The dictionary defines "elegy" as a lament; also a mournful, plaintive, melancholy poem, also a lament for the dead. While not a poem in the traditional sense, the book - really three connected short stories - is almost like a lay (which is fitting, because the middle story is about minstrels brought along to the battle by the Christians to sing victory songs, and what happened to them after the defeat). Mournful, beautiful language (I wonder what it reads like in the original Albanian). The first story, particularly, reads like nonfiction only in storyteller form.
Elegy for Kosovo: Stories by Ismail Kadare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My trusty dictionary (.com) defines elegy as: "a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead." While not a poem in the traditional sense, Elegy for Kosovo - really three connected short stories - reads like an epic lay. That's fitting, since the middle story is about war minstrels brought along to the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389 to sing songs of victory, and how even in defeat they can't shake away their songs of war. This is indeed a mournful book, but quietly strong and elegant in language (I'm not an expert in translations, but I would say that Peter Constantine's translation is quite magnificent; I'm curious as to how much more beautiful this would be if I were fluent in Albanian). It's not the kind of book that will reach out and grab your attention; it's much too stately for that. It is definitely a lament, for the battle of 600 years ago, and a lament for today, as in the beautiful, haunting words at the end: "O Lord, hear my prayer! Take away all the mud around here, for even a few drops of blood are enough to hold all the memory of the world."
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