The drama of a family – the Albanian village
THE DRAMA OF A FAMILY – THE ALBANIAN VILLAGE
(‘THE STORIES OF THE SOUTH’ BY THOMA KACORI)
Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria
In Albanian literature we can say with full responsibility that genuine artistic prose has begun to appear late. We can mention that until the twentieth century, Albanian literature is known for the cultivation of poems, but what made this period emptier is the lack of cultivation of prose (including short story), but also less long prose, such as novel.
In 1912, when a new life was opened to the Albanian people, a new creation of an independent state, then with slow and convincing steps began the conditions for literature to be created, published, and read in the parts where Albanians lived, where in this case a part of them paved the way for the cultivation of genuine prose.
We can say that always the political, social, economic, educational, and cultural circumstances directly or indirectly affect the stabilization of the Albanian literary and artistic creativity. Meanwhile, “this stabilization gave the first much more visible results in the early 1920s, where it continues until the early 1940s. We can say that this is the greatest time where prominent names of literature appear, who publish and reach to give literary creativity the necessary aesthetic grandeur. This part also includes the cultivation of prose.” (Aliu 2020: 7)
In this period, the authors who gave aesthetic greatness to the first prose known as the most genuine artistic prose, introduce us to their prose with stories, ideas, characters, spaces, times, etc.
Mentioning “Shadow of the Mountains” (stories 1929) by Ernest Koliqi, Migjeni with “Novels of the northern city” (stories 1936), the volume with stories “Albanian Nights” (1938) by Mitrush Kuteli, not leaving aside the poet Musine Kokalari, which comes to us with some stories “The Cough of Death” (1937-1938). This period has still brought authors of genuine artistic prose who have left traces and value in Albanian literature.
We will not expand further on the work for this period, but we cannot speak of the post-war period for young prose writers without mentioning the historical literary course of these genres.
After the Second World War, new circumstances were created for writers, making it impossible for them to express themselves freely on various topics. A new direction is created with new rules for writers, restricting their free thought and expression in various art forms. This direction was called socialist realism, which in theory aimed to express reality, but in practice did the opposite, becoming a tool of the communist regime.
During this period, new writers emerged who contributed to the development of literature in the genre of prose, among whom we can mention the writer Thoma Kacori, who developed most of his creativity abroad in a post-romantic style. This author comes to us at this time as a candle, who with his work, great devotion to the homeland, the Albanian language, schools, follows the Albanian colonies of Sofia, engaging with all his knowledge and professional commitment.
Thoma Kacori was born in 1922 in the village of Shtikë, Kolonjë district. He completed primary school in his native village. Then he continued his lessons in the high school of Korça. Thoma had a sad childhood, because he lived alone with his mother in Korça, since his father was in exile and in 1940 he and his mother were forced to emigrate to Bulgaria where his mother’s family had already settled. In 1950 he graduated from the University of Sofia (Bulgaria), where he graduated in economics. Regardless of that he has always dealt with language and literature.
Since 1955, the poet’s stories have been published in the magazine “November”. The story “The Bull” was published in this year, while in 1957 the first collection of stories was published entitled “Life with worries”. Thoma Kacori, after showing ingenuity and a successful work in his stories, in 1958 won the second prize of the literary competition with the novel “Days that are not forgotten”. Thoma Kacori enriched his creativity with other literary genres, both poetry and novels. His novel “For the Motherland” was published in 1961 in Tirana, the first part, and a little later the second part of this novel. The author also brought a novel about “Skanderbeg” to the literature of the national renaissance, part of which was published in the magazine “November”. The last lamp of the renaissance, Thoma Kacori, at the time when it started and was introduced to our readers, reached the attention and love of the readers, where it was very well received, ranking among the most talented young prose writers. Although the literary genre of the novel gave the poet maturity in the form of writing, we believe that as a narrator he took the most important place in Albanian literature. It can often happen to writers, when they manage to perfect the artistic form in a genre, as in this case Thoma Kacori, but when they want to get the courage to deal with other genres as well, such as the novel, they often remain as an ocean that requires a lot of patience and dedication.
