||Why Ismail Kadare Should Win
the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature
August 14, 2013 Nina Sabolik
Kadare was born in 1936 in Gjirokaster, a small, fairy-tale-like
town in the mountains of southern Albania that has served as the setting
for several of his novels, includingK?shtjella (1970; Eng. The Siege, 2008).
It also has that uniquely ironic distinction of being the birthplace of
Enver Hoxha, longtime communist dictator of Albania. Kadare was also a member
of the communist parliament for more than fifteen years before finally seeking
political asylum in France in 1990?five years after the death of Hoxha and
on the eve of communism?s dissolution in 1991. He served as the chairman
of a cultural institute closely overseen by the dictator?s wife and right
hand, Nexhmije Hoxha. He even published the novel Dimri i madh (1977; The
great winter) as a paean to Hoxha?s leadership and Albania?s disassociation
from Stalinist Russia in 1961.
On the other hand, many of his books were banned during the thirty years
he spent as a writer in communist Albania. Among them was arguably his best
novel, N?pun?si i pallatit t? ?ndrrave (1981; Eng. The Palace of Dreams,
1990), which draws an obvious parallel between Hoxha?s regime and a fictional
country where dreams are examined for signs of political dissidence. Yet
in spite of all his freethinking, Kadare not only survived but flourished
in a country where writers were routinely exiled, imprisoned, or executed
for much smaller ideological offenses. The Siege, like Kadare?s dissidence,
is an allegory of an allegory. At its heart, it is not just a critique of
communism but also a reflection on the cultural relativity of historical
Like the story of the The Siege?and like that of my own family, in which
hard-line, working-class communists, liberal bourgeois socialists, and conservative
anticommunists mingled and intermarried?Kadare?s political life does not
present a clear boundary between the ?bad? communists and the ?good? dissenters.
Instead, in his fiction, Kadare uses the lens of history to show the constructed
nature of political dissent in general. The politically opportunistic chronicler
of The Siege, for example, constructs the story of the clash between the
Ottoman army and the Albanian enemy, which is transformed in turn by contemporary
critics into a story about the clash between communists and their opponents.
The Siege, like Kadare?s dissidence, is an allegory of an allegory. At its
heart, it is not just a critique of communism but also a reflection on the
cultural relativity of historical representation.
To be a writer in communist Albania must have been similar to being a chronicler
in a large Eastern army in the days of the Ottoman Empire. Kadare?s portrayal
of Tursun Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman army in The Siege and a stand-in
for Enver Hoxha and military dictators everywhere, is telling in this regard.
?The night was pregnant and he was in its belly,Replica Franck Muller Conquistador Grand Prix
all alone? is, for example,
how the chronicler describes the emotional state of the Pasha on the eve
of the siege. A turbid character in his twilight years, worried about his
declining military career, Tursun Pasha feels crushed by the personal as
well as civilizational weight of the task he has set out to achieve. In
the belly of his own doubts, he confronts the value of his life spent as
a servant to and creator of a nascent and cruel empire. At the end of his
vigil, the blood-red sky emerging from the East presages a bloody siege,
and his own death is the only possible release from the confines of empire.
Thus, the ?dark belly? of the night serves multiple symbolic purposes?it
is the internal strife of a person unable to escape the crushing weight
of history, the yoke of an enormous empire spreading westward, and, obliquely
but unmistakably, the communist empire of Stalin. Tursun Pasha?s suicide
at the end of the siege underlines the bleak meaning of this metaphor, his
death becoming ?a kind of nowhere place, a place truly beyond the reach
of law, outside the world and the Empire.?
Another element of Kadare?s critique of Hohxa?s regime is his attack on
the idea of denationalization, which in The Siege originates from the padishah,
or the sultan, which was also a favorite pastime of the more recent communist
empire. ?The great Padishah,? the quartermaster informs us,Blancpain Replica Watches
?has other men
working for him on problems of this kind. They?re all specialists in denationalization.
. . [c]raftsmen in the rotting and corroding of nations.? These ?craftsmen?
perform ?damage on the inside, damage secreted from their own ranks, well,
yes, that is the evil that can bring [the Christians] to their knees.? In
other words, it is ideology much more than war that can break a nation:
?You cannot call a country conquered until you have conquered its Heaven.?
Like communism, which was brought on with bloody revolutions and ultimately
failed, the Ottoman army cannot break the Albanian defenders by force alone;
it is the people?s minds and hearts that are the true fortress of a nation.
This is a theme that Kadare returns to in his latest novel, Aksidenti (2010;
Eng. The Accident), which traces the corruptive influence of distorted Western
values in postcommunist southeastern Europe. In The Accident, however, the
enemy is not a communist dictator but the ideological assault of unquestioned
Western values, which, in the name of freedom, has demolished the moral
core of postcommunist Albania Kadare?s circumstances challenge Joseph Brodsky?s
notion that exile, physical or mental, is the only reasonable response to
an oppressive regime. For Kadare, the only way to resist a dictatorship,
whether communist, colonial, or neocolonial, is to fight it, over and over
again, from the inside, from within the depths of one?s own soul.
