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Folk tales and legends are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day's work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by th Folk tales and legends are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day's work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by the heroic feats of Mujo and Halil or by the appearance of a fiery Kulshedra in the forest? The fundamental theme of Albanian folk tales, as no doubt of folk tales everywhere, is the struggle between good and evil, a reflection of social values as we perceive them. The cautious reader may rest assured from the start that in the fantastic world of Albanian folk literature the good always win out. Oral literature is known to preserve many archaic elements. Albanian folk tales reveal not only a number of oriental features from the centuries when Albania formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire but indeed also the occasional trace of the ancient world of Greco-Roman mythology. Pashas and dervishes abound in an otherwise eminently European context. The evident patriarchal structure in the tales and the passive, secondary roles attributed to female characters reflect Albania's traditionally Moslem society. In the first half of the twentieth century, about 70% of the Albanian population was Moslem, 20% Orthodox and 10% Catholic. Yet despite their oriental background and the remoteness of Albanian culture, one of the last in Europe to withstand the onslaught of our high-tech monoculture, many of the tales will have a surprisingly familiar ring to the Western reader. Albanian folk tales were first recorded in the middle of the nineteenth century by European scholars such as Johann Georg von Hahn (1854), the Austrian consul in Janina (Ioannina), Karl H. Reinhold (1855) and Giuseppe Pitrè (1875). The next generation of scholars to take an interest in the collection of Albanian folk tales were primarily philologists, among them well-known Indo-European linguists concerned with recording and analysing a hitherto little known European language: Auguste Dozon (1879, 1881), Jan Jarnik (1883), Gustav Meyer (1884, 1888), Holger Pedersen (1895), Gustav Weigand (1913) and August Leskien (1915). The nationalist movement in Albania in the second half of the nineteenth century, the so-called Rilindja period, gave rise to native collections of folklore material such as the 'Albanian Bee' (Albanike melissa / Belietta sskiypetare) by Thimi Mitko (1878), the 'Albanian Spelling Book' (Albanikon alfavetarion / Avabatar arbëror) by the Greco-Albanian Anastas Kullurioti (1882) and the 'Waves of the Sea' (Valët e Detit) by Spiro Dine (1908). In the last thirty years, much field work has been done by the Institute of Folk Culture in Tirana and by the Institute of Albanian Studies in Prishtina, which have published numerous collections of folk tales and legends. Unfortunately, very little of this substantial material has been translated into other languages. The only substantial collections of Albanian folk tales to have appeared in English up to the present, as far as I am aware, are Tricks of women and other Albanian tales by Paul Fenimore Cooper (New York 1928), which was translated from the collections of Dozon and Pedersen, and Albanian wonder tales by Post Wheeler (London 1936). The present volume of Albanian tales endeavours to be as faithful as possible in style and content to the original Albanian texts which were recorded from word of mouth in a relatively unelaborate code. Included in this collection are not only folk tales but prose versions of a selection of well-known Albanian legends (based originally on historical or mythological events and figures). The adventures of Mujo and Halil and their band of mountain warriors are still told and indeed sung in epic verse in the northern Albanian mountains, and the exploits of the great Scanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who freed large parts of the country from Turkish rule in the fifteenth century, are recounted everywhere Albanians gather, as if events five centuries old had taken place yesterday. It remains for me to thank the many people who have assisted me in this project, among whom the late Qemal Haxhihasani of the Institute of Folk Culture (Tirana), staff members of the Institute of Linguistics and Literature (Tirana) and of the Institute of Albanian Studies (Prishtina), as well as Barbara Schultz (Ottawa) for her kind revision of the manuscript. Robert Elsie Eifel mountains, Germany


