Dritëro Agolli is a writer who has had a far from negligible influence on the course of contemporary literature. He was head of the Albanian Union of Writers and Artists from the purge of Fadil Paçrami and Todi Lubonja at the Fourth Plenary Session in 1973 until 1992. Agolli was born to a peasant family in Menkulas in the Devoll region near Korça and finished secondary school in Gjirokastra in 1952. He later continued his studies at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leningrad and took up journalism upon his return to Albania, working for the daily newspaper Zëri i Popullit (The People’s Voice) for fifteen years. Agolli not only served as president of the Writers’ Union from 1973 to his retirement on 31 January 1992, but was also a deputy in the People’s Assembly.
Agolli first attained success as a poet of the soil. His early verse collections Në rrugë dolla, Tirana 1958 (I went out on the street), Hapat e mija në asfalt, Tirana 1961 (My steps on the pavement), and Shtigje malesh dhe trotuare, Tirana 1965 (Mountain paths and sidewalks), introduced him to the reading public as a sincere and gifted lyric poet of the soil and demonstrated masterful verse technique. An attachment to his roots came to form the basis of his poetic credo.
Dritëro Agolli has been exceptionally productive in recent years, with numerous well-received verse collections: Lypësi i kohës, Tirana 1995 (The time beggar), Shpirti i gjyshërve, Tirana 1996 (The spirit of our forefathers), Vjen njeriu i çuditshëm, Tirana 1996 (The strange man approaches), Baladë për tim atë dhe për vete, Tirana 1997 (Ballad for my father and myself), Fletorka e mesnatës, Tirana 1998 (Midnight notebook), and Kambana e largët, Tirana 1998 (The distant bell).
As a prose writer, Agolli first made a name for himself with the novel Komisari Memo, Tirana 1970 (Commissar Memo), originally conceived as a short story. This didactic novel with a clear social and political message was translated into English as The bronze bust, Tirana 1975.
Agolli’s second novel, Njeriu me top, Tirana 1975 (The man with a cannon), translated into English as The man with the gun, Tirana 1983, takes up the partisan theme from a different angle and with a somewhat more subtle approach.
Dritëro Agolli has been a prolific writer throughout the nineties, a rare voice of humanity and sincerity in Albanian letters.
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