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Saturday, 27 October 2012

ALBANIAN LIBRARY



This is a brief annotated bibliography containing some of the books on Albania, which I have enhoyed reading. It is by no means comprehensive. I have arranged them in order of date of publication.


Durham, M.E.: “High Albania”, publ. Edward Arnold (London) 1909.
Margaret Durham was an anthropologist who fell in love with the Balkans. This describes in great detail the history and anthropology of the tribes living in the remote mountains of northern Albania. There are modern editions of this beautifully written and illustrated classic available.

Peacock, W.: “Albania: The Foundling State of Europe”, publ. Chapman & Hall (London), 1914.
This is a fascinating, detailed account of life in and around Shkodër during the first years of Albanian independence. The author was attached to the British Consulate in Shkodër. His chapter on the future of Albania makes for interesting reading in the light of what actually happened.

Gordon, J & Gordon, C.: “Two vagabonds in Albania”, publ. John Lane The Bodley Head (London), 1927.
Jan and Cora Gordon wrote a large number of “Two Vagabonds in…” travelogues. This one, which describes their trip to Albania, is beautifully illustrated with the authors’ line drawings and chalk sketches. The text is humorous and informative.


Bridge, A.: “Singing Waters”, publ. Macmillan (New York), 1946.
Not quite as good as Bridge’s “Illyrian Spring”, her superb novel set in the Balkans, “Singing Waters” is set largely in Albania.

Muggeridge, M. (ed.): “Ciano’s Diary: 1939 -1943”, publ. William Heinemann (London), 1947.
                This is a translation of Count Ciano’s secret diary, which was smuggled out of Italy by Ciano’s wife at the end of WW2. According to Mosely, who wrote a biography of Ciano, this is a largely accurate account of the events described in the diary. The first chapter of the diary describes the vents leading up to the Italian invasion of Albania.

Buda, A., Cun, J., Rrok, Z., & Skënder, A.: Guide d’Albanie”, publ. by Editions “Albturist” (Tirana), 1958.
Difficult to obtain, this guide produced whilst the Albanians were still allies of the Soviet Union is remarkably detailed. The historical section ends with an affirmation of the country’s alliance with the Soviet Union, ‘… le grand sauveur et défenseur de notre people.

Hamm, H.:  Albania - China’s beachhead in Europe”, publ. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London), 1963.
Harry Hamm was a German journalist who was allowed to visit Albania in 1962. He was the first western journalist to visit the country since 1957. He arrived just after the Albanians had divorced themselves from the Soviet Union. He describes this break up between former allies in great detail. He also foretells the alliance of Albania and the People’s Republic of China, which began soon after his visit. Hard to find, this is a fascinating book.

Logoreci, A.: “The Albanians”, publ. Westview Press (Colorado), 1977.
Published just after the death of Mao Tse Tung, this scholarly but readable book gives many interesting insights about the political, social, and economic conditions prevailing in Hoxha’s Albania. He predicts the rift that developed between China and Albania not long after Mao’s death. The book ends with a comprehensive reading list over five pages in length.

Kadare, I.: “Broken April”. First published in 1978, numerous editions are available. 
This haunting tale, which revolves around the Law of Lek, the codification of feuding in traditional Albania, is a brief but brilliant story about the last days of a young man expecting to be killed in an inter-familial vendetta. As in his other works, Ismail Kadare captures a great deal with a few words.

Ward, P.: “Albania”, publ. Oleander Press (Cambridge), 1983.
The author describes his trip to Albania and uses it as the framework for his informative illustrated guidebook. It is the most interesting guidebook to the country that I have come across.

Halliday, J.: “The Artful Albanian”, publ. Chatto & Windus, 1986.
                This book contains a number of extracts from the voluminous writings of Enver Hoxha and interesting commentaries about them. I lent my copy to one of the people with whom I travelled to Albania, and she never returned it. If she is reading this now, I ask her to return it immediately.

Robyns, G.: “Geraldine of the Albanians: The Authorised Biography”, publ. Frederick Muller Ltd, 1987.
This true-life Mills and Boon tale, a biography of King Zog’s Hungarian wife, was written by Barbara Cartland’s biographer. It includes a description of Geraldine whimpering into her pillow on being deflowered.

Jones, L.: “Biografi”, publ. André Deutsch, 1993.
                This curious tale about the fate of one of Enver Hoxha’s doubles in post-communist Albania contains good descriptions of conditions in the country soon after the end of communist rule.

Pettifer, J.: “Blue Guide: Albania”, publ. A&C Black (London), 1994.
 Published soon after Albania shed its communist regime, this detailed guidebook does its best in his section on ‘Personal Security’ to portray Albania as a lawless place, to which only the foolhardy visitor should stray. This book provides an encyclopaedic account of Albania and her people.

Mosely, R.: Mussolini’s Shadow”, publ. Yale University Press (New Haven), 1999.
This detailed biography of Count Ciano, Mussolini’s foreign minister and son-in-law contains a chapter on the Italian involvement in in Albania during WW2.

Kadare, I.: “The Successor”, published in 2003.
This chilling tale, which explores the mysterious death of the successor to a political leader, is most probably based on the sudden death of Enver Hoxha’s right hand man and probable successor Mehmet Shehu.

Tomes, J.: “King Zog: Self-made monarch of Albania”, publ. Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire), 2003.
This well-written, interestingly detailed account of Zog’s life in Albania, and then later in exile, includes a chapter about the Western Allies attempts to wrest Albania from the Communists in the 1950s.


Kadare, I.: The Accident: a novel”, first published in 2009.
This recent novel by world famous author Ismail Kadare concerns the investigation of a mysterious traffic accident near to Vienna’s airport. This story does not make for easy reading. It is deliberately confusing. I suspect that it gives the reader a good insight into the tortuous thought processes that were needed to survive in the oppressive atmosphere that was inspired by Albania's long serving dictator Enver Hoxha.  




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