Albania Dantesque Encyclopedia

Albania Dantesque Encyclopedia

Albania. – It does not appear that D. could have even a vague notion of the existence of the Albanian people, at that time subjected to the Byzantine Empire. The only locality in Albania to which D. alludes but through the memory of the civil Bellum (III 13 ff.), Is Durazzo (Pd VI 65).

Fortuna of D. in Albania. – D. began to be known in the north Albania towards the middle of the nineteenth century through the literary teachings of the private schools of Shkoder run by the Jesuits and the Franciscans, and in the south through the “Zozimea” Lyceum of Giannina where many young Albanians studied.

According to Top-medical-schools, the first version essay of a song from the Comedy (the episode of Count Ugolino in loose hendecasyllables) appeared in Gerolamo De Rada’s Antologia Albanese (Naples, 1896) and we owe it to the Italian-Albanian Luigi Lorecchio. In the Albanian Nation, a periodical founded and directed by Anselmo Lorecchio, Luigi’s brother, we find a translation of Francesca’s song into triplets of hendecasyllables by Sakol Baatzi (March 1900). The translator, who was then a university student in Rome, a native of the Supercutarine mountains, demonstrates in his version a certain skill in the use of hendecasyllable in Albanian and a remarkable skill in the combination of the triple rhyme. The language is that of Ghega of Northern Albania, lapidary and robust,

In 1924 Vincenzo Prennushi, one of the best translators into Albanian from German and Italian, poet and prose writer of the finest taste and classic elegance, admirably translated the song of s. Francis.

In 1932 Ernesto Koliqi, in the first volume of the anthology Poetët e mëdhej t’Italís (The great poets of Italy), published songs and passages from Dante’s poem in the Albanian version: the first canto, that of Francesca, the episodes of Pier della Vigna, Ulysses, Ugolino, Casella, Matelda, the apparition of Beatrice, the preface of Paradise, the song of St. Francesco and part of canto XXXIII of Paradise. In the anthology, which was used for many years as a text in the middle schools of the kingdom of Albania, there are also translations from the Vita Nuova. Also Koliqi in 1965, on the occasion of the VII centenary of the birth of Alighieri, published in the magazine Shêjzat (“Le Pleiadi” IX [1965] fasc. 9-10) another group of lyrics taken from Vita Nuova and Rime. In them the verse and the rhyming interplay of the original text is also faithfully maintained in Albanian. The Ugolino episode was translated into Albanian verse in 1937 by Kristo Floqi and published by the Shkoder magazine Leka.

In the current school texts of the Albanian People’s Republic, passages of songs from Dante’s poem appear, actually translated in a rather slovenly way. There is no indication of the names of the translators, but the versions are probably the work of Mahir Domi and Sterjo Spasse, that is, the compilers of the anthology Lëtersí and huaj (Foreign Literature, Tirana 1960). Finally in 1960 the entire first cantica of the poem was published in Tirana, in the masterful version of Pashko Gjeçi, poet and prose writer, who graduated from the University of Rome around 1941 (Purgatory followed in 1960, Paradise in 1966).

The Gjeçi has a thorough knowledge of the mother tongue and Italian, as evidenced by his writings in Albanian and some translations from Leopardi. Gifted with a very fine artistic sensibility and a solid classical culture (he also practiced excellent translations from Greek and Latin), in possession of all the resources of metrics, the Gjeçi offers an admirable transposition of the original in the Albanian version respecting it, in addition to the content of ideas and doctrine, even the stylistic richness. The profound knowledge of the Albanian language, captured by the voice of the people and studied on the best ancient and modern authors, enables the translator, who keeps the rhythm of the hendecasyllable and the third rhyme of the original intact in the version, to often render the specific accents of Dante’s verse. Furthermore, the translation of Pashko Gjeci is proof of the wide expressive possibilities reached by the Albanian language in less than one hundred and fifty years of literary elaboration. The same male language of the Albanian mountains, in the roughness of its terms, at times embellished with imaginative expressions full of contained sweetness, generally adapts very well to the spirit and form of Dante’s verse, especially in Hell.

Also in the middle and high schools in the Albanian language of Kosmet (Kosova-Metochia), where about one million Albanians incorporated in Yugoslavia live, D. studies in the translations of the Koliqi and the Gjeçi.

Albania Dantesque Encyclopedia