The word of the publisher

Notes about the book “Cham’s ancient versemonger” of the historian Ibrahim Daut Hoxha

The word “Chameria” whenever harasses us and shakes our consciousness, because it recalls a long calvary of sufferings and slaughter. The muslim cham population was swept and chased, because they sought to live in freedom, to preserve the identity, to develope the culture and to speak their language. In this titanic holy war, were born heroes that waved the flag of bravery and patriotism. The cham’s nightingales and partridge have not stopped singing for the beauties of nature, the Fatherland, for love and true faith, for the grace of the girls and the bravery of boys. The history of Chameria must have a special treatment in the framework of our national history. This time it comes written in verses from the versemonger, that the tireless researcher Ibrahim D. Hoxha dredge and found through archives and many other types saved in manuscripts, in the popular memory etc., and bring for the reader in the book “Cham’s ancient versemonger” (Vjershëtarë të hershëm Çamër).
This anthology contains the most prominent poem of this Albanian area and the most selected versemonger. In this anthology you will find poems beautifully and masterfully woven for events engraved in history, for heroes that brandish the swords of freedom, that waved flags and watered with blood the native land. Were platted poems for the knights of knowledge, that with primer and books with Albanian letters, spread knowledge.
In this edition you will find the magnificent poems “Erveheja” and “Joseph and Zelihaja” of the prominent versemonger Muhamet Cami, works in which rises morality, honor, faith and virtue that has characterized the Albanian woman. Here you will even find poems for Scanderbeg, Ismail Qemali, Meta and Kaso Duce, for Albanian, Kosovo, Chameria and the flag. With a special interest are the poems of scholar Imam Hasan Tahsini, which open windows in the philosophical, religious and scientific thought of the Albanian National Renaissance dean, which embraces knowledge in the depths of the soul and the universal human universe.
The versemonger Muhamet Cami, Imam Jasin Alushi, Imam Abdullahu, Haxhi Murat Cami writes hymns which the great Hafez Ali Korca specifies “… a bunch of selected and collected flowers from many valid gardens. These writings prosper the national literature…”
In this analogy you will find even poems with religious inspiration, such as: Advice for faith, advice for the Ramadan, for five meals of Namaz, for the mirage of Pejgamber and for Islamic devotions. Through patriotic poems is released the summon: Chameria calls, Listen the voice of the Fatherland, Answer the voice of the Fatherland, The voive of Chameria. The summon of the versemonger was strongly heared in all Chameria and continues to resound: “ Don’t forget Chameria” which God has bestowed rare beauties, with mountains from where fresh waters flow, with hills covered from citrus and olive groves, with lawn where the cattle are fed, with garden where nightingales and partridge sing! Don’t forget Chameria of the brave men, of the sword and rifle, of the host women and full of grace, of the songs and dances! Don’t forget the history of sad and glorious Chameria, of the tears that are not dried yet!”
The cham ancient versemonger were not locked in ivory towers. Their poems were not powdered in the pages of the books. They were learned and recited even by those who didn’t know literacy. They were conducted from mouth to mouth, in every home, in every hearth, generation after generation, and in assemblies of men. They were sang in songs and caper in dances. Were strongly conceived in the Cham’s spirit to give strength to face the pain.
The book of Cham’s history still continues to be written. Recited in poems, the history comes to us more tangible, more sensible and more proudest. Versemonger resemble with colorful flowers in the meadow and grove, while the non-lazy and non-relaxed Ibrahim D. Hoxha wander these flowers to collect pollen and nectar.
This anthology comes as a preview of the Albanian cultural heritage, which the Albanian Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization appreciated and welcomed for publication.

