General of the Dead Army
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General of the Dead Army

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  969 ratings  ·  50 reviews
This sweeping epic of post-war Albania was Kadare’s first novel.

Twenty years after the end of the Second World War, an Italian general is dispatched to Albania to recover his country’s dead. Once there he meets a German general who is engaged upon an identical mission and their conversations bring out into the open the extent of their horror and guilt, newly exacerbated by...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Vintage Classics (first published 1963)
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Lorenzo Berardi
As stated in the last page of the book, it took Ismail Kadaré five years to write this novel between 1962 and 1966 when he was in Tirana.
One can wonder whether "The General od the Dead Army" was nail-biting business involving many stopovers for the Albanian author or if Kadaré himself was tied-up with other things in those days.

The idea behind the book is an excellent one: a general and a priest (both left nameless) from the Italian army going to Albania in the 1960s in order to dig out the bod...more
Tony
Looking at the author's picture on the inside back cover, I am reminded of what a cruel time the 1970s were. There are, in fact, a few pictures of me floating around the Internet which I wish would disappear. But enough about me. Call him Ismail.

It is 20 years after World War II. Twenty years after Italian troops overran Albania. The Albanians flashed up pockets of resistance, leaving many Italian soldiers in makeshift graves. An Italian general (no name) returns after negotiations between the...more
Rob
Albania is an often forgotten country. The paranoia of the Enver Hoxha era led them to fall out with the major players on both sides of the Iron Curtain and since the fall of Communism, only the disastrous pyramid selling scheme and events in neighbouring Kosovo have attracted headlines.

Yet it's that very sense of the mysterious that makes it such a fascinating country. Ismail Kadare is the country's most celebrated novelist and winner of the first man Booker International Prize. he seems nailed...more
Andrada
Kadare’s tale of an Italian general seeking out the remains of his country’s soldiers fallen in Albania during World War II and the mental toll the task takes on him, makes for a haunting image of the futility of war and its grisly aftermath. I think the consequences of war are acknowledged by any country that has survived war within its own borders and are usually quite similar no matter where the wars were fought. While reading The General of the Dead Army, I often found myself thinking of the...more
Michael Vagnetti
Remember the funeral march of Beethoven's 3rd symphony? Such music plays in Kadare's Albania, where warfare is a customary performance...an aesthetic experience. "The whole story evolves under the sign of slaughter."

A party of Italian military personnel comes to Albania, twenty years after the war, to collect remains. Where are the bones? Who's got the map? Why didn't we do this in the summer? Who is not a foreigner here?

Through the shrouded fog, we go on a psychological tour, now reminding us o...more
Paolo Gianoglio
Quanti modi ci sarebbero per leggere questo libro? Innanzitutto è un libro che parla di quelle pieghe sconosciute della nostra storia, con una prospettiva che fa venire le vertigini: scritto da un albanese ha come protagonista un generale italiano. E dopo un po' non riesci più a capire se osservi con l'occhio dell'invasore o dell'occupato.
Ma poi è anche un libro sulla commedia dei ruoli, in alcuni momenti sembra di leggere Beckett o Ionesco, anche se lo stile è sempre leggero e molto semplice....more
Vincent
C'est un premier roman qui a fait grand bruit lors de sa publication. L'histoire, assez macabre, est celle d'un général italien qui 20 ans après la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale se rend en Albanie pour ramener au pays les restes des soldats morts.

Il y a finalement assez peu de péripéties dans cette longue errance par monts et par vaux, au coeur de ce pays secret et rude. Mais l'élégance de la langue et de la narration, l'ironie et le sens de l'absurde de Kadharé portent l'histoire et nous ti...more
Gillies

I loved this, the whole mood of it. It's an utterly brilliant idea for a book, possibly one of the most profound and unique of modern times.
A General sent to reclaim the bodies of soldiers who died and were buried on battlefields in a foreign country. The combination of the weariness of digging, stultifying bureaucracy and the horror of decomposed bodies gives the whole book an unforgettable atmosphere, unlike anything else.
Sorin Hadârcă
Maybe it's the next big thing after Kafka's Castle. Maybe. I didn't figure this out for sure. But it teaches a great deal about life... in an environment filled with death.



And the most human character is a deserter. The general is a person who is almost there making the change. Alas!



