Title: The Highland Lute
Author: Gjergj Fishta
Length: 256 Pages
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction
The Highland Lute became enormously popular in the 1920s and 30s, with its vivid, archetypal characters and panoramic descriptions: the backdrop to Albania’s historical battles for freedom and independence from the Turks and Montenegrins. It propelled its author, Gjergj Fishta, to universal recognition as the national poet of Albania until the Communists took power in 1944. On its first public recital in post-Communist Albania, 45 years later, many in the audience still knew parts by heart. Robert Elsie’s masterful new translation, the first to appear in English, captures the spirit of the original and, accompanied by a new critical introduction, will introduce the poem to a new generation of admirers.
“The Highland Lute” is considered to be an Albanian Literature masterpiece, an epic poem about the war of two generations from 1905 to 1937. I have read and studied this for my Advanced Literature Class four years ago.
Fishta has created some characters that can be divided in two groups: mythological and real. Still, the difference between these two groups has merged and you can’t really tell which one is which. That being said the poem doesn’t have a main character but many that share similarities in personality but are pretty distinct when it comes to their heroism and bravery.
The story is built with a slight dramatism that can be felt between the verses. The descriptions are short, there’s dialogue and action through which we get to know the characters better. The author also uses blesses and curses as a way to include spoken language and proverbs in the story.
This book is not a light read. You must have time and the right focus to truly enjoy and understand it correctly. Also a detailed commentary can help for more understanding.