Dr. Ramiz Zekaj

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Hymn to man

Notes about the book “I-the Man” of Cham poet Hekuran S. Halili

God, as He created man, gave him wit more than all other creatures. Then he cried the angels and said to them:
-Humble to human, it is one of my most perfect creatures, more knowledgeable in the universe. I have set my vicegerent on Earth.
And angels bowed to human respectfully.
Satan rejected:
-Oh Lord, – he said, – I do not humble to a mortal creature of clay. I’m immortal of grace, of fire.
-Humble! – The Lord ordered. – It is my smartest, knowledgeable creature. Smarter than you.
-No! – The disobedient Satan rejected again.
-Despised be thou forever!- the Lord cursed him and threw away from Paradise, condemning him forever to hell for disobedience.
And since the beginnings of human life, Satan swore to himself to injure man at all costs. And to destroy it, he declared war for life or death this magnificent creature, a fight that continues even today throughout the world, the struggle between Good and Evil. It was the evil war of Satan which deceived the man, pushed him into temptation and lost Paradise and crashed into the whirlpool of this madness that tortures him everywhere and anywhere. So is described in all sacred books the history of the early human life, the subsequent flow of which is the daily effort of Man to survive in the struggle between Good and Evil, that are represented by values and divine virtues, on one hand, embodied in human spirit and the anti-values and evil sins shaped in the image of be away the black-hearted, the plotter Satan to undo mankind.
Good and honest people, extremely sensitive to the danger that threatens more and more to the human figure, worry, get angry, revolt and rebel against the evil and try and sacrifice to save humanity and its values. So human life across the globe, if you notice with the eye of a poet as Hekuran S. Halili is now extremely vulnerable. It seems like the evil is triumphing day after day over good and that the human being, on the verge of destruction and annihilation, has not any importance. And in this situation it needs a lot of sacrifices until the limit over-humanity to save the honest man from the dishonest. This is the reality of life, not just text and sub-text of artistic reality through the poet’s creativity involved at times from great dilemma: “the honest or dishonest will rule the globe?”
If you observe life through the eyes of a sociologist, will conclude: “Man, a death risk! Man doesn’t worth anything! Money over everything! A dog worth more than Man!”
Such conclusions look absurd, but this is the truth of the human daily around the globe.
You often sees through television screens, dogs-gentlemen’ parades accompanied by crooked millionaires on the role of their servants. “To live the animals! Human death!” Sometimes this is what visual media and the presses preach. Don’t you believe it? Be more aware and notice the madness around human!
Equally endangered are human values in the Albanian reality. Precisely this bothers more the poet Hekuran S. Halili, that’s why he has devoted his creations especially to Albanian man.
“Human death!” – scream and rumble the anti-values.
“I, the Man (Unë-Njeriu)! Man over everything!” – squawk and cry rightly the world of the poet Hekuran S. Halili, against the devilish flow that is defeating every human value throughout the globe filled with predatory wars and injustice.
Well, not in vain is titled “I – the Man” (Unë-Njeriu) the poetic summary of the poet Hekuran S Halili. This title is not casual, but a logical flow constrained by hard reality that surrounds us, is the very essence of the issue of human survival, is a divine conclusion conveyed in a way of genius to the mind of the poet of a genius, the creator of everything, God .
“The man to rule on Earth!” – was the message of God from the beginning of human life. This tries the poet to reflect in his verses.
So, God gave knowledge to human by his own knowlegde, gave him light by his own light, consecrated him and appointed as a successor on earth, he delegated power on him to live according to the principles and divine laws and not to eat themselves, to transform into a self-eating cannibal and self-murder kamikaze, as it is happening in reality. Despite this evil and satanic state that today rules the world, Hekuran S. Halili, with the wisdom and foresight of an inspired poet by God, returns to human origin and in the tradition of the romantics of Renaissance and evokes the glorious origin, the greatness of the Man creature that even the angels humbled him, Man who should rule the world as a divine sovereign and not as a tyrant Satan.
“I, the Man,” (Unë-Njeriu) sings the poet and his song is a hymn to the greatness of the human being, which has a homeland that is called Albania; he has a birthplace, which extends from Chameria unjustly robbed, till Konispol in Saranda, wet lands from the blue waters of the Ionian sea, heated by the life-giving rays of a sun and Mediterranean blessed climate; has a house named “Hekuran S. Halili”, inscribed at the door, and inside it a wonderful family with a rare woman as Bardha, the worthy wife and mother as God has commanded, with children model like Ona and Goni; he has a large kindred with many brothers and sisters, cousins, good and honest people committed to labor; he has a lot of old and new friends, school mate and colleagues, whose mind works for good working, to beautify their lives and that of others and their tourist city, Saranda; this Man has so many things!
Magnanimous poet Hekuran S. Halili is aware of the sanctity and the nobility of the Man creature, so that not unintentional in his poetry gives the role of the subject of life on earth, that role that even the creator has appointed, God, and that the Satanic try to deny. He, at times, through verses identifies his lyric-epic hero, the Man, with himself and does good because he shows to people the etalon of the Being-Man. So, Hekuran starts from himself, from his spiritual and physical riches to go to people who surround him. And so, singing himself, pointing out the values and human and intellectual skills that owns, which never hesitates to honestly put in the service of all those chains that comprise the notion Man: self, family, home, kindred, friendship, friends, hometown, home, homeland, the world, the universe and above all the Lord, the poet Hekuran S. Halili, invites the others to follow his example, to fulfill the Ideal-Man, because only this way they can leave the evil that has flooded everywhere the human life.
A man, as the poet’s hero Hekuran S. Halili, like himself, never leave forgotten his parents, his father and mother, those who were tired, who born him (naturally according to God’s law), that grew him up with hardships, that sent him at school and instructed him to act and behave like their ancestors from generation to generation, to become worthy for himself and his offspring. This attitude is neither a diary keeping, nor enumeration, nor inventory vulgarism, but it is the artistic mirror of the links of that chain that are summarized in a life node and make up the notion Man. So, model Man that leads the path of God to others with his own example. Even Hekurani as human model in life, is trying to create an artistic picture of reality that surrounds it, to remind others that today more than ever need to disclose the values as man and then come the material values and assets that may have accumulated during his life.
More than any kind of property Hekuran, Man and Poet, worries the fact that how to acceptably explain other that was the father Safeti and mother (Nuja) Nazua who have cooked the dough of the Man that is named Hekuran S. Halili. And he succeeded in combining naturally the presence of parental figure with all the other elements of poetry and in full harmony he has given us a poetic volume full of life rhythm and very melodic as a long song with a find and appealing refrain till to magnetism, that occurs in the form of a magnificent hymn for human symbol, an impressive hymn, likeable and solemn like all the hymns, especially as the anthem of motherland and flag, which are among the most holy and most vulnerable in the human world in every corner of the globe.
“The human hymn over all!” – says the poet Hekuran S. Halili in his book “ I- the Man”(Unë-Njeriu), with the great desire that everyone learn such a hymn and become aware of human values that God has given us and that Satanic try by all means to bury.

Shefki Hysa

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Shefki Hysa – Albanian Writer

Shefki Hysa, Albanian journalist and writer, Chairman of Cultural Community of Chameria and Directo of “Bilal Xhaferri” Publishing House

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Said bluntly! And that’s it!

By: Shefki Hysa
Notes about the book “The tear of rose” of the writer Kostaq Myrtaj
(The individuality of the creator Kostaq Myrtaj)