Great stuff.
Brent
This is a fantastic book. The premise is thought-provoking, the characters are simultaneously nuanced and archetypal, and the prose is piercing. There are scenes in this book that are perfectly worked, and I was astonished to learn that this was Kadare's first novel. I will definitely be reading more of Kadare's work.
Ctb
This edition (hardcover) has dozens of typos. Must not have been proofread by someone whose native tongue is English.

Given the subject matter, the premise, the historical basis, this book should have been explosively dark and macabre. It wasn't. I kept reading thinking surely it would improve. It didn't.
Katie
Just read this summer 2009. Was recommended to me by a student. Very good and interesting. Unlike anything I've read before.
Amanda L
This is one of the best books I have read by Ismail Kadare.
Bookaholic
În 1963 Ismail Kadare devenea cunoscut datorită unui singur roman, Generalul armatei moarte. Deşi cu un stagiu la Institutul de Literatură „Maxim Gorki” din Moscova, se poate spune că Ismail Kadare, prin stilul său, nu aparţine realismului socialist. El însuşi mărturiseşte, într-un interviu acordat lui Alain Bosquet, că a scris romanul Generalul armatei moarte într-o notă opusă acelui curent literar „realist” implementat de puterea moscovită începând cu a doua jumătate a secolului al XX-lea, în...more
Claudiu
Aug 23, 2013 Claudiu rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claudiu by: A short moment of curiosity
From time to time I have to wait for people. Everyone has to. The worth of punctuality is lost on many.
So, when such times occur, I read. It's enjoyable, easy to pick up, easy to put down and it passes the minutes.
Sometimes...however...I forget to bring a book for myself and find that I'm stuck in the heat / cold with nothing to do except twiddle my thumbs and watch people go by.
Which will simple NOT DO!
So I walk into the nearest book store, pick up something of reasonable length and start r...more
Jan
The general of the dead army is Kadare’s debut novel (1963). It gives us more than fifty shades of grey. It’s the landscape, it’s the season, it’s the circumstances, it’s the nature of the assignment, it’s the sort of interaction with the local people, it is even the relation between the two main protagonists – a general and a priest – which are all imbued with many meanings of shade and shadiness, mainly in figurative speech, of course. This goes, e.g. for the fact that the general, the priest...more
Jelena
This book is amazing. Unnamed general and unnamed priest are collecting bones of the fallen Italian soldiers in the Second world war in Albania. They are especially searching colonel Z. from the notorious battalion who killed even it's own's soldiers.
The book is very well written. We get to see different perspective of war and i really like Kadare's writing. But i don't like the end.
After general finds colonel's bones and after he threw them from the bridge everything falls a part. I didn't lik...more
Rita
A wonderful novel. Really makes you think about the way things are in the world. Should fallen soldiers whose bodies have been buried in foreign lands be dug back up and brought home or should the dead be left to rest. This story follows an Italian General through Albanian lands where the Italian fought and many died and where laid to rest in the Albanian lands. Through the story you begin to see the toll this task takes on the general and those entrusted with him to full fill the task given to...more
Kokeshi
In the 1960s an Italian general goes to Albania to repatriate fallen soldiers from WWII. The task seems plain, but the enormity of war for both sides becomes apparent and the job becomes a messy and heavy burden to bear.

This is a novel like no other I have read. The subject matter is dark, but very interesting. The writing is outstanding and the emotion that comes off of the page is so real the reader experiences it for herself/himself.

