The country jumped backwards to a historically remote stage of economic and social development. The normal process of Albanian culture, which kept pace with European humanism, was interrupted. The first consequence of invasion was the outflow of intellectual elite to the West. Among such elite, many personalities became renowned in the humanist world, as, for e.g., historian Marin Barleti (1460-1513) who in 1510 published in Rome a history of Scanderbeg, which was translated almost into all European languages, or Marin Beçikemi (1408-1526), Gj. Gazulli (1400-1455), L. Tomeu (1456-1531), M. Maruli (15th century), M. Artioti (1480-1556) and many others who were distinguished in various fields of science, art and philosophy.
The resistance in the cultural field was first of all expressed through the elaboration of the Albanian language in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic confessional region in the North, but also of the Orthodox in the South.
The Protestant reform invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition when priest Gj. Buzuku brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy, trying to do for the Albanian what Luther did for the German language.
The “Missal” by Gj. Buzuku, published by him in 1555, is considered to date as the first work of written Albanian. The refined level of the language and the stabilised orthography must be a result of an earlier tradition of writing Albanian, a tradition that is not known. But there are some fragmented evidence, dating earlier than Buzuku, which indicate that Albanian was written at least since 14th century AD:
The first known evidence dates from 1332 AD and deals with the French Dominican Guglielm Adae, Archbishop of Tivar, who in a report in Latin writes that Albanians use Latin letters in their books although their language is quite different from Latin. Of special importance in supporting this are: a baptising formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) of 1462, written in Albanian within a text in Latin by the bishop of Durrës Pal Engjëlli; a glossary with Albanian words of 1497 by Arnold von Harf, a German who had travelled through Albania, and a 14th century fragment from the Bible according to Saint Mathew, also in Albanian, but in Greek letters.
Albanian writings of these centuries must not have been religious texts only, but historical chronicles too. They are mentioned by the humanist M. Barleti who, in his book “Rrethimi i Shkodrës” (The Siege of Shkodër) (1504), confirms that he has leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the vulgus (in vernacula lingua).
Despite the obstacles generated by the Counter-reform which was opposed to the development of national languages in Christian religious literature, this process went on uninterrupted. During the 16th to 17th centuries, the catechism “E mbësuame krishterë” (Christian Teachings) (1592) by L. Matrënga, “Doktrina e krishterë” (The Christian Doctrine) (1618) and “Rituale romanum” (1621) by P. Budi, the first writer of original Albanian prose and poetry, an apology for George Castriot (1636) by F. Bardhi, who also published a dictionary and folk-lore creations, the theological-philosophical treaty “Cuneus Prophetarum” (The Band of Prophets) (1685) by P. Bogdani, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages, were published in Albanian.
The Bogdani’s work is a theological-philosophical treaty that considers with originality, by merging data from various sources, principal issues of theology, a full biblical history and the complicated problems of scholasticism, cosmogony, astronomy, pedagogy etc. Bogdani brought into Albanian culture the humanist spirit and praised the role of knowledge and culture in the life of man; with his written work in a language of polished style, he marked a turning point in the history of Albanian literature.
During 18th century, the literature of Orthodox and Muslim confessional cultural circles witnessed a greater development. An anonymous from Elbasan brings into Albanian language a number of sections from the Bible; T. H. Filipi, also from Elbasan, brings the “Dhiata e Vjetër dhe e Re” (The Old and the New Testament). These efforts multiplied in the following century with the publication in 1827 of the integral text of the “Dhiata e Re” (The New Testament) by G. Gjirokastriti and with the big corpus of (Christian) religious translations by K.
Kristoforidhi (1830-1895), in both dialects of the Albanian, publications which helped in the process of integrating the two dialects into a unified literary language and in setting up the basis for the establishment of the national church of the Albanians with the liturgy in their own language.
Although in opposite direction with this tendency, the culture of Voskopoja is also to be mentioned, a culture that during the 17th century became a great hearth of civilisation and a metropolis of the Balkan peninsula, with an Academy and a printing press and with personalities like T. Kavaljoti, Dh. Haxhiu, G. Voskopojari, whose works of knowledge, philology, theology and philosophy assisted objectively in the writing and recognition of the Albanian.
