 1501-1990 [Leksikon i shkrimtarëve shqiptarë 1501-1990], Prishtina 1994
    Fatos Lubonja
    The final slaughter [Ploja e mbrame], Tirana 1994
    Azem Shkreli
    I know a word of stone. Poems [Ich weiß ein Wort von Stein. Gedichte], Klagenfurt 1993
    Kim Mehmeti
    Fatusha’s fate [Fati i Fatushes], Tetovo 1994
  • The last Albanian waiter
    Impressions from a journey to Kosovo, 1992
  • About the author
  • Index

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