e hënë, janar 07, 2008

Albania and the Albanians by M. Edith Durham

From time to time I hope to do a book review on some books on Albania.
I have a few. Some I still need to read, and some to re-read.
But I start with this one from Edith Durham.

Albania and the Albanians by M. Edith Durham ISBN 1 903616-09-3

This book is a selection of articles and letters written by Edith Durham between 1903-1944.

On more than one occasion in her letters she gives detailed account of the history of Albania up to early 1900’s. (see pages 77-79)

There are number of things that I found interesting in the book.
The first was the lack of mention of Tirana. There is mention of Elbasan as the capital of Albania (page 43) and also Shkoder of being the ancient capital of Illyria.(page 77) Mention also of Durres as being the capital,(page 62) I think in the time of Wilhelm if I remember correctly, but it takes till page 114 for the first mention of Tirana.

Another thing that is clear is the great hope through Albania at the time of independence in 1912, especially in having literature in Albanian and freedom to teach in the Albanian language. Prior to independence, there was a punishment of 15 years imprisonment for anyone caught teaching in Albanian.
Interesting also to read of the resignation and dissatisfaction with Ismail Qemali after independence had been granted. (pages 49-51)

What is clear is that Edith Durham loved the Albanians and Albania. ( and the Albanians loved her. They called her the “Queen of the Highlanders”). She must have been quite some women. Her bravery is seen a number of times in the book, although she does not highlight it, she just gives it a passing mention. (for example, page 81 as she seeks to see for herself outposts of Greek soldiers who were fighting with the Albanians…or page 135 where she steps in to stop a fight as she travelled on the road, with one man biting the nose of the other and refusing to let go!)

Sad to say that Edith Durham died in 1944.
Her final letters are full of hope that following the Second World War, Albania would have freedom and the Albania people themselves would choose who would lead them.
She got her wish…but the result was not what she wanted I am sure!

Overall, an excellent book if you want a brief survey of Albania history and to know more about Albania in the early 1900’s.

Unfortunately much of what is written in some letters is repeated later on the book. This is especially true in connection with the history of Albania. So I would only recommend this book to those with a serious interest. There are other books that I think would be a better read on Albania in general– including Edith Durham’s own book “High Albania”.

2 komente:

Lapa tha...

Thanks for letting me know this information.

Anonim tha...

Pershendetje te gjithve nga New Yorku-Prishtina. Kryeqyteti i Shqiptaris Antike duket shum bukure, me ne fund i esht kthy Shkodres bukurija e saj. Jam shum i lumtur...