The famous writer Shefki Hysa, in a mature age and with a rich artistic experience, also the author of the novel “Cursed Paradise”, a very suggestive title, for reader’s curiosity has passed a difficult Calvary in his creativity during communist dominance till the democratic wind showed his talent and the ability that prove a pile of books in prose like novels and poetic stories. For this prose writer, the pledge was the biographical “rash” which for many writers or ordinary people was made like a strong and insurmountable barrier in that time. Thus, for every real writer, during the communist dictatorship period, it was difficult to display the spiritual treasure seethed in his soul, not to say then that writers like Shefki Hysa with biographical tracks, despite the values and special character that is characteristic for his individuality and his artistic creativity.
Before reading the novel “The cursed paradise”, every person should know that the novel’s author or precisely an artist who the whole life has had a lot of sufferings and innumerable hardships because of his “rash” biography, has had not only disdain and cruel hate but also a big rancor boiling in his soul for that hinterland period. Precisely this complex of feelings that swirl his consciousness, the author has poured in special artistic size in his novel “The cursed paradise”. To make something like this, the writer Shefki Hysa has been helped by some artistic tools which are conspicuous in the novel like the landscape, subtext, the grotesque in the display of some characters, irony, sarcasm etc.
In appearance, the work is distinguished for a simple composition, that falls in a straight-line way, with short chapters intertwined with each-other and as a “mosaic” unfold the subject, events, the environment where they happen and the numerous characters. But in the narration technique to hold a vast amount of vital material in the compositional structure, the author has used a hit discovery alternating in the following short chapters, sometimes the narration in the 3rd person, thus the narration of the author, and sometimes the narration in the 1st person, the narration of the hero of the novel, Jackie Vilez. This technique of narration not only has it widen the prescription spaces of the novel but also has strengthen the psychology in the characters’ individuality and in the discovery of the characters that are incarnated in it.
Not wanting to erase the reader’s curiosity, we are mentioning shortly some elements of the subject. The events of the novel happen in a far northern country, exactly in a miners’ town where for biographical causes, the hero of the novel, the writer and the talented journalist Jackie Vileza has been sent as a teacher. There he knew different kind of people, good and bad, from the waiter Gjuran to Dad, the most negative, hated and despised character of the work. The boy also knew many girls and with one of them, his student, orphan Rozafa, he fell in love but this strong feeling at the end of the novel had a tragic ending that showed one of the main message of the work that the tragedy in “The cursed paradise” environment was the only accompany of life. And indeed the novel begins with tragedy, the funeral of a miner who is murdered underground and it also ends with tragedy under the background of a livid nature, often with rain that only entice black. This landscape provided skillfully by the author through the brush strokes become affected and highly susceptible to the reader, from the first page to the last page of the novel.
Because of inspiration and deep knowledge of life, qualities of Shefki Hysa’s novel, even a simple reader understands that the author has used many elements of his biography and personal life in his work. This is true. But, as in any artistic work, even Shefki Hysa in his novel has not remained a prisoner of historical truth, but, giving wings to his creative imagination has managed to successfully publish one of his most realized books. The artistic level of the novel is shown up not only in the reflection with realism and vital truthfully of contemporary reality, in the artistic analysis of a rich, dense and complex problematic of this reality, but especially in the poetics of the novel form: in drawing the characters, the appearance of the environment where they operate, in varied tools and numerous tropes used to detect them as living in the eye of the reader, especially of the magic that sometimes dominates the real one. Thus, through the artistic reality of the work often blow the winds of a trend that recalls elements of a magical realism as in Markes’ works. With a laconic style, sometimes as a poetic prose, and sometimes even the color of fiction, today’s contemporary prose characteristic, the writer Hysa Shefki gives us artistic figures in the novel and a vivid and grim environment of life and the hard work in the town of miners, who remain in mind.
