An art without criticism would be an equally serious paradox, as a criticism without art. During the communist dictatorship, until the beginning of the nineties, criticism and critical studies occupied such an imposing position in Albanian literature that it almost gave the impression that literature studies were more important than literature itself.
has the right to look at another
from top to bottom, only
when he has to help her get up.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The authority of the critic or the scholar of literature far surpassed that of the writer. This deplorable phenomenon, also increased by the mania of certain people to create a brighter halo, was caused and fed by official institutions, specially created, generously financed by the State. The arrogance of criticism was especially encouraged by an extremely severe political and ideological platform, established and reconfirmed continuously in the plenums and congresses of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, where a diabolical scenario was performed and "class enemies" were eliminated with extremely ferocious ways.
Critics preceded literature, going so far as to pre-establish its object, offering models copied from the literature of socialist realism in the Soviet Union, where everything was dictated; from the thematic limits to be respected, up to the permitted artistic images. Thus the destiny that a future work of art would have been predicted. Thus, in a triple scheme, author-book-public, the deformation was able to be transmitted also to the reader, whose cultural horizon was thus manipulated, the artistic taste and to which a standard literature was imposed.
In this way the critics interpreted the artistic works written according to the suggestion of the critics and the critics, thus producing a lot of criticism and less art, deeply damaging the latter right in its value system. If it is assumed that a work of art possesses its authority a priori, sanctioned by tradition and by the respective canon, the critic must legitimize himself in his field each time, confirming his knowledge of the subject, his ability to analyze and verify each once its interpretative tools, thus installing a non-personal but public and social relationship with the work.
More than the evaluation of the works, already produced according to the scheme of socialist realism, the criticism of those years dealt with the "bombardment" of the "other" art: the really "modernist" art, or the art that had to be labeled as such, to bury its author forever. The evaluation of literary creations, starting from those that were already part of the "Pantheon" of literature (designed by the party leaders), were the authors, and coming up to the creations of elementary school students, was made by the party-state , through criticism. Everything was judged from an ideological point of view and always taking into account the class struggle, wresting every little green "modernist" leaf that had dared to bloom in the "socialist garden". He himself, "the great Lenin", had proclaimed that all those wrong, anti-scientific arguments and interpretations of various aesthetic and artistic phenomena that make up the theoretical platform of modernism, had their roots in idealism, which was to be considered, according to him , a weed, a sterile flower, which grew on the healthy body of human knowledge 1).
The war against modernist influences in artistic creation and critical studies had to be long, uncompromising and systematic, to ensure that "the purity of socialist ideas in art and literature was preserved, just as the spirit of proletarian partyism was to be protected from this danger, part of the multiple ideological pressure, coming from the imperialist and revisionist encirclement ". Our writers should not fall into the trap of the enemies of the proletariat, internal and external, who offered "... literary and artistic poisoned pills, covered with a layer of sugar" 2). With the foreign authors "harmful" the dictatorship cut short: they were never translated. Thus, the normal Albanian reader did not know more than three quarters of world literature.
There were authors capable of producing excellent art, but it was not possible to have free artists. This also applied to critics. Both parties either chose the prison, or fell silent and found another job, or adapted to the ideological norms of the party-state.
Thus, in this witch hunt, against all the "isms" and the bad "isti", in the Albanian Auschvitz were burned at the stake and then sentenced both the authors and the books; those written a century ago, those just written, those designed to be written and also many of those books that their authors had never even thought of writing. Non-art and mediocrity were raised to the pedestal, while a very large quantity of books was sent to the factory to be transformed into cardboard. The authors were thrown into prison or interned together with the families. Those who could escape, put judgment; the works created in secret a little outside the box, were hidden by their creators, waiting for a better day.
The dictatorship, already built on a paranoid complex, where a single individual, convinced of being a second Messiah, who came into the world to bring order and justice, had entered the war with true art and was temporarily triumphing. The artists who climbed slowly the steps of their career, had the impression of going up the Golgotha, with the cross of sins on the back and with the vertebral column (morality) deformed by the weight of the propaganda and the directives of the party, as well as from the ransom demanded by the communist state for the publication of their works. This redemption was expressed in the form of occult and deadly relationships, which served to destroy colleagues. And the victims obviously became those few talented artists, who had dared to create something of value, who had even come out of the ideological and aesthetic principles of the socialist realism method. Their sure end was the prison or the "lager", if they did not even accept them to submit and to pay in turn the political ransom, with schematic works, where the party and its leader were acclaimed.