“Thoma Kacori, in his stories, treats us with artistic form, with social themes, taking good care of the village, especially the place of Kolonja.” (Aliu 1970: 490) The author seems to be disturbed by the waves of time and from the place where he lives, he reflects with his love and ingenuity of a creator who puts these topics at the center of the stories, which for him and the reader are very welcome, as well as a motive for a greater love for their ancestors.
One can very well notice the time and experiences of the author who went through difficult stages as a child, about which he also learned, where it can be well noticed that the author has found traces of the serious wound left by the invaders in the Albanian people. In the works of Thoma Kacori we can say that the historical dimensions are clear and concrete, however it cannot be achieved to completely avoid the form and the danger overcome, the path that the author follows in his works with real characters and well formed in the characters of them, imply that the narrator reaches the top of the event every time and moment in his stories.
It can be said that Thoma Kacori observes correctly and clearly the organic connection of individual destiny, concretizing it with the collective one, since in both relations they are conditioned as the realization of national existence, by each other. All this is in order and the author in this aspect has known how to preserve it in a concrete way until the end of the story.
Thoma Kacori in his stories seems to be defined in the fate of the Albanian peasantry and its lands and the people in general, on the eve of liberation and in its first days, using the psychology of the environment of society and individuals, looking at foreground portraits as artistic generalization.
The ‘Stories of the South’ opens with the story ‘The Bull’. With this story the author opens the paths of the form of a genuine narrator, aesthetic, and energetic narrator to reveal the love of his country, the beauties of nature, the good of the village and its flaws or difficulties.
Thoma Kacori in this volume of stories manages to summarize close to 22 stories, where in each story comes to us completer and more convincing, both in the form of writing, as well as in the language and style that the author uses in stories. In a word, Kacori, as the scholar Ali Aliu describes it, “As a narrator he took a more considered place in Albanian literature.” (Aliu 1970: 489)
“When Dhos of Costa returned from the exile, he had brought ten Napoleons. He had worked for them for three years from Serez, where the shoes were filled with sweat. Therefore, he knew the value of money, because he had collected pus as a wound, saving them from the bite of the mouth. Many other villagers came from the exile and ate and drank it, and for several years their work turned into grapes and plums for a winter. Dhosi, on the other hand, intended to repair the house once with this money and with the others to buy something that would work for him. As soon as the friends who had come to see him left, they were left alone in the hearth with their mother – Kota and his wife Nasta, whom everyone in the village called Dhosi’s bride.”
The author, at the beginning of the story “The Bull”, tells us the atmosphere that begins with the return of Dhosi from the exile, his love for the village, his wife and mother, but in particular “The Bull”. Dhosi had spent three years in the exile and with all his sacrifice and effort at work to achieve that when he returned to the village to buy a bull. Figuratively this animal is the life and hope of this family. The narrator manages to make the figure of the ox a symbol of the village and of the family. In the simplest and most beautiful form it describes the psychology of Kota, Dhos’s mother, who the moment she buys the ox and brings it into the house, passes into a superstition, protecting it from the evil eye of the villagers. These superstitions of the people have been like something convincing, it can be said as if they were bridges and it does not make them ignore that something bad could happen then. Thus, the narrator manages to narrate the psychology of the old woman in the clearest and most convincing way to the reader.
“Even more lazy, Kota and Dhosi’s bride took off their headscarves and tied Bardhos’ wound. “The cow was screaming from time to time in pain, as if begging the women to leave her alone.”(Kaçorri 1971: 12) 
Peace had passed the village, the sun had gathered its rays, so sad was ending the sad and painful day for Dhos’s family, Bardha’s death in the narrative context is equal to the death of a family member – laments. The narrator’s achievement in convincing the description of bull’s death is no different from that of human death. What happens in the loss of a man with a wailing with a consolation from the villagers concludes the story “The Bull”. The misfortune of a family passes into its extinction, the prayer of every human dream. Through a “Bull”, a symbol and hope of a family in the eyes of this family, “Bardha” was their world, spirit and life.
The death – the loss – the death of “Bardha” became the death of the old woman, the spiritual connection between “The Bull” and the old woman – figuratively like a mother with her child.
Psychology of narrative essence
The story “Dordoleci” raises the problem of sacrifice and hardship of the villagers at that time. Through the narrator, who defines the action of the characters of the event, the generalization of the literary theme is easily understood. The author here creates characters as figures, sometimes resembling the narrator and sometimes characters appear to us, which reveal the truth of the moment of human destiny by nature.