For this article I was courage by the creativity of younger literary authors like Kostaq Myrtaj with the poetic volume “The tear of rose” (Loti i trëndafilit), Xhulia Xhekaj with the novel “With our paws we walked the world” (Me putrat tona shëtitëm botën), etc., young creators who have courage to knock in the gate of that wonderful world called artistic literary.
I have heard common debates among ordinary people, not rarely among those who hold themselves for individuals and famous scholars of different natural fields of human nature where essentially arises the existential question: “Is or is not?!… After this question naturally arises also the hypothesis or conjecture: “It is and it is not as well?!”…
This is the eternal doubt of the naive Human for many facts, occurrences and phenomena of the life. It is easily understood that ignoramuses are allowed the doubts and aberrations but who pretend to be someone known, part of social elites, could never be forgiven. You cannot forgive that one who pretends the throne of wisdom just because having his word parallel with his fame, it is believable for social opinion’s ears and by expressing an incorrect determination makes our human society uninformed and misdirect it. It is known what fatal consequences bring misusing and misdirecting. Remind for a moment what irreparable consequences bequeathed ex communist dictatorship. An Albania in a prolonged transition that is going towards the swamp of stagnation. And that’s it! Anyway, both the naives and intellectuals often go in the tramp of existential in the life. This happens very often with literary creativity and their creators as well. It is broadly discussed it is or not literary creativity a poetry, a narration or a book of a person who pretends that has written something and holds himself as creator, poet or prose writer, in less words writer and so on…
To say the truth and the truth must be said bluntly, naive discussions, debates and replicas which wake up hearsays and spread a huge fume that much that obscures or make a myth a real value of the man who pretends that has done something, makes me laugh.
An example. It is ridiculous to discuss, let’s say if is or is not a human being, Human, a beauty of Saranda who is married with the boy of her dreams, has been a bride, has lived his life full of love and finally we see her with her body overblown, pregnant. More ridiculous is to think or to say that the daughter of the world is a little pregnant and keeps in body a little bit love fruit. Either is or is not, because we are going crazy!… The things are said bluntly. And that’s it!
Is or is not a Human?!… Also is and it is not as well?!… Also is pregnant and is not?!… Also will born the child and will not as well?!… Also the baby will be born alive and dead as well?!… Also that child will be a Human and will not be?!…
Either one or the other because we are going crazy! Talk bluntly! And that’s it!
Do not these assumptions make you laugh?!… Do not they lead you to shout: Either is or is not! And that’s it!
Simultaneously there is no also is and also is not! And that’s it!
And despite the naives you can fully say, bluntly: The Beauty of Saranda is certainly a Human, she is pregnant and is growing in her body the fruit of her love that will be born as a human being, will bring joy to all relatives and will be grown as a good child, a good Human more for the city along Ionian sea. And that’s it!
This is an alternative. And that’s it!
Or the other alternative, wish it never: the beautiful bride cannot be pregnant or will born her child dead. And that’s it!
And, if the child will be born dead, there is no inheritor for the bride’s tribe and her skyey prince. With it never! And that’s it!
So, I bluntly highlight, is or is not, there is no also is and is not! And that’s it!
This axiom, this postulate is valid for everything in life; it is valid also for literary creativity and creators. It is not important their age. And that’s it!
Let say, Kostaq Myrtaj with his poetic volume “The tear of rose”, either is or is not a poet. And that’s it! There is no is and is not as well! His age is not important. He may be young, 13 years old. Either is a poet or is not! And that’s it!
We must say it bluntly and with loud voice if Kostaqi is or is not a talent and poet! And that’s it!
It must be clearly defined if Kostaq Myrtaj creates poetic values or just writes like many other graphomaniacs. And that’s it!
It is another thing to make verses and rhymes and another to create poetries. And that’s it!
Everybody can write and blacken cards, but are rare those who have the gift to create. And this gift is a present by God, that’s why creators unlike scribes, graphomaniacs, card blackeners and card daubers are more privileged, have a divine soul. And certainly they stand closer to their Creator, the Creator of the Universe, God! And that’s it!
Is or is not Kostaq Myrtaj a creator?!
I bluntly repeat: There is no importance if he is at a young age and he writes for youths and his peers. And that’s it!
It is known that also toddlers are fed and enjoy the same values as adults. They drink with great pleasure the milk of their mother that is milk; drink fruit juices that are fruits created by God and have the same taste for adults too, so for all human gender; ate chocolates that are chocolates of cacao and they taste it as much as adults; ate the bread that is bread, etc. And that’s it!
And they feel satisfied and happy the same way like their parents by the selected and fresh food, a God’s present in this world. And that’s it!
So, also poetries of toddlers either are or are not literary creations, poetries! And that’s it! And if they are creations, their values certainly choke up our children, will choke up us as well and will bring the maximum of spiritual satisfaction as bread ends up hunger and builds a great physical satisfaction after a long fatigue in a tiredness job, the same as chocolate that taste so much that we have juice in our mouths when reminding it. And this happen to all people, at all ages… It happens to children and parents. For this reason, those mothers guilt after having cooked something delicious they feign like feeding the child and feed themselves. I believe that due to a certain fact must have originated that Cham wise expression “The mother eats and does not give to the child” which is commonly used to estimate a special cooking of a master housewives. So, the expression “The mother eats and does not give to the child” is a behavior dictated by attractive, mellowed, wonderful and undisputed values… And that’s it!
In this sense, after you read with attention the creations summarized in the poetic volume “The tear of rose” (Loti i Trëndafilit) of the author Kostaq Myrtaj, you get excited, you are spiritually bullied and feel those special esthetic impressions and pleasures that awake the works of great talents. And while you are lost in that beautiful world that he has created with his fantasy and gives it to us as well, while you wander with your imagination towards the sides of your childhood full of curiosity and interest you discover what it has in common and where if differs comparing children today, you say by heart that you are in front of a real rare talent, that you have in your hands the creativity of real writer. And that’s it!
And this writer, this poet, is Kostaq Myrtaj. And that’s it!
Then, with all the power of your soul and your voice it is worth saying: Welcome among Albanian artists and writers, Kostaq Myrtaj! And that’s it!
Wish you success in the road that leads you in the treasure of artistic and social-cultural masterworks of Albanian nation. And that’s it! Said bluntly! And that’s it! And that’s it! And that’s it!

