By Sonila Mehmeti/
TIRANA, Feb 3 – The great Albanian writer Dritëro Agolli has passed away on Friday.
The patriarch of Albanian letters passed away at the age of 85 after losing his battle against a pulmonary disease, which aggravated his health condition despite the recent medical treatment in Tirana’s university hospital ”Shefqet Ndroqi.”
Agolli was born to a peasant family in Menkulas in the Devoll District near Korça and finished high school in Gjirokastra in 1952. He later continued his studies at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leningrad and took up journalism upon his return to Albania, working for the daily newspaper Zëri i Popullit for fifteen years. Agolli was also a deputy in the Albanian Parliament.
Agolli first attained success as a poet. His early verse collections I went out on the street (Albanian: Në rrugë dolla, Tirana 1958), My steps on the pavement (Albanian: Hapat e mija në asfalt, Tirana 1961), and Mountain paths and sidewalks (Albanian: Shtigje malesh dhe trotuare, Tirana 1965), introduced him to the reading public as a sincere and gifted lyric poet of the soil who already demonstrated masterful verse technique. An attachment to his roots came to form the basis of his poetic credo.
As a prose writer, Agolli first made a name for himself with the novel Commissar Memo (Albanian: Komisari Memo, Tirana 1970), translated in English as The bronze bust, Tirana 1975 originally conceived as a short story.
Agolli’s second novel, The man with the cannon (Albanian: Njeriu me top, Tirana 1975) translated into English in 1983, takes up the partisan theme from a different angle and with a somewhat more subtle approach.
After these two novels of partisan heroism, Agolli produced also some interesting work, his satirical Splendour and fall of comrade Zylo (Albanian: Shkëlqimi dhe rënja e shokut Zylo, Tirana 1973), which has proved to be his claim to fame. Comrade Zylo is the epitome of the well-meaning but incompetent apparatchik, a director of an obscure government cultural affairs department. His pathetic vanity, his quixotic fervour, his grotesque public behaviour, in short his splendour and fall, are all recorded in ironic detail by his hard-working and more astute subordinate and friend Demkë who serves as a neutral observer. Comrade Zylo is a universal figure, a character to be found in any society or age, and critics have been quick to draw parallels ranging from Daniel Defoe and Nikolay Gogol’s Revizor to Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera’s Zert. But it is doubtless the Eastern European reader who will best appreciate all the subtleties of the novel. Splendour and fall of comrade Zylo first appeared in 1972 in the Tirana satirical journal Hosteni (English: The goad) and was published the following year in a monograph form.
All in all, Agolli’s strength in prose lies in the short story rather than in the novel. Sixteen of his short stories were published in English in the volume: Short stories, Tirana 1985.
Dritero Agolli is regarded as one of the best writers of all time in Albanian literature. Apart from Albanian anthology, he has been included in the anthologies of several world countries.
In recognition of his outstanding contribution, the great writer, Dritëro Agolli, has been awarded with “Honor of the Nation” title. He has been declared “Honorary Citizen” of Tirana in 2003. Dritëro Agolli is the winner of four prizes of the Republic and several annual literary prizes. He became a member of the Academy of Florence “Muses” in Italy. He is also “Honorary Citizen” of the city of Korca, Gjirokaster and others.
On his 82nd birthday anniversary in 2013, the great writer was honored with “Carlo Levi” award in Italy.
TIRANA, Feb 3 (ATA)- The renowned Albanian writer Ismail Kadara has described the news of Dritero Agolli’s death as one of the most shocking reports this winter.
From Paris, Kadare says: “The news of Dritero Agolli’s death has been one of the most shattering reports this winter not only for the people of art, but for all the Albanians wherever they are. Dritero Agolli has been and will always be irreplaceable for his values and imposing drama in the Albanian literature. He will be sorely missed by us all.