Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories

Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories

by Ismail Kadare

In this spellbinding novel, written in Albania and smuggled into France a few pages at a time in the 1980s, Ismail Kadare denounces with rare force the machinery of a dictatorial regime, drawing us back to the ancient roots of tyranny in Western Civilization.

During the waning years of Communism, a young worker for the Albanian state-controlled media agency narrates the story of his ill-fated love for the daughter of a high-ranking official.

  • Series: Diptych
  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.68
  • Pages: 226
  • Publish Date: November 6th 2006 by Arcade Publishing
  • Isbn10: 1559707887
  • Isbn13: 9781559707886

What People Think about "Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories"

Agamemnons Daughter is a novella that, together with The Blinding Order and The Great Wall constitutes the most recent translation into English of Kadares books. The campaigns of purification or great purges, as they were called during Communismnames that call to mind religious rituals accomplished periodically in order to appease the angry godswere campaigns of terror in which anyone (or rather, anyone except the Leader of the Communist Party, significantly called Himself in The Successor) could be accused of being an enemy of the State or of the people, forced to do his self-criticism, then punished. Reflecting on all this as a spectator at the May 1st Paradeone of the biggest Communist holidaysthe narrator compares the father to a successor of that grand master of all sacrificers, Comrade Agamemnon MacAtreus, member of the Politburo. This tale is told in fragments interspersed in-between the story of a man who, in order to stop his fall from grace with the Communist regime, feeds the latter not only his own flesh but also that of others, people he denounces and tramples on as he finds his way back up. After a campaign of terror in which we can easily recognize the Communist purges or campaigns of purification, the authorities decide to hold a Banquet of Forgiveness or of Reconciliation, where all the blind people are invited.

I was especially impressed with the middle piece, 'The Blinding Order', which is certainly one of the best novellas I have ever read.

The story recounts his journey from his apartment to the stands; and, as he walks there, he reviews episodes from his life that reveal the paranoia necessary to survive and he considers parallels between what's happening to him and Iphigenia's tale. As he watches the parade and sees his former lover in the stands, the narrator realizes what Iphigenia's sacrifice meant 3,000 years ago and what his own means today - the state will trample all feelings of humanity, love and feeling, even the desires of the regime's highest members. Largely, the story worked for me, especially the last few pages when the translator captured the narrator's epiphany in moving language, but there wasn't any emotional connection for me.

agamemnon's daughter was translated into english by david bellos from the french translation of tedi papavrami and jusuf vrioni's rendering from the original albanian. are there no albanian to english translators working in the realm of literary fiction?

I also enjoyed The Great Wall with its thoughtful insights into boundaries and ideas of cause and effect.

At the same time, a daughter's great sacrifice for her father.

There are three stories: the first is Agamemnon's Daughter, an meditation on sacrifice and the ties that bind people together. I liked the story of the Bald Man, who sacrifices himself to the eagle just to get out. Bald Man obtains the raw meat and sets off. Intermittently, the eagle asks to be fed and the Bald Man does so until he runs out of raw meat. I loved the description of the reaction: An old feeling, which people had perhaps forgotten about in recent years, suddenly began to seep back into the atmosphere. And the underlying atmosphere of living in a world where you can be anonymously denounced underpins this story (and the previous one).

He has divided his time between Albania and France since 1990. In 1960 Kadare returned to Albania after the country broke ties with the Soviet Union, and he became a journalist and published his first poems. His first novel, The General of the Dead Army, sprang from a short story, and its success established his name in Albania and enabled Kadare to become a full-time writer.