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Cham issue in the optics of today’s historians

Notes about the book “Zeus” of the historian Rasim Bebo

Many historical theses during the communist historiography period had created a kind of taboo, so they were untouchable and unchangeable, although historians could bring abundant factual material, argued with scientific objectivity, in reverse of their existence. It is understood that this historiography had its iron frame, which, for the sake of truth, he could not break them easily. Based on the ideological axis and the guidelines that were given from above, the communist historiography in most of the time, was made spokeswoman of orders and options that dictated the policy and the party ideology, as everywhere, even on historical issues.
With the collapse of communism there were created spaces that scientific conclusions to be unfold as it came out from the research and in depth study of facts and historical documents. Therefore, during these years of democracy, inter alia, has taken vigorous development even the study of the Cham problem, which is inseparably linked to historical origin of the Albanian people during the centuries.
This issue, especially in recent years, is focused on optics of many current historians. Dozens of scientists, Albanian and foreign, in their studies, bringing abundant facts and arguments, have tried and are trying that this issue, with significant historical importance, give a more accurate and argued solution to point out that even Cham territories in Greece are populated from thousands of years by a nation, who is a descendant of Ilir, that these have derived from the ancient Pelasgians. This thesis that naturally waits to be proved even better with factual material and other arguments from different fields of historiography, which will be revealed and gathered with devotion by the future historians, no doubt that it will conclude the resolution of Cham issue and will audit the conclusions of Greek historiography, that by manipulating the facts and historical documents, requires to wine itself in the history of ancient and modern Greece, calling cham “immigrants” in their homes, a population without identity, that has unjustly occupied the Greece. Here is the place to mention the words of the father of the Greek historiography, Herodotus, who said that “in the territories of Greece a very old people that called Pelasgian have lived before the ancient Hellenes”. These people at that time had a stretch in Europe and beyond.
One of the Albanian authors and scholars, that in his historical books, aims to prove the ancient authenticity of Cham population in Greece is even Mr. Rasim Bebo. Although at an advance age, he has never had and doesn’t have lack of energy and commitment to carry through to the end the authenticity of the origin of Cham population, which is entirely Albanian, as from the language and even from the traditions, customs and habits. In his new book “Zeus”, (Zeusi) Rasim Bebo sinks in the ancient depths of the history to point out his historical conclusions. He has made them subject in scholarly books that has written. However, it is not only this the goal of the author of “Zeus” (Zeusi). He, thank to a scrupulous study of tens and tens of works of the Albanian and foreign authors, which he quoted in abundance in his book, argue with Greek historians and those who support them, reminding that today’s Greek in the territories where historically live, are much younger than the Albanian Chams in their homes. Even these Greeks have a history as descendants of the old Helen, but the arrival of many of them in Greece from other countries has occured, at least, about 1200 years ago, a very young date if we compare with the stories and deeds that the greatest poet of evolution, Homer, describes in his famous works “Iliad” and “Odysseus”.
Influenced by the book’s material, the author has organized its construction according to particular chapters, starting from the ancient history to end in nowadays. Thus in the first chapter is talked about Pelasgians and their origins, for Zeus and the birth of a deity, and create a picture for this nation so ancient, which is the forerunner of many other nations, among which even Illyrians. Further in the book it comes to the symbols of Zeus, for paganism, pre-helen heritage etc.
In the third chapter, deepening in the ancient history of Greece, the author mentions the plated Mikena, Knosi, legends of Tezeu and the Trojan War. His conclusion is that all these that mentions are related to the origin of the ancient Pelasgians. One of the roads that Mr. Bebo uses to prove the thesis of the Pelasgian origin of Ilir, of the Albanians, is that he cites many authors, in conclusion of which, especially in their linguistic research, he finds similarities between the words and the old labels with the today’s Albanian language. Thus, according to him and the authors that cites, the word Zeus comes from the word za-ze. The name of the goddess Aferdita, recalls the albanian words “the day came”, the name of the Greek capital, Athina, from albanian- said, the Dodona name, from the roar of the bell-don, don, don, the Odhise name, from the Albanian word, leader and so on. Even for the old Etruscan population, Mr. Bebo, says that it is related with Pelasgians.
The book continues with other chapters and interesting writings, which are always associated with an abundant documentary material, that the author has collected from many books of different historians. Thus in the loops of the book chapters it even speaks about Pyrros of Epirus, for the Trojan war, for the Pelasgian civilization, for the Odyssey return in the hometown, in Ithaca, for the legend of Oedipus, for the War of Thermopylae, it is given a long list of Arvanites villages in Greece and a picture of ancient Epirus. Of interest in the book are even the loops of Chapter X, Illyrian kingdoms, the Roman conquest and conquest of Greece.
In chapter XI is made a description of Roman empires, Byzantine and Ottoman, in chapter XII the author speaks of the origin of Christianity and makes a short portrait to the Illyrian emperors. Chapter XIII deals with the Slavic invasion, mentions in it a special stitch the Arabs and are described the Crusaders of that time. In the two loops of the Chapter XV are portrayed the proudest figures of Albanians, Scanderbeg and Mother Teresa, while Chapter XVII has a stitch with a title as impressive and significant, which can be considered as the main basis for historical conclusion of the new book of the researcher Rasim Bebo. The title of this stitch is: “Chameria of Dodona and Zeus”.
Chapter XVIII and closing of the book includes some loops and sub-headings that speaks about the history of our people since 1945 till in our days.
No doubt with this book the researcher Rasim Bebo gives a new assistance to the lighting of some earlier historical periods, not studied in depth, reaching in his own conclusions and many of today’s researchers for the Albanian origin and especially of Chams’, aiming to put the origin of our people in very ancient historical foundation to come in the major conclusion that the Albanians, descendants of the Illyrians of these ancient Pelasgians, are indigenous in their lands, and for more as people are among the oldest, if not the oldest in the Balkans. And today in the world, many Albanian and foreign historians have brought this conclusion in their works, and now they see the studies that are being made for this problem in a new optic.

