By Dritëro Agolli
A new stage of creativity
I have in front a manuscript of the new book with short stories, "False Miracles", by Shefki Hysa. Before reading it, I thought I would find in it the same elements of narration style I used to find in his previous books, particularly in the book with short stories "The thief’s narrations". By that time, this book was the most distinguished one regarding the spirit of the real contemporary realism, embodying several problems and social ideas, characteristic for the time. I remember I was impressed by the fragment: "Babloku", extracted from the novel "The cursed paradise", which I would consider expressionistic, due to the deep emotional impressions felt after its reading.
While reading through the lines of "Babloku" an idea struck my mind: the writing process of Shefki Hysa is about to pass into a new stage! Anyhow, I was not very much convinced…
So, I started to read "False Miracles", without succeeding to get out of my mind "Babloku". Those elements, ready in embryo at the "False Miracles" were now about to bloom.
But what are these blooming buds? I think they are present in the mixture of fantastic and grotesque together with the allegory which conveys the idea indirectly. Let us take into consideration the short story "False Miracles", which is part of the book with the same title. Its idea is that no matter how beautiful and precious things are in themselves, if they do not serve the mankind, they are common like all the rest. The daydreaming hero enters the world of magic, in the arms of an enchanting girl with luxurious palaces and magical library. She is eager to have all these miracles, including love as well, all for herself and her lover. Here comes out the conflict. This is in a few words the content, which is revealed at the beginning in the psychoanalyst spirit:
"When he opened the eyes, he saw the sun caressing the wall in front. It was high time to get up but he did not want to leave the bed. He gasped and took his arms out of the sheets. He remembered that last night he puzzled his wits to change something in his life. To make something worthy, to the benefit of mankind, but still he was ruminating what.
He wanted to think it over again before taking the next step. He had all the time ahead until two o’clock in the afternoon, when he had to start the job at the old bus garage. He was a mechanical engineer.
He had to go through the same things lately: get up at eight, wander around to drive away the sleep, then to near at the old basin with his gritting teeth, comb the hair at the washed out mirror nailed against one of the wardrobe doors, get dressed and leave."
Such psychoanalysis is revealed bit by bit to depict the realistic-phantasmagorical character:
"He was perplexed in various thoughts, until he reached the corner of the road, that left behind the inhabited zone and could make out the high-school girl in her black school uniform and white collar, which stirred up in him the nostalgia of migratory birds, the swallows, maybe because she used to commute every day from town to village and vice versa. With his heart pounding, he slowed down the pace and waited she passed by him. He could feel in every cell of his body her approach and his heartbeat melted suddenly into her deer-like steps. He could hardly breathe in those moments, his back thrilled and his nape got sweaty. He could feel her troubled breath kissing his ears but did not dare to turn around. He could feel the inner voice urging to speak, but they have never greeted each-other so far."
So, bit by bit, portraying figuratively the character, the short story turns into a symbol. And while in this story we have to do with a symbol, in the other one "The donkeys" we come across the grotesque that whips the kingdom of inefficiency mingled with the cringe. The inefficient people, the donkeys, live happily thanks to the skilfulness of other people- the well-known formula of all the times. Even here the author doesn’t skip the psychoanalyses, the paradox together with the grotesque mixed together with the sarcasm and the contemporary satire. The metamorphoses elements remind us of Apuleiu’s novel, the famous Latin writer "Metamorphoses or the golden ass", which unfortunately is not translated yet into Albanian.
In his short story "The donkeys", the author writes:
"Strangely, every night he dreamt of himself turned into a donkey. Nevertheless, even though his being might enter the skin of that animal, he would never believe it. How could such a thing be believed? He was the number one of the Presidential staff… He was right after the President in rank. Everyone feared him more than His Excellency, the President himself. No! Rrapush could never be and would never turn into a four-footed despite that strange feeling that tormented him at nights and deepened him into the dream world, becoming a donkey…"
It is not the case to enter a minute analysis on the book "False miracles", because it would ask some time. That is why I mentioned only some short stories, typical of the actual level of the works of Shefki Hysa. But I cannot let without mentioning the unique short novel: "The village headman", which contests the greediness and voracity. I would say, the traits of the expressionism are more obvious than in any other short story, not leaving aside the paradox and grotesque or phantasmagoria, all mixed together in realism. The short story evokes figuratively the corruption and degeneration of the society through the unique cinematographic dynamics. Each word here is readable and transparent.
In these few lines, I would also like to mention "The magic" that belongs to the kind of short novels above, but differs in the anxiety it lets out and the fear not to become a written calamity.
"Oh, I know you would call me nuts, evocative, fascinated, raving into the infernal grounds of a scary dream, or whatever epithet you’d like to add, when I mention magic. Your job, nevertheless, or otherwise- the vivid fact, the outcome of its violence, is me. Looking closely at me, you would understand the transfiguration of my being. Hence, look at my unshaved skinny face, swollen and bloody nose and lips, pimpled and scabby cheekbones, shaggy, untidy, muddy hair, becoming scarce in the widened and creasing forehead because of the fear sheltered deep inside the skull, outlining more and more clearly. Just look at my numb and cold body! So… aren’t you feeling fear, pain, pity, disgust, taunt, or anything else, because of the way I look like? …."
As I mentioned above, the actual level of the writing process of the narrator Shefki Hysa is perceived by the expressionist traits. But permit us to say, very friendly that we would like to have this tendency hidden from time to time and not to come out strongly and open. It is clear that the early expressionism despite the tendency of the idea hidden in it, it was also distinguished for the pathos of "catastrophe and scream". The new expressionism should be different and I am convinced that Shefki Hysa is aware of that, because his stories are characterised by the national spirit and signs of the clever Cham spirit, always troubled and always in search to discover, because he knows well the book of life and that of library.
Transladed by: Dr. Haim Reitan