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English  Robert Elsie

Writer, translator, interpreter, specialist in Albanian studies


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Albanian Folktales and Legends

Selected and translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie
Albanian Studies, Vol. 2

ISBN 978-1507631300
Centre for Albanian Studies, London 2015
186 pp.

Folktales are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day’s work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by the heroic feats of Muja and Halil or by the appearance of a fiery Kulshedra in the forest? Included in this collection are not only folktales but prose versions of some of the best-known Albanian legends (based on historical or mythological events and figures). The adventures of Muja and Halil and their band of mountain warriors are still told and indeed sung in epic verse in the northern Albanian mountains, and the exploits of the great Scanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who freed large parts of the country from Turkish rule in the fifteenth century, are recounted everywhere Albanians gather, as if events five centuries old had taken place yesterday.

Table of Contents


The Boy and the Earthly Beauty
The Scurfhead
The Three Friends and the Earthly Beauty
The Three Brothers and the Three Sisters
The Youth and the Maiden with Stars on their Foreheads and Crescents on their Breasts
The Shoes
The Girl Who Became a Boy
The Maiden in the Box
The Tale of the Youth Who Understood the Language of the Animals
The Stirrup Moor
The King’s Daughter and the Skull
The Bear and the Dervish
The Snake and the King’s Daughter
Gjizar the Nightingale
Half Rooster
The Boy with No Name
The Barefaced Man and the Pasha’s Brother
The Foolish Youth and the Ring
The Princess of China
The Jealous Sisters
The Grateful Snake and the Magic Case
The Maiden Who Was Promised to the Sun
Muja’s Strength
Muja and the Zanas
Halil’s Marriage
Muja and Halil Visit the Sultan
Muja Avenges Halil’s Death
Gjergj Elez Alia
Aga Ymer of UlcinjScanderbeg and Ballaban
Shega and Vllastar
Rozafat Castle




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