Unlike other dissident authors from various dictatorial regimes, Kadare
does not see a light at the end of the historical tunnel. There?s no escaping
the eternal cycle of strife and reconciliation. The war continues, under
many different guises. There is no salvation on the other side of the borderline,
nor at the front lines of a noble revolution. In this sense, Kadare?s circumstances
challenge Joseph Brodsky?s notion that exile, physical or mental, is the
only reasonable response to an oppressive regime. For Kadare, the only way
to resist a dictatorship, whether communist, colonial, or neocolonial, is
to fight it, over and over again, from the inside, from within the depths
of one?s own soul. Exile implies a na?ve belief in the moral superiority
of one side over another. And herein lies the explanation for Kadare?s reluctance
to sign the Macedonian delegation?s petition to recognize Macedonia?s name?as
a political gesture, such petitions are inevitably asking one to pick sides:
?Either you are with us, or you are with [them],? as George W. Bush used
to say. The role of a writer is not to pick between warring ideological
factions, serving the interests of one or the other, but to engage in a
sincere, thorough critique of each and, ultimately, to draw attention to
what we all have in common?our humanity.
All the main objections to Kadare?s nomination for the Nobel Prize stem
from a single source: the inability of a Western audience to leave behind
its own cultural provincialism and appreciate a writer who does not fit
the world literature stereotype of, as James English describes it, a locally
flavored multicultural m?lange.
The first one of these objections, the idea that Kadare somehow wasn?t dissident
enough and that he cooperated with the Hoxha regime, stems from a typically
Western understanding of the anti communist dissident as an outspoken, Solzhenitsyn-like
figure who publishes his dissenting work against enormous odds, and then
emigrates to the bright and happy West?a Hollywood version of the Eastern
European dissident. Kadare, on the other hand, belongs to the invisible
multitudes that resisted dictatorial regimes from the inside, a much more
daunting and heroic feat. Kadare survived for more than forty years publishing
his quietly but unmistakably anticommunist novels under the very Stalinist
nose of dictator Enver Hohxa. The only thing that would make him more of
a hero would be if he had died under persecution (a constant possibility)
and published his heretical stories from communist heaven itself.
Kadare has dared to attack that holy cow of all Western imperial ideology?freedom.
He dared to show that the freedom that succeeded communism has not been
the happy ending that the Western press has made it out to be; in fact,
it might even be worse than communism itself.
The second objection, leveled by none other than the oracle of Western literary
taste,The New Yorker?s critic James Wood, concerns Kadare?s latest novel
The Accident, which Wood claims ?is spare and often powerful, but it is
a bit too spare, so that the ribs of allegory show through, in painful obviousness.?
While it is beyond the scope of this essay to go into a close analysis of
the novel, it is clear from Wood?s essay that the main plot presents ?an
allegory about the lures and imprisonments of the new post-Communist tyranny,
liberty.? Kadare has dared to attack that holy cow of all Western imperial
ideology?freedom. He dared to show that the freedom that succeeded communism
has not been the happy ending that the Western press has made it out to
be; in fact, it might even be worse than communism itself. The Western press,
which had no problem extolling the virtues of Kadare?s prose while he was
quietly undermining their ideological enemy?and even criticized him for
being too quiet, too subtle in his attacks?suddenly believes that his allegories
are too obvious and not subtle enough. Plainly obvious in Wood?s critique
is the fact that this is a problem of ideological clash rather than one
of literary merit.
The last objection, echoed by the New York Sun in 2005?that his work is
too opaque and too hard to translate, his country too remote and ill-known
for a Western audience to even understand (let alone appreciate)?stems from
the same sort of Western self-centeredness that makes it hard to imagine
Kadare as a multidimensional critic of conflicting ideologies. The themes
of Kadare?s novels?the allegories to empires old and new; the question of
history and its meaning; his quiet yet persistent belief in the perseverance
of the human spirit?all these apply across time and boundaries. The context
for his stories is not just Albania at various points in history, it is
us?the readers, and the worlds that we create in our own minds and hearts.
His language, while poetic and indeed difficult to translate in all its
effervescent brilliance, retains its power even in double-translation, such
as in The Siege, which has been translated into English from the French,
not from the original Albanian. Reading translated literature, like contact
with anyone other than yourself, always requires a certain amount of intellectual
effort; to give up on a writer purely because he sounds foreign is not only
an act of laziness but also a loss for us as individual human beings and
as a human community.
Finally, to get back to the Nobel prizes, those Oscars of the literary world,
what does idealism or a ?work of literature in an ideal direction? mean
today? Idealists are not people who live in an ivory tower, looking out
through their narrow window into a palm-tree-embroidered sky, envisioning
a world of calm, peace, and happiness. Idealists are often cranky, and sometimes
downright misanthropic. To them, a palm-tree-embroidered sky is more likely
to signify the Technicolor glitter and gloom of contemporary pop culture
than a bright oasis of the future. In other words, they are intensely involved
with the present. For Kadare to keep writing bleak-but-safe critiques of
a distant communist past would have been the easy way out; it would have
cemented his reputation as that great Eastern European writer who criticized
those mean communists. Instead, he chose to comment on things that are uncomfortable,
for him as much as for us; that raise questions rather than answer them;
that have no resolution in the present, and maybe none in the future. This
is idealism. And this is why he should win the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Arizona State University
El Nicho de la Vergenza (The Niche of Shame)
As in The Palace of Dreams, in this dark, powerful novel
Kadare deftly utilizes a historical fantasy as a metaphor for the dictatorial
repression taking place in Albania at the time of writing. The story is
set in the Ottoman Empire in 1822, at the time of a famous rebellion by
a powerful Albanian pasha, Ali Baja of Tepelena, against the ruling Sultan.
