November 12, 2017

LITERATURE AND ARTS TOWARDS A NEW QUALITATIVE LEAP

»Albania today« Nr. 2/1983.

LITERATURE AND ARTS TOWARDS A NEW QUALITATIVE LEAP

by Dritëro Agolli

Chairman of the League of Writers and Artists of Albania

Socialism and its reflection in art
enliven and refresh the cells of literary artistic creation


OUR LITERATURE AND ARTS HAVE BECOME AN IMPORTANT FACTOR OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE BECAUSE THEY HAVE FOCUSSED ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE PEOPLE, THEIR HISTORY, THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, THE DAY-TO-DAY WORK AND PROBLEMS AND THE BATTLE FOR THE TRIUMPH OF THE IDEALS OF COMMUNISM. THEY PLAY NOW A GREAT ROLE IN THE FORMATION OF THE WORLD OUTLOOK OF PEOPLE, THE ENRICHMENT OF THEIR SPIRITUAL WORLD AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL OPINION. PROCEEDING FROM THEIR ROLE IN SOCIETY, AS THEY TREAT CARDINAL PROBLEMS OF SOCIALISM, WE ALSO SPEAK OF CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE AND ART, THE GREAT VALUES WHICH SOCIALISM, ON ITS ROAD OF CONSTRUCTION, HAS CREATED. THEREFORE, AT ITS 8TH CONGRESS THE PARTY OF LABOUR OF ALBANIA MADE A HIGH ASSESSMENT OF LITERATURE AND ART, OPENED UP BROAD HORIZONS AND SET IMPORTANT TASKS TO ALL THE CREATIVE FORCES OF THE COUNTRY.


This assessment is based on the reality of the artistic and literary creations of recent years and their process of development. They have some features which distinguish them from those of the previous periods. Among them we can mention:

The enrichment of art in content and form, which results from the strengthening of the socialist spirit, is a process which must be further deepened. The socialist spirit is felt in the broader reflection of presentday life, as a consequence of the ever growing interest of the creative forces in the great variety of themes and problems presented by the socialist reality. This spirit is also seen in the works of art treating problems from the historical past and the National Liberation War.

Another feature is that a more correct ratio has been established between themes from life in socialist society and the historical past, although some problems still remain in this field. However, it must be said that life, its acute problems, the uplift of the cultural level of people, the all-round development of their personality and the extension of the frontiers of their knowledge exercise a powerful pressure on artistic creativeness which must turn its attention more towards life and establish a more correct ratio between themes from the present and from earlier history.

An important feature is that the literary and artistic activity has assumed extensive development in all its kinds and genres: literature, cinematography, theatre, figurative arts, music and choreography. Let us take an example from literature. From the year 1976 to the end of 1980 we have seen 996 titles, published, of which 128 novels. The League of Writers and Artists has swelled its ranks to include 1,500 members and candidate members, apart from hundreds of new talent and thousands of amateurs. An activity of such unprecedented proportions is bound to yield valuable works that enrich the treasury of literature and art.

In the field of more recent creativeness worth mentioning is the ever growing preoccupation of the writers and artists about their own ideological, aesthetic and cultural formation. This the creativeness of each of them. In their creative process they have thrashed out problems of art content and form, discussed principles and methods of the developing socialist revolution. Some questions of the deepening of the socialist spirit and national originality are treated far more extensively than several years before and the cultural and professional level of writers and artists is in constant rise. From a rapid excursion into the literature and art of the recent period we notice undeniable achievements which make us optimistic about the perspective of artistic production. However, considering literature and the arts from the heights of the 8th Congress of the Party, we find ourselves faced with many problems, the correct solution of which will quicken the transition to a new qualitative leap in literary and artistic activity.


