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English  Robert Elsie

Writer, translator, interpreter, specialist in Albanian studies


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Robert Elsie

Historical Dictionary of Albania

Second Edition

Historical Dictionaries of Europe, No. 75

ISBN 978-0-8108-6188-6
Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Toronto and Plymouth 2010

660 pp.

    This revised new edition of the Historical Dictionary of Albania updates the reader with information on Albania and the Albanians up to the middle of 2009. Compiling a historical dictionary for a whole country, even for a small one like Albania, is a major undertaking. Compiling a historical dictionary for a country as traditionally reclusive as Albania presents even more of a daunting task, in particular since there is still no objective and reliable historiography in Albania upon which such a work can be based. Decades of politically motivated censorship and self-censorship, combined with generations of nationalist thinking, have given rise to many myths and misconceptions. It has been difficult for Albanian historians and scholars to set aside the standard fare of hero glorification and to turn their backs on pompous assertions of national grandeur. Albanian history abounds with myths, which have served to disguise the inferiority complexes of a small and underdeveloped people, but, on the other hand, they have also helped to hold the nation together in times of crisis. Poet Dritëro Agolli described Albania as a country which has produced more heroism than grain.
    The few foreign historians who have dealt in depth with Albanian history and have published in this field have proven to be more trustworthy, working as they do from an objective distance. Nonetheless, some erroneous claims and naive views still pass from hand to hand. A full-length, comprehensive and reliable history of Albania has yet to be written. The present work does not endeavor to fill the void, but only to offer the reader basic, factual information on the country, its historical development, its current situation and the culture of its people.
    The majority of the ca. 750 entries in this Historical Dictionary of Albania are person entries. They comprise not only figures of Albanian history, but also contemporary public figures and political leaders in Albania, as well as individuals, Albanian and foreign, who have made notable contributions to Albanian studies and Albanian culture.
    The Historical Dictionary of Albania thus endeavors to provide a comprehensive overview, not only of Albanian history, but also of contemporary Albania as it enters the 21st century, focusing as it does both on the past and on a modern European nation struggling to put its formidable Stalinist past and underdevelopment behind it. It must not be forgotten that, for half a century, Albania was a planet of its own, isolated from the rest of Mother Earth. Since the fall of the communist regime, the Albanians have been striving, not without difficulty, to find their place among the nations of Europe.