Ismail Kadare

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Ismail Kadare
Ismail Kadare.jpg
Born (1936-01-28) 28 January 1936 (age 81)
Gjirokastër, Kingdom of Albania
Occupation Novelist, poet
Nationality Albanian
Period 1954–present
Notable works

The General of the Dead Army 1963
Chronicle in Stone 1971
Broken April 1980[1][2]
The Ghost Rider 1980
The Palace of Dreams 1981
The File on H

The Fall of the Stone City 2008
Notable awards Prix mondial Cino Del Duca
Man Booker International Prize
Prince of Asturias Awards
Jerusalem Prize
The Order of Legion of Honour

Ismail Kadare (Albanian: [ismaˈil kadaˈɾe], also spelled Kadaré; born 28 January 1936) is an Albanian novelist and poet. He has been a leading literary figure in Albania since the 1960s. He focused on poetry until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army, which made him famous inside and outside of Albania. In 1996, he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France.

In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca; in 2005, he won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize; in 2009, the Prince of Asturias Award of Arts; in 2015, the Jerusalem Prize, and in 2016, he was a Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur recipient. He has divided his time between Albania and France since 1990. Kadare has been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature several times. His works have been published in about 45 languages.[3]


Ismail Kadare was born on 28 January 1936 in Gjirokastër in Albania, to Halit Kadare, a civil servant, and Hatixhe Dobi, a homemaker.[4] He attended primary and secondary schools in Gjirokastër and studied Languages and Literature at the Faculty of History and Philology of the University of Tirana. In 1956 Kadare received a teacher's diploma. He later studied at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow from 1958-60.[citation needed] While studying literature in Moscow he managed to get a collection of his poems published in Russian, and there he also wrote his first novel The City with no Advertisements in 1959, intentionally defying the rules of Socialist Realism.

After returning home in 1960 because of the Soviet-Albanian split, he tried to publish a fragment of his first novel camouflaged as a short story titled "Coffeehouse Days". Upon being published in the literary magazine Zëri i Rinisë in 1962, it was immediately banned by the authorities.[5][6] He was advised by his close friends not to tell anybody about the actual novel, so it stayed in his drawers for decades until the communist regime fell in 1990.

In 1963, he published his first novel titled The General of the Dead Army whose French translation published by Albin Michel in 1970 led to Kadare's international breakthrough, having been translated into 30 languages to date.[citation needed] The novel wasn't received well by the critics in Albania at the time. His next novel The Monster, published in the magazine Nëntori in 1965, was banned immediately.

After offending the authorities with a politically satirical poem in 1975, he was forbidden to publish for three years. In 1980 he published Gjakftohtësia (Calmness), a volume consisting of two new novels The Ghost Rider and Broken April along with his old novel The Wedding and the first two chapters of The Palace of Dreams, disguised as a novella. The next year he smuggled the rest of The Palace of Dreams into the second edition of Emblema e dikurshme (Emblem of the past), a collection of stories and novellas originally published in 1977, managing to successfully escape the eye of the censors who had already given green light to the publication of that collection of prose.

In March 1982 The Palace of Dreams was harshly condemned in a Writer's Plenum. The writer was accused of making allusions to Communist Albania in it, citing several ambiguous passages. As a result the work was banned.[7] Kadare was also accused by the president of the League of Albanian Writers and Artists of deliberately evading politics by cloaking much of his fiction in history and folklore.

In 1990, Kadare claimed political asylum in France, issuing statements in favor of democratization. At that time, he stated that "dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship".

During the 1990s and 2000s he was offered multiple times to become President of Albania, but refused.[8]

Critical opinion is divided as to whether Kadare should be considered to have been a dissident or a conformist during the Communist period.[1] For his part, Kadare has stated that he had never claimed to be an "Albanian Solzhenitsyn" or a dissident, and that "dissidence was a position no one could occupy [in Enver Hoxha's Albania], even for a few days, without facing the firing squad. On the other hand, my books themselves constitute a very obvious form of resistance".[9] Referring to The Great Winter (1977), a novel in which he portrayed Enver Hoxha in a flattering light, Kadare said the book was "the price he had to pay for his freedom".[10]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to an Albanian author, Helena Kadare (née Gushi), and has two daughters.

Literary themes[edit]

Kadare's novels draw on legends surrounding the historical experiences of Albanian people, the representation of classical myths in modern contexts, and the totalitarian regime in Albania. They are obliquely ironic as a result of trying to withstand political scrutiny. Among his best-known books are The General of the Dead Army (1963), Chronicle in Stone' (1971), Broken April (1980),[1][2] The Palace of Dreams (1981) and The Concert (1988), considered the best novel of the year 1991 by the French literary magazine Lire.[1]

The Pyramid (1992), was set in Egypt in the 26th century B.C. and after. In it, Kadare mocked Hoxha's fondness for elaborate statues, the pyramid form also reflecting any dictator's love for hierarchy. The Accident (2010) was a multi-layered novel about two lovers whose deaths launch an investigation not only of their relationship, but also of Balkan politics. The Fall of The Stone City (2008) was awarded the Rexhai Surroi Prize in Kosovo, and was shortlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013[11]