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Folk tales and legends are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day's work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by th Folk tales and legends are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day's work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by the heroic feats of Mujo and Halil or by the appearance of a fiery Kulshedra in the forest? The fundamental theme of Albanian folk tales, as no doubt of folk tales everywhere, is the struggle between good and evil, a reflection of social values as we perceive them. The cautious reader may rest assured from the start that in the fantastic world of Albanian folk literature the good always win out. Oral literature is known to preserve many archaic elements. Albanian folk tales reveal not only a number of oriental features from the centuries when Albania formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire but indeed also the occasional trace of the ancient world of Greco-Roman mythology. Pashas and dervishes abound in an otherwise eminently European context. The evident patriarchal structure in the tales and the passive, secondary roles attributed to female characters reflect Albania's traditionally Moslem society. In the first half of the twentieth century, about 70% of the Albanian population was Moslem, 20% Orthodox and 10% Catholic. Yet despite their oriental background and the remoteness of Albanian culture, one of the last in Europe to withstand the onslaught of our high-tech monoculture, many of the tales will have a surprisingly familiar ring to the Western reader. Albanian folk tales were first recorded in the middle of the nineteenth century by European scholars such as Johann Georg von Hahn (1854), the Austrian consul in Janina (Ioannina), Karl H. Reinhold (1855) and Giuseppe Pitrè (1875). The next generation of scholars to take an interest in the collection of Albanian folk tales were primarily philologists, among them well-known Indo-European linguists concerned with recording and analysing a hitherto little known European language: Auguste Dozon (1879, 1881), Jan Jarnik (1883), Gustav Meyer (1884, 1888), Holger Pedersen (1895), Gustav Weigand (1913) and August Leskien (1915). The nationalist movement in Albania in the second half of the nineteenth century, the so-called Rilindja period, gave rise to native collections of folklore material such as the 'Albanian Bee' (Albanike melissa / Belietta sskiypetare) by Thimi Mitko (1878), the 'Albanian Spelling Book' (Albanikon alfavetarion / Avabatar arbëror) by the Greco-Albanian Anastas Kullurioti (1882) and the 'Waves of the Sea' (Valët e Detit) by Spiro Dine (1908). In the last thirty years, much field work has been done by the Institute of Folk Culture in Tirana and by the Institute of Albanian Studies in Prishtina, which have published numerous collections of folk tales and legends. Unfortunately, very little of this substantial material has been translated into other languages. The only substantial collections of Albanian folk tales to have appeared in English up to the present, as far as I am aware, are Tricks of women and other Albanian tales by Paul Fenimore Cooper (New York 1928), which was translated from the collections of Dozon and Pedersen, and Albanian wonder tales by Post Wheeler (London 1936). The present volume of Albanian tales endeavours to be as faithful as possible in style and content to the original Albanian texts which were recorded from word of mouth in a relatively unelaborate code. Included in this collection are not only folk tales but prose versions of a selection of well-known Albanian legends (based originally on historical or mythological events and figures). The adventures of Mujo and Halil and their band of mountain warriors are still told and indeed sung in epic verse in the northern Albanian mountains, and the exploits of the great Scanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who freed large parts of the country from Turkish rule in the fifteenth century, are recounted everywhere Albanians gather, as if events five centuries old had taken place yesterday. It remains for me to thank the many people who have assisted me in this project, among whom the late Qemal Haxhihasani of the Institute of Folk Culture (Tirana), staff members of the Institute of Linguistics and Literature (Tirana) and of the Institute of Albanian Studies (Prishtina), as well as Barbara Schultz (Ottawa) for her kind revision of the manuscript. Robert Elsie Eifel mountains, Germany

30 review for Albanian Folktales and Legends

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    I tremendously enjoyed reading this book, well done.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Parker

    Albanian studies I gave this work a five star rating because it was well written and informative. Not only is there a taste of folk lore but also Albanian legends. Elsie's end notes are informative. Those interested in the background of Albanian culture or folk tales in general. Albanian studies I gave this work a five star rating because it was well written and informative. Not only is there a taste of folk lore but also Albanian legends. Elsie's end notes are informative. Those interested in the background of Albanian culture or folk tales in general.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    It's been a very fascinating read from day one of reading the Albanian Folktales & Legends. I found it hard to put in a bookmark to call it a day, but I just kept coming back for more-! The best bet to get into knowing a country anywhere is by first reading the mythologies, because it gives a foundational footing into learning more about the history, language, customs, the people, and its pride of how they are the country anyone can know it today. This particular book is definitely worth a re-rea It's been a very fascinating read from day one of reading the Albanian Folktales & Legends. I found it hard to put in a bookmark to call it a day, but I just kept coming back for more-! The best bet to get into knowing a country anywhere is by first reading the mythologies, because it gives a foundational footing into learning more about the history, language, customs, the people, and its pride of how they are the country anyone can know it today. This particular book is definitely worth a re-read, and I'm also very glad that I came across Robert Elsie after doing a bit of digging on Amazon for any books regarding Albania because there aren't too many that's very informative (after reading reviews first before buying any book if they hold valid/accurate accounts). Even our local library has like 4 books on Albania. From now on it's real safe to say Robert is the BEST resource on the topic of Albania as a whole - Cannot go wrong if looking for a very valuable resource. I very much admire his work and look forward to reading more of his books! As for which of the stories are my favorite, I very much like the tales of the following: 1. The Scurfhead 2. The Three Friends and the Earthly Beauty 3. The King's Daughter and the Skull 4. The Snake and the King's Daughter 5. The Grateful Snake and the Magic Case 6. Muja and the Zanas 7. Scanderbeg and Ballaban 8. Shega and Vllastar

  4. 5 out of 5

    Torran

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hamëz

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jona

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mikra

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erik-dardan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Noar

  10. 5 out of 5

    Martijn Van

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zana

  12. 4 out of 5

    Greto Jewberg

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chayanne Mendez

  14. 4 out of 5

    eneida

  15. 4 out of 5

    Time Musico

  16. 4 out of 5

    Albdori

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lorin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Sue

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin Pitcher

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dorian Hatibi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bora Nezaj

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chrysostomos Tsaprailis

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Elbasani

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

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