The novel begins at the central square in the Empire's capital, in which
one of the walls harbors the "niche of shame", a place where the chopped
heads of enemies to the Sultanate (real or imagined!) are exposed to the
crowd of onlookers, with the obvious purpose of intimidating them against
any idea of misbehavior or thoughts of freedom. The narrator of this section
is the guardian of the niche, who informs us that the current head belongs
to the Turkish general who failed to bring Ali's head back to the capital.
In further chapters the story moves from the Empire's capital to Albania,
the rebellious region in the confines of the Empire and to the regions in
between, with the points of view switching to the rebel Baja Ali (an 80
year old stalwart who in his hey days negotiated with Napoleon and met Byron
on his way to Greece), to his wife, to the army general who ultimately beheads
him and to Tunx Hata, the courier in charge of carrying the heads to the
capital (who often makes additional money by mounting theatrical shows in
which he exhibits the heads to villagers along the route). Kadare tells
this story with his usual dark irony and elaborates on the different levels
of power play within the Empire. As usual with Kadare, many of the themes
and myths recurring in his other novels are evoked here. It is clear that
many of his novels are linked to each other in some way or other, each sustaining
the next and thus shoring up Kadare's oeuvre as a whole. One of such themes,
treated here in detail, is that of the "de-nationalization" of a country
under the rule of a bigger power. Here Albania is punished for its rebellion
with the imposition of the "cra-cra" rule, the process whereby the people
are legally stripped of their traditions, their language, their cultural
identity and ultimately their memory. Kadare makes this metaphor quite obvious
to reflect the oppressive press censorship prevailing in Hoxha's Albania
(some characters in the novel are clear substitutes for real people). This
novel was completed about the same time when he began writing The Palace
of Dreams, and the Palace is mentioned quite a few times in this novel,
not least when trying to pick suitable heads to be exposed in the niche
of shame with the help of some premonitory dream. The two novels would be
best appreciated if read together.
Communism under the influence - of Kafka : Kadare's
I don't know why but increasingly I'm drawn toward Eastern
European 20th-century fiction, and last night started Ismail Kadara's "Agammemnon's
Daughter," an Albanian novel (yes, how obscure can you get, right?) of really
odd provenance - as the preface explains (not all that clearly) he smuggled
the manuscript out a few pages at the time sometime in the mid-80s (he apparently
wrote it about 1984-86 and it's set in the 80s) to friends in Paris, was
translated into French and published (I think under a pseudonym) in the
90s, then the Hoxner tyrannic regime fell and Kadare identified as the author,
translated into French, the English version appearing not till 2003 and
translated from the French translation, whew - can't even keep up with all
that - the book is the typically grim story of life within a rigid communist
country, takes place on May Day, the protagonist is surprised to find himself
invited to watch the parade from an official viewing stand, section C, not
sure what he's done to meri
t this and feels varying degrees of guilt for being accepted - and of course
he looks at all the others and wonders what complicity they've been involved
with - hero works for state broadcasting so he could have done a lot, but
it's all rather murky; in the back story, his girlfriend, supposed to meet
him and join him for the festivities, never shows up, so we're not sure
what's happened to her - story owes a deep debt to Kafka, as there are many
ruminations about the absurdity and incomprehensibility of the state.
What's behind the veil? The Ottoman fiction of Ismail
Ismail Kadare (b. 1936) is the most famous Albanian writer
of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. Inside Albania, his works
remain popular for their practical role in the construction and preservation
of the modern Albanian national culture, and for their skilled evocation
of the historical tribulations, controversies, and occasional triumphs of
the Albanian people. In addition, Kadare has become a significant figure
today on the intellectual scene in Europe, due to his long sojourn in Paris,
the translation of his books into a multitude of languages, and his artistic
concern with historically sensitive issues in the Balkans, which have featured
prominently in international affairs for the past decade and a half. Rumors
abound that he has already been a serious contender for the Nobel Prize
in Literature. Another, and more concrete reflection of the cumulative weight
and continuing relevance of his works points to the fact that he received,
in June 2005, the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for contemporary
Writing in a variety of modes, including poetry, short stories, nonfiction,
one play, several sets of memoirs, and a wealth of novels, Kadare has succeeded
both in gaining a great deal of exposure for his native land and in developing
a coherent and compelling artistic treatment of a welter of important historical
issues. Kadare's first major prose work, The General of the Dead Army (1963),
became an international hit. He has gone on to achieve critical acclaim
with other novels such as Chronicle in Stone (1971), Broken April (1978),
The File on H. (1981), and The Pyramid (1991). His main thematic concerns
include Albania's experience under communism, the role of women in traditional
societies, the nature of myth and mythmaking, the roots of the dispute over
Kosovo/Kosova, the classical Greek heritage of today's Europe, the construction
of the Albanian national identity, and the historical experience of the
Balkan peoples in the Ottoman Empire. (1)
Kadare forms the point of departure for the present work from the context
of this last thematic concern. This essay aims to introduce readers to one
of Kadare's richest and most artistically satisfying texts on the Ottoman
period, and to suggest a framework for understanding the story and assessing
its significance. "The Caravan of Veils" uses potent and contested images,
and a gripping plot to drive home the nature of authoritarian rule. Amidst
Kadare's diatribes against dictatorship and imperialism, and his critique
of a Muslim social practice, the careful readers also find a meditation
on the vicissitudes of power. Furthermore, the work prompts readers to take
up challenges like those recently expressed by the Spanish writer and Arabist
Juan Goytisolo, who decries the "daily inanity" of the Western tendency
to "confuse the headscarf with the veil, with the chador, and even with
the burka of Afghan women." (2) This view of Islam results from outdated
and ignorant, but persistent, imagination, (3) and there has never been
a more pressing time than the present to push for more clarity and understanding.
