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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Tuesday 19 July 2005

More on Kadaré

Yesterday, I mentioned the "controversy" that is building about whether the Albanian writer Ismail Kadaré can be called a dissident. In an article at Moby Lives Romanian writer and emigre Renata Dumitrascu says:

This is one of many literary careers built on a dubious premise. One wonders about those voices Kadaré is so eager to silence. His expressed contempt for "untrue" dissenters is set to backfire in the long run. After the dust settles and the oppression of communism is relegated to the pages of history past, the real dissenters, the ones without high offices and international travel privileges, will hopefully emerge to tell their story, distinct, with the quiet dignity of truth.

The Literary Saloon discussed this Kadaré backlash yesterday, mentioning Dumitrascu's piece and also Professor Barry Baldwin's letter in the TLS, How dissident was Ismail Kadaré?. I've been in contact with Professor Baldwin who writes:

Since Kadaré's supposed dissidence is an admitted factor in choosing him for the prize, and since it is the central theme in Robert Elsie's TLS eulogy, I naturally focused on this in my letter. In any case, given Kadaré's claims for himself, it matters in the interest of plain truth to set the record straight. As to the quality of Kadaré's writing, I did in fact deal with that in the original version of my TLS letter, but for reasons of space this entire section was excised by the editor. I quoted several unfavourable reviews of his novels from the TLS and elsewhere, and also showed in detail how in his novel The Concert Kadaré appropriates a scene from Orwell's 1984 so closely as to come close to outright plagiarism. All of this will be spelled out in my forthcoming much longer piece.

That "forthcoming much longer piece" is one that Professor Baldwin hopes soon to have published in The American Scholar. I'm hoping we may have more on RSB about this soon as well ...

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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