Dritero Agolli, writer, publicist, social activist, member of Albanian Science Academy was born in Menkulas, Devoll. The first education was received in his fatherland and finished high school in “Asim Zeneli” school, in Gjirokastra, when he also firstly started to write poetry. In 1952-1957 he studied in the Literature University of Leningrad. In 1957-1972 he worked as an editor and journalist at the daily newspaper Zëri i Popullit (English: The People’s Voice). In 1973-1992 he was head of the Albanian League of Writers and Artists. Dritero Agolli is one of the central figures of the Albanian poetry and one of the most important representatives of the 1960’ generation.
Critic towards the traditionalist credo and the rhetorical patriotism, Agolli brought in the Albanian poetry a fresh sensibility and figuration, by giving rebirth to the Albanian verse system. He is the messenger of the strong “ego” poems. The tendency to the self-avowal was evident since his first book “I went out on the street” 1958, but it became clearer in the poems “Devoll-Devoll” and “Poem for my father and me”. The poetry of Agolli is not unraveling the general from the personal; it makes the synthesis of the collective with the individual. Agolli has conserved the best from the values of the traditional poetry – the people’s spirit. He created a new variety of verses, following Naim Frasheri, and aiming to the novelty. The path to his escalating poetical growth is expressed through the books:
My steps on the pavement - 1961, Mountain paths and sidewalks – 1965, Devoll Devoll – 1968, Fathers – 1969, Mother Albania – 1974, The word engraves the rock – 1977, I travel thoughtful – 1985, The late pilgrim – 1993, The time beggar – 1995, Midnight notebook – 1999. Agolli revealed a personal imagination on the “great theme”, seeking the poetic immensity by experiencing the common ordinary subjects; by expanding the reality space in the poetry and by modifying radically the relationship between them. This poetry influenced in general into a mild poetry atmosphere in Albania. The poetic creativity of Agolli in its core is lyric-epical, different from the traditional one, which was mainly founded in the epical glory. Agolli displaced the Albanian poetry from the general inquietude to the personal/human concern. His poetry is surrounded by the cult of the motherland, the earth, the bread, the plough, the family, the parent, the father. The poetry is invaded by the living world, the animation of the environment, the sanctification of nature, of the field and of the cattle. This feature of his poetry shows traces of Bektashi pantheist mentality.
The most important idealizing work and at a time the most committed one is the poem “Nëna Shqipëri”. During his more than half century creative work, D.A. is the poet of human pain and life philosophy. Being attentive to the people’s biggest dramas, he became the poet of the human’s inner pains. D.A. saw a poetic revival in the last two decades. With the poetry books “The belated pilgrim”, “The time beggar ”, “Midnight notebook”, the author launches his new mastery challenge. In these books is displayed the poet with a shocked ideal, who has to find value and meaning of his life and of the generation he represents in the conditions of the big society strokes and vital changes of the track to his future. In its wholeness, the poetry of D.A. does not have inflections that connect to such changes. It is a poetry about the values and people’s troubles, poetry of pride and drama, of sublimation and stroke, and of the interwoven subtle poetic shapes. D.A. faced with dignity the challenge to give freedom its deserved value.
The most ancient work in prose is the “The noise of winds of the past”, 1964, which was not welcomed by the official critics, and was taken out of circulation (1965). These novels, part of which was republished by the 1980 in the Book “Insane People”, are filled with untypical characters. The heroes are represented together with their own flows, by avoiding the scheme of the typical positive hero.
The novel “Commissar Memo” 1970 is the most committed work in prose. The author poeticizes the “commissar’s time”, which was part Antifascist war cult, and for a longtime invaded the Albanian literature. The most complete figure of the novel is Commandant Rapo, which is part of the “Insane People” of the entire literature of D.A. In the novel “Man with Canon”, 1975, he discovered another relationship, totally different from the “General of the dead Army” of Kadare, concerning the relationship of Albanian man and the weapons. Lord and hostage of the weapon, fascinated and addicted to it, the main character does incredible, wonderful and insane things. Even if the novel has a war theme its dramatic core remains in the universal fact that the moral of a given generation is overcoming the moral of the previous generation.
The novel “Rose in the glass” 1980, was expected with disdain from the literature criticism as an “rose novel”. With this work, Agolli was attempting to make another challenge in literature, by creating a character whose drama is being between many loves at a time. The most important contribution in prose remains “The splendor and fall of comrade Zylo” 1973. Is the chronicle of the inglorious carrier of an official employ, and in meantime the mirror of the position of its subordinate. As the product of one-another, the main characters, Zylo and Demka, as in most of the satirical works, are reflecting the dramatic and the at a time the ridiculous side of the bureaucratic functioning. Zylo is an unlucky figure, where the good intentions, loss of the reality sense, and the truth measure are merging.
Unlike other bureaucratic schematics that have inundated the Albanian literature and journalism, Zylo is a bureaucrat with a drama. In the focus of this work, as well as in the novel “Devil’s Arch”, remains the anti-schematization. Agolli started to write “Devils Arch” in the beginning of the ‘80, and completed by the ‘90. In meantime in the Albanian life, freedom has started to have another meaning. The novel faced the new horizon of waiting. The Devil’s Arch, is a work written with carelessness about the discipline. The work is an evidence that the highest personalities of the Albanian literature were much freer than their creative methods. D.A, by placing in the center of his novel the seeking of a taboo, by demanding the prohibited, is revealed with a thinking dimension which is above the state freedom. The writer attains a high level of freedom through the “novel within the novel”, with the “Devil’s Arch”, where the prohibited work is found. This is called “the prohibited joke”, title which recalls the well-known novel of the dissident writer Kundera, “The Joke”.
In this stage of the creative liberty Agolli achieves a work without censure or auto-censure. Several of the most outstanding works of Agolli have been under the ideological attention of the official authorities. The novel “The splendor and fall of comrade Zylo”, has been published in fragments in the Hosteni Magazine (the Goad), until suddenly the publication silently stopped (in 1990, the Author published the integral version of the work”. Under the “ideological offense” mark, the two plays “The white age” and the “Second face” were also criticized. Instead, for the novel “the Looser” which brought to the reader drama and reality, silence was kept. A large number of his works are translated into many languages.
Agolli was also a deputy in the Albanian Parliament for several legislatures from 1974 to 2005.
He has received the Prize of the Republic of the First Class and is awarded with the “Honor of the Country” Order.
Shaban Sinani – Enciclopedia Shqiptare