The instinct of art's survival meant that the artists, the lineage of which over the years has always stood out for its frankness, its spontaneity, for the distance held by the common things of this world, became clever, that they hid themselves behind parallelisms and vague allusions in their works, behind an exoptic language or obscure aesthetic figures, with double meanings, to be able to justify themselves in any future situation. After having "sinned" like this, while waiting for the "supreme judgment", they trained themselves to read between the lines the meanings of the speeches of the party leaders in the plenums and in the military parades, they learned to interpret the slope of the eyebrows of the Secretary of the Political Bureau during the last appearance in public, the rises and drops in temperature in the socialist camp and the length of the announcer's dress in the National Song Festival. From time to time, like plants blossoming on concrete, "a little different" works of art, which had managed to penetrate into some cracks in the censorship wall, became a precious secret and were read with a blanket hanging from the window, hidden inside the cover of some school books, at the risk of life. Even the dictatorship itself rarely allowed some small sin, to improve its image before the international opinion, or to use it against the unfortunate author after a certain time.
The instinct of art's survival meant that it came
I was up to the present day also the art of prisons and hidden drawers, which came to light precisely because people do not forget, even if brainwashing, which was enforced en masse, was aimed precisely at this, at the beginning of "their ”Era from zero, almost from nothing. Reading the book of the history of Albanian literature, one feels the impression that every century had only one or two authors and that artistic talent exploded only during the partisan war and flourished only after, inspired by the "new socialist reality". From communist Albania it was not possible for any Pasternac or Solgenitzin to transmit his dissidence to the West. Instead there were poets killed for a poem and painters who hanged themselves for a painting, labeled "enemy" by the party. Whole books, real expression of what real talent could produce, were written on cigarette paper, even with blood, and made to come out of the prison hidden among the folds of dirty linen, to be immediately buried for years and decades, and then to go out for a day as a testimony of what had happened to art.
Do not forget is a punishment for evil and, as such, it becomes an obligation. "Death does not come with old age, but with oblivion" - says Marquez. Then forgiveness is something else ...
The works of art of the first type, those of an ambivalent nature, had to be read between the lines, while the others, those of prisons, written before, during or after the conviction of their author (there were also these "madmen") before they had to be extracted from hell and then from the grave, to be finally read, most of them posthumously. They could also remain condemned for life in the archives, as judicial evidence of an artistic-political crime. The real culprits were their own, who, like a whisper of the devil, had induced their poor creator to a mortal sin. In "bourgeois" art this was called inspiration ...
Now that the freedom to express oneself has freed the little devil of inspiration, and left him free to fill up sheets of paper at will and indulge in sounds and colors to the point of exhaustion, the victims of the art dictatorship massacres would like to open the files of shame, to know where the lightning that hit them struck. They rarely succeed. Those who reach the goal, often, indeed, too often, on the complaints discover the signatures of friends, relatives, colleagues, discover that their artistic idols, instead of protecting them, had sunk them more than the party with their observations, continuing in turn to defend their place in the Pantheon, according to the style of the cross on the back.
It was precisely that criticism, deadly for some and obsanating for others, that transmitted the lightning of Jupiter to the "heretics" and dictated the patterns of behavior for others, being part of the "vigilance of the Party". Some of them showed such zeal in deeply studying the modern "iste" currents and analyzing the artists of the current ones, then telling them so badly in detail, that the secrets "fans" of this art were enough to read these studies in reverse, for get the right artistic information. In our time these critics will rush to deny themselves.
Always predecessors of political condemnations in art, these official and faithful critics of the regime attacked the modernist tendencies in general and some aesthetic phenomena in particular with real fury, anatemando in the name of the purity of the line of socialist realism, forgetting, for example, that a certain phenomenon was called "synaesthesia" and not "synthesis", or "theory of combination", and this term had already been used for quite some time. In the impetus of their indignation, citing the classics of Marxism-Leninism and the latest political orientations for the literature of the party leader, insulting the partisans of "lartpurartismo" and the symbolists, who would have deepened the tendency towards formalism, leaving aside " the description of life ", the latter were accused of having" turned poetry into a meaningless enigma and of having made them lose the merits they had until then, transforming it into an aesthetic surrogate of destructive regressive force, after having lost all idea and responsibility social, in the name of "pure beauty", "pure form", "immaculate dream", "suggestion".
