June 29, 1950|
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||October 2, 2017
|Awards||Albanian Medal of Gratitude|
|Main interests||Albanian history, culture|
|Notable works||Albanian Literature : A Short History
The Highland Lute (Lahuta e Malcís): The Albanian National Epic.
Robert Elsie (June 29, 1950 – October 2, 2017) was a Canadian-born German scholar who specialized in Albanian literature and folklore.
Born on June 29, 1950 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Elsie studied at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1972 with a diploma in Classical Studies and Linguistics. In the following years, he continued his post-graduate studies at the Free University of Berlin, at the École Pratique des Hautes Études and at the University of Paris IV: Paris-Sorbonne, at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in Ireland, and at the University of Bonn, where he finished his doctorate on Linguistics and Celtic Studies in 1978 at the Linguistics Institute.
From 1978 on, Elsie visited Albania several times with a group of students and professors from the University of Bonn. For several years, he also attended the International Seminar on Albanian Language, Literature and Culture, held in Prishtina, Kosovo. From 1982 to 1987, he worked for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn, and from 2002 to 2013 for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, in particular as an interpreter for several noted cases including the trial of Slobodan Milošević.
Elsie's scholarly travels and interest in Albanian dialects brought him into contact with Albanians from Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Montenegro, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Turkey and made dozens of recordings of the Albanian language.
As a translator Robert Elsie offered the reader “a selection of songs from the best known cycle of Albanian epic verse”.
Elsie during his lifetime authored many works of scholarship and had no unpublished work left for completion prior to his death.
On October 2, 2017 Robert Elsie died of motor neuron disease in Bonn, Germany. Elsie's last words before passing away were "death is so boring. So Slow. One only waits for it". At the time of Elsie's death it was reported in the media that he had requested in his will to be buried in Albania. Two weeks after those events, it emerged that Elsie did not specify in his will where to be buried. Instead it was the decision of his life partner Stephan Trierweiler that he be buried in Albania due to the deep love Elsie had for the country. Elsie's coffin was brought to Albania and lay in repose at the National Library in Tirana on Tuesday (Oct.17) for people to come and pay their respects. A farewell ceremony paying tribute to Elsie was held in Tirana that brought together friends, academics and politicians from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. Elsie during his lifetime had a fondness for Theth seeing it as an Albanian "Shangri-La" and on Wednesday (Oct.18) was buried in the northern village located in the Albanian Alps. A prolific author of scholarly works, Elsie's untimely death within the context of Albanian studies is seen as a "big blow" for its international promotion.
Elsie was a writer, translator, interpreter, and specialist in Albanian studies, being the author of numerous books and articles that focused on various aspects of Albanian culture and affairs.
Below are a selection of his publications of which he was an author, editor or translator. Robert Elsie published around 60 books in English, Albanian or German.
- Robert Elsie, editor (2006). Balkan Beauty, Balkan Blood : Modern Albanian Short Stories (Writings from an Unbound Europe). Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-2336-3.
- Robert Elsie (2006). Albanian Literature: A Short History. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-031-5.
- Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck, editors (2004). Songs of the Frontier Warriors: Kenge Kreshnikesh--Albanian Epic Verse in a Bilingual English-Albanian Edition. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers; Bilingual edition. ISBN 0-86516-412-6.
- Visar Zhiti, Robert Elsie (Translator) (2004). The Condemned Apple : Selected Poetry. Green Integer; Bilingual edition. ISBN 1-931243-72-7.
- Robert Elsie (2011). Historical Dictionary of Kosovo. Historical Dictionaries of Europe. 79. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7231-8.
- Robert Elsie (2010). Historical Dictionary of Albania. Historical Dictionaries of Europe. 75. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6188-6.
- Robert Elsie (2013). Leo Freundlich: Die Albanische Korrespondenz, Agenturmeldungen aus Krisenzeiten. Oldenburg Verlag. ISBN 978-3-486-70716-8.
- Robert Elsie (2013). Biographical Dictionary of Albanian History. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-78076-431-3.
- Robert Elsie (2013). The Cham Albanians of Greece: A Documentary History. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-780760-00-1.
- Robert Elsie (2013). The Balkans Wars: British Consular reports from Macedonia in the Final Years of the Ottoman Empire. I. B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-780760-76-6.
- Medal of Gratitude (Albania, 15 May 2013) – decorated by President of Albania Bujar Nishani. Robert Elsie received the honour for his contributions as a scholar for over 35 years focusing and internationally promoting the "culture, language, literature and history of Albanians" alongside the "positive image of Albania in the world". Offering his gratitude, President Nishani referred to Elsie as "a good Albanian".
- Shqiptarja Editor (2 October 2017). "Shuhet në moshën 67-vjeçare albanologu i njohur Robert Elsie". Shqiptarja.com. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- "Robert Elsie's last wish comes true as Albanologist laid to rest in Albanian Alps". Tirana Times. 22 October 2017.
- John Kolsti. "Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck, eds. and trans". Journals.ku.edu. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- "Robert Elsie's web site". 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
- "Robert Elsie, one of the greatest Albanologists, passes away at 67". Tirana Times. 2 October 2017.
- "Ka ndërruar jetë albanologu i shquar Robert Elsie". KOHA.net. Koha.net. 2 October 2017.
- Semini, Llazar (17 October 2017). "Albania pays last respects to Robert Elsie, folklore scholar". Washington Post.
- "Robert Elsie | Authors | Macmillan". Us.macmillan.com. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
- "President Nishani awards the Medal of Gratitude to the distinguished Albanologist Robert Elsie". http://www.president.al/. Retrieved 8 June 2013. External link in