- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (3 Aug. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099497190
- ISBN-13: 978-0099497196
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 622,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The File On H Paperback – 3 Aug 2006
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"Witty and touching. It consolidates Kadare's reputation as one of the finest writers to emerge from communist Europe" (Sunday Times)
"Eloquent, engaging and poignant" (Irish Times)
"A wicked and amusing satire of provincial life...it is also an elegiac celebration of the power of poetry" (Times Literary Supplement)
"Funny, strange, and melancholy" (Guardian)
"Knife-sharp satire...originality shines through" (The Times)
A haunting yet humorous evocation of a society dangerously trapped in its past.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel, written in 1981, contains satire on pretensions among the local bourgeoisie, on the 'backwardness' of Albania in general and on its then-pervasive culture of informers, as well as some heavier humour of the frustrated-wife type. Some of it's written as the elaborately-conceited reports of one of the spies, a joke that got tiresome to me. There are interesting thoughts about orality and epic, despite lots of static scenes with characters thinking the same things they've thought before, and a rather thin plot. It seems to have been translated from Albanian via French, and now and then ('she had had an adventure with one of them') I thought I could detect this. But I liked its unusual setting, and the poignancy of its wider subject - the final, slow death of the earliest kind of European literature - really comes across.
Somewhat wacky hijinks ensue, as the governor's wife dreams of a romantic assignation with one of the researchers, and Dull's reports grow more and more darkly comic. Originally written in 1981, the book is eerily prescient with regard to contemporary nationalist Balkan politics, as a wandering Serbian monk enters the story, takes umbrage that the researchers are not interested in Serbian epics, and stirs up trouble for them. At the same time, the theme of paranoia and emphasis on the rivalry between various informers is itself a satire on the grim nature of Communist Albania under the Hoxhas. Amidst all this, Kadare is also trying to say something about the elusive nature of art and historical memory. The overall effect is a little muddled, but not unenjoyable.
Note: The novel grew out of Kadare's 1970 meeting in the with Albert Lord, a notable scholar of oral epics who told Kadare of his travels in the former Yugoslavia as the assistant to Milman Parry during 1933-35.Read more ›
One of those that will stick with you for weeks after reading, both thanks to the haunting atmosphere, the colourful characters and the intellectual resonance.
It's probably the most straightforward of Kadare's novels and yet within lies layers that will have you teasing out ideas for a long time afterwards.
Almost every character ends up disappointed yet this is not a depressing book, rather it's told with sly wit and an awareness of the human character.
I raced through it in a weekend and have since reread it twice.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
'She picked up the telephone under her customary cloud of melancholy'
You really need to get right to the end of this novella-length yarn to get the point. Read more