Sokol Jakova

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The life of the artist in the communist dictatorship

Thoughts about the novel “Slaves of the peace” of the writer Shefki Hysa

Although the books of the writer Shefki Hysa treat all in all rich problems and topics, they are characterized by the reveal and the unmasking of the communist dictatorship, the reflection with realism and veracity of the ordinary people’s life in that fierce and vicious period, when the poorest population of Europe shouldered the weight, the violence and the terror of the most sanguinary dictatorship of the continent. In this sense while in the novel “The cursed heaven” the author points out the tableaus of people’s lives during the dictatorship, in “Slaves of the peace” he moots an important problem and somewhat special, little touched in our literature: the problem of the lives and the work of the artists during the dictatorship.
The problem of the artist is bound up with the problem of the system, under of which a population lives. The artists are the most sensible stratum of it and always in opposition with every kind of political power that doesn’t accomplish the obligations toward the country and its population. But the communist dictatorship is so much severe and powerful that with its terror, diablerie and astuteness, it was able to convert even these petrels of the truth in “slaves of a silent war under the blessing of the peace…Yes, yes! Slaves of the peace”… (P, 91). Therefore even some of the most noted figures of the Albanian literature that become personages of this novel, doesn’t show any desire, boast or servility of the author to know them, but on the contrary they demonstrate a serious attempt to find out the message that during the dictatorship even the elite talents such as Kadare or Agolli were obliged to survive with their writings, and so, in this way, apart from the convictions and the opposition breath against the regime, they were “slaves” of the peace. And if there were these, you can imagine how it was the file of all the Albanian writers and artists. Surely, there were even some writers that didn’t put up with the communist violence, all their ways were closed, and so they pushed through the perdition and escaped, such as the writer with a certain future Bilal Xhaferri, whose figure is described with love from Shefki Hysa not only in this novel but even in other writings.
Thus “Slaves of the peace” though it makes an attractive description of the well- known writer Ismali Kadare, it isn’t just a personalized novel for Kadare, but in general for the Albanian artist during the dictatorship.
I think that from the typological aspect this is an artistic novel with a historical and documentary background. Such a literature is becoming more and more attractive for the reader of today.
The subject of the novel is simple. The writer Ismail Kadare comes on vacations with his family in a coastal city of the South. The writers of the city headed by Cife, the director of the branch of “League of writers and artists of the district” and in particular Cifja, Xheki and Piro are vivified and made a cordial welcome to the writer and his family. During those days on vacations, Kadare is converted in the focus of the writers’ and artists’ attention, but not only. And in this way the novel continues with conversations and different episodes for Kadare, for his writings and the advanced thoughts for that time.
When the author of the novel introduces the figure of the great writer, in spite of the utilization of the creative whim that gives to the figure the artistic character, turning him into a personage, he uses even a lot of impressions and happenings regarding Kadare, that are true. In this way, with his own intuition, the author makes the portraiture of this special writer and personality of the Albanian letters. In this way, Kadareja is discovered as a quiet, serious man, not only as a magnificent writer for Xheki, Cife or Piro and in general for the youth of those years, but also as a thinker and a philosopher for the art and life in general. In the view of the young creators like Xheki and Piro he takes in special dimensions and turns into an imagery to be imitated for his values as a great creator. The author, during the description of the historical figure of Kadare, staying faithful to the truth, intends that this famous artist didn’t like it, even considered it wrong the interference of the politics in art and especially of those mediocre people in power that leaded the communist culture and ideology and that Kadare couldn’t tolerate. Let’s bring to mind the episode when Kadare was invited for dinner and he is with Cifja, the first secretary and with how much sadness and disregard the writer conducts himself.
Another historical figure that is given with rapid lines in the novel is that of Dritëro Agolli, the other great writer who is presented as especial and waggish, with his nice humor, even with the known vices, but anyway well-minded and good-natured. During the presentation of these famous figures, who were also loved from the readers and especially from the new creators, as we mentioned above, Shefki Hysa makes a portrait with the right lines even to his favorite writer, the real dissident, Bilal Xhaferri. The author of the novel, being familiar with his Cham origin, the life and the activity of this writer that escaped because he didn’t find any kind of space to express his values in his own country, with the writings he left, after the death in the peak of his artistic circumspection, emphasizes the message that if Bilal Xhaferri had had the possibilities to write and publish in a democratic place, and not under the hoof of the dictatorship, we would have had another colossus of the Albanian letters.
In his novel “Slaves of the peace” the writer Shefki Hysa, following the progress of the history of the events, describes even the figure of Enver Hoxha, during a meeting that he had with Ismail Kadare and his family. The figure of this dictator is given with rapid lines in the novel, as every Albanian has known him, but the author of the writing, with a significant implication narrates how the leader of the communist dictatorship gave instructions even to the most known creators, so they could serve to the party cause.
“Before they went away, in spite of Zaharia’s book “La fin du mistere etrusque”, Hoxha gave them even a set of Balzak’s books in French.
– O, we covered you with Balzak!-he joked.
It was a joke of a man, well informed about the discussions made all over the world regarding the relation between the realistic literature of the XIXth century and the contemporary one, in which Balzaku was in focus of the contrapositions that hadn’t passed without making an echo even at our country. The smiling view of Hoxha has absolutely a hidden implication, thought Kadare. I think it says: “In the literary creations you mustn’t be a critic realist like Balzak, meanwhile do what he did, get out from your convictions, and against them, devote yourself to the method of socialist realism, to the description of the reality in its revolutionary development. Thus, you will bring in the literature the beautiful reality of the future, with in focus the positive hero…” (P. 156).
Besides the historical personages, in which is entwined the creation of the author with documentary data, in the novel “Slaves of the peace” are depicted even many figures of personages, totally artistic, with special qualities and characteristics. Among them we can mention the couple Xheki-Pirro, two young and talented boys: the first in the literature field and the second in that of picture and both with dreams for the future. One of them was to make a career in the respective fields, to become someone in life but the communist regime doesn’t open the doors easily even to these young artists with a future because of their biography. These and many others like these have Kadare as an imitation and inspiration model, have respect for him, even if they discuss severally for many things regarding the great writer.
The figure of Xheki, who, as a personage symbolizes in a way the author himself and that is given even in the confidential plan, in the relations with Esmeralda, is widely touched. A personage given with artistry is even Cifja, a lively person, joyful and full of humor, who has had a difficult life but he has known how to juggle and to survive owing to his strong character. Cifja is an admirer of Kadare and his work, therefore, like Xheki and Piro, even this personage has respect and a huge sympathy for the great writer.
It is well known that the communist dictatorship had as a central lever for the holding of the power with violence: The State Security. The writer Shefki Hysa in “Slaves of the peace” has tried, and I think he has succeeded, to sculpt with appropriate lines the figure of the Security man, Ramush Kaleci. The reader understands from the surname of this abhorrent man that the author has put him in focus to unmask and denigrate him for the squalid profession. There is a passage in the novel where the figure of Ramush is described with irony, in a grotesque as well as ridiculous way, until he becomes a rag: “Xheki, surprisingly, as with magic, was converted in a shade. And he was invisible for Ramush Kaleci’s eyes. It was a wonderful situation because it is imperceptible for a general mind being a shade. Look how he turned round in mid-air wherever he wanted, in that phantasmagoric situation. He could see everything, everyone and without being watched by someone. This was the prettiness of that new situation that he was living. So there, Ramush Kaleci! Let’s go near him. As it were. He hasn’t felt anything yet. He is breathing like a miser, as he is devouring all the oxygen to asphyxiate the other human beings. The enemies. And what a puffy face,
“Like a bun, burst with laughter Xheki and hit him in the nose with the tip of the forefinger”. Ramush, with a fool appearance, scratched the nose and watched for a while, as he wanted to catch by surprise any pestilent beetle. Xheki burst with laughter. It was a big pleasure to make fun of this fat dumpling. He tickled him in the neck and without letting him to recollect himself, strained him one ear, and then the other. Ramushi stopped open-mouthed, like being hit by palsy. What a big pleasure!”
The figure of the shade that follows Ramush and other elements of the magic, such as the episode of the description of the Hell or the episode of the return in the past where the meeting of Kadare with the King Pirro of Ephyrus, is realized etc., reminds you the magical atmosphere that lives in the popular Cham epos and at the same time remembers you the mastery that the author Shefki Hysa utilizes in such fanciful circumstances in his composition, merging wonderfully, as with magic, the real with the unreal, the real life with the dreams of the personages, becoming in this way the typical representative of a new wave of the magical realism with Albanian peculiarities, a bit similar with the magical realism that characterizes the books of Gabriel Garcia Markes.
Ramush Kaleci is the prototype of the persecutor, the spy, the greyhound that runs after his “chase” and persecutes him as far as he makes a calamity. In such a way he follows even Kadare when he comes in the southern coastal city supposing “to protect him”, but also to survey what he does and whom he stays with. An interesting point of the novel is also the story of “the stealing” of the book of Kadare that ends in a bluff for Ramush and he is finally unmasked.
The writings of Shefki Hysa are distinguished for their lithesome and dynamic style, for a clear language, for a lively and attractive dialogue and for expressive details, which makes it curious and interesting for those readers that desire to learn more from that black period of our history, from the period when the communist dictatorship governed.

