Ismail Kadare Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Ismail Kadare (kah-DAWR) is known primarily for his novels, but he began his writing career as a lyric poet. His stories deal with universal themes and draw on myth and world literature. His nonfiction book Nga nje dhjetor ne tjetrin: Kronikë, kembim letrash, persiatje (1991; Albanian Spring: The Anatomy of Tyranny, 1994), written after he left Albania and sought political asylum in France, contains his views on Albanian politics and government between 1944 and 1990, when Albania was ruled by a repressive communist regime.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In 2005, Ismail Kadare won the inaugural Booker International Prize for literature in English. He was made an honorary member of the Institut de France (1988), was awarded the Prix mondial Cino del Duca (1992), was elected an associate member of l’Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (1996), was proclaimed an officer of the Legion of Honor (1996), and was awarded the Herder-Preis in Hamburg, Germany (1998). Winning the Booker International Prize boosted his international reputation considerably. The New Yorker published a short story by Kadare on December 26, 2005, and in 2008 he was contracted to write eight columns per year for the New York Times Syndicate. This international attention is in keeping with Kadare’s own observation that he is a writer of true literature. He is a keen observer of human nature and his works have universal appeal.

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Why does Ismail Kadare include a second grave-digging crew from another country in The General of the Dead Army?

Discuss the role of song in chapter 16 of The General of the Dead Army.

Discuss the role of magic in Chronicle in Stone.

Critic Arshi Pipa argues that the grotesque elements added in the third version of Chronicle in Stone express Kadare’s disgust for the political situation in his country. Do you agree with Pipa’s interpretation?

Describe several types of humor in Chronicle in Stone.

The murder in the Italian brothel is described in The General of the Dead Army and referred to again in Chronicle in Stone. Analyze the importance of the incident.

Kadare’s story “Qorrfirmani” (1984; “The Blinding Order,” 2006) encapsulates the problem with any system that dictates what people should think. Draw comparisons between this story and some of Kadare’s other works.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Bellos, David. “The Englishing of Ismail Kadare: Notes of a Retranslator.” Complete Review Quarterly 6, no. 2 (2005). An interesting overview of the complicated translation history of Kadare’s works.

Guppy, Shusha. “Ismail Kadare.” Paris Review 40, no. 147 (Summer, 1998): 194-217. An informative interview in which Kadare speaks about the Albanian language, true literature, the novel, writing under a dictatorship, and his opposition to totalitarianism.

Hurezanu, Daniela. “Ismail Kadare: Storytelling and the Power of Myth.” Chattahoochee Review 27, no. 2 (Winter, 2007): 148-160. Review article that discusses Chronicle in Stone, The Three-Arched Bridge, Palace of Dreams, The Successor, Agamemnon’s Daughter, and Spring Flowers, Spring Frost.

Morgan, Peter. “Between Albanian Identity and Imperial Politics: Ismail Kadare’s The Palace of Dreams.” Modern Language Review 97, no. 2 (April, 2002): 365-379. Provides background information about the oral epics, and places the writing of the novel in the context of concurrent political events in the Balkans.

_______. “Ismail Kadare: Modern Homer or Albanian Dissident?” World Literature Today 80, no. 5 (September/October, 2006): 7-11. Examines Kadare’s life as a writer living under an oppressive dictatorship. Considers Kadare “the voice of Albania’s modernity and the singer of its ancient identity.”

Talmor, Sascha. “The Kanun: The Code of Honour of Albania’s High Plateau.” Durham University Journal, January, 1993. A good summary and analysis of Kadare’s Broken April. Includes background information for his later novel, Spring Flowers, Spring Frost.

White, Jeffrey. “Breaking the Cycle: Albania Seeks Solutions to Its Blood Feud Problem.” Spiegel, July 8, 2008. Of relevance to Broken April and Spring Flowers, Spring Frost. Describes the rules of the ongoing feuds and how the survivors are afraid to leave their homes.