Albania Literature Part I

As a country located in Europe according to, Albanian literature registered a particular boost with the country’s independence (1913). The Ottoman domination, which for four centuries prevented an autonomous cultural development, strongly conditioned the literary productive rhythm. Albanian literature has a solid basis in popular literature, transmitted orally for centuries, and including medieval legends, lyric songs, rhapsodies, epic songs. The flowery cycle around Gjeto Basho Mujo and Gjergj Alez Ali, guardians of the Albanian borders, and the cycle of Scanderbeg emerge, the latter almost exclusive heritage of the Albanians of Italy. The origins of a learned literature, dating back to the century. XV, on the other hand, have their roots in religious culture, which established itself especially after the Council of Trent. The first large-scale work is the Missal (1555) by Gjon Buzuku, a translation of religious texts from Latin, which remains the fundamental work for Albanian linguistic studies. From the same post-Tridentine cultural environment are the works of two Catholic prelates: Pjetër Budi (1566-1622), who alongside translations offers interesting hymns of a religious subject, and Pjetër Bogdani (1625-1689) who composes the Cuneus Prophetarum (1685), a rich example of art prose. Even the lexicography is located in the ecclesiastical environment: Frang Bardhi (1606-1643), bishop of Zadrima, fill out the Dictionarium Latin epiroticum (1635), the first Albanian vocabulary. In the sec. XVIII literature proposes artistic purposes: among the Albanians of Italy, Giulio Variboba (1724-1788) stands out, composing a poem, The life of St. Mary the Virgin (1762), rich in splendid lyrical images; in the same period the bejtexhinj, Turkish verseurs who are inspired by traditional themes of oriental poetry, assert themselves in Albania. But a real flowering of Albanian literature occurs in the century. XIX, dominated by romanticism and the national Risorgimento (Rilindja). This literature arises among the Albanians of Italy and finds its first exponent in Girolamo De Rada (1814-1903), unanimously considered one of the greatest Albanian writers, flanked by Naim Frashëri (1846-1900) and Gjergj Fishta (1871-1940). De Rada, whose poetics has its roots in popular rhapsodies, reaches its highest lyrical expression with I canti di Milosao (1836); his literary production, continued with the songs of Serafina Thopia (1839) and Skanderbeg unfortunate (1872-74), re-proposing characters and environments of Albania of the century. XV, represents a strong appeal for the cultural and political awakening of the ancestral homeland. Naim Frashëri stands as the most representative figure of Rilindja. His works, Pastoralism and Agriculture (1886), The Flowers of Summer (1890) and The Story of Scanderbeg (1898), which reveal acute sensitivity and rich inspiration, offer a vast picture of Eastern and Western cultural elements; as De Rada does not betray his extraction from the Byzantine cultural world, Frashëri manifests clear connotations of the Muslim Bektashi sect. Albanian literary activity in Italy continues with Francesco Antonio Santori (1819-1894), from Santa Caterina Albanese (Cosenza), who stands out for his vast production in several genres: lyric (Il canzoniere Albanese), novel (Sofia Cominiate), drama (Emira); with Gabriele Dara (1826-1885), from Palazzo Adriano (Palermo), author of a precious romantic poem inspired by the time of Scanderbeg (The last song of Bala, post., 1900); and with Giuseppe Serembe (1843-1901), from San Cosmo Albanese (Cosenza), who in his Canti (post., 1926) reaches lyrical expressions of romantic intonation. In Albania, at the turn of the twentieth century, coinciding with national independence, literary activity intensified. First the poetry of Cajupi (1866-1930) of ethnic and folkloric inspiration (Father Tomor, 1902) with notes of vivid realism, then the nostalgic poetry of Asdreni (1872-1947), which reflects the aspirations of the present (Raggi di sole, 1904, and Sogni e lacrime, 1927) and the author’s inclination to introspective analysis (I salmi del monaco, 1930), reveal the depth of cultural activity and the concrete symptoms of the recomposition of the national fabric. The two Shkoder schools, one Franciscan, which had the epic poet Gjergi Fishta as its greatest exponent, and the other Jesuit, personified by the classicist poet Ndre Mjedja (1866-1937), represent two important moments of artistic formation and creation high level.

The Fishta Mountain Lute, the national epic epic, is appreciated for its loyalty to the popular cultural heritage, for its linguistic richness and for its particular inspiration, while the lyrics (Juvenilia, 1917) and the poems (Lissus, 1928, and Scodra, post., 1939) by Mjedja are an example of balanced fusion of native Albanian elements with others dictated by classical culture. The work of philologist and translator, inaugurated by Konstantin Kristoforidhi (1830-1895), reached the work of Fan S. Noli (1882-1965) through the contributions made to linguistic studies by Luigj Gurakuqi (1879-1925). , distinguished among other things for the appreciated translations of Byzantine liturgical texts. Among the Albanians of Italy, between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, the literary activity of Giuseppe Schirò established itself (1865-1927), of Piana degli Albanesi (Palermo). Following the poetics already tested by De Rada that moved from oral literature, he composed a refined and elegant lyric, Mili e Hajdhia (1891), in a pure and emblematic language for the fusion of several dialectal elements in a koinè.

Albania Literature

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