Sokol Jakova

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Characteristics of a short impressive prose

Notes about the book “Confessions of a thief” of the writer Shefki Hysa

1. Our short prose even in these years of transition has point out new occurrences, innovations that are evident in the creativity of many young and old prose writers, who have made name with their books, have got readers’ attention and have been appreciated by them.
In this sense even Shefki Hysa’s creations, widely known by the reader and which have left traces in the literary circles, should be analyzed. And certainly, a varicolored creativity, written with an emphatic realist spirit, where are entwined even elements of contemporary prose like surrealism and magical realism, with a deep and complex view in the reality of time, with a variety of individualized personages, through pointed artistic situations and a rich literary language, is impossible not to get our critique and scholars’ attention. This creativity gives a hand and opens the way to an artistic analysis, because precisely some of the most positive characteristics of contemporary Albanian prose are part of it.
2. Republication has been always an important test of creativity, to understand once again how deep it has nested in readers’ heart and mind. That is why the republication of “Confessions of a thief”, stories-miscellanea of writer Shefki Hysa, is in addition a new venture for the author when he confronts the readers, to give them again the impressions and the emotions aroused by the stories of the miscellanea, where are artistically recreated tableaus from different periods of life and where are vivified really interesting personages, who have been sculpted with an artistic taste and mastery.
The two opening tales of the miscellanea “The horror of Aids” and “Confessions of a thief” (Rrëfimet e një hajduti) are a bit similar at their composition. The episodes in them are evolved in a situation and the artistic discovery is displayed in the end, leaving the reader in anxiety and curiosity, during the reading, until he knows the end of the story, discovers its message and especially the personages’ features. The girl in the first story appears differently from the way the young journalist imagines her with her drama that maybe in a certain sense is dirtier than Aids, while the robber boy in the second story discovers all of a sudden his unchangeable character in a special situation, joyful as well as grotesque. It is important that the two stories have naturally evolved, with a vital verity and a satisfactory tempo-rhythm, evidently felt during the reading, due to the author’s experience and ability.
While “The emperor of idols” is more a sketch or essay, with an allegoric meaning, the story “The black widow” catches the eye as one of the most beautiful and prominent of the miscellanea. In this prose, you can find in miniature all the characteristic features of Shefki Hysa’s creativity; a narration full of artistic color, a lithesome and dense dialogue, the tempo-rhythm of his way of telling, elements of surrealism of modern literature, the derisory and jeering subtext that reaches the margins of grotesque, and above all the varicolored drawing with special colors of the widow’s figure, whose portrait stays in your memory for a long time. With an exquisite finesse and artistry the author has succeeded in weaving an interesting subject that keeps alive readers’ curiosity and in bringing to light all of a sudden in the end a rare artistic discovery, which gives an unmasking exquisite whip to the black widow’s figure, this woman with dimensions of a monster in life as well as in sex. That is why the erotic scenes of the story are given with the function of discovering the personage’s character and of displaying the author’s message. The black widow remains a prominent and rare personage in the gallery of the most striking personages ever realized in our short prose.
Judging all this variety of ways of writings the author of the miscellanea “Confessions of a thief” has been able to create with artistic mastery and emotive pathos the story “Didini”, which remains one of the strongest pillars of this book. As one researcher of this author’s creativity, Bardhyl Maliqi, emphasizes by rights “Didini”… is an artistic model of masterly using the magical elements, an expression of the magical realism in our literature”. The hero of the story “Didini”, a progeny of a nationalist family is depicted in this work with the best qualities and characteristics a young guy, with life and future dreams, can have. But in those war times the tragedy of the nationalist teenager was inevitable because those who leaded the war, the communists, were adversaries to death with the Albanian nationalists. Fighting with a file against partisans, Didini becomes their slave and in the end, due to his convictions, is massacred by the partisan commandant “The pine”.
The whole story is displayed in retrospect. The utilization of magical elements has given a hand to the author to put as pivot of the book the main personage, not Didini, but the disturbed soul of the guy massacred during the war. This fantastic as well as conventional discovery has deeply affected the whole artistic structure of this prose evidently realized. So, the whole vital material is enlaced round the soul-personage, who goes by himself as a turbulent dust cloud everywhere in the regions of his homeland and brings back in mind those past and stormy times. We don’t exaggerate if we point out, being familiar with author’s and his family’s turbulent life and childhood, that Shefki Hysa, with Didini, has aimed to artistically create a portrait of his ideals, “embroidering” the personage, that we can feel he loves so much. The guy, Didini, is given to us as a man with a rare human spirit, courageous and spitfire, who has freely wandered all his life, like the roe of the mountains around.
