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Ismail Kadare

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Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare
Born (1936-01-28) 28 January 1936
Gjirokastër, Gjirokastër District, Albania
Occupation Novelist, poet
Nationality Albanian
Period 1954–present
Literary movement Postmodern literature
Notable works

The General of the Dead Army 1963
The Castle 1970
Chronicle in Stone 1971)
Broken April 1978
[1][1][2] The Three-Arched Bridge 1978
The Palace of Dreams 1981
The Concert 1988
The File on H 1990

Notable awards Prix mondial Cino Del Duca
Man Booker International Prize
Prince of Asturias Awards

Ismail Kadare (Albanian: , also spelled Kadaré; born 28 January 1936) is a best-selling Albanian writer. He is known for his novels, although he was first noticed for his poetry collections. He has been a leading literary figure in his own country since the 1960s. In the 1960s he focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. 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 and in 2009 the Prince of Asturias Award of Arts. He has divided his time between Albania and France since 1990. Kadare has been mentioned as a possible recipient for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times. He began writing very young, in the mid-1950s. His works have been published in about thirty languages.


Ismail Kadare was born on 28 January 1936 in Gjirokastër, Albanian Kingdom. His father, Halit, worked in the civil service. He attended primary and secondary schools in Gjirokastër and he 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 also studied at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow.

Kadare served as a member of the Albanian parliament during Communist rule from 1970 until 1982 and was permitted to travel and publish abroad.[4]

After offending the authorities with a politically satirical poem in 1975, he was forbidden to publish for three years. In 1982 Kadare was 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 favour of democratisation. At that time, he stated that "dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship".

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".[5] 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".[6] For additional illumination see Kadare's commentary 'In the Palace of Nightmares': An Exchange with Noel Malcolm in the New York Review of Books.[7]

He is married to Helena Kadare (née Gushi) and has two daughters.

Literary themes

Kadare's novels draw on legends surrounding the historical experience of Albanian people, the representation of classical myths in modern contexts, and the totalitarian regime experiment in Albania. They are obliquely ironic as a result of trying to withstand political scrutiny. Among his best known books are Chronicle in Stone (1977), Broken April (1978),[1][2] The Palace of Dreams (1980) and The Concert (1988), considered the best novel of the year 1991 by the French literary magazine Lire.[8]

La Pyramide (1992), written in French, 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 death launches an investigation not only of their relationship, but also of Balkan politics.


Kadare's works have been published in over forty countries and translated in over thirty languages. In English, his works have usually appeared as secondary translations from their French editions, often rendered by the scholar David Bellos.[9]

In 1996 he 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, in 2005 he received the inaugural Man Booker International Prize. In 2009, Kadare was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.[10] In the same year he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Science in Social and Institutional Communication by the University of Palermo in Sicily.

The London newspaper, Orwell. But Kadare's is an original voice, universal yet deeply rooted in his own soil".[11]

Selected works

Kadare's original Albanian language works have been published exclusively by Onufri Publishing House since 1996,[12] as single works or entire sets. The following Kadare novels have been translated into English (in chronological order of first publication):

Works published in French

The complete works (except for the essays) of Ismail Kadare were published by Fayard, simultaneously in French and Albanian, between 1993 and 2004.[14] Omitted from the list are the poetry and the short stories.

The dates of publication given here are those of the first publication in Albanian, unless stated otherwise. Kadare has often reworked his writings, and the newer editions may include significant differences from the original text.

