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Gjergj Fishta (pronounced [ɟɛɾɟ ˈfiʃta]; 23 October 1871 – 30 December 1940) was an Albanian franciscan friar, poet, educator, politician, rilindas, translator and writer. He is regarded as the national poet of Albania and one of the most influential Albanian writers of the 20th century for his epic masterpiece Lahuta e Malcís and the editor of two of the most autoritative magazines after Albania's independence, Posta e Shypniës (1916–1917) and founder of Hylli i Dritës (1913-).[1]

Gjergj Fishta

At Gjergj Fishta.jpg
Portrait of Gjergj Fishta
Born(1871-10-23)23 October 1871
Died30 December 1940(1940-12-30) (aged 69)
EducationCatholic theology
Signature of Gjergj Fishta

Notably being the chairman of the commission of the Congress of Monastir, which sanctioned the Albanian alphabet. He was part of the Albanian delegation to the Versaille Conference, 1919. In 1921 he was a member and became the deputy chairman of the Albanian parliament, later on in the '20s and the '30s he was among the most influential cultural and literary figures in Albania.[2] After the communist regime came to power, his literary oeuvre has been taken out of circulation, and it stayed so until the fall of communism.[3]


Early lifeEdit

Gjergj Fishta was born in Fishtë, of the Zadrima region, then Ottoman Empire, to Ndoka and Prenda Kaçi.[4] Baptised by the name Zef, the youngest of three brothers and one sister. The parish priest of Troshan, parish where Fishta was included, Marian Pizzochini of Palmanova, asked his parents to make him a friar. At the expense of the parishioner, Zef went to the Franciscan school in Shkodra until 1880, when Troshan's College began its activity.[5] He studied philosophy and Catholic theology in Bosnia (seminaries in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Franciscan monastery in Livno, Franciscan monastery in Kreševo), among Bosnian Croats.[6] In 1902, he became the head of the Franciscan college in Shkodër.[6][7] Fishta was under influence of Croatian Franciscan friars as a student in monasteries in Austria-Hungary, when he wrote his main work Lahuta e Malcís,[8] influenced by the national epics of the Croatian and Serbian literature according to Robert Elsie.[9] Dedicated to the commander Ali Pasha of Gusinje the work was an epic poem that consisted of 30 cantos focusing on the events of the League of Prizren, which had become a symbol of the Albanian national awakening.[10]

He interpreted Albania in the conference of Paris on 1919. From the beginning of April 1919 to 1920, he served as Secretary of the Albanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. At the end of 1920, he was elected to parliament by Shkodër, and in 1921 he became the Vice President of the Albanian parliament. In 1924, Fishta supported Fan Noli in his attempt to found a democratic system in Albania. After the establishment of the Zogu regime, Fishta left willingly to go into exile in Italy in 1925/26, before he resumed his position as teacher and writer in Shkodër, where he died in 1940.

Literary worksEdit

Architectural drawings created by Gjergj Fishta.

In 1899, Fishta, along with Preng Doçi and Ndre Mjeda founded the Shoqnia e bashkimit të gjuhës shqipe (Society for the Unity of the Albanian Language) literary society, usually known as the Shoqnia Bashkimi (The Union Society), or simply Bashkimi (The Union) of Shkodra for publishing Albanian language books.[11][12][13] In the late Ottoman period Fishta's publications included folk songs and a number of poems, which like other Albanian publications of the time often had to be published abroad and smuggled into the empire to avoid censorship.[14]

In 1907, Fishta wrote the satirical work The Wasps of Parnasus that critiqued Albanians of the time that placed individual interests over national ones and the intelligentsia who did not devote themselves to studying the Albanian language and showed disdain toward it.[8] As a representative of the Society for the Unity of the Albanian Language,[12] Fishta participated and was elected for president of the committee in the Congress of Monastir (today Bitola in North Macedonia, then Ottoman Empire) held in 1908.[15][16] Participants of the congress accepted Fishta's proposal for the Latin Bashkimi alphabet, and many of its elements were merged into the Istanbul alphabet resulting in the standard Albanian alphabet.[17][15][16] In 1916, he was core founder of the Albanian Literary Commission, where he unsuccessfully tried to place Shkodra subdialect as standard literary Albanian.

Through both his work as a teacher as well as through his literary works, Fishta had a great influence on the development of the written form of his native Gheg Albanian. Fishta worked also as a translator (of Molière, Manzoni, Homer, et al.).


Robert Elsie hypothesized that in Lahuta e Malcís, Fishta substituted the struggle against the Ottomans with a struggle against the Slavs,[18] after the recent massacres and expulsions of Albanians by their Slavic neighbours.[19] After the World War II the authorities in Yugoslavia and Albanian historiography controlled by communist regime in Tirana (influenced by Yugoslav communists) proscribed Fishta's works as anti-Slavic propaganda.[20]

According to Arshi Pipa, Fishta's satirical works are modulated after dhe bejtexhi tradition of Shkodra, which he elevated to a literary level.[21]


Awards in his lifetimeEdit

He was awarded with the Order of Franz Joseph from Austro-Hungarian Empire authorities, later on in 1925 with the Medaglia di Benemerenza by the Holy See. On 1931 by the Order of the Phoenix by Greece, and after the Italian invasion of Albania he was part of the Royal Academy of Italy.