The significance of the symbol in this story goes beyond the realm of historical
fiction or metaphor: it challenges readers to confront what they really
know about one aspect of Islam.
Ba? kald?ran pa?alar?n, ba?ar?s?z sadrazamlar?n kesilen
ba?lar?n?n yerle?tirildi?i ?bret Ta??, Osmanl? ?mparatorlu?u'nun ba?kentinde
?rk?t?c? bir simge olarak yer alm??t?. On dokuzuncu y?zy?l?n ba?lar?nda
Yanya Valisi olarak hizmet eden, ancak kendi n?fuzunu art?rarak padi?aha
ba? kald?ran Tepedelenli Ali Pa?a, Arnavut halk?na bir devlet vermeye niyetliyken,
Saray pa?an?n kafas?n? ?bret Ta??'nda g?rmek istiyordu. Halklar?n kimliklerinin
silinmesi amac?yla kurulan idari rejim ya?am? ?ss?zla?t?rd?k?a zalimlik
tiyatrosu tek g?steri halini alacakt?. Puslu Balkan topraklar?nda dola?an
dedikodular ve r?yalar, insanlar?n kaderlerini belirlemekte, m?lkiyetin
payla??m?n?n ?zg?rl?kten ?ok daha ?nemli oldu?unu f?s?ldamaktayd?.
Arnavutluk'taki Osmanl? ge?mi?inin izlerini s?ren ?smail Kadare, ?bret Ta??'n?
yazd??? yetmi?li y?llardaki kom?nist d?zenle de alegorik ba?lar kurarak,
Kafka'y? aratmayan fantastik bir k?bus b?rokrasisi yarat?yor. Duraklama
d?nemindeki Osmanl? ?mparatorlu?u'nun bat?ya y?neldi?i modernle?me s?recinde
ger?ekten ya?anan olaylar ?zerine oturttu?u roman?nda devletlerin idarecilerine,
memurlar?na ve halklar?na dair hep ge?erli zorbaca yakla??mlar?n?n minyat?r?n?
i?liyor. Osmanl?'n?n derin izler b?rakt??? Arnavutluk'un ya?ayan en b?y?k
yazar?ndan ?nemli bir d?nem roman?. - See more at:
||?BRET TA?I ?ZER?NE NOTLAR
?K?t?c?l G?c?n Roman?? olarak adland?rmak isterim bu kitab?.
T?rklerin ??teki? olarak alg?lan?p bu roman?n kurguland??? bir ger?ek. Onun
i?in bu roman? tart???rken bir yabanc?n?n g?z?nden olaylar? g?rece?imizi
kabullenmek gerek. Kendi tarihinin karanl?k sayfalar?n? kar??dan g?rmek,
hatta bir d??man?n?n g?z?nden kendine bakmak?
Her olay? veya ki?iyi, zaman?n? ve devrini g?z ?n?ne al?p ?yle de?erlendirmek
gerek. Bu kitap imparatorluklar devrinin roman?... G?n?m?zde devletin kar??s?nda
ki?inin ve insan haklar?n?n egemenli?inin ?ne ge?ti?i bir devirde; ( bunun
da ne kadar ge?erli oldu?unu i?inde ya?ad???m?z i? ve d?? ortam g?steriyor)
bu roman devletin g?c?n?n karanl???n? bir k?bus gibi okurun ?zerine ak?t?yor.
?nsan, bu insanl?k d??? g?? kar??s?nda ezildi?ini, bunald???n?, ?aresizli?ini,
i?ine d??t??? kara kuyuyu derinliklerinde hissediyor ve titriyor. ?nsan?n
Abdullah'?n sonunda yapt??? gibi isyan edesi geliyor, bu kara k?busta ya?amak
G??, herkesin sahip olmak istedi?i iktidar. G?c?n kimin elinde oldu?u ?ok
?nemli. G?c?n kullan?m?nda ak?l, bilgi, sevgi olmazsa e?er, g?? yetersiz,
yetkisiz, k?t? insanlar?n eline ge?er ve sonunda felaketler getirir. ?nsanl???n
ya?ad??? bunca bunal?m g?c? elinde bulundurma ve h?kimiyetini devam ettirme
sava??n?n sonucudur. G?ce bir defa sahip olan onu ?m?r boyu yitirmemek i?in
elinden gelen zulm? yapar, yeter ki iktidar olsun. G?? insan tabiat?n? da
bozar, insan? yalana, kibre, k?skan?l??a, d??manl??a, ayr?mc?l??a, ac?mas?zl??a
ve en k?t?s? su? i?lemeye kadar g?t?r?r. ?nsan bilir ki sonunda ?l?m zaman?
geldi?inde kendisiyle ba? ba?a kalacak ve d?nyada edindi?i maddi hi?bir
?ey onunla gelmeyecek; gene de h?rsla g?c?n pe?inde ko?ar...