“Soul-Didini was invaded by the sensation of a distention of sorrow inside that invisibility roll that used to determine his existence. He wanted to hate and he couldn’t hate. He wanted to rebel and he couldn’t rebel. Surprisingly, unlike other souls that had escaped, Didini’s soul doesn’t contain in itself the criminal inclination per se, the embryo of phantasm that suddenly explodes at nights the soil of the tomb and magically rushes on the human peace with all the power of evil. Even the basilisk souls, every time they met the soul-Didini while flying, used to tease, deride and make fun of him about his deaf-and-dumb weakness. The basilisks wondered why runaway souls, in stead of revenging themselves used to observe quietly the human world from that deaf-and-dumb as well as air angelic roll. Neither devil nor angel and however a homeless soul, lost in its deafness and dumbness, in the swirl of its sorrow. Even Didini himself was sometimes astonished at his passive existence. What meaning could that kind of resistance between sky and earth have, when he couldn’t undertake anything to change a little the fatal flow of events, as the souls escaped from hell could do?! And to give him his due he had to revenge himself for that perfidious murder. With bullet. Behind his back, in the twinkling of an eye?!… (“Didini, pg.55-56).
It’s excessive to say how much compassion the reader feels and how much down-hearted the reader is for the tragic destiny of this personage who nests at people’s hearts with his rich inward world and his humanism.
We find this human character in the story “Qopeku”, uncle Miho in “The old man of the lakes”, Hido and Leta in “Saturday afternoon”, Xheki and Dudija in “Destiny game”, Lirika in the story with the same title.
The story “The olives” evolves in another olive. It treats an event of the past years. The author, like a subtle and astute watcher of life, in this story glances over in that time, when the population was clenched under the oppression of dictatorship.
The subject of the story is simple as well as shuddering. A young girl, sixteen years old, pushed by her mother and poverty, which induces her to do a squalid work just to gain something. She goes in the cooperative land, at Habibi’s grass-plot, to steal olives. And the girl commits this act, but she falls prey to the brigadier of the arboriculture, Rauf, who tries, incited by sexual lust, to rape her. It is understood, his infamous and criminal gesture toward a woman is more infamous than secretly stealing a sack of olives. The author, through a figurative parallelism with the pigeons, emphasizes forcibly this message in the end: “The girl, who envied the flight of those pigeons, imagined for a while herself as a pigeon that has already escaped from the falcon’s wings. And she broke down in tears again. They were tears of joy. She felt free, free, and free”… But this story interests us even in another view; written some years before, it discovers clearly the author’s non-conformism with the method of socialist realism, with his aim to break the frames of that method and to reveal even the eyesores of the acrid reality in that period, when the heroine of the story, in the end “whispered again thinking that the reality was more acrid than the olive”…
In many other stories of the miscellanea, the author weaves the subjects putting in the center of attention the problem of love. We can see how the author, through clear-cut artistic tools, succeeds in describing emotional situations and a lot of romanticists of love with a limpid, human, gentle and vital purity. Love is conceived as a sacred, divine feeling, but anyway, when the author wants to whip the personages, he knows how to describe even physical love relations, as it happens in the story “The beautiful beast”, where the main personages of the work, who have been highlighted by the author, are whipped and unmasked through a derisive and grotesque description of love relations and a banal vocabulary.
3. Critics have pointed out that prose writer Shefki Hysa in his creativity has often utilized many autobiographical data to weave the subjects of his creations. This ascertainment is right because there is no writer, well-known or unknown, who doesn’t utilize his life’s memories and impressions in his own creativity. It’s important that the artistic recreation of that past, as literary art gives you this opportunity, should be at higher, deeper and more thrilling dimensions than the reality of life it describes gives you.
Owing to his origin, his painful, dramatic and disturbed life and owing to the talent that characterizes him, the author of the miscellanea “Confessions of a thief” (Rrëfimet e një hajduti) has successfully succeeded at spreading in some stories, with a special dramatization, with a variety of staring colors and with a hair-raising pain, tableaus of the unlucky Cham population’s past life, on whose back the flow of time threw sufferings, misery and tragedies rarely heard. The phrase that often in art, great works come out of big pains is not futile. We think that the artistic value of the story “Bota Saddle”, which is one of the main pillars of the miscellanea, can be interpreted in this sense. The author has written this work with a special love and inspiration, because he feels precisely near himself, his life and origin in it, because this life’s painful and shocking impressions and memories, which has been fanatically and perseveringly saved in subconscious, have created a strong impulse and a rare inspiration to pour in paper a creation realized with artistic values.
In fact the subject of this story is simple, without many situations, as are in general the subjects of Shefki Hysa’s books. He is not inclined toward extraordinary events but otherwise he focuses the attention on his short prose, on the expressive figurative narration, on the symbol and allegory, in a word on the figurative tools, which highly help him for the emotive discovery of the events and personages’ characters. The famous saddle or Bota saddle can be viewed as a salient symbol of the story, which serves in the artistic meaning for the organization of the compositional structure. The figurative parallelism between two periods, of that period when the ill-fated Cham refugees used to climb over this saddle, which separates two countries, and nowadays when hundreds and thousands refugees push through thorny bushes in mountains to find the “paradise” in the neighboring country, can be explained this way. The author himself reinforces this artistic occurrence when he points out in the story that “the tragedy of the Cham refugees is being repeated, here, at Bota Saddle… Although it is said that history comes back in a comic way, the only thing that an acrid smile can cause in this new history of refugees is maybe the fact that, while the Chams were persecuted by the foreigners, the new refugees, figadhes, as the Greek calls them, are persecuted by our people… Yes, yes, our chair-inclined people, as the journals of opposition describe them!… (Bota Saddle, pg.84)
