Correspondence

Correspondence TABOO TERM THIS DAGO WAS NOT dazzled by The Scrapbook's use of the ethnic slur "dago dazzler" (Mar. 6 / Mar. 13). If you look up that word in, say, the Columbia Guide to Standard...

...KEITH LISCIO Skokie, Ill...
...23), Stephen Schwartz is deeply mistaken about Ismail Kadare...
...we do not need to fuel that fire...
...The writers whose works were paradigms of dissent in Albania were executed, imprisoned, or driven out of the country...
...I can assure you that Kadare's work was not "beach reading," as Schwartz tries to portray it, but a true beacon of freedom and hope...
...I will not deprive myself of your magazine to prove a point that no one will notice, but I will never look at it in the same way again...
...I have often seen bigoted treatment of Italian Americans...
...We are either a super-sexed idiot, à la Friends' Joey Tribbiani, or, more typically, a ruthless gangster like The Sopranos' Tony Soprano...
...Why, then, have you decided to revive this gem from its rhetorical closet...
...His novels were more than simply pleasing to read...
...Somehow, because we have done so well in this country and contributed so much, everybody gets to heap on abuse without penalty...
...HEAR ISMAIL OUT IN "Not-So-Great Pretender" (Jan...
...Once he had escaped the collapse of Albanian communism, Kadare many times called himself a dissident until the tide of criticism at his deceitful reinvention became impossible to ignore...
...Albania deserves much better...
...This he remains...
...One needs only to consider the tremendous positive response that Kadare's work has received from literary critics all over the world, including in Britain, Canada, Australia, and the United States, to understand that Schwartz is relatively alone in his personal battle against Kadare...
...AGRON ALIBALI Smithfield, R.I...
...I did not call Albania "Kadaria" I used the latter to refer to the imaginary landscape in which the dismal misadventures of Kadare's lifeless characters are played out...
...While Kadare has always refused to call himself a "dissident," for all of us who were living under immense oppression and fear in Albania, which Schwartz mockingly calls "Kadaria," his work was a paradigm of dissent...
...Conservatives are already misperceived as being heartless elitists opposed to minorities...
...Written for obvious reasons in an ambiguous language, they were a veiled but powerful criticism of the government...
...Although his novels are often set in other places and times, Kadare's work always offered the attentive reader a strikingly ironic perspective that constituted a clear message of dissent, if not a direct attack against "the most tyrannical" regime in the Balkans...
...By contrast, Kadare was a paradigm of opportunistic conformity and flattery for a vile dictatorship...
...I am not a fanatic about this, but seeing it in print in The Weekly Standard is different...
...I find Schwartz's characterization of Kadare as "a Communist hack [who] reinvents himself as a martyr of liberty" a very unfair and unjustified characterization...
...STEPHEN SCHWARTZ RESPONDS: I am not alone in my condemnation of Ismail Kadare, who is hated by many patriotic Albanians, as can be verified by a simple check of English references to him on the Internet...
...Even though Italian Americans are one of the most assimilated ethnic groups in America, our portrayal in the media generally falls into one of two categories...
...If you look up that word in, say, the Columbia Guide to Standard American English, you will find that it is "a taboo word" and an "ethnic or racial insult that English speakers once applied to people of Italian or Spanish (or, loosely, any other Mediterranean) ancestry...

Vol. 11 • March 2006 • No. 25


 
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