Osmanl? ?mparatorlu?u, ?? k?taya yay?lan, yirmi dokuz halka, 33 millete,
k?rk dile ve d?rt iklime sahip kudretli bir devlet. G?c?n simgesi! " ?mparatorlu?un
geceden b?y?k oldu?u s?yleniyordu. Bir ucuna gece ??kerken ?b?r ucunda sabah
oluyordu. Gecenin ?rt?s? do?udan bat?ya devletin g?c?n? sarmaya yetmiyor,
ya ba??, ya ayaklar? d??ar?da kal?yordu. E?er Arnavutluk ba??ysa, ayaklar
Hindistan yak?nlar?nda bir yer olmal?yd?. Ba?? tam g?vdesinin ortas?nda
olan bu devlet ahtapot gibi kollar?n? her bir yana uzatm??t?."
Bu b?y?k g?? kar??s?nda, 350 y?ldan bu yana Arnavutlar ikinci kez isyan
ediyordu. ?htiras?na yenilen Tepedelenli Ali Pa?a ba?kald?r?yordu. Ancak
isyan Arnavutlar i?in h?sranla sonu?lanacak Tepedelenlinin ba?? ?leme ibret
olsun diye P?yitahtta ??bret Ta??? nda sergilenecekti.
?syan bast?r?ld???nda ?kre-kra? rejimine g?re Arnavutlu?un b?t?n k?lt?r
i?leri silinecek, isimler de?i?tirilecek, ?ark?lar yasaklanacak, s?zc?kler
de?i?tirilecek, hatta dil yok edilecek, efsaneler unutturulacak, k?lt?r
itibars?zla?t?r?lacak ve zaman i?inde yok edilmesi sa?lanacakt?.
Bu romanda vurgulanan nokta insan?n do?as? gere?i k?t?c?l olu?udur. ??nsan
eli ve akl? karanl?klar getirir.? Zincire vurulmu? insanlar?n ?zerinde ya?amak
?Sen bana hi? su? i?lememi? imparator ad? versene.?
B???MS?Z TA? ALTINDA ?S?MS?Z CELL?TLAR
? Ama unutma! Cell?tlar?n mezar ta?lar?nda dahi isimleri
olmaz. Kararl? m?s?n?
? Olsun, dedi. ?smim hat?rlanmayacak belki, fakat ben unutulmayaca??m.
Cell?t Arap?ada, kam?? ile vuran-eziyet eden anlam?ndad?r. Eski T?rklerde
k?rba?la dayak cez?lar?n? uygulayan, Osmanl?da her t?rl? ?l?m cez?s?n? ?f?
Um?miyetle H?rvat d?nmeleri veya ?ingenelerden se?ilen cell?tlar, 15. yy
dan itib?ren kullan?lmaya ba?lanm??t?. 16. yy da padi?ah?n ?zel korumas?
olan dilsizler, ayn? zamanda cell?t vaz?fesini de ?f? ederlerdi. Dilsizler,
p?di??h?n en k???k bir i??retinin dahi ne anlama geldi?ini ?ok iyi bilirlerdi.
Sa??r ve dilsizlere bu vaz?fenin tevd? edilmesi, mahk?mun son ???l?klar?n?
duyup etkilenmemesi ya da kurban?n yalvarmas?yla merhamete gelmemesi i?indi.
16. yy da bostanc? oca??na ba?l? bir de cell?t oca?? kuruldu. ?lk kuruldu?u
zamanlar cell?t oca??nda 5 cell?t mevcut iken, zamanla cell?tlar?n say?s?
artarak 70 e ula?t?. Cell?tlar?n lideri olan cell?tba??, bostanc?lar?n lideri
bostanc?ba??na ba?l?yd?. S?radan mahk?mlar?n cez?lar?n? di?er cell?tlar
?f? ederken, devlet adamlar?n?n ve m?him ?ahsiyetlerin inf?z?n? cell?tba??
ger?ekle?tirirdi. Vezirlerin, kazaskerlerin, beylerbeyilerin vs. ?st d?zey
devlet adamlar?n?n ?damlar?nda bostanc?ba?? da bulunur, ?dam ferm?n?n? okuyarak,
mahk?mu tesell? eden s?zler s?ylerdi. Sonra da cell?tba?? inf?z? ?f? ederdi.
Saraydan ??kan infaz emri; e?er ?dam sarayda olacaksa bostanc?ba??ya, saray
veya ?stanbul d???nda olacaksa kap?c?ba??na verilirdi.
?Bostanc?ba??! G?t?r?n ?u mendeburu Bal?kh?ne Kasr??na.
P?di??h?n g?r sesiyle s?yledi?i bu c?mle, Arz Odas??n?n ?inili duvarlar?nda
yank?lan?nca, kar??s?ndaki ?ah?s buz kesilir, ya?murda kalm?? ?slak it gibi
Bostanc?ba??, cell?tlar?n ba??yd?. Bal?kh?ne Kasr? ise, ?daml?k siy?s? mahk?mlar?n
?dam edilmeden ?nce ?? g?n bekletildikleri zindan. Bu mek?n, G?lh?ne Park??n?n
s?hile yak?n k?sm?nda bulunan a?? ( k?z?l ) renkli, b?y?k?e bir kas?rd?.
