The Kanun is a law that has been collected like wheat grains in this great poverty. (Ndrek Pjetri)
Who brought back Doruntina? The myth, the Besa, the Kanun.
The myth of Doruntina and Costantino tells a story, which every Albanian and every Arbereshe knows: the only daughter of a widow, she is married very far from her brother, who promises the elderly woman, now dismayed by the war and poverty, to bring them back the beloved daughter whenever she needed it.
But the winter for the poor woman was very hard and cold, made her lose nine children on the battlefield, including Constantine. Weeping over her son's grave, the woman reproaches him for leaving without having kept her promise (Bessa) to bring her back to Doruntina.
Then Constantine leaves the tomb and, after a long journey, brings his sister back to his mother. The great writer Ismail Kadarè, in his book "Who brought back Doruntina?", drawing on the great legendary heritage of his country, reproposes the myth of Constantine as a timeless thriller.
Captain Stres, in charge of shedding light on the event, reports on the incident: "You have all heard (...) of the strange wedding of Doruntina Vranaj, a wedding that is at the origin of this story.
You will certainly know, I believe, that this distant union, the first to end in such a distant country, would not have happened if Constantine, one of the brothers of the bride, had not given his word to his mother to bring her back to Doruntina whenever she wanted his presence, on the occasion of joys and sorrows.
You also know that the Vrenaj, like all Albanians, have not been slow to be struck by a terrible mourning. And yet, no one brought back Doruntina, because he who had promised to do so was dead. You are also aware of the curse that the mother-mother pronounced against her son for violating the bessa, and you know that, three weeks after that curse was uttered, Doruntina finally reappeared in her parents' house.
That is why I affirm and reiterate that Doruntina has not been reported by anyone other than by his brother Costantino, by virtue of his given word, his bessa. That journey cannot be explained or explained otherwise.
It matters little that Constantine left the sepulcher or not to accomplish his mission, no matter of knowing which was the knight who left on that dark night and which horse saddled, which hands held the reins, which feet rested on the stirrups, whose feet they were the hair covered with the dust of the path.
Each of us has his part in this journey, because the bessa of Constantine, the one who brought back Doruntina, sprouted here among us. And therefore, to be more precise, we can say that, through Constantine, we were all of us, you, my dead, who rest in the cemetery next to the church, to bring back Doruntina. ""Noble lords (...) I would like to tell you (...) what this sublime force is capable of breaking the laws of death. (….) I will try to explain to you why this new moral law was born and spread among us. "
"Every people, in the face of danger, refines its defense tools and - this is the essential - creates new ones. You need to have a short sight so as not to understand that Albania is facing great dramas. Sooner or later, they will reach its borders, if they haven't already arrived. The question then arises: in such new conditions of aggravation of the general state of the world, in this age of challenges, crimes and hateful treachery, what will be the face of Albania? Will he marry evil or oppose it?
In short, will it change its face to adapt the masks of the time, to ensure its own survival, or will it maintain an unchanged face, with the risk of attracting the anger of the times on itself?
Albania sees the era of trials approaching, of choosing between those two faces. And, if the Albanian people have begun to elaborate institutions as deep as they are as deep as they are, this indicates that Albania is about to make its choice. It is to bring this message to Albania and to the rest of the world that Constantine came out of the grave. "Besa, or Bessa, as Kadarè says, is at the very origin of Albanian society.
From the Besa come to life "more stable eternal structures of external laws and institutions, eternal and universal structures inherent in man himself, inviolable and invisible and therefore indestructible" (Ismail Kadarè, Who brought back Doruntina ?, Longanesi, page 129).
Besa is the word given by Constantine to his mother. The term, untranslatable in any other language, indicates compliance with the agreements, rules and order. It means keeping our word, guaranteeing respite, ensuring guest protection. It is therefore connected to honor, to the respect of the given word, to hospitality, to what is most sacred, but it is also revenge and blood.
It is the Kanun that establishes the Besa, a synthesis of the instances that govern the entire Albanian social organization. Lek Dukagjini's Kanun - printed by the anthropologist Patriza Resta, for the types of the Besa Editrice (1996) - is a code of customary laws, which have been handed down orally for centuries.
Although modified, some of the values contained in it constitute the hard core of the Albanian identity. Kanun's translation is Canon, that is, rule, but the etymological root is ruler or ruler. The line serves to maintain order: as children we wrote in lined notebooks, so the words were lined up.
The Kanun maintains order, integrity and its etymology guarantees it. According to Ndrek Pjetri, head of the reborn Association for Brotherhood and Peace, "the Kanun was the law, the way of life of the Albanian people, our legal tradition and partly also represents our national freedom" (Resta P. ( by), The Kanun by Lek Dukagjini, Besa Editrice, page 15).
As such he prescribes positive attitudes and raises respect for the word given to the rank of faith. This is the principle transposed, with its high lyricism, by the great writer Kadarè in Who brought Doruntina ?.
(Dedicated to Prof. Sante Grillo)
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