By Shefki Hysa
"Krastakraus"- Love and resistance
Note about the novel "Krastakraus"
of the writer Bilal Xhaferri.
Bilal Xhaferri (November 2nd, 1935- October 14th, 1986) was a poet, narrator and a distinguished dissident publicist. Author of many unpublished works: "Krastakraus"- his masterpiece. This would be the exact definition for Bilal Xhaferri, the writer of the Albanian ethnicity, as some scholars have defined him.
He was born in Ninat of Konispoli's region, in the district of Saranda, in a patriotic family that belongs to the tribe of the distinguished encyclopedic polymath Hasan Tahsini, the first rector of Istanbul University.
In 1945, the communists shot his father, Xhaferr Ferik Hoxha, because of his nationalist anti-communist convictions. Bilal remained fatherless, the only boy, brother of three sisters. Later his life would be a fatality. Like a Sisyphus, the heavy stone of the "the bad" biography would weigh over his shoulder. He hardly finished a school for a geometer technician and his life began to run along the difficult yards of the "bridge- road" enterprise, building and asphalting new streets and in pursuit of the alleys of the literary creativity.
In 1966 he published the volume with narrations "New people, ancient land", that fulminated in the reader's minds as the bolt from the blue. The extraordinary talent, Bilal Xhaferri was bringing a new romantic-realistic spirit in the Albanian literature, which aimed the rising of the faded feelings of the people, indoctrinated from communism. Against the "new man", the bastard that the communist dictatorship was trying to create, Bilal, with his composition appealed to the Albanians to turn the eyes to the antiquity, to their predecessors, the gentle, freedom-loving and combative forefathers, holders of these home lands. His poetic volume "The red clearing" was published in 1967, but it couldn't move along. With an order of the communist censure, it was converted in cardboard dough. In those few copies that were preserved, stolen from Bilali's well-wishers, caught the eye the silent dissidence of this inexorable author, proud of his Pelasgus- Illyricum blood.
In August 24th, 1969 Bilal Xhaferri was constrained to escape in Greece and from there he emigrated in U.S.A, in Chicago where he published, for more than ten years, the anti-communist magazine "The Eagle's Wing", a bilingual Albanian-English magazine.
He died in unknown circumstances, languishing from the nostalgia for his own country and the hatred for the communism that had isolated Albania within the barbed wires.
His novel "Krastakraus" (The Crest of Kruja, the birthplace of the legendary, lion-hearted Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu) written in 1968, passed for a long time through the newsrooms of the unique publishing-house of the communist state, until it ended up imprisoned in its archives for the ideas it treated. It was published only in 1993 from The Publishing House
"Bilal Xhaferri", created to remember the name of this remarkable dissident writer.
The novel "Krastakraus" is a monumental and classic as well as modern creation. It takes the theme from the historical past of Albania, precisely from the period of the heroic wars of Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, the king of the Albanians (1417- 1467), who for a quarter- century afforded with his sword the ottoman invasions, in defense of the Albanian state and the Christianity. It is a creation written very neatly. The strong imagination of this author permeates the mist of medievalism and through the tableaus and the details that he describes, he succeed in taking away the heroes from the land of the legends and bringing them alive in the eyes of the readers. The whole history of the Albanian-Turkish wars, of the losses and victories, betrayals and resistance is outspread through the life and the jobs of the simple warriors of Gjergj Kastrioti.
Strezi, one of the courageous officers of Skënderbeu's commission is the central personage of this novel. The destinies of the other personages in peaceful and war times are evolved through the line of his love for the princess Ajkuna in one part, and his activity as a courageous warrior in the other part.
The world of the personages and their psychology is entwisted with the nature and sometimes it isn't understood whether the man is a creature of the nature or the nature is his creature. The trinity: God, nature, man and conversely, is entwined as a fatal node in the world of every personage, as well as in the lyric-dramatic situations and events, disposed toward "the tragic" that threats the destinies of the populations and personages.
The end of this novel is a masterly description, almost Homeric, of a bloody battle, without winners and losers; of a battle that means other battles and resistances, even more bloody, ensuring in this way the survival of a proud population that knows to live the life in peaceful times as well as in war times.
"Krastakraus" is a symbol of love and human resistance at the same time. It is a symbol of the victory of civilization toward the barbaric invasions of all the times.
The actual Albanian man finds in the pages of this novel his image and he nearly falls in love with himself like the Narcissist of Mythology in front of Bilal Xhaferri's creation. We hope that this book will be a kind surprise for the readers.