Verlaine was criticized, because he called poetry above all "music", Mallarmé's attempt to explain the connections between sounds, letters and human emotions was denigrated, Rimbaud was attacked for his famous colored vowel sonnet, considering it a vain effort, which brought no value to the poem, but made it hermetic, damaging the foundations of poetic art, sending it into an absurd alley. Zola was criticized for overestimating scientific methods in literature, but also Flaubert's naturalist tendency to emphasize the role of personal taste and the transformation of style into true worship, declaring that in his "Salambò" he was looking for something purple, while in his "Madame Bovary" something dark, the color of mold, colors that symbolized one the triumph and the other the boring, monotonous life of society. A sinner even greater than the former was the Austrian-French writer Hausmann, the "decadent" character of whom, disgusted by reality, tries to achieve pure artisticism, through the correlation of musical sounds with specific colors and the aromas of drinks. In the perspective of socialist criticism this was pure heresy, which had to be condemned without pity.
We read a critic of the time: “The social source of modernism is the existence of the old reactionary system, of reactionary social forces, which are interested in paralyzing and demoralizing the revolutionary forces, of propagating anti-scientific, reactionary, philosophical ideas and political, moral and artistic, religious and legal. The social source of modernism is the capitalist regime, the reactionary bourgeoisie and revisionism " 3).
Later the same author writes: "But modernism must be considered not only as a product of the process of degeneration of bourgeois and revisionist society, but also a weapon in the hands of the counter-revolutionary forces, to expand and deepen these processes more, and , with them, also the atmosphere of crisis and degeneration. This feature of modernism fully matches the critical appraisal given by Lenin to some variations of early 20th century modernism. "I don't find the strength to call the works of expressionism, futurism, cubism and other" isms "... great testimonies of artistic genius. I don't understand them. I feel no joy looking at them " 4). And since Lenin had not understood them, the Albanian communist state regarded their perpetrators as enemies.
Of this kind of criticism the imprisoned writer Astrit Delvina wrote: «O you, who seek the wounds and pus and feed on them, go to hell. There are no more crumbs for you on the poet's table. You with jackal teeth gnawing the bones left by the poet's lunch ... Shut up, ignorant critic "! 5)
Our great lyricist Lasgush Poradeci once said: «There is no romance, nor realism, nor futurism, nor hermeticism. There is art ". Much less should politics exist in art. The artist is only responsible for imagination and the word. His imagination is different from that of the regime; any compromise with power would, in a sense, be a betrayal of art.
<br /> The State has the duty to come to the aid of the formation of an artist and then leave it free to create.
The reception of the artistic work in the future, many times overturns the contemporary reception. If the first evaluation of the work was political, the second can change, because by now the famous reputation of politics is known, which would not be ethical to repeat. Therefore the value criticism should be only the aesthetic one and in terms of reflection.
Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago: "Criticism must prove prudent, tolerant and not exclusive, when it judges the attitude of the poet towards life", and then adds "It is not enough for one to know what to say, but also how to say it". Instead, today, after some time, it really upsets us to discover the monstrosities of the critics and the cowardice of scholars, against many of their compatriots, much better than those of today.
So far no critic has found the courage to say "Mea culpa" for the sins mentioned here. None of them has ever taken divorce with evil very seriously. Each of them "walked around the church twice" or undertook "some pilgrimage to Mecca", to save his soul with some "politically correct" article and immediately considered himself absolved. Feeling "clean" is a relative concept, and has to do with internal peace. The crimes of totalitarian regimes are part of the collective memory of humanity, and here the ransom paid in art will remain etched forever.
Past pain still hurts Albanian art.
1. V.I.Lenin –Opera V.38, pg.399-400, quoted by Alfred Uçi, “Labirintet and Modernizmit”, Edition.1978, pg.15
2. Enver Hoxha - "Reports and public speeches" (1967-1968, pg. 489-490, quoted by Alfred Uçi, "Labirintet and Modernizmit", 1978 Edition, pg. 4
3. Alfred Uçi, "Labirintet and Modernizmit", 1978 Edition, pg. 25-26
4. "Lenin on culture and art", 1975 Edition, pg.364, quoted by Alfred Uçi, "Labirintet e Modernizmit", 1978 Edition, pg. 28
5. Astrit Delvina, "Turabiu me ferexhe" ("Dhe e bukura nuk u zgjua", Edizone "Plejad", 2007)