Guardians of a European Dimension

Guardians of a European Dimension
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Photo: Aurel Duka

At the end of the Second World War, Albania cut itself off politically and culturally from the outside world, accusing the literatures of Europe of being decadent and reactionary, interpreting the term avant-garde as a threat to socialist literature and casting an impervious ideological net over the writers of the nation. Yet, there was a handful of authors who strove to ensure that at least the intellectual and cultural ties linking Albania to Europe were not severed entirely. They did this by producing work of high literary quality and by taking a stance best characterised by the words of the dissident writer Kasëm Trebeshina: "I was in prison physically, but I was never there intellectually. I never let them cut off my contacts with Europe. No power on earth could isolate me from European culture, from the great figures of European civilization."

Freedom of thought and the freedom to write whatever one wanted existed during the communist dictatorship for three groups of writers only: those who were prepared to risk prison or internment like authors Kasëm Trebeshina and Frederik Rreshpja, those who fled abroad like Martin Camaj, and those who wrote in surreptitious solitude like Zef Zorba, Mihal Hanxhari and Primo Shllaku.







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