?daml?k mahk?mlar, evvel? bostanc?lar?n kollar?nda bu kasra g?nderilirler,
haklar?nda verilen karar D?v?n-? H?m?yun?da tekrar g?r???l?p su?u s?bit
oldu?u ve ?l?m? hak etti?i anla??l?rsa, mahk?m ???nc? g?n ?dam edilirdi.
B?ylelikle Osmanl? sultanlar?, anl?k bir ?fke ve yanl?? bir kararla bir
m?sumun kan?na girmemi? oluyorlard?.
?? g?n boyunca bu zindan?n so?uk odalar?nda ?k?betini bekleyen mahk?mun,
affedilmesi i?in dua etmekten ba?ka elinden bir ?ey gelmezdi. Se?imsiz ve
??resiz beklerdi ?k?betini. ???nc? g?n sonunda zindan?n demir kap?s? a??l?r
ve elinde tepsiyle, insan azman? bostanc?ba?? g?r?n?rd?. Tepsideki bir kadeh
?erbeti mahk?ma sunmak i?in gelen bostanc?, sayg?da kusur etmezdi. Sessizce
i?eri girer, sayg?yla ?erbeti sunard?. Genellikle pek konu?ma olmazd? aralar?nda.
Buna gerek de yoktu z?ten. Z?r? mahk?m, bostanc?ba??n?n getirdi?i kadehin
renginden ?k?betini anlard?. E?er ?erbet, beyaz kadehle gelmi?se affedildi?ine,
k?rm?z? kadehle gelmi?se ?dam edilece?ine i??retti. Kadeh beyazsa mahk?mun
y?z?ne kan gelir, rahat bir nefes alarak ?erbetini i?er ve yine bostanc?lar?n
nez?retinde kendisi i?in s?hilde, yal? k??k?n?n ?n?ndeki bostanc? kay?kh?nesinde
haz?rlanm?? ?ektiriye binerek, s?rg?n edildi?i mek?na do?ru yol al?rd?.
Z?r? ?damdan affedilmenin kar??l??? s?rg?nd?. Ve beyaz kadehin m?n?s? da
bu idi. K?z?l kadehe gelince? ?l?m demek olan k?z?l renkli kadehi g?r?r
g?rmez mahk?mun y?z?ndeki kan ?ekilir, beti benzi atar, surat? bembeyaz
kesilirdi korkudan. Z?r? az sonra i?ece?i buz gibi ?erbet onun ecel ( ?eh?det
) ?erbeti olacakt?.
D?nyadan son nas?bi olan buz gibi ?erbeti i?en mahk?m, ?l?m?n b?t?n so?uklu?unun
duvarlar?na sindi?i bu korkun? zindandan ??kar?l?r, Topkap? Saray??n?n 1.
kap?s? B?b-? H?m?yunla 2. kap?s? B?bussel?m aras?nda bulunan Cell?t ?e?mesi?nin
?n?ne getirilir ve ?e?menin ?n?ndeki ta??n ?zerine ba?? konularak bostanc?ba??n?n
da nez?retinde, cell?tba??n?n g??l? bir k?l?? darbesiyle ?d?m edilirdi.
?nfaz ger?ekle?tikten sonra cell?tlar, kanl? palalar?n?, sat?rlar?n?, bu
?e?mede y?kad?klar? i?in ?e?meye Cell?t ?e?mesi denmi?ti. Bir di?er ad?
da siy?s? mahk?mlar?n inf?z? burada v?k? oldu?undan Siy?set ?e?mesi. Cell?tlara
ise ?Meyd?n-? Siy?set Ustas?? denirdi bir d?nem. B?zen de mahk?m, Bal?kh?ne
Kasr??nda ?erbetini i?er i?mez kementle bo?ularak ?ld?r?l?r, cesedi de aya??na
ta? ba?lan?larak denize at?l?rd?. Ba?? kesilerek ?ld?r?lenlerin kesik ba??,
?e?menin ?n?nde ve kar??s?nda bulunan Seng-i ?bret ( ?bret Ta?? ) ismindeki
s?tunlar?n ?zerine ya da B?b-? H?m?y?n?un ( Saray??n en d?? kap?s? ) ni?lerine
konulur, ?? g?n bekletildikten sonra, ba?s?z cesedi gibi kellesi de denize
at?l?rd?. Yabanc? seyyahlar, Sarayburnu a??klar?ndan gemiyle ge?erlerken,
denizin y?z?nde b?yle nice ba?s?z cesetlere rastlad?klar?n? yazm??lard?.
Sultan 2. Mahmut?un sadrazam? Mehmet Emin Rauf Pa?a da Bal?kh?ne Kasr??na
kapat?lanlardan. H?let Efendi?nin h??m?na u?ray?p 1818 de 3 g?n bu kasr?n
karanl?k odas?nda ecel teri d?kt?kten sonra, endi?eyle ?k?betini beklerken,
zindan?n demir kap?s? a??lm??, Bostanc?ba?? elinde tepsi, i?eri girmi?ti.
Rauf Pa?a korkuyla tepsideki kadehin rengine bakt? evvel?. Pa?a?n?n, kar??s?nda
bostanc?ba??y? g?rd??? an ge?irdi?i ?ok ve m?thi? ?l?m korkusu sebebiyle
erkekli?ini dahi kaybetti?i me?hurdur. Sultan Mahmut, affetti?i yak???kl?
sadrazam?na iltifatta bulunmu?tu daha sonra:
?Kall?v? kavu?un b?ylesine yak??t??? bu ba?a nas?l k?y?l?r?
