The Pyramid by ismail Kadare
translation from french by David Belios
The pyramid is a historic novel on the surface ,Cheops a pharaoh who has decided that he does want a pyramid built to celebrate his life but then is told this is wrong as the building of these great building is a way of keep the masses under control so in the end it is decided and it is going to be a huge pyramid ,but in the building of this the work force is push beyond the edge as people die and are driven to the edge of life and madness .As with his other books Kadare is using the historic setting only as a back drop to an all out attack on the communist regime of Enver Hoxha the late leader of Albania as the system in Egypt falls apart it mirrors the falling apart in the eastern european regimes as they descended into a sort of chaos ,he also had a pyramid built to be his tomb in the centre of Tirana ,he was in there for a short time following his death later it became a disco .
When one morning in late autumn ,only a few months after he had ascended the throne of Egypt ,Cheops, the new pharaoh, let slip that he might perhaps not wish to have a pyramid erect for him ,all who heard – the place astrologer ,some of the senior ministers ,Cheop”s old counsellor Userkaf ,and the high priest Hemiunum ,who also held the post of Architect in chief – furrowed theirs brows as if they had just heard news of a catastrophe .
The opening of the book .
My main problem with Kadare is the translation process in the early novels a secondary translation by Belios from french ,this is due to there being no Albanian translators about to do it ,it seems here is article from complete review written by the translator ,Belios does a great job but I always feel it like looking at the book through two sets of net curtains we see the main things but maybe some subtle bits are missed from the story .Ismail Kadare last few books in english have been direct translations from Albanian by John Hodgson I m not sure if they will go back and re-do all his books at some point .So if you want a book that maybe shows the downfall of communism and how dictators are made using ancient Egypt as a template then this is the book for you a Kadare cleverly winds the modern tale into a tale from the past .I ve know about Kadare for a good while since spend a summer in Germany on a factory floor next t0 a Kosovoian Albanian couple as they worked I discover Ikblar the wife was at one time a professor of Albanian lit so even thou my german was bad and her english too we manage to converse a bit and Ismail Kadare was one of the many names she mention but one I remember most as he was readily available . Ismail Kadare also won man international booker in2005 and also has been mention as a potential Nobel prize winner .
Have you a favourite Albanian writer or book ?