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The demands of our society for higher quality in literature and art are not unattainable, abstract ones. Quality is not the result of a simple addition of expression means used in the process of creation, but the result of a whole development connected with the world outlook of the writer or artist, his truthful, though artistic, reflection of the essence of the life of the people in socialist society and in the historical past. When we lay the stress on a more complete reflection of life, this means that we have to go deeper into it, because it is precisely in the great socialist reality that phenomena and problems are more acute and their reflection calls for a high artistic level in literature and the arts. We live in the socialist reality and when we see it reflected in art, we immediately feel both the beaty of the artistic work and its faults. Conversely, in a book reflecting the past, the reader does not notice its faults so easily, since he is attracted by the plot, by what is romantic and exotic in it. On the other hand, in reflecting the past we have gained an experience from both national and international sources. Here come into play our great teachers, the classics, with their works. The reflection of the past lacks the acute problems of the present reality in which we live and with which we are confronted every day. In the works treating problems of the presentday reality there is the invariable difficulty of coping with a complex reality, with complex phenomena which demand an allround ideological, cultural and aesthetic formation.

True art is tendentious, since without being tendentious the artist cannot defend his views and fight for his lofty aims. Engels is quite outspoken about the problem of tendentious ness. Speaking in favour of this feature of progressive art, he says: »I think that tendentiousness should emanate from the milieu and from action, that we must not overstress it, and that the writer is not compelled to provide the reader with readymade historical solutions to the social conflicts which he depicts.« [10]

Cut and dried treatments of problems have overdoses of tendentiousness, expressed through pompous-sounding phrases. The use of pompous phrases necessarily demands the squeezing of all ideas and principles of a manifesto in to one work, however small it may be. A manifestation of schemtic phraseologism is the polishing and embellishment of the reality, the idealization of the hero and the milieu. Schematism is sometimes responsible for the harm caused to generally positive works of writers of talent an literary experience, preventing them from going to the end of the conflict or leading them to shifting the main stress from the principal to the trivial.

Our literature and arts, in the first place, point out the new phenomena in life, but they also stigmatize everything which inhibits their development; they exalt the bold builders of socialism, the working people, the peasants and the intellectuals: the main place in them is occupied by the positive hero while enemies, traitors, scribblers, creepers and individualists are made the target of stern criticism. Our society is strong, and with the struggle it wages against every difficulty and inhibiting phenomena it becomes even more so. The atmosphere in our society is so healthy that even the extreme individualist finds it hard to act freely. One of the missions of socialist arts is to educate moral fortitude, therefore it finds such heroes as try to live up to their own ideals. Such heroes may even look unsensational, unglamorous. We have works which reflect such heroes. The main tendency in such works is: the ordinary man harbors in himself lofty moral virtues, which, when revealed in dramatic moments, shine in all their human splendour.

Today even the greatest artist must develop and enrich his means of expression, otherwise time, discards him. This development of structures and forms we see from the vantage point of Marxist-Leninist aesthetics, without separating it from its content. Marx says: »Form is devoid of all value if it is not the form of the content.« [11] The new does not lie in the form, but in the personality of the artist, in his world outlook. This personality and outlook can make form advance and break off with routine.

These, in turn, have to do with artistic skill, without which literarism and schematism cannot be combat through to the end. »To take up the theme of the day, to write about the positive hero, the socialist reality, etc is not enough. This alone, without artistic skill, cannot arouse emotion, cannot educate on inspire you for the present and the future.« [12]

I want to stress that we must make more efforts in this direction, aware that any superficial reflection of life in socialist society is a hangover of the past and as such is alien to the method of socialist realism.