The brunt of the problem and the message of the novel the reader finds in his hero Jackie Vilëza. Imagine, dear reader, a young man who has begun to make his name with his writings, full of dreams for the future to have a career due to the talent and professional skills, to be sent in a remote and lost corner, where people struggle in misery and poverty for reasons that today, especially for young people, sounds absurd, but for that moldy time were strongly “important”. The figure of the work’s hero which is equivalent to the author himself, he has drawn with realism and nostalgia for lost youth and unfulfilled dreams. The lines of this figure are bold as in outer portrait, and in spiritual qualities. A noble attractive boy, loving and honest, strong character, with special worship to life and people, sensitive artist soul, honest to blindness, brave and defiant of reality to his beloved country, these are more or less the boundaries where the hero’s spiritual world is. Jackie Vilëza coming from the south where the soft Ionian breezes blow, finds in that remote northern town, more winter and frost, wonderful people and friends as Gjurani, headmaster, Jim and his wife, Najada, he knew his girlfriend, brilliant girl, Rozafa, who wanted to get married, but the “iron hand” of the black monsters of that time who felt the pleasure of the misfortunes of the others, did not allow. On the other hand, Jackie is also known with such monsters like Dad, who made the cruel law in the province, with ignorants as Dudumi, with degenerated women of the conceited and perverted life as Demona or as Diella, whose eyes were filled by the fabulous and full of discreet luxury of Dad, so she falls in his lap.
The gallery of characters of the novel is rich. The author has managed, that through various artistic means to individualize each one. Now, after so many years, with an enviable background and experience in artistic craftsmanship, which prevails even in his earlier works, he has made such figures as Dad, the real monster, which in my opinion, they are uncommon in Albanian literature nowadays.
No wonder the author puts into focus of artistic analysis the figure of Dad after several chapters of the novel. This finding remembers and adapts with Uriah Hipin of Dikens, who the author confront with the reader after the first chapters of “David Copperfield”. In “The Cursed Paradise”, after he is shown, Dad is put at the epicenter of the rest part of the novel. Look with what lines the portrait of this man-monster is given:
“He was surprised even with the unusual breathing of Dad. Simultaneously vents by the nose and of a valves mounted in the throat, some deep outburst: çuf çuf-of-çuf çuf as to imitate a steam locomotive. It was said that once he was defamed in the throat a cancerous cyst, which damaged the chords of the voice and made his breathing difficult. After the operation, down the neck, apparently, had mounted a valve, as an extra nose to improve breathing process. And valves vent rhythmically and provoke curiosity. Dad, unable to speak freely with his voice, expressed by gesture. He carried around a suite that served him and simultaneously decode the gestures for the interlocutors.
Facial mimics, head and hands movements were now become a code books which were read by the servants. Dad behaved cruelty with his suite. He treated his most loyal helpers and advisers as his stooge. He behaved indifferently towards the brave one, his royal guard as he called those who saved his life. He liked to rule as a king and in fact he became “pigmy king”.
There was said he did not respect any authority over himself. He also behaved contemptible even with those over him, the courtier of Pari. Sometimes he also used to shout with caress to Pari…”
The given of this dirt picture so truthfully through a description so much ridicule, and grotesque that symbolize violence, insult, misery or precisely “The swingle and the rammer” of the dictatorship” is made with a special subtext and rancor which is the rancor of ordinary noble people of that time, who were at their 99th, tried unprecedented misery, inhuman disasters, the wounds that still bleed of that monstrous system which made that the baby in the womb shake. For this system and its crawlers, the murders of those miners in the mine were common, the massacre of Albani and Rozafa, non-personalization of Zudiu, Demona, Diella etc. Thus, this was the reality of that hinterland period that the author with irony and sarcasm has called “The Cursed Paradise”. Judging from the artistic values of this novel, we can say that the talented writer Shefki Hysa has made a real autopsy of this “paradise”, this “communist gulag” in this work, whose track and wounds will eternally remain outstanding.
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