5 stars. Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read....more
Mile
I had high hopes for this book but felt it was written at too quick a pace. Given the subject-matter, there was much more that could have been done. Reminded me (how bizarre) of On The Road--just endless going back and forth with no pause to assess the situation. I am going to read a few more of his books, but I was a bit disappointed in this one after having read the NYT review.
Sharon
I did not like this book at all. I generally enjoy this "type" of book-though admittedly this one is darker and more macabre than most. I guess I just didn't get it. It just was-for me nothing really happened. I didn't see that great demise of the general-he seemed rather depressed, moody, and haunted from the start. The thing that I did appreciate was the narrative from the Albanian perspective.
Mandy Haggith
A haunting chronicle of a General (Italian?) digging up the buried bodies of his army's soldiers killed in the second world war in Albania. He is accompanied by a priest, but his conversations with the man of god appear to provide no solace. The General clings to his sanity as the body bags are filled, one by one, under the watchful and not exactly sympathetic gazes of Albanian onlookers. The harrowing project is quietly described, the tale told at a dignified pace. This is horror at its most un...more
Tancredi
Un prete e un generale in cerca dei soldati italiani caduti in Albania, il diario di un giovane disertore improvvisamente scomparso e il rancore di un popolo dedito alla violenza. Niente di più, niente di meno.
Ci si potrebbe accontentare di questo, perché Kadaré racconta l'incomunicabilità tra due popoli, sconosciuti, che si sono appena fronteggiati in una guerra, ma anche l'incomunicabilità interna di un popolo, quello albanese, che non conosce altro linguaggio all'infuori della violenza. Ma no...more
Norhan
هى رواية تتحدث عن دراما ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية ب 20 عاما حيث ترسل إيطاليا احد جنرالاتها لإستخراج و إستعادة جثث جنودها و الذين لقوا حتفهم أثناء حربهم فى دولة ألبانيا و تم دفنهم فى الأراضى الالبانية ، وهذا بعد اتفاقية بين قيادات البلدين و بعد مرور 20 عام على الحرب بينهم ، ولكن هل تختلف مشاعر الشعوب عن قياداتها .. بالطبع نعم

ربما كونها اول رواية للمؤلف هو سبب اعطائها 3 نجوم فقط ، فالفكرة المبنية عليها الرواية كان من الممكن تسخيرها لتخرج منها العديد و العديد من اللوحات الانسانية المؤثرة و الت...more
orsodimondo
LA VITA E NIENTE ALTRO
I protagonisti sono un torbido prete (avrà avuto una storia con la bella contessa Betti Mirafiore o no?) e un generale stizzoso con improvvisi rigurgiti d’orgoglio nazionalistico.
Kadaré fa poco per renderli gradevoli.
ndossano entrambi una divisa, rappresentano due eserciti, due burocrazie, due mentalità di cui il mondo farebbe volentieri a meno, secondo me.
Vent’anni dopo la guerra, nel 1963, sono incaricati di andare in Albania per riportare a casa i resti dei soldati i...more
Gabriele
No, non è un romanzo dell'orrore e neanche uno di quei fantasy che vanno ora tanto di moda. Anche se di orrore, in queste pagine di Ismail Kadare, ce n'è, così come è sempre quando si parla di guerra. Lo scrittore albanese, uno dei più noti del suo Paese (ma certo distante, per quanto geograficamente vicino, alle letture solite della nostra penisola), pubblica nel 1963 questo libro, a circa vent'anni da quella seconda guerra mondiale che fa da sfondo alle vicende narrate nel libro stesso.

La seco...more
John
In this volume, Kadare sees his own country from the point of view of the imperialists who tried to conquer it. To the team sent to recover the corpses of dead Italian soldiers twenty years after the Albanian partisans drove Axis troops from the country, the Albanians are inscrutable, savage, innately warlike -- precisely the dehumanizing caricature you'd expect imperialists to have of their victims. In the end, of course, it is obvious that the Albanians understand their former tormentors all t...more
Becky Marston
Slow burning. Cunning. Deceptively easy style.
Nidhi
a haunting and macabre tale, that is utterly spellbinding.
Alan
This understated and moving exploration of the lingering costs of war was a wonderful discovery. The titular General is a complex character, yet I was impressed by the way Kadare wastes no words trying to describe him to the reader. We see through his actions and reactions what kind of man he is, what his flaws are, how his emotions drive him and the story. And the book proves Goodreads's worth. I may never have known about this book except for Rob's review.
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Historical background? 1 3 May 02, 2014 09:49AM  
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Ismail Kadare was born in 1936 in Gjirokastër, in the south of Albania. His education included studies at the University of Tirana and then the Gorky Institute for World Literature in Moscow, a training school for writers and critics.

In 1960 Kadare returned to Albania after the country broke ties with the Soviet Union, and he became a journalist and published his first poems.

His first novel, The G...more
More about Ismail Kadare...
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“فى أثناء الحروب يكون من الصعب دائما التفرقة ما بين ما هو تراجيدى و ما هو مثير للضحك، و بين ما هو بطولى و ما هو مثير للحزن و الكآبة” 1 likes
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