The character created by the author in this story in reading the title makes the reader think about a winter that has gripped the village. The opposite emerges from the beginning of the event when the narrator manages to elaborate the truth of the story in an emotional and psychological form. In fact, “Dordoleci” symbolizes winter, the cold, the beauty that white gives the purity of gloom, as well as extinguishes the dryness of the earth. But in this story this symbol comes to us in the summertime when there is no water and the author in figurative form elaborates the problem of the village for drying the land for the farmer’s request for crops.
Prayers made by the village elders, both in the church and in every family, by adults and children that a drop of water falls on their lands.
The author, through the threads of the narrator’s story in the story, combines in the same event fiction and fact or fantasy with reality, where it is realized from the narrator’s neutral point of view, filling our lack of thirst for children’s games as a form or hope of overcoming of the situation in time.
Rona, rona peperona,
Let it rain in our fields!
Rica, rica peperica,
Let it rain in those goricas! / Page 16
This song is sung by the children of the village with prayers for rain, so in Kaçorri’s stories the fates of other protagonists are articulated that are related to superstitions, vain beliefs, but in the plane of the story are defined within a description that resembles a legend.
So, the story “Dordoleci” is guided by the action event which in this case is the narrator, making the situation step by step, the event shown in parallel.
In the stories of Thoma Kacori are articulated the fates of the characters with time, the environment of the event that the author describes, the fate of a people at the time when a light of hope had begun for them. The author in this story “Hope of Cabbage” addresses the social realist topic, where through the narrator, proves the needs of the poor layer of the village and at the same time the suffering and punishment of the people by the invaders. The dream world becomes a matter of fate for the characters, who believe in fictional detail. They experience a kind of spiritual satisfaction, waiting for the dream of happiness to come true.
The ego of the character
In the story “Maroja leaves the village healthy” the narration is based on the return of the protagonist, where it becomes a reason to extinguish the mother’s dream – Maro. The whole topic addressed by the narrator is the breaking of the mother’s soul, which despite the difficulties she has in the village and the life she leads alone with her son’s bride, she still finds the strength and the dream to live where she has lived most of it. Often the narrator manages to escape the dialogue even through the silence of the characters, where he implies through her “silence” the affirmation or disagreement of leaving the homeland – the village.
Love for the country, in this case Maro (old woman) is the most substantial and dominant element in Kacori’s storytelling. It is the breaking of the dream, which paved the way for death. The story closes with the death of Maro, who rests at the bottom of the village river.
The author Kaçorri deals with these types of topics or similar ones in his stories. Love, emigration, goods, social, economic life and above all that of the suffering of the people are the most present figures in Kaçorri’s stories. We can say that this author, although very little treated in Albanian literature in the period to which he belongs but also at this time. I think it is a great pleasure to read and analyze his stories. Thoma Kacori belongs to the second generation of prose writers, he is the author who belongs to the second generation after the war. The style and language used by the author in his stories are in most cases clear, preserving the variant of speech from which he comes. The Albanian language, although it has created beautiful and standard words, still in stories or literary texts, when we read and encounter words of variants of the regions where the authors come from, is more beautiful and more convincing. Authors who in their works always manage to preserve the originality of their region, undoubtedly reach the pinnacle of writing in that kind of genre. I think Thoma Kacori has reached the most brilliant form of writing, respecting the poetic narrative, the idea, the style and characterizing the model, the sign, the figure, the narrative code.
In the work “Stories of the South” is conceived the position of the narrator, where from story to story is a characteristic position of the narrator, which defines the world of the character. It is the mastery of the author in this case.
In the story “Kanira” is the most painful topic of the fate of the Albanian woman, her curse from life and time in continuity. The idea of patriarchal obedience, which has prevailed from time to time, has been in proportion to the woman’s sense of inequality and much revenge.