So, comparing in a figurative way two historical periods, separated by some decades, a mature compositional discovery this, the author opens the way in the story to confess us with realism what kind of horrible and monstrous jobs have happened and are happening in this saddle, or as the author describes it: “Bota Saddle looked passably like that secret door of the tale that connects our world with the one beyond tomb, dead with live persons”. (Bota Saddle, pg.78).
After he has “paved” the way of his narration, Shefki Hysa permeates in the tissues of the story, recreating artistically, through his extending narration, where is saved the tempo-rhythm, some dramatic and very painful situations. Through two boundary soldiers and the hidden refugee who is looking forward to crossing the border, we find out some tragic jobs, rare in their kind. This is warned by the augural caws of death, of the black ravens, which pulse in the work as bad augury. Look what the old boundary soldier says in the story: “If it begins to rain you will see across the Saddle tens and tens of horrifying flames exploding suddenly. As epilepsies and boggles are seizing you and you wait for them thrusting their claws on your throat. It’s dangerous because you can go crazy if you are alone, in this Saddle, at rainy nights. That immensity of flames jumping upwards, here and there, is caused by the phosphor of the remains, which is activated by moisture. To the bushes, among blackthorns and the grass that covers this land, if you search, you will find many human remains’ bones and skulls. Unburied people’s cadavers have remained since then in this Saddle. But, as it is said, the Cham refugees, in 1945, victimized by the Greek bands, have left many dead to the alleys of this Saddle. They died exhausted by wounds, illnesses, cold, hunger and sufferings that a normal man’s mind can’t perceive.
So, without help and protection, they used to huddle and give up the ghost, groaning near the shrubs and the brushwood. Other frightened people, used to climb over known and unknown people’s cadavers, to die, maybe, at the first curve of those ways, just created from the toes of the bloody feet or onward, in a sward or near a rock. So many cadavers of innocent victims in few days and weeks! The Saddle, used to reek of tainted meat from far away…”(Bota Saddle, pg.80-81). You can find such shocking descriptions that arouse even a feeling of horror, even in other lands of the story, not only for that acrid past of meanders, after the ouster of the Cham refugees from their lands, but also in the following years, when the poor Albanian refugees, who aimed to cross the border for a better future, were murdered on the border and as the author says: “the people of our government, wise as they are, had dispatched the dead persons on a car carriage. Without biers. Bloody, muddy, face-shredded by the bullets. An ugly death that could burst even the stone with its view, not less than human hearts made of meat and blood. (Bota Saddle, pg.83).
Aiming to be not only a writer, but also a rude protester for the tragedy with unimaginable dimensions of the poor Cham refugees, related by blood to him, Shefki Hysa has summarized in the book another salient and too much dramatic story. The story “The testimony” is in fact a shuddering testimony, which authentically discovers the monstrous massacres of the bands of Greek General Zerva against the undefended Cham population. Overfilled with inspiration by hatred and the strong rancor against these human-faced monsters, the author has poured in letter a situation that nearly drives you crazy for its macabre.
This situation, when gentle mother Fatije, to testify to the strangers of the commission the monstrous massacres of the cursed recreants of Zerva over the innocent Cham population, takes out before them the peeled scalp with a plume of hairs of her son’s head, slaughtered by the bands of the Greek General Zerva, although is a bit similar to the episode of granny Nice, who throws to the Italian general’s feet the sack with colonel Z’ remains, in the novel “The General of the dead army” of Ismail Kadare, remains anyway rare in the Albanian prose of today. This situation of the story “The testimony”, with almost unreal dimensions, expresses with an admirable density the quintessence of the sufferings, of the tragic and the prosecution that this Albanian population proved on its back in those horrific years. In front of it stay the inward beauty, humanism, love and the great nobility of the Cham mother and you shed tears, deeply shocked, when in the end of the story “Mother Fatija took with caresses and sorrow the scalp of her son’s head, winded it on with caution and care, unbuttoned the wrapper and put it on the breast, near the heart, as if she wanted to give her life from her life. She took a look at the people one more time with the tearful eyes and so, with the hands on the breast she turned her body, ready to go” (The testimony, pg.75).
4. We couldn’t conclude these notes without saying some words for the style and the rich artistic language that the author of the miscellanea “Confession of a thief” (Rrëfimet e një hajduti) has used in his stories. Shefki Hysa is one of those Albanian prose writers, who pay a special attention to this artistic form of their creativity components. And this fact confesses about the high professional requests that the talented author has toward his creativity. As researcher Bardhyl Maliqi notices “the realist character of Shefki’s prose is distinguished by a language rich of phraseological phrases, a dialectical language, jargons that are functionalized especially on the personages’ mouths. Besides the realist inclination of Shefki Hysa’s prose, we notice in it even elements and conceptions of a prose, which, based on the national creations and on contemporary literary techniques, appears complex as well as rich in its structures, apparently simple but too much expressive”…
In conclusion I emphasize that prose writer Shefki Hysa has his special voice in our prose, has his own individuality already artistically created and with his creations he occupies an enviable place in the Albanian realist prose.

Sokol Jakova

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