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General of the Dead Army Paperback – 21 Sep 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press; New edition edition (21 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860466443
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860466441
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The General of the Dead Army, Ismail Kadare's meditation on the consequences of war, is a hugely moving account of duty and loss. It is 20 years since the end of the Second World War and an Italian army general is sent to Albania to search again for the bodies of those who lost their lives in the campaign. He is armed with maps, lists, measurements, dental and other records. He tours the countryside organising digs and disinternments and, as he tries to find the dead sons of forgotten families, he wonders at the sense, and scale, of his task. He discusses and argues with the curt Italian priest who is accompanying him. He finds his footsteps followed, sometimes anticipated, by a fellow general who is also looking for bodies; the bodies of his German countrymen. He struggles with the Albanian countryside, weather, labourers who work for him and peasants who watch their work. And he fights the despair that grows as the size, scope and, ultimately, the hopelessness of his task becomes ever more apparent.

Kadare's plaintive novel is a consistently heartfelt lament to all those who have died and been effected by war but it is also a beautiful work displaying the skills that make him one of the great modern European writers. --Mark Thwaite

Review

Kadare is a novelist of dazzling mastery -- PAUL BINDING, Independent

Kadare’s first novel caught on in the West as nothing out of Albania had in living memory -- Observer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Johan Klovsjö on 12 Feb 2006
Format: Paperback
Kadaré's book takes us on a journey through the Albanian landscape, and through the mind of an Italian general, who has come to Albania to collect the remains of his country's soldier from the second world war. This plot allows for a lot of deep thoughts and emotions, which Kadaré examines properly. Through glimpses into the minds of Italian soldiers during the war he also delivers comments on the pointlessness of war, the loss of identity, and many other topics which could have been explored more. But that is left to the reader, and the philosophical reader may remain with these questions at hand long after finishing the book. A very moving book, and an author I simply must explore further.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andy Barrow on 7 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
I read the Quartet Books edition of this book which has a preface by David Smiley, an SOE operative in Albania during WW2. He usefully points out where Kadare's text glosses over the complexities of the war in Albania. Invaded in 1939 by the Italians, possibly as a springboard to invade Greece, it was later (when the Italians had been thrown back into Albania) simultaneously occupied by the Germans, a situation made even more complex when Italy capitulated and joined the Allies in the summer of 1943. Both before and after the Italian volte face the various factions (collaborators, monarchists, Communists, partisans, SOE operatives) waged a confusing war in unforgiving terrain. That said, Kadare was writing under difficult circumstances, and the book is gripping. Written between 1962-1966 it is a bleak picture of the futility of war. Since 1994 I have visited Albania a number of times, both independently and with guided tours, and I find the country fascinating. TGOTDA was my first Kadare novel; it won't be my last.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. E. M. Goulder on 21 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ismail Kadare (emphasis on the last syllable for both names) rightly has been repeatedly on the short list to win the Nobel Prize for the whole body of his writing. At the time he was publishing his major works, he did so in painful fear of the demented regime which controlled his native Albania from 1948 until 1985, and each work contains one or another aspect where the repressive nature of the regime is conducting a tacit struggle with this courageous author as to what could be said without triggering a dire reprisal.
I have travelled Albania extensively, both before and since reading this book (four visits in all), and I emerge with a huge enthusiasm for both country and author. The former is at risk of succumbing to commercial pressures - go there quickly before too much of the landscape suffers - but the works of Kadare should endure. This volume is an extrordinary idea, compellingly told. If you read it with half your mind on the regime that ultimately (but obliquely) is being depicted, you will surely end up being very impressed.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
Kadare, in my opinion, is one of the greats in literature. This story is a classic example of deep meaning intertwined in the simple story of a general gathering his dead comrades from the mountains of Albania. Few can match the subtle messages Kadare gives in his storie. Well done.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By I. P. Hale on 17 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let it not be misunderstood by the title of this review that I wish to condemn all the other featured reviews as unbalanced. Instead, I am only trying to deflect the attention of the reader away from certain notorious stereotypes which one-star reviews have earned themselves (culminating in the cretin who alleged Shakespeare had stolen his plot lines from certain Hollywood blockbusters). I am not said cretin, and my whole purpose in writing this review is to, in a way, justify the other reviews I have contributed to Amazon. When people ask me what my least favourite book is, I invariably answer "Ismail Kadare's 'The General of the Dead Army.'" The usual responses to this statement are: "Who's he?"; "What made you want to read that?"; "What was so bad about it?" or "No, but what was your least favourite book which I HAVE heard of?" With the omission of the final question, I shall attempt to relate my usual response in this review, albeit in a far more prosaic and self-important manner.

I decided to read 'The General of the Dead Army' as a part of my ever expanding obscure reading program. This has so far led me to read ancient Chinese poetry, pithy American travelogues and perhaps most rewardingly Ferdinand Ossendowsi's excellent "Beasts, Men and Gods." More specifically, I sought a book which I could take with me on a holiday to the Greek Adriatic coast, and fell upon Kadare through some chance so trivial I have completely forgotten it.

Firstly the language. It is awful. Before I decry the author, I should point out that I am reading the Derek Coltman translation for Vintage, and Mr. Coltman is quite probably the source of many of the novel's appalling phrases.
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