A more thorough reflection of the socialist society requires from writers and artists a more comprehensive understanding of the themes of present times. The theme of the day in our literature and arts has two broad aspects: that which reflects the National Liberation War and that which reflects the period of the socialist construction of the country. These two aspects constitute one single theme, completing each other, and being treated with growing maturity in our literature and arts. Sometimes by actual themes peoples understand themes of the day or the moment, day-to-day events and momentary achievements of individuals of collectives. Actual themes are something else. They are major events in the life of society, events which form the background of major moments. Art is the generalization of events and the destiny of man in dramatic and important moments of history. It portrays our time, our hard struggle and work, the great transformations of our society, our socialist advance in town and countryside. First and formost, it exalts man. Our literature and arts have now gained a rich experience in the reflection of the man of our time, the man of the socialist ideals. Even though our literature and arts have made a great contribution to the reflection of the man of our time, of his work in the construction of the new society, even though they have reflected the great epoch of socialism, [there] are still many shortcomings in the observation of the processes of development of socialism and the new phenomena of life. In many cases they treat only the simpler processes of development, the day-to-day manifestations of life, without going deeper into them, therefore there must be an extension of the gamut of themes in literature and the arts so that they comprehend with greater depth and variety all our socialist life. Compared with the rates of transformation of society and the psychology of people, artistic creativeness, as an ideological and aesthetic phenomenon, lags behind, if it fails to take account of life which changes rapidly. Our literature and arts will make a qualitative leap only if they find their nourishment in real life. This will ensure them a broader range of themes. Here lies the special importance of contemporary themes for literature and the arts in the present stage of the development of our society.

Phsychological insights is imperative especially for the works of prose and drama, which reflect the emergence and growth of the new man. In poetry, a more profound content will relieve it more and more of rhetorical and declamatory elements, while reaffirming its lyrical and epic elements in the artistic analysis and expression of the spiritual world of man. The rnanysided reflection of life in socialist society gives new features to the national character of literature and the arts. Since socialism is built in a given country and in special historical conditions, literature and art which reflect this process must have their own original features. Our literature, its content and form, are closely connected with the national way of life, with the economic, political and cultural peculiarities of the country, with the spiritual formation of people and the entire history of the nation. The national originality of the writer is clearly reflected in his work, in its content and its means of expression, in its general spirit and its [style].

One of the most distinguishing and most active features, which express the national character of our artistic creativeness, is the patriotic spirit of the writer and the originality of this patriotism. A genuine writer [is] a patriot who fights for the advance of his country. His patriotism is conspicuous in all his work, down to the tiniest detail, even in the manner in which the home landscape is depicted. But the reflection of national peculiarities and the national character, in general, cannot be achieved in isolation from the class struggles and from history. The question of the national character in the creative activity of the writer is closely linked with his ideological tendentiousness. The ideological positition of the writer determines the degree of his patriotism and the national character of his production. The reactionary writer, the collaborator with the fascists, Father Gjergj Fishta, wrote in Albanian was a past master of the octametre, expressed the originality of the Albanian milieu, made skilful use of popular songs, but his ideological tendency was antipopular, because it represented the interests of the exploiting, anti-democratic and obscurantist classes. The national character and originality of Fishta set him apart from the reactionary writers of other countries, but his reactionary ideological tendency united him with them. With the English writer and poet Kipling the national character is expressed in his descriptions of the presentday adventurous colonizer who enslaves the peoples. In the present-day Albanian writer the national character is revealed in his patriotism, in his love of country, in his struggle for the construction of socialism and in his internationalist spirit. The assesment of the national element in the creativeness of a writer is connected with the popular spirit of his production. A work of popular spirit is one which expressed, to a high degree, the progressive interests and aims of the people, which is accessible to the people, both in content and form. The popular spirit is expressed when the writer takes up problem from life which have great importance for the entire people. Without a popular spirit the national character cannot be expressed. The highest form of expression of the popular spirit in art is proletarian partisanship, the very essence of class tendentiousness, the ideology of the working class. Proletarian partisanship places art in the service of socialism, in the service of the communist education of the man. Socialism fully expresses the interests of the peoples. Therefore, socialist art is profoundly popular. The national character is not [an] unchangeable category. It develops with the advance of society and assumes ever new features. The more complete reflection of life will further enrich it and the arts will gain ever new originality.

Socialism and its reflection in art enliven and refresh the cells of literary-artistic creation. The problem today is not that we have few works of art which treat the socialist reality in all its diverse aspects. We have many productions of literature, cinematography and the figurative arts which deal with its problems. But many of them do not treat the fundamental aspects of this reality.