Kadare on Albania's Postal stamps

Kadare's works have been published in over 40 countries and translated into over 30 languages.[citation needed] In English, his works have been translated by David Bellos.[12]

In 1996 Kadare became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France, where he replaced the philosopher Karl Popper. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca, and in 2005 he received the inaugural Man Booker International Prize. In 2009, Kadare was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.[13] In the same year he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Science in Social and Institutional Communication by the University of Palermo in Sicily. In 2015, he was awarded the bi-annual Jerusalem Prize.[14]

The London newspaper The Independent said of Kadare: "He has been compared to Gogol, Kafka and Orwell. But Kadare's is an original voice, universal yet deeply rooted in his own soil".[15]


Ismail Kadare in the mid-2000s participated in heated and controversial debates with other prominent Albanians such as Rexhep Qosja of whom both are of a Muslim background regarding Albanian identity and Islam.[16][17] Qosja contended that Albanian identity was both a blend of Western (Christian) and Eastern (Islam) cultures and often adaptable to historical contexts, while Kadare asserted that Albania's future lay with Europe due to its ancient European roots, Christian traditions and being white people.[16][17] Kadare's responses have been noted by Michael Schmidt-Neke to resemble trends within nationalist Albanian historiography as formed during communism.[17]


Kadare's original Albanian language works have been published exclusively by Onufri Publishing House since 1996,[18] as single works or entire sets. The following Kadare novels have been translated into English:

English translations[edit]

Works published in Albanian[edit]

The complete works (except for the essays) of Ismail Kadare were published by Fayard, simultaneously in French and Albanian, between 1993 and 2004.[20] Omitted from the list are the poetry and the short stories.

In 2009, Kadare's complete works in 20 volumes were published in Albanian by Onufri.[21]

The dates of publication given here are those of the first publication in Albanian, unless stated otherwise.

Novels and novellas[edit]

  • Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur (The General of the Dead Army) (1963)
  • Përbindëshi (The Monster) (1965)
  • Lëkura e daulles (The Wedding) (1967)
  • Kështjella (The Siege) (1970)
  • Kronikë në gur (Chronicle in Stone) (1971)
  • Dimiri i vetmisë së madhe (The Great Winter) (1972)
  • Nëntori i një kryeqyteti (November of a Capital)(1975)
  • Muzgu i perëndive të stepës (Twilight of the Eastern Gods) (1978)
  • Komisioni i festës (The Feast Commission) (1978)
  • Ura me tri harqe (The Three-arched Bridge) (1978)
  • Kamarja e turpit (The Traitor's Niche) (1978)
  • Prilli i thyer (Broken April) (1980)
  • Kush e solli Doruntinën? (The Ghost Rider) (1980)
  • Pallati i ëndrrave (The Palace of Dreams) (1981)
  • Nata me hënë (Moonlight) (1985)
  • Viti i mbrapshtë (The Dark Year) (1985)
  • Krushqit janë të ngrirë (The Wedding Procession Turned to Ice) (1985)
  • Koncert në fund të dimrit (The Concert) (1988)
  • Dosja H. (The File on H.) (1989)
  • Qorrfermani (The Blinding Order) (1991)
  • Piramida (The Pyramid) (1992)
  • Hija (The Shadow) (1994)
  • Shkaba (The Eagle) (1995)
  • Spiritus (1996)
  • Qyteti pa reklama (The City with no Advertisements) (1998, written in 1959)
  • Lulet e ftohta të marsit (Spring Flowers, Spring Frost) (2000)
  • Breznitë e Hankonatëve (2000)
  • Vajza e Agamemnonit (Agamemnon's Daughter) (2003)
  • Pasardhësi (The Successor) (2003)
  • Jeta,loja dhe vdekja Lul Mazrekut (Life, Game and Death of Lul Mazrek) (2003)
  • Çështje të marrëzisë (A Question of Lunacy) (2005)
  • Darka e Gabuar (The Fall of the Stone City) (2008)
  • E penguara: Rekuiem për Linda B. (A Girl in Exile) (2009)
  • Aksidenti (The Accident) (2010, published in French in 2008)
  • Mjegullat e Tiranës (Tirana's Mists) (2014, originally written in 1957-58)
  • Kukulla (The Doll) (2015)


  • Autobiografia e popullit në vargje (The People's Autobiography in Verse) (1971)
  • Eskili, ky humbës i madh (Aeschylus, The Big Loser) (1990)
  • Kushëriri i engjëjve (The Angels' Cousin) (1997)
  • Kombi shqiptar në prag të mijëvjeçarit të tretë (The Albanian Nation in the Wake of the Third Millennium) (1998)
  • Poshtërimi në Ballkan (Abasement In The Balkans) (2004)
  • Dantja i pashmangshëm (Dante, The Inevitable) (2006)
  • Identiteti evropian i shqiptarëve (The European Identity of Albanians) (2006)
  • Hamlet, le prince impossible (Hamlet, The Impossible Prince) (2007)
  • Mosmarrëveshja, mbi raportet e Shqipërisë me vetveten (2010)
  • Mbi krimin në Ballkan; Letërkëmbim i zymtë (On Crime in the Balkans) (2011)
  • Çlirimi i Serbisë prej Kosovës (Serbia's Liberation from Kosovo) (2012)
  • Mëngjeset në Kafe Rostand (Mornings in Cafe Le Rosand) (2014)

