Friday, May 23, 2008

“The Siege” or what outsiders should think about Albanians

By Gjergj Erebara in Tirana

Last week, one of the most beautiful and imaginative novel written by Ismail Kadare during the communism isolation of my country, “The Siege” was published in UK, attracting media attention. I have read that book in Albanian so I am not familiar with English version. So I am writing my impression derived by Albanian version. First at all, to me seems that “The Siege” is a kind of lesson, how foreigner should think about Albanians.

Kadare tells the story of an Albanian castle under Turkish siege. The main events occur in Turkish command center while from inside the castle events are collected only in very few pages. Defenders does not differ from each-others. There are not names and is only a superhero, Skanderbeg, (our national hero).

What Albanians are, is conceived by what Turkish general Tursun Pasha tells to himself. The reasons of the war are explained also by dialogues between officials of ottoman army.

Seems that defenders are really not interested for wealth, but at least in one occasion, Mr. Kadare deplores about absence of an Albanian Medieval Empire. “Our successors will not find here colonnades and great palaces, because we had not time to build them”, Mr. Kadare wrote in that few pages of the story from inside castle. The siege represents the history of Albania as a continuous war with so few peaceful periods between wars.

The castle under Siege should be Kruja, (15 Km in north of Tirana), the medieval center of Albania and the stronghold of Skanderbeg, the town where three times Ottomans failed, (at the same time when Byzantium itself collapsed in 1453).

The castle of Kruja does not inspire enough to write a novel today. But by description of Mr. Kadare, seems that the castle of the book is the castle of Shkodra, (90 Km in north of Tirana), one of the biggest and best conserved castles in Balkans, with three defensive walls and with that rat-trap gate were janissaries lost their mind and honor, as Mr. Kadare describe.

The Siege

Ismail Kadare

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bond Street Books (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385666632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385666633

1 comment:

Telegraph said...

More about The Siege

Nobel Laureate's tale of battle

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 08/06/2008

Jane Shilling reviews The Siege by Ismail Kadare

In 2005 Ismail Kadare was the first winner of the Man Booker International Prize, a honour that undoubtedly made him the world's most famous Albanian novelist, but perhaps did not altogether consolidate the international reputation his remarkable writing deserves. The rest of article should be read at Telegraph