The writer feels that he is one of the builders of socialism, that he is responsible for his social mission, therefore, in the work he produces he exalts the epoch in which he lives. Great aesthetic pleasure is derived from great artistic inventions. Trivial [inventions] are bound to arouse small aesthetic pleasure.

For a more complete reflection of life in socialist society it is absolutely necessary to protect literature and art against liberalism. Without a ceaseless struggle against liberalism in art there can be no pure content and vanguard form. With the development and consolidation of the method of socialist realism, the struggle against bookish prejudices and abstract treatment of problems, against a lifeless, phrase-mongering and schematic reflection of the reality, grows fiercer, and together with it, the offensive against liberalism in art grows more extensive. The method of socialist realism is against any scheme, conservative or liberal. This method is in continuous development, and it is against its nature to accept petrified forms which inhibit its progress and suffocate its innovatory research. However, negation of schematism does toy no means imply that we must forget the struggle against liberal stands which are reflected in the form of the alien influences. We do not wage the struggle against schematism in order to tone down, even in the slightest, our struggle against liberalism. On the contrary rejection of schematism creates a smothering atmosphere for liberalism as well. Nevertheless, liberal stands and alien influences always constitute a threat to literature and the arts, therefore, opposition to them and irreconcilable struggle with them are on the order of the day for every writer and artist.

In works treating contemporary themes liberalism ignores the typical and the realistic reflection of our life, disregards its main stream and takes up some blemish of our society, exaggerating it out of all proportion and generalizing it. It is quite a different thing from literature treating the shortcomings of a society and submitting them [to] a stern trial proceeding from the positions of the interests of the people. In the literature of socialist realism characters polemize, affirm and negate, and those who make mistakes and crimes are criticized and condemned for the sake of the triumph of lofty ideals.

Our literary and artistic experience shows that time and again we have had to cope with distortions in different genres. They have been more outrageous in poetry, in which they manifested themselves especially in strange figures, in incoherent, illogical and foggy verses, etc. Liberalism in poetry sometimes manifests itself in the irregularity of versification, in the obliteration of the frontiers between the prose and the poetry, etc. It also manifests itself in mannerisms as a pretended originality of expression.

In the world today there is a confusion of all sorts of trends and tendencies in literature, art and philosophy, which have debased all intellectual values, both in the West and in the East. This is connected with the cultural expansion undertaken by the United States of America and the Soviet Union together with their satellite countries. This expansion through literature and art, which is the official policy of the two superpowers, is a source of decay, degeneration, crime, scandal and bestiality. There is an entire industry of words, colours and sounds, which, although ramified in literary and artistic trends, schools and [styles], boils down to one and the same thing: literature and art are used as a drug against human consciousness, a drug against what is truly human. Revived and popularized in a new garb, Freud's subjectivist and idealist theories, especially his theories on sex and its role as a stimulus in literature and the arts, have become widespread today. Not less widespread are Freud's theories of dreams and their interpretation, on the line dividing dreams from the reality, implying that this line should be almost imperceptible in literary works, which will only gain from this approach. In his book »Dream Interpretation« [Freud] writes:»The dream represents the (hidden) reality of the (suppressed) desire«. According to him, the treatment of dreams in art is very important, because through them the artist expresses his hidden and suppressed desires. Therefore, both in the West and in the East there are thousands of novels in which it is hard to distinguish between the world of dreams and the world of reality. This only confuses the art consumer.

Gangsters and egotists, sadists and narcissists are the protagonists of Western and Eastern literature. Western literary criticism says that the narcissist of modern times is a man without ideals, indifferent to all problems and preoccupations. All the important questions are confined within the cell of his own self.

Bent on cultural and artistic expansion, capitalism and revisionism spread degenerate forms and structures. The degree of degeneration of the forms of art, especially poetry, which according to the bourgeois aesthetes is the form of modern times, is well known. We have closed our doors to this sort of poetry and this sort of forms, and will keep them closed for ever.