Although the literature that evolved in Voskopoja was mainly in the Greek language, the need to erect obstacles to Islamisation made necessary the use of national languages, encouraging the development of national cultures. Walachian and Albanian were also used for the teaching of Greek in the schools of Voskopoja, and books in Walachian were also printed in its printing presses.
The works of Voskopoja writers and savants have brought in some elements of the ideas of European Enlightenment. The most distinguished of them, Teodor Kavaljoti, is an erudite of the time. According to the notes of the German albanolog H.E. Thunman, the work of Kavaljoti, which remained unpublished, in most part deals with issues from almost all branches of philosophy. It shows the influence of Plato, Des Cartes, Malebranche and Leibnitz.
A result of the influence of Islam and the culture of the invader was the emergence, during 18th century, of a school of poetry, or of a literature written in Albanian but in the Arab alphabet. Its authors such as N. Frakulla, M. Kyçyku, S. Naibi, H.Z. Kamberi, Sh. and D. Frashëri, Sheh Mala, and others dealt in their works with motifs borrowed from Oriental literature, wrote religious texts and poetry in a language suffocated by orientalisms and developed religious lyric and epic. This school did not have a long life or any specific influence on the later literary developments.
In order to complete the framework of cultural developments of Albania during 17th and 18th centuries, it should be mentioned that local authors produced distinguished works in the field of architecture and iconic painting. Distinguished names were Onufri and his son Nikolla (16th century) and K. Shpataraku and D. Selenica (18th century) who carried on the tradition of the post-Byzantine religious art, but not without influence from the European Renaissance. Most religious buildings may be mentioned regarding the Islamic art.
The 19th century, the century of national movements in the Balkans, found Albanians without a sufficient tradition of a unitary development of the state, language and culture but, instead, with an individualistic and regionalist mentality inherited from the psychology of clan and kinship and consequently with an underdeveloped national conscience, though with a spirit of spontaneous rebellion. In this historical cultural situation, an organised mental and literary movement, which was called the Albanian National Renaissance, started to emerge. It was inspired by the ideas of national Romanticism and Enlightenment, which were cultivated among the circles of Albanian intelligentsia, mainly émigrés in the old Albanian settlements in Italy and the more recent ones in Istanbul, Bucharest, USA, Sophia and Cairo.
National Renaissance, nurturing the Albanian as a language of culture, the organisation of national education and the establishment of a national literature on the cultural level as well as the creation of the independent state – these were the goals of this movement which gave birth to the school of Albanian Romanticism. It was a typical Balkan Romanticism, imbued with the spirit of national liberation, with the nostalgia of the émigré and the rhetorical pathos of evoking the Albanian Middle Ages, that is, the wars of George Castriot. This literary school developed the poetry most. Regarding the motifs and poetical forms, its hero was the ethical man, the fighting Albanian, and to a lesser degree the tragic man. It is closely linked with the folklore tradition. The pursuit of this tradition and the publications of “Rapsodi të një poeme arbëreshe” (Rhapsody of an Arbëresh Poem) in 1866 by De Rada, of “Përmbledhje të këngëve popullore dhe rapsodi të poemave shqiptare” (Collection of Albanian Folk Songs and Rhapsodies of Albanian Poems) in 1871 by Z. Jubani, “Bleta shqiptare” (Albanian Bee) in 1878 by Th. Mitko, etc., were part of the cultural programme of the National Renaissance for establishing the ethnic and cultural identity of Albanians.
Two are the greatest representatives of Albanian Romanticism of 19th century: J. De Rada (1814-1903), born and dead in the Albanian Diaspora in Italy and educated there, and N. Frashëri (1846-1900), born in Albania, educated at Zosimea of Ioannina, but emigrated and deceased in Istanbul. The first is the Albanian romantic poet brought up in the climate of European Romanticism, the second is the Albanian romanticist who merges in his poetry the influence of Eastern poetry, especially Persian, with the spirit of the poetry of Western Romanticism.
