Twilight of Eastern gods by Ismail Kadare

twilight of eastern gods

Twilight of the Eastern gods by Ismail Kadare 

Albanian fiction 

Original title –  French title- Le Crépuscule des dieux de la steppe

Translator David Bellos from the french translation of  Jusuf Vrioni

Source  – review copy

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.”

A louis Aragon quote seem fitting for Kadare as a writer in general ,source

Now the other day when I did my Nobel round-up for this year I did miss one name of knowing I had this on my pile of books to be reviewed that of Ismail Kadare .Kadare is the best known Albanian writer with nearly twenty of his books translated into english already .i have reviewed Fall of stone city and The pyramid  .Kadare has won all the major book prize around the world barring the Nobel ,he studied at Maxim Gorky Literature institute ,originally at that time he was a poet ,then wrote short stories eventually publishing his first novel in 1963 ,he left Albania as an exile in 1990 ,where he said” the writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship ” .Twilight of the eastern gods is about his time at the Maxim Gorky .

In Moscow Literary circle I had indeed heard a lot of talk about suicide .I shared with her the most interesting pieces of gossip that were going around .She listen without responding .Suddenly it occurred to me to tell her about Fadeyev’s treatment in the Kremlin hospital .

Some of his fellow writers fell before they had really started !Fadyev was one that Kadare studied with that did .

Well twilight of the gods is rather like the fall of stone city was and takes part of Kadare’s own life and fictionalized it .The time is 1958 and the young Kadare is in Moscow studying at the Maxim Gorky (this is a writers workshop like the well-known ones elsewhere ,but obviously with a twist they were wanting a soviet twist on the writers work ) ,when the news filters through that Boris Pasternak has won the Nobel prize ,earlier the young writer had been hand pages of this Banned  book ,why had he won this bog prize  .Why was this book of his banned ? Added to this is the writers at the Gorky ,the wanting of them to follow a style of Realistic writing ,one of the writers ,a French writer who was in love with the soviet system , Louis Aragon ,I have mention before as he championed Chingiz Aitmatov whose book Jamila I reviewed  another writer from the Maxim Gorky not at the same time but he wrote in the style they wanted a social realistic style .Then there is a growing tension between the writers own country Albania and the Soviet regime ,Hoxha the Albanian leader saw the soviets become to liberal .Then there is the last part of the book the city Kadare capture fifties Moscow so well where in some ways there is still a glimmer of light but behind closed door things are very different .

Even if she were to revert to her former friendliness ,to the particular variety of benevolence that most Russian babuskas exhibited towards foreign students ,I would never forgive her coldness she had shown me earlier .

I just has use this bit for the word Babuskas ,such a great word .

Now what can I say ,I  feel  Kadare is  a writer ,I can’t get enough of every time I read a book by him (Hence I tend to buy his one at a time every few years to ration them ) ,you feel he is one that had taken part of what he learned at Maxim Gorky ,but took it further this is realism ,but real realism ,the book originally came out in French in 1978 ,so he was critical while still in Albania and about one of the few regimes to still help Albania the Soviets ,brave moves indeed .Another way to view the book is a coming of age novel ,a writers coming of age surrounded by the cream of the writers in Soviet and soviet satellite regimes The young writer starts to see himself as a writer ,but also gather thoughts that he would later use in his books yes the is hints at thoughts ,ideas that he had since wrote about  in his novels .Although in his canon ,this is a minor book ,for any other writer this would be seen as a major book ,a writers coming of age written so well .Have you read Kadare ?


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 11:43:54

    I love everything this man has written, but I haven’t got this one yet so will be adding it to my TBR!


  2. hastanton
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 11:57:50

    I have this to read and can’t wait ! Love Kadare ….have visited Gjirokaster and heard the gurgling water cisterns he describes in Stone City ….amazing writer much overlooked here!


  3. Annabel (gaskella)
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 12:06:37

    I’ve never read him, but I couldn’t resist buying this book the other day. Looking forward to it.


  4. jim543
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 13:05:38

    Like you I “can’t get enough of ” Kadare – at least when I return to one of his novels. The Three-Arched Bridge is my favorite and I’ve also read The Pyramid. I have Agamemnon’s Daughter on my pile of books to be read. Your commentary has encouraged me to move it closer to the top.


  5. 1streading
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 14:35:40

    Looking forward to reading this, particularly after reading your review – I hadn’t really known anything about it beforehand.(though I would have got it anyway as I love his work – as do quite a few of us I see!)


  6. jacquiwine
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 14:56:07

    The only Kadare I’ve read is The Fall of the Stone City, but I do want to read more by this author. Good to see so many positive comments here.


  7. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 17:29:02

    This sounds wonderful and right up my street Stu – plus it’s translated by David Bellos who does the Georges Perec. Off to pop this on my wishlist….!


  8. roughghosts
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 17:39:41

    Another admirer here. I would be happy to see Kadare honoured by the Nobel.


  9. Anokatony
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 23:23:30

    Ismail Kadare is excellent as you say. I read ‘The Successor’ last year, and it was superb.


  10. Martha
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 02:18:41

    I really like Kadare. So far I’ve read Broken April, The Accident, and The Fall of the Stone City. I’d like to read some of his short stories.


  11. Col
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 09:28:51

    As you often do, you’ve broadened my reading horizon. I’d never heard of Kadare but bought this yesterday (sometimes I think I must live in a sterilised London bubble for I’ve never heard of 90% of the authors you read!) Still am glad you bust my bubble frequently and looking forward to this one.


  12. maphead
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 18:02:44

    I gotta read this! I enjoy Kadare and after reading The Zhivago Affair this would be the perfect follow-up read.
    Thanks for reviewing this!


  13. Max Cairnduff
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 14:12:01

    I don’t know this Kadare, so thanks Stu. The title’s interesting, the French seems to be Twilight of the Gods of the Steppes, which is similar to the English title but carries different connotations – particularly in the context of one of those countries the Mongols might actually have reached.


  14. Mytwostotinki
    Sep 11, 2014 @ 11:43:27

    Haven’t read this one yet, but I might give it a try soon. As I mentioned in a previous post, he is one of my favorite authors. Beside The General of the Dead Army, Broken April and The Palace of Dreams I read recently also the historical novel The Siege with much interest. Here is my review:


  15. Trackback: Twilight of Eastern gods by Ismail Kadare | cergat
  16. cergat
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 13:33:45

    Great author. I have read nearly all his work. I had to reblog this.


  17. Trackback: Winston’s books of the year | Winstonsdad's Blog
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September 2014


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