February 2005 - In his 1978 novel The Great Winter, Ismail Kadare paints a chilling picture of a family that doctors its personal photo albums with ink to remove (most of) the faces and figures of people who have fallen out of favor with the Party of Labor. Readers might find themselves immediately reminded of Milan Kundera's great work from the same year, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, in which the Czechoslovak party boss Klement Gottwald appears first in company, and then alone, on a balcony, wearing the hat of a colleague airbrushed from the photograph after his fall from grace. There is, indeed another novel that underscores these themes of manipulation and expendability: The Taste of Power (1967) by the Slovak writer and journalist Ladislav Mnacko, in which a "major retouching department" in the state press office tweaks photos and "rubs out" people who are now undesirable. That Stalin's regime made widespread use of tactics such as these has also been demonstrated by David King in his 1997 study The Commissar Vanishes. Kadare, an internationally famous, prolific and highly regarded author from Albania, has written a number of works about communism that show similarities to fiction from other East European countries and can be fruitfully examined in a comparative context. It is my assertion in this essay, however, that he also makes use of innovative and unique modes of writing about his homeland under the Hoxha dictatorship.
The Wilson Center's Global Europe Program is now accepting applications for the EES Short-term Grant competition, which is open to academic experts and practitioners, including advanced graduate students, engaged in specialized research requiring access to Washington, DC and its research institutions. Grants are for one month and include residence at the Wilson Center. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, in order to be considered eligible for this grant opportunity. The deadline for this grant cycle is: September 1, 2013.
December 1999- The nineteenth century French historian Ernst Renan wrote that a nation is "a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbors." Though pessimistic, this aphorism conveys some basic truth about the importance of history--and myth--to national identity. And it highlights the enduring phenomenon of nationalist animosity in international relationships.