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High Albania: A Victorian Traveller's Balkan Odyssey

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Edith Durham began her travels late in life on her doctor's orders. She sailed to Montenegro and began a love affair with the Balkans that lasted the rest of her life. This is her passionate account of life in the formidable mountainous terrain of Northern Albania. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 30th 2001 by Phoenix (first published October 1st 1909)
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Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mary Edith Durham was a remarkable woman for her time. Unmarried and unfettered, she carved out a life for herself as a traveller and an author, so much so that she was highly respected by the people she wrote about. The Albanians even went as far as to refer to her as the Queen of the Highlanders.

High Albania is an account of Durham's trip to the Albanian mountains, where there was very little exposure to 'modern' life. Durham visits all the tribes and makes friends, going into detail about th
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written just half a dozen years before World War I, British anthropologist Edith Durham's account of her travels throughout northern Albania present a fascinating picture of a place that she dubs "the Land of the Living Past." In 1908, as Durham bravely rode through the untamed Albanian wilderness where joy is celebrated with gunshots into the air and bloody vengeance is pursued whenever a man's honor has been insulted, the Ottoman Empire and other European nations played political and diplomati ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
As I am currently living in Northern Albania (although Ms. Durham did not make it to my neck of the woods on this trip), I think that this book is an interesting study on a culture and people that is all but gone 100 years later, but still echoes in the minds of the people living now. The pull of modernization is evident in her travels- the first Western woman to go through this uncharted land. While there have been many more Western women here since, it is still not so common and I feel like I ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, travel
Written at the turn of last century, this is a wonderful account by Edith Durham of her travels through the Albanian uplands. You can get a free copy for Kindle etc here: ...more
Gail Pool
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated by those early, mainly British, women travelers who donned their thick skirts and set off on incredibly difficult journeys—to Africa, or Asia, or the southern Arabian deserts. How ill-prepared they should have been. How extraordinarily well they coped! Mary Kingsley credited her good thick skirt for a safe landing when she fell into a game pit!

For Edith Durham, according to John Hodgson’s introduction to High Albania, travel began as a curative for a personal crisis
Lee Grohse
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this unusual book. Durham must have been a fascinating person to leave her tame, middle class English life and travel alone through the most remote and unexplored areas of the mountains of Albania during the first decade of the 20th century. And what a place it was! A world that time had bypassed. The primitive, violent culture of "blood" that allowed even the murder of young children to avenge a death or an insult, the isolation from the rest of European life, the unrelenting harshness of ...more
Vicky Hunt
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Land of the Living Past

In a traveler's history that is both descriptive and interesting to read, Mary Edith Durham penned the page that was turned in Albania's history; from a loose tribal 'lawless people' to the new Constitution under the restored Prenk Pasha. She traveled there in 1908, traveling through much of High Albania and into a town in present day Kosovo. She recorded the customs and feelings of the people on most every subject, most of all on the subjects of honor and their desir
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I’ve struggled to write this review because there’s so little for me to say. Edith Durham saw the Balkans in 1908 perhaps as no Westerner had before and certainly never will again, and High Albania is a brilliant and engaging work of ethnography and travel writing. She writes in an intimate and conversational style, as if telling the story of her adventures to the reader directly, yet with an attention to detail and sensitivity to the nuances of a wholly alien culture that come only from prolong ...more
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: albania-research
Edith Durham was a British traveler of the early twentieth century who focused much of her travel and writing on Albania. At the time, the West knew little about Albania – the country was largely unexplored. In her travelogue, High Albania, Durham notes at times the gross inaccuracy of the maps she’s traveling with, giving some sense of just how unknown the region was.

Durham occasionally delves into anthropology, but High Albania is a book best read as the travel diary of a woman in love with th
Eial Dujovny
Jun 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must-Read for Lovers of Albania and Travel Writing

Edith Durham does an amazing job of exploring the remotest corners of Albania and presciently describes the situation in the Balkans on the eve of World War I.

As it comes off every page here, Durham was an extraordinary person and a very unique woman for her time - anthropologist, ethnographer, historian, illustrator, writer, explorer, geographer and political analyst.

Moreover, she had the knack of always being where the action was and provid
Jason Sebera
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
A detailed account of an explorer's deep dive into the culture and history of Northern Albania, High Albania: A Victorian Traveller's Balkan Odyssey by Mary Edith Durham is the quintessential travel journal. Wonderful for those eager to grasp the backdrop of the Balkan Peninsula's peculiar past. ...more
Brenda Marcellino
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I quit reading this book because it could not hold my interest. I think I know less about WWI than WWII so I didn't truly understand what was going on in that area or era. Not a good book to start reading about. ...more
w gall
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An English woman's account of the Albanian highlands in the first decade of the twentieth century

Though the structure is that of a travelogue, the narrative is full of drama and an intimate portrait of traditional Albanian highland culture.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a book!
Fascinating and Mindblowing!
Showcase of Albania and Balkan overall mindsets in the 1900s before the WW1
Bernard S Cooper
Apr 02, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: english
Not one for me. A difficult style and the absence of any maps made it very difficult to work where and what was happening. Written in 1908 the choice of language seems unnecessarily stylized.
The book was of interest because of our upcoming trip to Albania. It details the lives and customs of the mountain tribes, leading up to the Constitution of 1909.
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this book is about a lady named edith durham and her travels from Kosovo all through albania and montenegro. she is a french women who decided to write a book on albanians hopistality an everything about them. she wrote about how she had to travel when she was asleep with other albanians to hoti ( my village), gruda, and all other little villages. she traveled at night on foot because if she traveled at day the serbs would have stopped her and killed her. so she enjoyed her stay, but she had to ...more
Mergim Ukaj
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kur flitet per kte liber nuk mund te diskutohet shkrimi (mendoj eshte i mir), por permbajtja. Eshte xhevahir per sa i perket njohjes se Shqiptarve dhe menyren tone te jeteses qe ishte komplet e ndikuar nga politikat e asaj kohe, e me sakt nga pushtimi ottoman, por dhe sllav.
Nuk e kuptoj pse nxenesit shqiptar te Kosoves nuk njihen me kte liber nga shkolla fillore; e them te Kosoves ngaqe aty u shkollova un. Nuk njihem dhe aq me sistemin e edukimit ne Shqiperi e vise tjera shqiptare qe duhet tken
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: albania
I probably wouldn't recommend this book unless you were really interested in Albanian history. The author provides great insight into the culture of early 20th Century Northern Albania. Some of her comments about ethnic relations can still be seen in the Balkans today. An interesting read, but it did get a bit dull a points. ...more
Adnan Beqiraj
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book and it is very worth reading this one. If you read this book I highly recommend visiting those places that Edith has talked about: Theth, Nikaj, Mertur, Shosh, Shkoder, Vuthaj-Guci; Prishtina & Prizren. shows you more of those places.
Mar 29, 2009 added it
Shelves: off-the-shelf
Ms. Durham's book is the rival of Ms. West's "Black Lamb" (rated above)....also inferior - i couldnt get into it. More an anthropological notebook than anything else.
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was very informative from a research perspective. It's an Englishwoman's study of various Albanian tribes in 1907. Fascinating. And the author reminded me of Amelia Peabody! ...more
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Dec 30, 2019
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Oct 17, 2018
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Aug 24, 2018
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Sep 22, 2017
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Traveller, artist and writer who became famous for her anthropological accounts of life in Albania in the early 20th century.

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