Albanian Literature - Modern Literature - Independence


The main direction taken by the Albanian literature between the two World Wars was realism, but it also bore remnants of romanticism.

Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940), wrote a poem of national epos breadth Lahuta e malësisë (The Highland Lute) in 17.000 verses, in the spirit of Albanian historical and legendary epos, depicting the struggles of Northern highlanders 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), 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 center 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 biblical and mythological themes.

The typical representative of realism was Millosh Gjergj Nikolla, Migjeni (1913–1938). His poetry Vargjet e lira (Free Verses), 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.

Lasgush Poradeci (1899–1987), a poetical talent of a different nature, a brilliant lyrical poet, wrote 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.

Fan Stilian 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. He wrote the plays The Awakening and Israelites and Philistines; he published articles and translated in Greek Sami Frashëri’s work Albania—her Past, Present and Future. In 1947 he published in English the study Beethoven and the French Revolution. He translated into Albanian many liturgical books and works of major writers such as Omar Khayyám, William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Miguel de Cervantes and others. With his poetry, non-fiction, scientific and religious prose, as well as with his translations, Noli has played a fundamental role in the development of the modern Albanian. His introductions to his own translations of world literature made him Albania’s foremost literary critic of the inter-war period. Fan Noli also led the democratic revolution that ousted King Zog’s regime during the middle 1920's, though his peaceful governing was short-lived.

Albanian literature between the two Wars did not lack manifestations of sentimentalism (Foqion Postoli, Mihal Grameno) and of belated classicism, especially in drama (Et'hem 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, Faik Konica, Ernest Koliqi, Mitrush Kuteli, etc.) drama and satire (Gjergj Fishta, Kristo Floqi) developed parallel to poetry. Ernest Koliqi wrote subtle prose, full of coloring from his town of Shkodër, (Tregtar flamujsh, (Trader of Flags), 1935. Mitrush Kuteli 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.

Faik Konica is the master who gave Albanian prose a modern image. He was born in Konitsa, a small town in Epirus, which following the decisions of the London Conference of 1913 that shrank the Albanian state to the present borders, remained with Greece. Coming 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, he discarded Oriental mentality, inherited from the Ottoman occupation, 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). Erudite, knowledgeable in all major European languages and some Eastern ones, a friend of Guillaume Apollinaire, called by foreigners “a walking encyclopaedia”, 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 Needle) (1924), as well as of the historical-cultural work Albania—the Rock Garden of South-Eastern Europe published posthumously in Massachusetts in 1957.

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. Zef 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 Skanderbeg.

Distinguished writers of this period are: Fan Stilian Noli, Gjergj Fishta, Faik Konica, Haki Stërmilli, Lasgush Poradeci, Mitrush Kuteli, Migjeni, etc.

Also another distinguished writer of Albanian Romanticism who was published in Albania and abroad was, Lazar Eftimiadhi. A graduate of Sorbone, he wrote several articles introducing the Albanian reader to major works of western literature. He also translated works of writers like Hans Christian Andersen, and collaborated with At Gjergj Fishta and others in many important translations. His collection of short stories titled "Merushja" is a pearl of Albanian Romanticism and Humanity and was published by several houses including a 1932 London Edition of A Short Albanian Grammar, by S.E.Mann Lector at the Masaryk University of Brno. Published in London. David Nutt. 212 Shaftsburry Avenue, W.C.2 1932. With a vocabulary and selected passages for reading.

Read more about this topic:  Albanian Literature, Modern Literature

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