“Kanira, don’t talk like that. We do it for your good. That’s how you love it. “We cannot leave you in a foreign house.” (Kaçorri 1971: 48)
Putting the fate of the woman in the mind and hands of others – the family. From the moment you become a widow, your home becomes foreign again. Habit comes out stronger than mother’s love for children. The moment of happiness until the moment of death of the owner of the house – the husband, becomes a curse for the wife. Fate – the life of her children in the concept of the custom of the social circle is equal to the death of man. This fate of the woman is treated by Kaçorri in the story “Kanira”. It has been treated in the stories of many Albanian authors, a reality that the Albanian woman has experienced could not but be written in poetic form by the authors through the periods, but each in his own form and style, preserving the originality of the narrator – narrator. This is also proved by Kaçorri in this story.
Kaçorri’s narrative text is constructed to distinguish the main situations, to overemphasize the essential point or to embody the fate of the main character in relation to the episodic characters.
Difficulties of a family drama – The village
The themes related to Kacori’s stories contain a spiritual drama through the times of the fate of the Albanian people, those times when it was ruled by different invaders. One can very well notice the socialist idea and theme in Kacori’s stories, the fate of Albanian families and especially those in the remote villages of Albania. Where parallel poverty prevailed is the patriarchal idea, which often became burdensome for families and especially for young people.
In the work “Stories of the South”, although the stories are not divided into cycles, still in a form of their elaboration we can divide them into topics, which are interrelated even though during reading we notice their order not according to approximate topics. I think this kind of mix of stories makes this author stand out for his spiritual rebellion in the idea of writing and the style of aesthetic prose.
While reading all the stories that are included in this work, I have managed that, according to my taste and the idea of the topic that the author deals with, to single out some of them, I cannot say that other stories have not been for to be analyzed, but in any longer study all of Kaçorri’s stories can be analyzed.
Dramatic – tragic weaving of the story
“When I was ten years old, I had not seen my father with my own eyes” begins the narrator’s story in the story “Father’s Republic”. In this story, the narrator’s ordeal is about creating a social situation (exile), not a single day had been hotter and more beloved than this day of the age of ten, where the narrator describes his longing and suffering, upon his return of the “Republic of the father”, figuratively the father is the republic for him, the symbol of freedom of the soul when you are close to the people of the soul, the father, in the psychology of children, next to the father is the unwavering strength and courage. The return of the republic – the father is related to the life-death relationship, appears in the story “Father’s Republic”, but this theme extends through the social theme, exile and family drama.
In Kacori’s prose the character is implied by the literary meaning of the narrative text. Also, in Kacori’s prose there are some perceptual dilemmas between pain, dissatisfaction, sadness, suffering, loneliness, social position, love, exile, bravery, faith.
‘Stories of the South’ closes with the story of “Revenge”, which always has a powerful role for everything, whether in the family, in society, in times and places where the patriarchal code leads, more than the will or feeling of man. And in breaking or disrespecting these comes revenge as a spiritual shield of the mind of this patriarchal code. Breaking the engagement for the sake of morality brings two families into revenge and this turns out to be a spiritual and moral drama, where hatred prevails in the form of narrative drama.
Despite this revenge that is created between the two families, the narrator strengthens the second love that was started earlier. Among the secondary characters of those families. With the taking of Vasili’s sister from Vani, here ends the view of the habit of violent revenge or even murder. The author finds the key to the action of the characters by uniting them and breaking those habits, giving them the courage of freedom with their escape from the village. Love breaks every hatred, every code and custom of the time.
In Kaçorri’s stories, the fates of the characters give us familiar arguments with the historical and political reality, embracing the goal of a patriotic and human love. The environment is rural, while the narrative process develops through real events. This author is distinguished by his mastery of writing, storytelling skills and communication skills.
Aliu 1970: Aliu, A. Parathënie e librit të Thoma Kacorit “Për mëmëdhenë”. Prishtinë, 1970.
Aliu 2020: Aliu, G. Proza shqiptare e viteve 1920-1944. Prishtinë, 2020.
Bashota 2006: Bashota, S. Proza e fillimit të modernitetit. Prishtinë, 2006.
Hoxha 1995: Hoxha, H. Teoria e romanit dhe tregimit. Skopje, 1995.
Kacori 1971: Kacori, T. Tregimet e Jugut. Prishtinë, 1971.
 The author’s surname on this short-story collection is double mistaken, a lapse which often happens to the emigrants. Further on we will refer to it with the correct spelling, Thoma Kacori.