Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Kadare: the plot thickens

In my previous post about Ismail Kadare, I alluded to the Albanian novelist's complicated translation history, and urged visitors to read David Bellos's fascinating article on the topic at The Literary Saloon. As Bellos explains, most of the English versions of Kadare's work have derived from French translations, many of them vetted by the author himself. But what then was I to make of my dogeared copy of Chronicle in Stone, which appears to have been translated directly from the Albanian by some anonymous hand? Bellos was kind enough to clear up the mystery via email, and to elucidate what is called (I'm not kidding, and neither is he) the Pipi-Kaka Quarrel.
Just an addendum to your blog piece about Kadare: Chronicle in Stone was translated by Arshi Pipa, an Albanian émigré and professor of Italian literature at Minnesota for many years. There was some disagreement about the translation (with the publisher, with Kadare, I'm not sure) and as a result, in some kind of a huff, Pipa asked his name to be not attached to the book as published. But it is true that it was "translated from the Albanian." Subsequently Pipa rather took against Kadare and there was a public dispute between them (known, I'm told, as the "Pipi-Kaka" quarrel). Pipa died some years ago.

The obvious problem is that Pipa was not a native speaker of English. A less obvious problem is that Chronicle in Stone is translated from the first version, as published in Albania. The text in Kadare's Œuvres complètes is now the definitive version, and a new translation, if one is done, will have to take account of IK's changes.

I am currently reading "the wedding procession turned to ice" and am looking for e review of the book in English. I would like to put it on my weblog called zacappa. Maybe you can help me out. I have tried all my resources. I don't even know if it has been translated to English. The article you mention is very interesting indeed.

Best wishes, Jotta
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