Our literature and arts, by raising their qualitative level, and by strengthening and perfecting their form, are in a position to defend themselves better from any negative influence, while on the other hand, heightening their authority with the reader. With this we make our modest contribution to world literature. Our literature and arts have achieved important successes also in their affirmation before the international public. They have more and more attracted its attention and have been positively assessed by progressive people, who find in them not only progressive ideas, a sound realistic spirit, but also democratic and human spirit unlike the decadent and reactionary spirit of modern bourgeois and revisionist art.

Our culture, with its present qualitative level, is a culture rich in vital elements which is in a position to convey its own values and takes from world literature and art whatever is progressive, human and revolutionary. The struggle against liberalism and alien influences does not shut us away or isolate us from world culture, on the contray, it makes us better able to appropriate it in a dialectical manner. We continuously translate works of the progressive literature created by mankind in the centuries. We have translations of most classics, from Homer to modern authors. And we shall continue to translate more works of the world literary treasure, works with valuable content and from.

The literature created in Kosova is widely read in our country. Almost all the Kosova writers have been published by the »Naim Frashëri« Publishing House in Albania and they are popular with our readers, writers and artists. It is a literature in development, a literature with patriotic feelings and progressive ideas, which discloses genuine aesthetic values to the reader. Genuine literature and art of the same trunk cannot be isolated, no matter how hard the Titoite illwishers and chauvinists may try. They will spread constantly and will have thousands and thousands of readers and wellwishers. They, too, play their role in our culture, in its enrichment and qualitative development. Whenever we speak of Albanian literature and art we cannot be silent about the important part of it which is created in Kosova in the same language and with an indubitable national originality.


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One of the demands on literature and arts about quality is connected with the general issue of the ratio of themes from the present and the past. Certainly, this ratio cannot be gauged simply by arithmetical methods or percentages. Nevertheless, the general, the average can be easily traced out if literary and artistic processes are attentively analysed. The ratio of themes in general, is correct.

Certainly, we shall continue to write about our historical past and the period of antiquity, because works taking up such themes carry an actual note and educate patriotic and aesthetic feelings, educate people to be proud of their nation, and enrich literature and art. In his report to the 8th Congress of the Party, speaking about the importance of the themes drawn from history, Comrade Enver Hoxha stresses: »But the development of literature and art is inconceivable without the broadest reflection of the great surge of life and presentday reality in the novels, poems, films and musical and figurative arts. By basing themselves firmly on the reality in which we live, by reflecting it extensively, literature and the arts will also be able to reflect the past better, more correctly and at a higher ideo-artistic level.« [13]

The writer is a vital social element, is the contemporary of his own epoch. Should he grope about in history and record its stages and periods as a pedantic historian? No! History, of course, aids him to see better and more clearly into the present which lives, fights and seethes around him. The present reality also gives historical themes some of its actual note. This has great importance. History provides facts and themes. But facts and themes remain lifeless without problems and the actual note. It is in this dialectical relation that themes from history find their vitality.

The ever growing interest in the themes of the earlier life of our people and their history is favoured by some factors existing in our socialist society today. With the development of socialism in Albania with the raising of the general level of culture, with the advance of education, science, literature and the arts and with the ever better assimilation of knowledge and the Marxist-Leninist theory, the demands of people to know more about their past, their ethnic development, their spiritual values, the treasury of their folklore and legends, their wars and struggles for freedom and the independence of the country, have increased and imposed themselves as an absolute necessity. A consolidated and mature society want to know everything possible. This is true of man, too. When he grows up and matures his curiosity increases, and he wants to know about his origin, is interested about his forefathers, about their life and struggles. On the other hand, the pressure of [alien] bourgeois and revisionist ideologies on our country has become fiercer. The enemies, in fighting socialism which is built under the leadership of our Party, in fighting Marxism-Leninism in general, have gone over to the offensive also against our historical past and the spiritual values of our people. And this induces us to given them their answer in our own language and reveal the truth to the world. But there is another factor, too. Our sociological and historical sciences have now reached a certain stage of development and facts have come to light in greater numbers than a few years before. Consequently, literature and the arts have a richer material to handle and reflect in their creativeness. Certainly there are shortcomings, there are also cases of a superficial [approach] to the reflection of the past and history, but the main trend is positive, has yielded fruit and will continue to do so. What is required now is that themes drawn from history should be reflected according to the requirements of the conscious writer and not by way of imitating the successful work of other authors. Besides we must bear in mind the ratio between the themes and guard against disproportions. We will continue to reflect history and handle themes from history. There are moments in life in which this is important, like this year when we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence. On this occasion, historical themes occupy an important place and carry a strong actual note which is necessary in every historical work.