De Rada wrote a cycle of epical-lyrical poems in the style of Albanian rhapsodies: “Këngët e Milosaos”(The Songs of Milosao), 1836, “Serafina Topia” 1839, “Skënderbeu i pafat” (Unlucky Scanderbeg) 1872-1874 etc. with the ambition of creating the national epos for the century of Scanderbeg. Following the traces of Herder, De Rada raised the love for folk songs in his poetry and painted it in ethnographic colours. His works reflect both the Albanian life with its characteristic customs and mentalities, and the Albanian drama of the 15th century, when this land’s indomitable folk fell to the Ottoman yoke. The conflict between the happiness of the individual and the tragedy of the nation, the scenes by the riversides, women gathering wheat in the fields, the man going to war and the wife embroidering his belt, all represented with a delicate lyrical feeling – this is the poetry of this romantic poet who grew up in the political climate of the national movement of Albanians and in the literary climate of Calabrian Romanticism.
Naim Frashëri wrote a pastoral poem “Bagëti e bujqësia” (Shepherds and Farmers) (1886), a collection of philosophical, patriotic and love lyrics “Lulet e verës” (Summer Flowers), (1890), an epical poem on Scanderbeg “Histori e Skënderbeut” (The History of Scanderbeg) (1898), a religious epical poem “Qerbelaja” (1898), two poems in Greek “O Eros” (i.e.O Love) and “O alithis pothos ton skipetaron” (i.e. The True Desire of Albanians), a bunch of lyrics in Persian “Tehajylat” (The Dream) and many erudite works in Albanian. He is recognised as the greatest national poet of Albanians. Naim Frashëri established modern lyrics in Albanian poetry. In the spirit of “Bucolics” and “Georgics” of Vergil, in his “Bagëti e bujqësia” (Shepherds and Farmers) he sang to the works of the land tiller and shepherd by writing a hymn to the beauties of his fatherland and expressing the nostalgia of the émigré poet and the pride of being Albanian. It is not surprising that though living in the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in Istanbul, he felt so deeply about the fate of his fatherland. The longing for his birthplace, the mountains and fields of Albania, the graves of his ancestors, the memories of his childhood, feed his inspiration with lyrical strength and impulse.
The inner experiences of the individual freed from the chains of medieval, Oriental mentality on one hand and the philosophical pantheism of the Sufi doctrine, imbued with the poetical pantheism of the European Romanticism on the other hand, give to the lyrical meditations of Frashëri a universal human and philosophical dimension. The most beautiful poems of “Lulet e verës” (Summer Flowers) collection are the philosophical lyrics on life and death, on time that goes by and never comes back leaving behind tormenting memories in the heart of man, on the Creator melt with the Universe. Spiritual by nature and a member of the Bektashi sect, Frashëri is a metaphysical poet, one who fused his lyrical meditations, Hellenistic mystique with ancient, Oriental and Islamic mystique. Being in the crossroads of Eastern and Western philosophical and poetical traditions, N. Frashëri blends them with each other, but without suppressing his Albanian nature. The Western culture and civilisation determined the illuminist underlay of the work of Frashëri, Eastern civilisation its philosophical-mystical underlay, while the Albanian world the backbone of his work. But one should single out the French spirit in his work as well. The French spirit in Greece and Turkey was a representative of the European culture. It found a hotbed in the Balkan countries like Albania, because it brought to the people of the peninsula the ideas of the French uprising and generally the idea of freedom and modern nationalism. Knowing the French language and being an admirer of Voltaire and Rousseau as a thinker and of Lamartine as a poet, Frashëri envisaged the future of his nation “to rise from the side of the sunset”. The romanticism of Naim in this point does not differ from the Greek or Turkish Romanticism, they are all offspring of France. Naim Frashëri is the founder of the national literature of the Albanians and of the national literary language. He raised Albanian to a modern language of culture, evolving it in the model of the popular Albanian speech.
The inner world of the romantic hero with its vehement feelings is brought to Albanian Romanticism by the poetry of Z. Serembe. The poetry of N. Mjeda and A. Z. Çajupi, who lived at the end of Renaissance, bears the signs of disintegration of the artistic system of Romanticism in Albanian literature.
A.Z Çajupi (1866-1930), is a rustic poet, the type of a folk bard, called the Mistral of Albania; he brought to Albanian literature the comedy of customs and the tragedy of historical themes. Graduated from a French college in Alexandria and the Geneva University, a good connoisseur of French literature, A.Z. Çajupi was among the first to bring into Albanian language La Fountaine’s fables, thus opening the way to the translation and adoption of works of world literature into Albanian, which has been and remains one of the major ways of communication of Albanians with the world culture.
