Punctuating Gjirokastra’s Modernism S. LUARASI
Author: PhD. Skender Luarasi
Affiliation: POLIS University
In one of the most poetic passages of Ismail Kadare’s Chronicle in Stone, the youngster - the main character of the novel – sends a handful of sky to the water cistern of the house through a mirror, only to receive a pale, fleeting reflection. Or he would send a sound - ‘AUU’, only to receive a muffled echo (and sometimes nothing, when the cistern was full of water...). The interaction with the cistern is a metonymic figure, which stands for the way the youngster communicates with his home, his homely environment, his very own town which he knows very well; that sloped town which looked like “prehistoric creature stuck to the face the mountain;” a town, where, if a drunkard “were to fall on the side street, he would fall on the roof of tall house, instead of a ditch,”1 The youngster’s communication with his home takes place in a familiar way, through gestures, looks, and feelings, rather than with words, not unlike those signals exchanged with the dark cistern. His home in an expanded sense – the old city, the castle with its labyrinthian tunnels (real or imagined), the houses with stone ‘scales’, the steep streets, the supercilious neighbors, the old women that never slept..., drinking coffee and looking at other people’s houses with binoculars – often feel rather strange and opaque, not unlike the dark void of the cistern beneath the house. This is not simply a feeling of the uncanny or unheimlich bound to arise by the proximity
of the too familiar; it is also triggered as a result of the youngster’s (and through him, our) encounter of an irresistible wave: that of modernity.