Rauf Pa?a z?ten affedilecekti. L?kin padi?ah bunu l?tif bir sebebe ba?layarak
iltifatta bulunmu?tu. B?ylece Rauf Pa?a, ba??na kall?v? kavuk ( sadrazam
kavu?u ) ?ok yak??t??? i?in ?damdan kurtulan sadrazam olarak t?rihe ge?ti.
Bal?kh?ne Kasr??na kapat?lan son de vlet adam? ise 1822 de azledilen Sadrazam
Hac? Salih Pa?a idi. ?damdan g?? bel? kurtulmu?tu.
Sarayda b?yle k?t? bir ??hrete sahip Bal?kh?ne Kasr?, padi?ah?n gaz?b?na
u?rayanlar?n, ?Kap? aras??nda tutuklanarak, cez?lar?n?n inf?z edilmek ?zere
hapsedildikleri ve haklar?ndaki ferman gelene kadar, ?l?mle ya?am aras?nda
gidip geldikleri, ecel terleri d?kt?kleri yerdi.
Mahk?mlar i?in ?Bal?kh?ne? korkun? bir kelime idi. ?G?t?r?n Bal?kh?neye?
s?z?, ?l?m demekti. Bir di?er korkun? kelime ise ?Bostanc? F?r?n??. Topkap?
Saray? 1. avlunun ziy?rete kapal? k?s?mlar?nda bulunan f?r?n?n yan?ndaki
k???k bir hapish?neydi buras?. Burada infaz ?ncesi konu?turulmak istenen
mahk?mlara i?kence de yap?l?r ve bu i?kenceh?ne f?r?n?n hemen arkas?nda
oldu?u i?in buraya da f?r?n denirdi. ?F?r?na g?t?r?n? demek i?kence veya
?dam emri demekti. ?dam edilecek ki?iler, haklar?ndaki ferman ??kana kadar
Bostanc?ba?? taraf?ndan tutuklanm?? olarak f?r?nda beklerlerdi. Bostanc?ba??
hapsinden sa? kurtulan da pek olmazd?.
Bal?kh?ne Kasr? ve Bostanc? F?r?n?ndan ba?ka, bor?lular Baba Cafer Zindan?na,
siyas? su?lular, tutuklanan yabanc? sef?rler Yedikule Zindanlar?na at?l?rd?.
Fatih?ten beri bir?ok mahk?mun son nefeslerini verdi?i bir di?er mek?n da
Yedikule Zindanlar?. Ve ?damlar?n inf?z edildi?i Zindan Kulesi. Bizansl?
mahk?mlardan Osmanl?lara kadar bir?ok zavall?n?n ?l?m ???l?klar?n?n duvarlar?na
sindi?i bu korkun? kule, kap?s?ndan i?eri ad?m atan?n, bir daha ??kamayaca??n?
bildi?i, u?ursuz ve korkun? bir zindan idi. S?radan bir Osmanl? vatanda??ndan,
Padi?ah Gen? Osman?a kadar nice zavall?n?n kan?n? i?en bu zindan, ilk ?dam
edilen Osmanl? sadrazam? ?andarl? Halil Pa?a?dan, son idam edilen sadrazam
Benderli Ali Pa?a?ya kadar bir?ok ?nemli zev?t?n da ?l?mle bulu?ma noktas?
Siy?s? su?lular?n kellesi, sarayda cell?t ?e?mesi ?n?nde kesilir ve seng-i
ibrette sergilenirdi. Halktan ve s?radan ?ah?slar, um?miyetle su?u i?ledikleri
ya da yakaland?klar? yerde vey?hut Yavuz Selim Camii?nin Hali?e inen k?sm?
Parmakkap??da as?larak ?d?m edilirlerdi. Yeni?erilerin ?d?m? ise, ocak i?inden
yeti?en cell?tlar taraf?ndan, Rumeli His?r??ndaki zindanda yap?l?rd?. Ve
id?m, hisar?n bur?lar?ndan at?lan tek p?relik bir top sesiyle duyurulurdu.
Top sesi, bir yeni?erinin daha ?l?m?n?n sesiydi.
Devam?n? okumak i?in l?tfen
Having returned from a trip to Albania in September, perhaps
the strangest and least-known corner of Europe, I read a novel in a handsome
Vintage edition I had picked up in Tirana by Ismail Kadare, the country's
most famous writer. As I read it, I became subtly but insistently conscious
of what I thought might be echoes of Kafka's The Castle. I hesitated because
I have no idea whether the dialogue I was perceiving was conscious or purely
something that happened to scratch against my memory of studying Kafka at
MA level, but when I found Kadare's Broken April slots next to Kafka on
my bookshelf, I felt serendipity at work (and as I google the two names,
I find that I am hardly the only one to awaken to the comparison).
Like Kafka's nightmarish village, ruled over by the inscrutable authority
and impassable bureaucracy of the Castle, the world depicted in Broken April
- that of the binding blood feuds of the Albanian mountains - is haunting
and disorientating. Enigmatic figures, bearing the black armband of those
entangled in the demands of the Kanun, or revenge code, shuffle along desolate
mountain roads. Gjorg, the main character, is one such condemned man. Realising
the violent and the nonviolent part of the codes are inextricable, mutually
reinforcing and hence in the last instance indistinguishable, he comes to
describe himself 'as if trapped in bird-lime by the bloody part of the Kanun'
(p. 30). He enters a surreal and sheared-off time after committing the murder
required of him: the grace or truce of thirty days before the family whose
son he killed are allowed to come after him.