With the establishment of the Albanian state (1912), the romantic school, born from the ground of the national movement, lost its historical base; the national idea gives way to the human one and new tendencies and styles appear in the development of Albanian literature. The main direction taken by the Albanian literature between the two World Wars was realism, but it also bore either any aspects of a belated sentimentalism (F. Postoli), or remnants of romanticism.
Gjergj Fishta (1871-1940), wrote a poem of national epos breadth “Lahuta e malësisë” (The Lute of the Highlands) in which, in a romanticising spirit and a high patriotic pathos, he depicts the struggles of Northern mountaineers against Slav onslaughts.
With this work he remains the greatest epical poet of Albanians. A Franciscan priest, erudite and a member of the Italian Academy, Gjergj Fishta is a multifaceted personality of Albanian culture: epical and lyrical poet, publicist and satirist, dramatist and translator, active participant in the Albanian cultural and political life between the two Wars.
His major work, “Lahuta e malësisë” (The Lute of the Highlands) with 17.000 verses, written in the spirit of Albanian historical and legendary epos, is a reflection of the Albanian life and mentality, a poetical mosaic of historic and legendary exploits, traditions and customs of the highlands, a live fresco of the history of an old people, which places on its centre the type of Albanian carved in the Calvary of his life along the stream of centuries which had been savage to him. Fishta’s poem is distinguished by its vast linguistic wealth, is a receptacle for the richness of the popular speech of the highlands, the live and infinite phraseology and the diversity of clear syntax constructions, which give vitality and strength to the poetic expression.
The poetical collections “Mrizi i Zanave” (The Fairies’ Mead) with patriotic verse and “Vallja e Parrizit” (Paris’s Dance) with verses of a religious spirit, represent Fishta as a refined lyrical poet, while his other works “Anzat e Parnasit” (Parnassus’ Anises) and “Gomari i Babatasit” (Babatas’ Donkey) represent him as an unrepeatable satirical poet. In the field of drama, “Juda Makabe” and “Ifigjenia n’ Aulli” may be mentioned along his tragedies with a biblical and ancient mythology themes.
Albanian literature between the two Wars did not lack manifestations of sentimentalism (F. Postoli, M. Grameno) and of belated classicism, especially in drama (E. Haxhiademi). Manifestations of the modern trends, impressionism, symbolism etc. were isolated phenomena in the works of some writers (Migjeni, Poradeci, and Asdreni), that did not succeed in forming a school. Deep changes were seen in the system of genres; prose (Migjeni, F. S. Noli, F. Konica, E. Koliqi, M. Kuteli, etc.) drama and satire (Gj. Fishta, K. Floqi) developed parallel to poetry.
The typical representative of realism was Millosh Gjergj Nikolla, Migjeni (1913-1938). His poetry “Vargjet e lira” (Free Verse), 1936, and prose are permeated by a severe social realism on the misery and tragic position of the individual in the society of the time. The characters of his works are people from the lowest strata of Albanian society.
Some of Migjeni’s stories are novels in miniature; their themes represent the conflict of the individual with institutions and the patriarchal and conservative morality. The rebellious nature of Migjeni’s talent broke the traditionalism of Albanian poetry and prose by bringing a new style and forms in poetry and narrative. He is one of the greatest reformers of Albanian literature, the first great modern Albanian writer.
L. Poradeci (1899-1987), a poetical talent of a different nature, a brilliant lyrical poet, wrote a soft and warm poetry, but with a deep thinking and a charming musicality “Vallja e yjeve” (The Dance of Stars), 1933, “Ylli i zemrës” (The Star of Heart) 1937.
F. S. Noli (1882-1965) F.S. Noli is one of the most versatile figures — he was a distinguished Poet, historian, dramatist, aesthete and musicologist, publicist, translator and master of the Albanian language, on top of being a statesman and diplomat, he is the genius of Albanian culture of the 20th century.