Story collections[edit]

  • Emblema e dikurshme (1977)
  • Ëndërr mashtruese (1991)
  • Tri këngë zie për Kosovën (1998)
  • Vjedhja e gjumit mbretëror (1999)
  • Përballë pasqyrës së një gruaje (2001)
  • Bisedë për brilantet në pasditen e dhjetorit (2013)
  • Koha e dashurisë (Rrëfim Trikohësh) (2015)


  • Stinë e mërzitshme në Olimp (Dull Season in Olympus) (1998)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Liukkonen, Petri. "Ismail Kadare". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Broken April – Ismail Kadare". Various journals. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Kadare, Helena (2011). Kohë e pamjaftueshme. Tirana: Onufri. p. 128. ISBN 978-99956-87-51-9. 
  7. ^ Kadare, Helena (2011). Kohë e pamjaftueshme. Tirana: Onufri. p. 380. ISBN 978-99956-87-51-9. 
  8. ^ Kadare 2011, p. 183.
  9. ^ Ehrenreich, Ben (8 November 2005). "Fates of State: Booker winner Ismail Kadare's art of enigma". The Village Voice. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  10. ^ Ben Ehrenreich (1 November 2005). "Fates of State – Page 1 – VLS – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Wood, James (20 December 2010). "Chronicles and Fragments: The novels of Ismail Kadare". The New Yorker. Condé Nast: 139–143. Retrieved 11 August 2011. (subscription required)
  13. ^ Price of Asturias awards laureates 2009 [dead link]
  14. ^ Rebecca Wojno (January 15, 2015). "Albanian writer to receive Jerusalem Prize". The Times of Israel. 
  15. ^ Shusha Guppy, "The Books Interview: Ismail Kadare – Enver's never-never land" The Independent, 27 February 1999.
  16. ^ a b Brisku 2013, pp. 184–186.
  17. ^ a b c Schmidt-Neke 2014, p. 15.
  18. ^ "Katalogu i Vepres se plote te Ismail Kadare nga Botime Onufri". 22 May 1996. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  19. ^ "Central Europe Review: The Three-Arched Bridge". 10 May 1999. Retrieved 23 May 2006. 
  20. ^ Ismail Kadaré. Oeuvres; introduction et notes de présentation par Eric Faye; traduction de l'albanais de Jusuf Vrioni ... [et al.] Paris: Fayard, 1993–2004
  21. ^


Further reading[edit]

  • Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë (2008) (in Albanian), Fjalor Enciklopedik Shqiptar 2 (Albanian encyclopedia), Tirana, ISBN 978-99956-10-28-9
  • Elsie, Robert, Historical Dictionary of Albania, New Edition, 2004, ISBN 0-8108-4872-4
  • Gould, Rebecca. "Allegory and the Critique of Sovereignty: Ismail Kadare's Political Theologies", Studies in the Novel vol. 44, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 208–230.
  • Hysa, Shefki, "The Diplomacy of self-denial" (Diplomacia e vetëmohimit), publicistic, Tirana, 2008. ISBN 978-99956-650-3-6
  • Kadare, Helena. Kohë e pamjaftueshme, Tirana: Onufri, 2011. ISBN 9789995687519 (also available in French)
  • Morgan, Peter (2011) "Ismail Kadare's Inner Emigration", in Sara Jones & Meesha Nehru (Eds.), Writing under Socialism, (pp. 131–142). Nottingham, UK: Critical, Cultural and Communications (CCC) Press.
  • Morgan, Peter (2011) "Greek Civilisation as a Theme of Dissidence in the Work of Ismail Kadare", Modern Greek Studies (Australia and New Zealand), 15, 16–32.
  • Morgan, Peter (2010) Ismail Kadare: The Writer and the Dictatorship 1957–1990, Oxford: Legenda, 2010, Albanian translation 2011.
  • Morgan, Peter (2010) Kadare post Communism: Albania, the Balkans and Europe in the Work of Ismail Kadare, 1990–2008, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
  • Morgan, Peter (2005) "Ismail Kadare: Creativity under Communism", The Australian Newspaper.
  • Rranzi, Paulin. "Personalities – Missionaries of Peace" publicistic, (2011), Tirana, ISBN 978-99956-43-60-7
  • Kadare, Helena. "Kohë e pamjaftueshme: Kujtime" memoirs, (2011) (in Albanian), Onufri, Tirana, ISBN 978-99956-87-51-9

External links[edit]