Aspects of Dictatorship

By Kadare, Ismail | Michigan Quarterly Review, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Aspects of Dictatorship


Kadare, Ismail, Michigan Quarterly Review


These are the notes of a writer. And even though the events referred to here have nothing to do with literature, they should only be read as they are. The various creative notes do not give an exact viewpoint, in the same manner that a pair of found eyeglasses is hardly ever suitable to the eyes of the finder.

Under pressure, in those times usually christened as "dramatic," the writer is often asked to transform himself, to stop being a writer. He is asked this from various directions, often opposite each other. From the era of the totalitarian state, under the slogans "familiar with life," and "fusing with flint" it was insisted that he abandon literature and return to being a reporter, singing the praises of reality, in other words, of the regime. Critics of the regime, from their view, have asked the same thing, naturally with the opposite slant: that is to say, that he abandon literature and return to denouncing the regime. So from the left and from the right, in the East and the West, the writer is being asked the same thing: to unravel himself like something bought and sold. And this is asked of him using slick phrases like "the times demand it." Moreover, to make these requests sound more monumental, they are couched in urgent terms: "imperative of the times," et cetera.

In short, in the name of morality, the writer is asked to do something immoral. In the name of life, death is called for. That happens because in dramatic times, many people do not want to hear anyone speak of literature. They get nervous about it. It's said that literature is a luxury for the future, that is, for a more peaceable time. However, in the same manner that we agree to take care of our body and never do, there is the possibility that these peaceable times may never come.

Waving the phrase "order of the times" like a flag, they forget that the writer cannot become a captive of an era nor bound by its laws, for the simple reason that he is a citizen of several eras. As such, he celebrates "spontaneity" (extemporaneously). He is only bound by one law, that of art. And if the laws of the times do not match the supreme law of art, he can very easily turn his back on the times.

It is often thought that in tragic times when dictators explode, so too does literature. But dictatorship and literature really can coexist in one form only: gnawing away at each other day and night. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship. He fights it every moment, even when he thinks it is asleep. Because this is in his genetic code.

Dictatorship and literature really cannot be depicted as anything else but two wild animals that wrestle continuously. But it being the case that their claws are different, so too are the wounds they cause. The wounds sustained by the writer are fearsome, in as much as they are immediate. Whereas the wounds that he causes the dictator are slow to develop, but of the kind that never heal. In all of this, the writer has a different timetable, as I explained in the book Invitation to the Studio.

In so far as the writer's opposition to dictatorship is an instinctive inbred reaction against an external violence, so too the works of the writer, instead of retreating from the savagery of tyranny, become harsher. This perhaps explains why this author's harshest criticism against dictatorship, The Palace of Dreams, was written and published in Albania in the height of its gloom, in 1981.

In such a time, to propose that a writer abandon literature would be exactly like withdrawing a shield at the climax of a duel. Literature has been the writer's foundation, grounding, strength, and magic. Outside of it, the writer can be cut like a mere twig.

What follows then are the notes of a writer. Of someone who has always wanted to remain as such, believing literature carried us straight toward freedom, not the other way around, freedom toward literature.

The growth of this awareness has perhaps been slow.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Aspects of Dictatorship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.