Greek Civilisation as a Theme of Dissidence in the Work of Ismail Kadare

Peter Morgan


No country offers a better example of Europe’s fractured cultural memory than

Albania. Part of the ancient Greek cultural sphere and incorporated into the

Roman Empire, the speakers of Illyrian became separated from Europe in the

wake of the split of eastern and western churches. On the edge of Byzantine

civilization, the Albanians, unlike the Serbs and the Bulgars did not form a

kingdom or achieve a national church. At the point of proto-national consolida -

tion in the late 14th century, they were invaded by the Ottomans and subjected to

eastern despotism for the following five hundred years. This, at least, is one

version of Albania’s history. During the era of the Albanian dictatorship, the

writer and commentator, Ismail Kadare, consistently used a narrative of civilisa -

tional value with reference to ancient Greece as an Aesopian mode in which an

alternative, “European” civilization is implicitly recognized in opposition to the

national isolationism of the Hoxha regime.

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