The General of the Dead Army (novel)

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The General of the Dead Army
The general of the dead army.jpg
First English-language edition
AuthorIsmail Kadare
Original titleGjenerali i Ushtrisë së vdekur
TranslatorDerek Coltman
CountryAlbania
LanguageAlbanian
GenreHistory
PublisherSh.B. Naim Frashëri
W. H. Allen
Publication date
1963
Published in English
1971
Pages264
ISBN9780099518266

The General of the Dead Army (Albanian: Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur) is a 1963 novel by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. It is the author's most critically acclaimed novel.[1] Kadare was encouraged to write the book by Drago Siliqi, literary critic and director of the state-owned publishing house Naim Frashëri.[2]

The English translation by Derek Coltman, first published by W. H. Allen, was made not directly from the Albanian, but from the 1970 French edition published by Albin Michel. A revised English edition was published by The Harvill Press in 2000, in light of the revised French edition published by Fayard in 1998, and was reprinted by Vintage Press in 2008.

History[edit]

In 1963, at 26 years of age Ismail Kadare published the novel.[3]

Plot[edit]

In the early 1960s, nearly 20 years after the end of the Second World War, an Italian general, accompanied by a priest who is also an Italian army colonel, is sent to Albania to locate and collect the remains of his countrymen who had died during the war and return them for burial in Italy.[3] As they organise digs and disinterment, they wonder at the scale of their task. The general talks to the priest about the futility of war and the meaninglessness of the enterprise. As they go deeper into the Albanian countryside they find they are being followed by another general who is looking for the bodies of German soldiers killed in World War II. Like his Italian counterpart, the German struggles with a thankless job looking for remains to take back home for burial, and questions the value of such gestures of national face value.

Reception[edit]

The novel was initially criticized by Albanian official literary critics and then ignored as if it did not exist. Reason for that was that Kadare had avoided the realist socialist style while the Communist Party had also been intentionally ignored. Kadare's novel was in stark contrast to other writers of that time who glorified the communist revolution. Apart from that, while the poets and novelists of that time used to write about the ideological sun that warmed all communists, in this novel, Kadare, as in his other novels, removed neither the clouds nor the rain from the Albanian countryside.[4][5]

The novel has received many positive reviews. Richard Eder of The New York Times stated that "Kadare advances wryly and dryly into the darkness... [he] doesn't do messages; he brings them to lethal life".[6] The Boston Globe called it "a powerful and poignant Albanian novel". Alan Brownjohn of The Times Literary Supplement praised the novel,calling it "a profoundly moving novel... rich in poignant details".[7]

The novel inspired three films: Luciano Tovoli's The General of the Dead Army starring Michel Piccoli, Dhimitër Anagnosti's The Return of the Dead Army (Albanian: Kthimi i Ushtrise se Vdekur) - a 1989 Albanian film starring Bujar Lako, and Bertrand Tavernier’s Life and Nothing But (La Vie et rien d’autre) starring Philippe Noiret.[3] Though it is his best-known novel, and he views it as good as literature, he does not view it as his best work.[8]

It was listed on Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.

Translations[edit]

It was first translated in Bulgarian by Marina Marinova,[9] published in 1966.[10] After that, it was translated in Serbo-Croatian by Esad Mekuli and published in 1968.[11] Then it was translated in Turkish by Attila Tokatlı and Necdet Sander and published in 1970 from Sander editions in Istanbul.[12]

Adaptations[edit]

Films[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

The book has been adapted for the stage and is a commonly performed play in Albanian theaters and in some neighboring countries.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ RICHARD EDER for NY Times, September 30, 2008
  2. ^ Jorgaqi, Nasho. "Drago, një jetë e shkurtër, një emër jetëgjatë". Shekulli.
  3. ^ a b c Guppy, Interviewed by Shusha (24 April 1998). "The Art of Fiction No. 153". The Paris Review.
  4. ^ Apolloni, Ag (2012). Paradigma e Proteut (in Albanian). Prishtinë: OM. pp. 33–34. "Romani Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur i Ismail Kadaresë, i botuar në vitin 1963, u kritikua nga kritika zyrtare, mandej u hesht sikur të mos ekzistonte fare, për t’u shfaqur prapë në vitin 1967 si një version i ri i romanit, natyrisht me disa kompromise të vogla, të cilat prapë nuk e kënaqën kritikën zyrtare, por as nuk e dëmtuan dukshëm veprën; assesi romani nuk arriti të deformohej siç e donte doktrina socrealiste. Ndryshe nga Shuteriqi, Musaraj, Abdihoxha etj., që glorifikonin revolucionin dhe socializmin; ndryshe nga idealisti Petro Marko që udhëhiqej nga ideja e internacionales komuniste; ndryshe nga Dritëro Agolli që kritikonte lëshimet e sistemit, por jo sistemin, - Ismail Kadare me romanin e parë kishte injoruar stilin socrealist, kishte shmangur heroin pozitiv, kishte harruar qëllimisht rolin e Partisë në zhvillimet aktuale dhe kishte treguar se mund të shkruhej roman edhe pa e përmendur Partinë dhe pa pasur nevojë për mësimet e Gorkit, të cilat ai i kishte konceptuar si vdekjeprurëse për letërsinë e vërtetë. Ashtu si e kishte injoruar ai Partinë, edhe Partia do ta injoronte atë. Në shkrimet kritike që bëhen gjatë viteve ’60, Kadare herë “këshillohet” si duhet të shkruajë në të ardhmen, herë përmendet kalimthi, e më shpesh injorohet fare. Derisa shkrimtarët zyrtarë të Shqipërisë, ndiheshin komod me sistemin dhe shkruanin për diellin ideologjik që i ngroh të gjithë komunistët njësoj, Kadare nuk ia hiqte retë as shiun tokës shqiptare. Përballë zhvillimit industrial të vendit, përballë peizazheve urbane dhe motit të mirë që proklamonte Partia dhe letërsia e saj, në romanet e Kadaresë ishte një truall i vështirë dhe vazhdimisht bënte mot i keq.
  5. ^ Morgan 2011, p. 89
  6. ^ Richard Eder (30 September 2008). "Leading a Dark Mission to Albania's Fields of Bones". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Alan Brownjohn (10 November 2000). "Kingdom of Bones". Times Literary Supplement.
  8. ^ ""Ismail Halit Kadare... vjershat tuaja janë shkruar në një gjuhë që letërsia nuk e pranon fare"". Telegrafi. 26 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Shuhet Marinova, përkthyesja e Kadaresë dhe e Migjenit". Panorama. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Morgan 2011, p. 89.
  11. ^ "Ismail Kadare, gjysëm shekulli i Gjeneralit të ushtrisë së vdekur". Shqiptarja.com. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Hasan Anamur (2013). Başlangıçtan Bugüne Fransızcadan Türkçeye Yapılmış Çeviriler ile Fransız Düşünürler, Yazarlar, Sanatçılar Üzerine Türkçe Yayınları İçeren Bir Kaynakça Denemesi. Gündoğan Yayınları. p. 563. ISBN 9789755202358.
  13. ^ The General of the Dead Army in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

See also[edit]