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Robert Elsie

Albanian Literature | Classical

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Excerpt from the novel "WHY!?"

    It is better to be ruled by an inanimate yet visible object than by philosophy which is invisible! It is better to become a murderer with a rifle than by thoughts. Only a few people are killed with a rifle whereas thousands are killed by thoughts. I know that books have alienated me from life and that philosophy has caused me to lose my feelings as a human being. Love was not born for me, nothing was created for me! I was born superfluous in this world; I sat down to the dinner table by mistake. Having wished so desperately to right some of the wrongs of man, I find myself with no one close to me in this world. I am not even close to myself. I am like a reed floating in the middle of the ocean and shall soon sink to the very bottom of the sea. And I must drown, for though alive, I am as if dead. It is all the same to me... No one should pardon me for that which the world calls sin, for I pardon no one, especially not the philosophers. As for my body after death, I am a Diogenes. Let it rot where it collapses; let it be devoured by the first wild beasts that find it. But if mankind cannot endure such a thing and insists on burying me, then I have one wish. Let them bury me in a lonely spot, surrounded by thorns and thistles, without a tear or a lament, without offerings or mourning clothes, because for me:

    A world of nothing, from nothing for nothing,
    revolves around the essence of nothing!’

The villagers buried their only intellectual with due respect, but in a lonely spot - at the top of a hill overlooking the village where the gentle breezes blow from all directions. In the shade of a wild rose lies the young man’s simple grave. On it there is no name, no date or sign. All that is inscribed are his last words:

    A world of nothing, from nothing for nothing,
    revolves around the essence of nothing!
    A young man on the path of the philosophers.

[Nga jetë në jetë - Pse!?, Korça: Drita 1935, translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie, and first published in English in History of Albanian literature, New York, vol. 1, p. 476-477]