Born in Qytezë, in Edrene region, he did odd jobs in his youth to earn a living; he wrote the plays “The Awakening” and “Israelites and Philistines”; he published articles and translated in Greek S. Frashëri’s work “Albania — her Past, Present and Future”. In 1906 he went to the U.S.A where he played a role in bringing together the Albanian societies in the “Vatra” federation and two years later he was ordained priest. He intended to found the Albanian Church as independent from the Greek Church. He supported the activity of the armed bands and uprisings of 1910 to 1912.
After the proclamation of Independence, Noli returned to Albania in 1913 and offered his contribution to the national government of Vlorë. During the period of 1920-1924 he expressed his views about how the Albanian State should be organized and implementing an internal and foreign policy based on the principles of Western democracy. It’s for these views that he became the leader of Albanian opposition. From 1920 to 1924 he was the leader of the Albanian opposition in parliament and after the June Revolution he became the head of the Democratic government. After the failure of the Revolution he immigrated to Europe where he was acquainted with the Communist ideas as well. There he made a self-critical assessment of his actions up to that time. These years’ experience wad embodied in a series of creations of a high artistic level
In 1908 he was ordained a priest, initiating the idea of an autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church, which he established in 1922. After moving around in Europe as a political émigré, in 1932 he settled for good in the USA, where he died.
The experience of the defeated 1924 revolution inspired him for a cycle of lyrics with biblical motifs, included in the book “Album”. In 1907 he had published the drama, again with a biblical theme, “Izraelitë dhe filistinë” (Israelites and Philistines), trying to bring to his time the biblical legend in an analogy with his own experience as a spiritual leader of the movement for national and social liberation of Albanians. In 1947 he published in English the study “Beethoven and the French Revolution”. He translated into Albanian many liturgical books and works of world class writers such as O. Khayyam, W. Shakespeare, H. Ibsen, M. de Cervantes and others. With his poetry, non-fiction, scientific and religious prose, as well as with his translations, F.S. Noli has played a fundamental role in the development of the modern Albanian.
Distinguished writers of short prose were E. Koliqi (1903-1975), M. Kuteli (1907-1967) and F. Konica (1875-1942). The first one wrote subtle prose, full of colouring from his town of Shkodër, (“Tregtar flamujsh”, (Trader of Flags), 1935, the second is a magician of the Albanian language, the writer that cultivated the folk style of narration into a charming prose, “Net shqiptare” (Albanian Nights) 1938; “Ago Jakupi” 1943; “Kapllan aga i Shaban Shpatës” (Kapllan Aga of Shaban Shpata), 1944.
F. Konica is the master who gave Albanian prose a modern image, the intellectual that brought the proper Western mentality to Albanian culture. He was born in Konica, a small Albanian town, which following the decisions of the London Conference of 1913 that shrank the Albanian state to the present borders, remained with Greece. He came from a renowned family, inheriting the title of Bey and the conscience of belonging to an elite, which he manifested strongly in his life and work, but he did not inherit the Oriental backward mentality which he discarded with a joking smile that he translated into a cutting sarcasm in his work. He attended for one year the Jesuit college of Shkodër, then the Imperial Lyceum in Istanbul, studied literature and philosophy at Dijon University, France, and completed his higher studies at Harvard University, where, in 1912, got a Master’s degree (Master of Arts) from that University. Erudite, knowledgeable in all major European languages and some Eastern ones, a friend of G. Apollinaire, called by foreigners “a walking encyclopaedia”, F. Konica became the model of Western intellectual for the Albanian culture. Since his youth he was dedicated to the national movement, but contrary to the mythical, idealising and romanticising feeling of the Renaissance, he brought in it the spirit of criticism and experienced the perennial pain of the idealist who suffers for his own thoughts. He established the “Albania” magazine (Brussels 1897-1900, London 1902-1909), that became the most important Albanian press organ of the Renaissance. Publicist, essayist, poet, prose writer, translator and literary critic, he, among others, is the author of the studies “L’Albanie et les turcs” (Paris 1895), “Memoire sur le mouvement national albanais (Brussels, 1899), of novels “Një ambasadë e Zulluve në Paris” (An Embassy of the Zulu in Paris) (1922) and “Doktor Gjilpëra” (Doctor the Needle) (1924), as well as of the historical-cultural work “Albania — the Rock Garden of South-Eastern Europe” published posthumously in Massachusetts in 1597. The two novels of Konica share the satirical spirit and the allegoric expression of the conflict between knowledge and ignorance, between the backward Oriental mentality and modern Western mentality. Both his non-fiction writings and fiction prose are a model of the elaborated literary Albanian and of an elegant style.
