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Robert Elsie
Albanian Literature

Albanian Authors








The literary significance of the poetic works of Zef Zorba (1920-1993) was only discovered after his death in January 1993. He has since joined the ranks of the great classics of Albanian poetry stifled by the communist regime.

Zef Zorba was born in Kotor in Montenegro of an Albanian family. He finished secondary school in Shkodra and studied political science at the University of Padua, beginning in1941. The events of the Second World War forced him to abandon his university education and to return to his native Shkodra in 1943, where he worked initially for a bank. From 1945-1946, he served as director of the House of Culture in Shkodra where he was responsible for the staging of plays which would soon be regarded as a threat to the new communist authorities, Juda Makabe by the proscribed Gjergj Fishta, and Henrik Ibsen's En Folkefiende (Enemy of the People). It is perhaps for this reason that he was arrested in 1946 and charged with "agitation and propaganda." Zorba spent the following years in labour and "re-education" camps until his release in 1951. He thereafter kept a low profile and worked as a modest bookkeeper for the Shkodra district administration until his retirement in 1980. Zef Zorba is the author of poetry, plays, libretti, essays and studies. Of his literary works, only one volume has been published, the thin, but much appreciated collection Buzë të ngrira në gaz, Tirana 1994 (Lips Frozen in Joy).