March 15, 1875|
Konica, Ottoman Empire
|Died||December 15, 1942(aged 67)|
|Known for||Albanian Congress of Trieste
First Albanian Ambassador to United States
Faik Konica (March 15, 1875 – December 15, 1942), born in Konitsa, was one of the greatest figures of Albanian culture in the early decades of the twentieth century. Prewar Albanian minister to Washington, his literary review, Albania, became the focal publication of Albanian writers living abroad. Faik Konica wrote little in the way of literature, but as a stylist, critic, publicist and political figure he had a tremendous impact on Albanian writing and on Albanian culture at the time.
Konica was born on 15 March 1875 in the town of Konitsa, Ottoman Empire, now in northern Greece, not far from the present Albanian border. After elementary schooling in Turkish in his native village, he studied at the Xavierian Shkodër Jesuit College in Shkodra which offered him not only some instruction in Albania but also an initial contact with central European culture and Western ideas. From there, he continued his schooling at the eminent French-language Imperial Galata secondary school (Galatasaray High School) in Istanbul.
In 1890, at the age of fifteen, he was sent to study in France where he spent the next seven years. After initial education at secondary schools in Lisieux (1890) and Carcassonne (1892), he registered at the University of Dijon, from which he graduated in 1895 in Romance languages and philology. After graduation, he moved to Paris for two years where he studied Medieval French literature, Latin and Greek at the famous Collège de France. He finished his studies at the prestigious Harvard University in the United States, although little is known of this period of his life. As a result of his highly varied educational background, he was able to speak and write Albanian, Greek, Italian, French, German, English and Turkish fluently.
Konica strove for a more refined Western culture in Albania, but he also valued his country's traditions. He was, for instance, one of the first to propagate the idea of editing the texts of older Albanian literature. In an article entitled "Për themelimin e një gjuhës letrarishte shqip", (On the foundation of an Albanian literary language), published in the first issue of Albania, Konica also pointed to the necessity of creating a unified literary language. He suggested the most obvious solution, that the two main dialects, Tosk and Gheg, should be fused and blended gradually. His own fluid style was highly influential in the refinement of southern Albanian Tosk prose writing, which decades later was to form the basis of the modern Albanian literary language (standard language).
While in Brussels, in 1896–7 Konica started the publication of the periodical Albania, which ended its publications in 1909. It was printed both in Brussels and Paris. The magazine was one of the most important rilindas magazines of that time.
In 1903–1904, Faik Konica was resident at Oakley Crescent in Islington, London. There he continued to edit and publish, under the pseudonym Thrank Spirobeg, the dual language (French/Albanian) periodical Albania that he had founded in Brussels in 1897. He contributed bitingly sarcastic articles on what he saw as the cultural backwardness and naivety of his compatriots.
Albania helped to spread awareness of Albanian culture and the Albanian cause across Europe, and was highly influential in the development and refinement of Southern Albanian prose writing. In the words of the famous French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, "Konica turned a rough idiom of sailors inns into a beautiful, rich and supple language". Theodor Anton Ippen, a diplomat of Austria-Hungary, was one of the authors whose texts were published in the Konica's periodical. Konica assured Ippen that he and his friends believed that Albania should be in political and military union with Austria.
Whilst in Brussels, Konica had a correspondence with Apollinaire regarding an article published by the poet in L'Europen. When Apollinaire came to London seeking to regain the affections of Annie Playden, an English governess he had met and fallen in love with in Germany, he stayed with Konica at Oakley Crescent.
Apollinaire published a memoir of Konica in the Mercure de France on 1 May 1912, which begins: "Of the people I have met and whom I remember with the greatest pleasure, Faik Bey Konica is one of the most unusual". He recalls:
We would have lunch the Albanian way, which is to say, endlessly. The lunches were so long that I could not visit a single museum in London, as we would always arrive when the doors closed, and the attention and care with which Konica edited his articles meant that the journal always came out very late. In 1904, only the issues for 1902 appeared; in 1907, the issues for 1904 came out at regular intervals. The French journal L'Occident is the only one that could compete with Albania in that respect.
Political activities and death
- Robert Elsie's introduction to Faik Konitza (pdf)
- "Faïk Konitza – Selected Correspondence 1896–1942"
- "Albanian Articles of Faik Konica at shqiperia.com"
- Luan Starova: "Faik Konitza and Guillaume Apollinaire"
- "Sister Act". Time Magazine. 1938-03-28. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
- Faik Konica, Vepra 1, 2, 3 dhe 4 te www.ShtepiaeLibrit.com
- "Albania" – by Faik Konitza (Jun 1898 – Nov 1899)
- Mann, Stuard Edward (1955). Albanian literature: an outline of prose, poetry, and drama. p. 99.
- The Albanians: an ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present By Edwin E. Jacques page 299 
- "Qui était Faik Konica?". http://www.konitza.eu. 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2013. "Les collaborateurs et le contenu de la revue “Albania”. La collection d’Albania est réunie en 12 volumes qui font 2500 pages. Ses collaborateurs étaient des écrivains et intellectuels réputés de son temps en Europe comme Guillaume Apollinaire, Emile Legrand, Jan Urban Jarnik, Holger Pedersen, Albert Thumb, Théodore Ippen, etc."
- Tarifa, Fatos (1985). Drejt pavarësisë: çështja e çlirimit kombëtar në mendimin politik-shoqëror rilindës 1900-1912 (in Albanian). Tirana: Shtëpia Botuese "8 Nëntori". p. 102. ""Është opinioni im dhe i miqve të mi" i shkruante Konica më 1897 konsullit austriak në Shkodër Teodor Ippen — se «do të ishte fat nëse Shqipëria do të arrinte të gëzojë një autonomi administrative me një bashkim politik dhe ushtarak me Austrinë»"
- Elsie, Robert. "Albanian Voices, 1962 - Fan Noli". Robert Elsie's personal website. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011. "Congress of Trieste which was organized by his friend and rival Faik bey Konitza"
- Elsie, Robert (January 2006). Albanian literature: a short history. I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited. p. 106. ISBN 1-84511-031-5. "had initially given his support to the government of Essad Pasha Toptani"
- Gottschling, Anila. "What to visit in Tirana" (in Albanian). Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Faik Konica; Bejtullah D. Destani (2000). Faik Konitza: Selected Correspondence. Centre for Albanian Studies. ISBN 978-1-873928-18-9. Retrieved 9 May 2013.