In this month, he must go to a castle called Orok to pay the so-called blood
tax, and it is here that allusions to Kafka seem unmistakeable: Now that
Gjorg caught sight of it in the distance, not believing that it was really
the castle, he could not make out its shape. In the fog its silhouette seemed
neither high nor low, and sometimes he thought it must be quite spread out
and sometimes he thought it a compact mass....even when he was quite close,
he could make out nothing distinctly. He was sure that it must be the castle
and he was certain that it was nor...Its appearance changed as he approached
(p. 54) This is very similar to a passage in The Castle. And when we discover
a bureaucratic apparatchik at the heart of Orok who is responsible for overseeing
the blood ledger, coldly recording the unbroken chain of killings from 1611
to the present, we are certainly in Kafkaesque territory. The horror is
reinforced by a kind of dark comedy: the bureaucrat Ukacierra fears that
the revenge code is waning, and as it is his financial and administrative
'department' he frets and panics: one day, only a single killing happens,
skimming desperately close to no killings at all: 'it would have been the
first day of its kind - a blank - in a century, perhaps during two, three,
five centuries...at the very idea that such a day might come about, Mark
was terror-stricken. And to imagine that it just might have happened' (p.139).
His is the overwrought panic of every office middle-manager forced to run
their eyes over a spreadsheet.
Yet, if Kadare's world is filled with a strange, dark claustrophobia borrowed
from Kafka's, there is a marked difference. Kadare's novel has a strictly
defined geographical place (although its historical one is rather more elusive).
Hungarian critic Georg Luk?cs famously attacked Kafka as representing the
worst of bourgeois modernist excess: the notion of a tortured and fragmented
individual lost in a meaningless and absurd world, and the problems of freedom
faced by such an individual, was a middle-class illusion. For the Marxist
Luk?cs, the vertigo of the estranged self caught in its own 'abstract' potentiality
could only be a bourgeois anxiety: in reality, the world was not full of
atomised individuals, nor was it inexplicable: rather the world was a meaningful
totality, that is, the totality of capitalist brutality which linked all
individuals together into a single economic system. Such a system provided
rather more finite pathways, so-called 'concrete potentiality' Yet the interesting
thing about Kadare's Kafka-tinged world is that it is not a world of abstract
potentiality, but concrete potentiality. It is a distinctly Albanian world,
rooted in real custom, social forms, historical context.
A genuine Kulla (tower of refuge) in Northern Albania which I was able to
visit. What does this mean? A simple reading would simply say that Kadare
is saying that the real existential terror(ism) lies in the real world.
The 20th century possesses a horror equal to any philosopher's nightmare.
Yet I think there is something more at stake, an issue which I have been
discussing - fascinatingly - with two of my excellent third-year seminars
at NUI Maynooth. The Kanun system does possess a certain Kafkaesque irrationality,
and characters note this in this novel itself: 'the concept of "the guest",
like every great idea, carried with it not only its sublime aspect but its
absurd aspect too' (p. 88). It is highlighted by using outsiders to look
in, from the outside, on the blood code: especially in the shape of Bessian,
an academic from Tirana. But the very concrete context of the Albanian mountain
culture is also the context of meaning. Gjorg himself, early on, argues
that whilst 'life outside the whirlpool of blood might perhaps be more peaceful,
by the same token it would be even more dull and meaningless...clans that
were in the blood feud lived in a different order of days and seasons, accompanied
as it were by an inner tremor; the people were more handsome, and the young
men were in favour with the women' (p. 34).
The lesson here, I think, is that when Kadare locates Kafkaesque madness
within a society, a culture, and a law he is also willing to acknowledge
these things as sites of meaning. By moving his existentialist novel inside
the terms of a very specific national and historical culture - Albania -
he is asserting that meaning and absurdity, freedom and determinism, inhere
in the same world. The kind of existential dilemma that Luk?cs sees in Kafka
(which might, I hasten to add, be accused of being a rather unfair misreading
of The Castle) is one which sees existence as a problem which can be conceived
in a purely abstract realm: beyond any actual culture or history. Broken
April, by contrast, very definitely locates an existential dilemma within
the thrownness of an actual, concrete individual. Gjorg has nationality.
He has culture, he has a historical position. It is the locus of his freedom,
but also the trajectory that propel him to his own death. It is freedom
and unfreedom wrapped in one enigmatic tangle.
All spaces of freedom are orientated by laws of one sort or another, explicit
or implicit, and if the centre of those laws is enquired into too deeply,
then it shall reveal itself as absurd. Yet laws must be set, and a centre
must be held. Any culture, and its anthropological rules, can be seen as
absurd from outside: but there is no absolute outside of culture, absurdity
is only relative. There is no Archimedean position. This is, I feel, why
Kadare evokes a certain Kafkaesque tone in his work: to show both the grandeur
and the almost pathetic savagery of the Kanun, alongside each other, because
of each other. The heart of the blood code is the source for meaning and
rational order in the Albanian society of that time and place: but precisely
as such it is the dark site for its irrationality - for any order will confess
its own irrationality, its own terror even, if pressed hard enough. The
'inner tremor' felt by Gjorg is the lived experience of this duality, this