He spent the last years of his life (1926-1939) as the ambassador of the Albanian Kingdom to Washington, where he died in 1942. His remains were brought to Albania recently.
The literature of the Albanians of Italy in the period between the two Wars continued the tradition of the romanticist school of the 19th century. Z. Skiro (1865-1927) through his work “Kthimi” (Return), 1913, “Te dheu i huaj” (In Foreign Soil), 1940, wanted to recover the historical memory of Albanians emigrated since the 15th century after the death of Scanderbeg.
During the Antifascist Struggle of the Albanian people (1939-1944), a literature of resistance developed. It was born underground through the press of the Communist Party of Albania. The products of this literature were mainly non-fiction writings, literary sketches and texts of partisan songs. Its authors were antifascist fighters of the youngest generation (Sh. Musaraj, A. Çaçi, F. Gjata, K. Jakova, Q. Buxheli).
After World War II, Albanian literature witnessed a massive development. The main feature of literature and arts of this period was their ideologically oriented development and the elaboration of all genres, especially of novel, which despite of the lack of any tradition came to the lead of the literary process.
The most elaborate type of novel was the novel of socialist realism of ethical and historical character, with a linear subject matter (J. Xoxa, S. Spasse), but novels with a rugged composition, open poetics and a philosophical substratum issuing from association of ideas and historical analogies (I. Kadare, P. Marko) as well as the satirical novel are not lacking (D. Agolli, Q. Buxheli).
The short story and novel were developed by Dh. Shuteriqi, N. Prifti, Z. Çela, T. Laço, Dh. Xhuvani, N. Lera and others, and poetry by I. Kadare, D. Agolli, F. Arapi, Xh. Spahiu, M. Ahmeti and others.
Drama (K. Jakova, “Toka jonë”) (Our land), 1955, and comedy (S. Çomora, “Karnavalet e Korçës”) (The Carnival of Korça), 1961, developed to a lesser degree.
The literature of this period developed within the framework of socialist realism, the only direction allowed by official policy. But beyond this framework, powerful talents created works with an implicit feeling of opposition and with universal significance.
The disidend trend in literature was expressed in different forms in the works of K.Trebeshina, M.Myftiu, I Kadare, D. Agolli, M. Jero, K. Kosta, etj, who either tried to break out the canons of the socialist realism method or introduced heretic ideas for the comunist dictatorship ideology.
I. Kadare (born in 1936), with the poem (“Përse mendohen këto male” (What Are These Mountains Musing On?) 1964, “Motive me diell” (Sunny Motifs) 1968, “Koha” (Time) 1976, and especially with his prose (“Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur” (The General of The Dead Army) 1963, “Kështjella” (The Castle) 1970, “Kronikë në gur” (Chronicle in Stone) 1971, “Dimri i madh“ (The Great Winter) 1977, “Ura me tri harqe” (The Three-Arched Bridge) 1978, “Piramida” (The Pyramid) 1992; “Spiritus” 1996 etc., defied the limitations of the time and revived Albanian literature with forms and motifs which integrate it into the modern streams of world literature.
The work of Kadare represents an artistic encyclopaedia of Albanian life, a broad fresco of historical and contemporary events, experienced with a philosophical attitude, sometimes expressed openly and at other times in Aesop’s speech. The philosophy, beliefs, dramas and historical and cultural traditions of Albanians, filtered through the artistic thinking of the writer are represented in Kadare’s work as an expression of the national identity and the vitality of the spiritual culture of his own people and as a factor in the people’s historical resistance and survival.
Kadare creates a modern prose making wide use of historical analogies, parables and associations, national legends and mythology. His work has an open poetics, which emanates from the intertwining of times, levels of artistic speech and the real with the unreal, and from the uneven mosaic nature of composition.
Kadare’s work brings to European literature a characteristic Mediterranean, Balkan, flavour, and enriches it with the coloration of an area typical for its ethno-cultural distinctness. Starting from the epical world of medieval legends and ballads, the prose of Kadare overcomes time distance and brings to resonance the medieval artistic conscience and mentality with those of our time.
