The General of the Dead Army (novel)
|Original title||Gjenerali i Ushtrisë së vdekur|
|Publisher||Sh.B. Naim Frashëri|
Published in English
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. It is noted that Kadare was encouraged to write the book by Drago Siliqi, literary critic and director of the state-owned publishing house Naim Frashëri.
In the early 1960s, nearly 20 years since the Second World War ended, an Italian general, accompanied by a priest who is also an Italian army colonel, is sent to Albania to locate and collect the bones of his countrymen who had died during the war and return them for burial in Italy. 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 pride.
The novel has received many positive reviews. Richard Eder of New York Times stated that "Kadare advances wryly and dryly into the darkness…[he] doesn't do messages; he brings them to lethal life". The Boston Globe called it "a powerful and poignant Albanian novel". Alan Brownjohn of The Times Literary Supplement praised the novel by calling it "a profoundly moving novel...rich in poignant details".
It also made its way into Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.