  • Le Général de l'armée morte (1963), adapted for the cinema in 1983 with Marcello Mastroianni
  • La Peau de tambour (1967, under the Albanian title La noce)
  • Chronique de la ville de pierre (1970)
  • Les Tambours de la pluie (1970, under the Albanian title La citadelle)
  • L'Hiver de la grande solitude (1973, also published as Le Grand Hiver), deals with the break with the Soviet Union in 1960
  • Novembre d'une capitale (1975)
  • Le Palais des rêves (1981)
  • Le Crépuscule des dieux de la steppe (1978)
  • La Commission des fêtes (1978)
  • Le Pont aux trois arches (1978)
  • La Niche de la honte (1978)
  • Avril brisé (1980)
  • Qui a ramené Doruntine? (1980)
  • Clair de lune (1985)
  • L'Année noire (1985)
  • Le cortège de la noce s'est figé dans la glace (1985), set against the background of the repression of the 1981 demonstrations in Kosovo
  • Eschyle ou le grand perdant (1985, essay)
  • Concert en fin de saison (1988, also published as the Le concert), edited in 1978–1981 but censored for seven years, deals with Sino-Albanian relations in the 1970s
  • Le Dossier H. (1989)
  • Le Monstre (1990), a short version had already appeared in 1965 but was soon censored
  • Le Firman aveugle (1991), edited in 1984
  • Invitation à l'atelier de l'écrivain (1991, essay)
  • La Pyramide (1992)
  • La Grande Muraille (1993)
  • L'Ombre (1994), edited in 1984–86, appeared in French before being published in Albanian
  • L'Aigle (1995)
  • Spiritus (1996)
  • Le Printemps Albanais (1997)
  • Trois temps (1997)
  • L'albanie, Visage des Balkans (1998)
  • Trois chants funèbres pour le Kosovo (1998)
  • La Ville sans enseignes (1998), written much earlier and edited in Moscow in 1959
  • Mauvaise saison sur l'Olympe (1998, drama)
  • L'Envol du migrateur (1999), edited in 1986
  • Froides fleurs d'avril (2000)
  • Il a fallu ce deuil pour se retrouver (2000), diary of the war of Kosovo
  • Le Chevalier au faucon (2001)
  • Histoire de l'Union des Écrivains albanais telle que reflétée dans le miroir d'une femme (2001)
  • La Fille d'Agamemnon (2003), edited in 1985
  • Le Successeur (2003)
  • Vie, jeu et mort de Lul Mazrek (2003)
  • Dante l'incontournable (2006)
  • Hamlet, le prince impossible (2007)
  • L'Accident (2008)
  • Le Dîner de trop (2009)


  • Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë (2008) (in Albanian), Fjalor Enciklopedik Shqiptar 2 (Albanian encyclopedia), Tirana, ISBN 978-99956-10-28-9
  • Robert Elsie, Historical Dictionary of Albania, New Edition, 2004, ISBN 0-8108-4872-4
  • Shefki Hysa, "The Diplomacy of self-denial" (Diplomacia e vetëmohimit), publicistic, Tirana, 2008, ISBN 978-99956-650-3-6
  • 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, paperback re-issue 2013.
  • 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.
  • Paulin Rranzi, "Personalities – Missionaries of Peace" publicistic, (2011), Tirana, ISBN 978-99956-43-60-7

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ismail Kadare". Books and Writers. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Broken April – Ismail Kadare". Various journals.  
  3. ^ a b "Central Europe Review: The Three-Arched Bridge". 10 May 1999. Retrieved 23 May 2006. 
  4. ^ "The Prince of Asturias Foundation". Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Ben Ehrenreich (1 November 2005). "Fates of State – Page 1 – VLS – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Ismail Kadare, reply by Noel Malcolm'In the Palace of Nightmares': An Exchange." New York Review of Books 15 January 1998.
  8. ^ Kadare, from Notes and Writers, Petri Liukkonen
  9. ^   (subscription required)
  10. ^ Price of Asturias awards laureates 2009
  11. ^ Shusha Guppy, "The Books Interview: Ismail Kadare – Enver's never-never land" The Independent, 27 February 1999.
  12. ^ "Katalogu i Vepres se plote te Ismail Kadare nga Botime Onufri". 22 May 1996. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Elsie, Robert (2005). Albanian literature: a short history. p. 169.  
  14. ^ Ismail Kadaré. Oeuvres; introduction et notes de présentation par Eric Faye; traduction de l'albanais de Jusuf Vrioni ... [et al.] Paris: Fayard, 1993–2004

Further reading

  • Kadare, Helena. Kohë e pamjaftueshme, Tirana: Onufri, 2011. ISBN 9789995687519 (also available in French)
  • Gould, Rebecca. “Allegory and the Critique of Sovereignty: Ismail Kadare’s Political Theologies,” Studies in the Novel 44.2(2012): 208–230.

External links

  • Vepra e plote e Kadarese
  • Biography, from 'Books and Writers', by Petri Liukkonen
  • National Library of Albania
  • Shusha Guppy (Summer 1998). "Ismail Kadare, The Art of Fiction No. 153". The Paris Review. 
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