The message of Kadare’s prose and poetry simultaneously gains historical depth and a universal humane note through a deep creative elaboration of the richness of ancient folk traditions.
Kadare, a writer with a strong critical conscience, has not only raised to poetry the spiritual values of his nation, but has also castigated outdated traditions, oldish mentalities, provincial psychology and backward life conventions of Albanian society.
Through its spirit of dissidence in the conditions of dictatorship when it was made, Kadare’s work has helped to erode the foundations of the totalitarian regime in Albania. His political exile to France in 1990, at a time when democratic processes had just started in Albania, gave an impulse to these processes. It is for these values that Kadare’s work enjoys wide popularity and has been translated in all of the major languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Arabic, etc.). Kadare has been praised by foreign critique as one of the most distinguished contemporary writers of the world literature and has won several international awards. Kadare is currently the most eminent representative of Albanian culture in the world.
A fine lyrical poet and satirical writer, D. Agolli (1931) has brought in Albanian poetry the freshness of a spontaneous meditative inspiration, and in Albanian novel the subtle popular humour which stretches to the grotesque “Shkëlqimi dhe rënia e shokut Zylo” (The Shine and Fall of Comrade Zylo) 1973, “Arka e djallit” (Devil’s Arc) 1997). He is a master of the psychological, philosophical short story (“Zhurma e erërave të dikurshme” (The Noise of Remote Winds) 1964, “Njerëz të krisur” (Crazy People) 1995.
Agolli’s most important collections of poems include “Shtigje malesh dhe trotuare” (Mountain Paths and Sidewalks) 1965, “Fjala gdhend gurin” (Word Carves the Stone) 1977, “Udhëtoj i menduar” (Walking Deep in Thoughts) 1985, and “Lypësi i kohës” (Beggar of the Time) 1995.
D.Agolli was born in a village of southeastern Albania and at a very young age participated in the Antifascist Resistance. The close connection with the life of the people and the antifascist ideals determined the content of his work. A feature of Agolli’s novels on the resistance is the updating of its moral values through an artistic synchronisation of war events with present-day ones. The work of Agollli has become very popular; it is translated in several languages and has been appraised by foreign critique.
Albanian literature in Albanian lands in Kosova and Western Macedonia as represented by many names (E. Mekuli, A. Pashku, A. Podrimja, R. Kelmendi, R. Qosja, D. Mehmeti, M. Isaku etc.), although developed in a different political and cultural context, even after World War II maintained links with the mother culture and brought into art the national and human dramas and ravages of the individuals in those lands. There has not been any proper literary movement in the Albanian Diaspora in Europe after World War II. The only important author of that Diaspora is M. Camaj (1925-1992). In his poetry and prose he tries to uncover the identity roots of the Albanian émigré.
The most important result in the post-war Albanian culture in terms of the language development is the unification of the standard Albanian, elaborated to the level of a modern language.
In the current stage of transition of post-Communist society, Albanian literature is experiencing the advantages of its opening to the world, but also the problems that are faced in such conditions by the culture of any nation to preserve its own identity.
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2. Historia e letërsisë shqiptare (History of Albanian literature) (Published by the Academy of Sciences), Tirana, 1983.
3. E. Çabej. Shqiptarët midis Perëndimit dhe Lindjes (Albanians between the West and the East), Tirana, 1994
"Moreover, you scorned our people, and compared the Albanese to sheep, and according to your custom think of us with insults. Nor have you shown yourself to have any knowledge of my race. Our elders were Epirotes, where this Pirro came from, whose force could scarcely support the Romans. This Pirro, who Taranto and many other places of Italy held back with armies. I do not have to speak for the Epiroti. They are very much stronger men than your Tarantini, a species of wet men who are born only to fish. If you want to say that Albania is part of Macedonia I would concede that a lot more of our ancestors were nobles who went as far as India under Alexander the Great and defeated all those peoples with incredible difficulty. From those men come these who you called sheep. But the nature of things is not changed. Why do your men run away in the faces of sheep?"
Letter from Skanderbeg to the Prince of Taranto ▬ Skanderbeg, October 31 1460
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