In Soviet historiography he was referred to as "former agent of Austro-Hungarian imperialism" who took position against Slavic people and Pan-Slavism because they opposed "rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania" and had a role in Catholic Clergy's preparation "for Italian aggression against Albania".[22]


  • Lahuta e Malcís, epic poem, (Zara, 1902)
  • Anzat e Parnasit, satire, (Sarajevo, 1907)
  • Pika voese republished afterwards and retitled Vallja e Parrizit, (Zara, 1909)
  • Shqiptari i qytetnuem, melodrama, (1911)
  • Vëllaznia apo Shën Françesku i Assisi-t, (1912)
  • Juda Makabe, tragedy, (1914)
  • Gomari i Babatasit, (Shkodër, 1923)
  • Mrizi i Zanave, (Shkodër, 1924)
  • Lahuta e Malcís (2d. ed.), Gesamtdruck, (Shkodër 1937). In English The Highland Lute, trans. by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck. I. B. Tauris (2006) ISBN 1-84511-118-4


  • Maximilian Lambertz: Gjergj Fishta und das albanische Heldenepos "Lahuta e Malsisë" – Laute des Hochlandes. Eine Einführung in die albanische Sagenwelt. Leipzig 1949.



  1. ^ "Fishta, Giorgio". Treccani, Enciclopedia online. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  2. ^ Plasari, Aurel (1999). "Fishta meditans". Fishta: Estetikë dhe Kritikë. Tiranë: Hylli i Dritës & Shtëpia e Librit. p. 11. ISBN 9992764600.
  3. ^ Hamiti 2013, p. 13.
  4. ^ Kurti 2003, p. 123: "Georgius (P) Josephus Fishta, f. Antonii et Venerandae Kaçi, n. Fishtae, d. Sappatensis 23 Oct. 1871 [...]"
  5. ^ Bardhi 2010, pp. 21-28.
  6. ^ a b Pater Gjergj Fishta (1871–1940)
  7. ^ Skendi 1967, pp. 129-130.
  8. ^ a b Skendi 1967, p. 124-125, 331.
  9. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Fishta was not uninfluenced or unmoved by the literary achievements of the southern Slavs in the second half of the nineteenth century... the role played by Franciscan pater Grga Martic whose works served the young Fishta as a model... by the writings of an earlier Franciscan writer, Andrija Kacic-Miosic the works of Croatian poet Ivan Mazhuranic... the Montenegrin poet-prince Petar Petrovic Njegos... His main work, the epic poem, Lahuta e Malcís(The highland lute), ... propagates anti-Slavic feelings and makes the struggle against the Ottoman occupants secondary.
  10. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 62, 69.
  11. ^ Blendi Fevziu (1996), Histori e shtypit shqiptar 1848–1996, Shtëpia Botuese "Marin Barleti", p. 35, OCLC 40158801
  12. ^ a b Skendi 1967, p. 142.
  13. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 89.
  14. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 90.
  15. ^ a b Skendi 1967, pp. 370-373.
  16. ^ a b Gawrych 2006, pp. 165-166.
  17. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of Moscow, ...(March 1950): "the congress had elected Gjergj Fishta to preside over a committee... Sami Frashëri’s Istanbul alphabet which, though impractical for printing... a new Latin alphabet almost identical to Fishta’s Bashkimi alphabet...".
  18. ^ Detrez, Raymond; Plas, Pieter (2005), Developing cultural identity in the Balkans: convergence vs divergence, Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang S.A., p. 220, ISBN 90-5201-297-0, ... substitution of the central motif of the fight against the Turks by that of the fight against Slavs.
  19. ^ Ernesto Koliqi; Nazmi Rrahmani (2003). Vepra. Shtëpía Botuese Faik Konica. p. 183.
  20. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. After the war, ... The official Tirana..., restricted its treatment of Fishta to an absolute minimum...the alleged anti-Slavic sentiments expressed in ‘The highland lute’ which caused the work and its author to be proscribed by the Yugoslav authorities,...‘The highland lute’ as anti-Slavic propaganda...
  21. ^ Pipa 1978, pp. 146-147
  22. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on April 5, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of Moscow, ...(March 1950): "The literary activities of the Catholic priest Gjergj Fishta reflect the role played by the Catholic clergy in preparing for Italian aggression against Albania. As a former agent of Austro-Hungarian imperialism, Fishta, ..., took a position against the Slavic peoples who opposed the rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania. In his chauvinistic, anti-Slavic poem ‘The highland lute,’ this spy extolled the hostility of the Albanians towards the Slavic peoples, calling for an open fight against the Slavs."


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