Gjergj Fishta

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Gjergj Fishta
Gjergj Fishta.jpg
Born Gjergj Fishta
(1871-09-23)September 23, 1871
Fishtë, Dajç, Lezhë, modern Albania, then Ottoman Empire
Died December 30, 1940(1940-12-30) (aged 69)
Shkodër, Albania
Resting place Shkodër, Albania
Nationality Albanian
Education Catholic Theology
Occupation Poet, writer, priest, translator, member of the Albanian parliament

Gjergj Fishta (October 23, 1871 – December 30, 1940) was an Albanian Franciscan, poet, rilindas, and a translator. Notably he was the chairman of the commission of the Congress of Monastir, which sanctioned the Albanian alphabet. In 1921 he became the Vice President of the Albanian parliament, and in 1937 he completed and published his epic masterpiece Lahuta e Malcís, an epic poem written in Gheg dialect of Albanian. It contains 17,000 lines and is considered the "Albanian Iliad".[1]


Born in Fishtë, Dajç (otherwise called Zadrimë), Lezhë, Albania (then Ottoman Empire), Fishta studied philosophy and Catholic theology in Bosnia (seminaries in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Livno, Kreševo), among Bosnian Croats.[2] In 1902, he became the head of the Franciscan gymnasium in Shkodër (Collegium Illyricum).[2] Fishta was under influence of Croatian Franciscan monks as a student in monasteries in Austria-Hungary, when he wrote his main work Lahuta e Malcís, influenced by the national epics of the Croatian and Serbian literature according to Robert Elsie.[3] Elsie further hypothesized that in Lahuta e Malcís, he substituted the struggle against the Turks with struggle against the Slavs, propagating Anti-Slavic feelings.[4] After the World War II the authorities in Yugoslavia and Albanian historiography controlled by communist regime in Tirana (influenced by Yugoslav communists) proscribed Fishta's works as anti-Slavic propaganda.[5] In Soviet historiography he was referred to as "former agent of Austro-Hungarian imperialism" who took position against Slavic people and Pan-Slavism because they opposed "rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania" and had a role in Catholic Clergy's preparation "for Italian aggression against Albania".[6]

As a representative of the Society for the Unity of the Albanian Language, Fishta participated and was elected for president of the committee in the Congress of Monastir (today Bitola in Macedonia, then Ottoman Empire) held in 1908. Participants of the congress accepted Fishta's proposal for the Latin Bashkimi alphabet, and many of its elements were merged into the Istanbul alphabet resulting in the standard Albanian alphabet.[7] In 1916, he was core founder of the Albanian Literary Commission, where he unsuccessfully tried to place Shkodra subdialect as standard literary Albanian.

He interpreted Albania in the conference of Paris on 1919. From the beginning of April 1919 to 1920, he served as Secretary of the Albanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. At the end of 1920, he was elected to parliament by Shkodër, and in 1921 he became the Vice President of the Albanian parliament. In 1924, Fishta supported Fan Noli in his attempt to found a democratic system in Albania. After the establishment of the Zogu Regime, Fishta left willingly to go into exile in Italy in 1925/26, before he resumed his position as teacher and writer in Shkodër, where he died in 1940.

Through both his work as a teacher as well as through his literary works, Fishta had a great influence on the development of the written form of his native Gheg Albanian. Fishta worked moreover as a translator (of Molière, Manzoni, Homer, et al.).


  • Lahuta e Malcís, epic poem, (Zara, 1902)
  • Anzat e Parnasit, satire, (Sarajevo, 1907)
  • Pika voese më vonë ri botuar si Vallja e Parrizit, (Zara, 1909)
  • Shqiptari i qytetnuem, melodrama, (1911)
  • Vëllaznia apo Shën Françesku i Assisi-t, (1912)
  • Juda Makabe, tragedy, (1914)
  • Gomari i Babatasit, Shkodër, (1923)
  • Mrizin e Zanave, Shkodër, (1924)
  • Lahuta e Malcís (2d. ed.), Gesamtdruck, (Shkodër 1937). In English The Highland Lute, trans. by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck. I. B. Tauris (2006) ISBN 1-84511-118-4

Fishta was editor of the magazine Hylli i Dritës (1913) and the newspaper Posta e Shypnisë (1916–1917).


  1. ^ "Gjergj Fishta: Gjuha shqype" (in Albanian). kosova.albemigrant.com. May 5, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Pater Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940)
  3. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Fishta was not uninfluenced or unmoved by the literary achievements of the southern Slavs in the second half of the nineteenth century... the role played by Franciscan pater Grga Martic whose works served the young Fishta as a model... by the writings of an earlier Franciscan writer, Andrija Kacic-Miosic ...by the works of Croatian poet Ivan Mazhuranic... the Montenegrin poet-prince Petar Petrovic Njegos... His main work, the epic poem, Lahuta e Malcís(The highland lute), ... propagates anti-Slavic feelings and makes the struggle against the Ottoman occupants secondary. 
  4. ^ Detrez, Raymond; Plas, Pieter (2005), Developing cultural identity in the Balkans: convergence vs divergence, Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang S.A., p. 220, ISBN 90-5201-297-0, ... substitution of the central motif of the fight against the Turks by that of the fight against Slavs. 
  5. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. After the war, ... The official Tirana..., restricted its treatment of Fishta to an absolute minimum...the alleged anti-Slavic sentiments expressed in ‘The highland lute’ which caused the work and its author to be proscribed by the Yugoslav authorities,...‘The highland lute’ as anti-Slavic propaganda... 
  6. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of Moscow, ...(March 1950): "The literary activities of the Catholic priest Gjergj Fishta reflect the role played by the Catholic clergy in preparing for Italian aggression against Albania. As a former agent of Austro-Hungarian imperialism, Fishta, ..., took a position against the Slavic peoples who opposed the rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania. In his chauvinistic, anti-Slavic poem ‘The highland lute,’ this spy extolled the hostility of the Albanians towards the Slavic peoples, calling for an open fight against the Slavs." 
  7. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of Moscow, ...(March 1950): "the congress had elected Gjergj Fishta to preside over a committee... Sami Frashëri’s Istanbul alphabet which, though impractical for printing... a new Latin alphabet almost identical to Fishta’s Bashkimi alphabet...". 


  • The information in this article is based on that in its German equivalent.
  • Maximilian Lambertz: Gjergj Fishta und das albanische Heldenepos "Lahuta e Malsisë" – Laute des Hochlandes. Eine Einführung in die albanische Sagenwelt. Leipzig 1949.

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