Sunday, 15 October 2017

Albania fulfils Robert Elsie’s wishes, to bury him in the north of the country

Albania fulfils Robert Elsie’s wishes, to bury him in the north of the country
 Dr Fatmir Terziu

Robert Elsie, a Canadian born-German scholar of Albanian literature and folklore, is being buried in Albania in accordance with his wishes.  Elsie died on 2 October of motor neuron disease in Bonn, Germany.  He was 67.  His coffin was brought to the National Library in Albania’s capital, Tirana, so people could pay their respects.  
The burial is scheduled for Wednesday in Theth, a village 105 miles north of Tirana.  
A Foreign Ministry statement says a formal ceremony the next day will “honour his commitment and dedication to our country, traditions and our language, heightening our national values, culture and identity.”
Robert Elsie’s links with Albania started in 1977, during communism, when few westerners were allowed to enter the country. He had won the right to come to the Academy of Sciences to do research and study about Albanian literature.  
In his interviews, he has always expressed that he wanted to retrieve material to design an Albanian English literature story, a missing act of the time. After the collapse of Communism in 1990, he was especially linked to Albanian culture, writing and folklore.
Born in Vancouver, Canada, Elsie studied linguistics at Bonn University in the 1980s.  He went on to write more than 60 books on Albanian studies from his frequent travels to Albania and Kosovo.  Elsie published anthologies and literary criticism, wrote books on Albanian folk culture and history, and translated many Albanian poems into English and German. 
One of his best-known translations is his translation into English of Gjergj Fishta’s literary epic, “The Highland Lute: The Albanian National Epic,” a work in thirty cantos.

Elsie also worked for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as an interpreter for the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and other detainees.  He has been active with the United Nations and other international organizations.  In 2013, then-Albania’s president awarded Elsie with the Medal of Gratitude for his contributions as a scholar, having for over 35 years focused and internationally promoted the “culture, language, literature and history of Albanians” alongside the “positive image of Albania in the world.”

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