The Year of Gjergj Kastriot

The year of 2018 is the “The year of Gjergj Kastriot”, which honor the death of national hero 550 years ago. Gjergj Kastriot, also known as Skanderberg, remains the emblematic figure of all Albanians, and simultaneously has attrackedspecial attention in the eyes of writers and historians. Many authors, from diverse streams and time period, have studied the figure of Kastriot, thus, creating a wide range of literature heritage.
In May 2017, at the Galery of Art within the premises of the Albanian Embassy in The Hague, an exposition was organized from Ms. Patricia Nugge, a British collector of antique books containing material about our national hero dating somewhere between 1510 and 1800. The many guests, who joined the lecture, admired the reading material concerning Gjergj Kastriot. Ambassadors, accredited diplomatic corps in The Hague, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various art and history specialists as well as, Albanian diaspora and local media representation were few of the attendees.
The first documented two articles to ever be written about Skanderberg were written in Latin. During the sixteenth century a series of poetic writings were added to the collection, amongst the most popular ones are the Renaissance sonnets written by poets such as the French Pierre de Ronsard (1576) or the English E.Spenser (1596), which uplift the figure of the hero by comparing him to the most significant characters of antiquity. Nevertheless, he also appears in the roman written by the Italian Antonio Posenti on 1576, “The nightmare of the wolves”, quiet an artistic prose of that time.
“Skanderbeiada” published in Rome in 1623 by Margerita Sarroki, praises Skanderbegs memory and battles and presents the hero as a true and noble king. The National hero has similar representation from the German writer Jakob Kokert in the “Flattering songs” in 1643 and the French Jean Boussiers in the poem “Skanderberg” in 1658. During the same century a series of drama plays were written with the main character being our legendary hero, with the most memorable one being the drama titled “The real story of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderberg” written the well-known English playwright Christopher Marlowe. Other playwriters followed the same path from several European countries such as Span, Italy, France, Sweden, Poland, and Greece.
During the 17th century our national hero inspired various artists from around the world. Worth mentioning is “The Great Skanderberg” written by an anonymous writer in Amsterdam 1688 and “The adventures of the Prince of Albania” published in France of 1732. Meanwhile, in England 1747, dramas were being published and put on stage about Skanderberg few of which were: “Skanderberg or love for freedom” from Thomas Winkopp, “Skanderberg” of William Harvard, and “The Christian Hero” by George Lilo. The figure of our exalted hero was for the first time ever given life in Albania by our author Naim Frasheri in the epic poem “History of Skanderberg” glorifying him and therefore truly shaping the future of Albanian literature from then onwards. The Skanderberg figure of Naim Frasheri was a personification of the heroic spirit of the Albanian people and by far a source of inspiration for heroism and courage for all future wars for freedom. The path Naim started would be followed by many other Renaissance poets such as Çajupi, Mjeda, Asdreni, Siliqi and others who tried to tie up the memory of Skanderberg with the duties being laid upon the population during times of war and national resistance. The figure of Skanderberg, as mentioned above, was touched by choice by many of the modern day Albanian and Arberesh creators in form of lyrical songs, some with poems and some with long writings. Amongst all, in a special corner lays the “Castel” novel from Ismail Kadare where the hero does not appear in person in the story but is symbolically represented from the courageous squires residing within the fort premises who duplicate without fear the battle strategies taught by Skanderberg himself.
During 2018, the jubilee year of our hero, many lectures and presentations as well as conferences and round table discussions will be held and of course in the meantime several folkloric publishing will come to surface telling inspiring stories of the hero Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeg. 

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