Almost all our arts have treated life in the past society in all its contradictions, with its progressive movements and social revolts. This is especially true about the recent years when history has been seen in its different aspects.

It is only natural to stress that one of the main places in our literature and art is occupied by themes from the National Liberation War, which also are treated at the highest artistic level. However, in themes of the National Liberation War, too, the time has come to go over to a new qualitative leap and do away with a certain monotony in the handling of characters, heroes and milieus.

Today and in the future the National Liberation War is and will be a major theme for our writers. Interest in and reflection of this period will always be growing. However, along with the growing interest in its reflection, there should be more profound study of written and live documents so that the works treating these themes should always be truthful to history.


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A special feature of our society is that cultivated art develops together with popular art, with folklore and the creativeness of the amateur movement. This phenomenon has its originality and gives the arts their freshness and impels them to further development. Our folklore does not remain shut up in museums and cultural institutions. It is there, out in the streets and on the stages. It is assimilated and kept alive by ordinary people, who create it, and by the artists. It is given a powerful impulse at the local and regional folkore festivals, an especially at the National Festival of Folklore in Gjirokastra, in which the great talent of the people manifests itself without restraint. From this inexhaustible source inspire themselves our composers and poets, our critics and scholars, our journalists and writers, our singers and dancers. So the impact of this art is powerful and makes its contribution to the advancement of artistic and cultural creativeness.

Viewing the problem from a general point of view, the ratio between cultivated art and popular art is correct. However, we must bear in mind that this ratio should be constantly maintained and no disproportions allowed.

And here three questions emerge: first, detachment of cultivated art from popular art is harmful; second, putting the equalizer between them is unacceptable; third, mechanical imitation of popular art should be avoided.

There have been harmful tendencies of bitter consequences, especially at the end of the 60's and in the beginning of the 70's, before the 4th Plenum of the CC of the Party in 1973, when people of liberal tendencies tried to detach our music from popular art, because, according to them, this connection only prevented the development of new forms. We felt the dangerous consequences of this trend in our songs, until it reached its culmination in the llth Radio and Television Song Festival in 1972. The dialectical relationship, between cultivated art and folklore must necessarily be maintained in music because it gives it that unrivalled national originality which cannot be found in other forms.

Trying to equalize cultivated art with popular art, making this equalization paramount in the creativeness of the writer or the artist, only dampens down their creative and demanding spirit, petrifies artistic and cultural creativeness, in the first place, in music, turning it into a mere derivative of folklore and preventing the development of all the forms of music - the opera, ballet, symphony and song, thereby creating an anachronic monotoy and uniformity which is alien to socialism. Tendencies towards this equalization hsve manifested themselves time and again in recent years, especially in songs and dances.

In recent years there have been manifestations of mechanical imitation of popular art, especially in the field of music. The art of the people is as magnificent as nature itself. Folklore will continue to be cultivated and the amateur movement developed. The development of folklore should not be contained, in order to maintain a correct ratio between it and cultivated art. On the contrary, cultivated art should rise towards its heights, and never say to folklore: Wait, I cannot keep in step with you! Wait, otherwise the ratio is upset!

[10] K. Marx - F. Engels »On Literature and Art«, vol. 1, p. 10, Tirana 1976, Alb. ed.


[11] K. Marx, F. Engels, »Works«, vol. 1, p. 258, Russ. ed.


[12] Enver Hoxha, »Report to the 8th Congress of the PLA«, pp. 150-151, Eng. ed.


[13] Enver Hoxha, »Report to the 8th Congress of the PLA«, p. 149, Eng. ed.