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Ernest Koliqi on the 120th anniversary of his birth

Ernest Koliqi on the 120th anniversary of his birth

Ndue Ukaj

Ernest Koliqi occupies a prominent place in the history of Albanian culture for his great merits in several fields of knowledge, education, and art. He has written poetry, stands out, especially as a storyteller, but also as a professor and director of the culturally important magazine "Shêjzat," as minister of education and head of cultural institutions, as a translator from Italian to Albanian and vice versa, as a diligent researcher who appreciates the works of others, such as the impressive evaluations for Jeronim de Rada, Naim Frashri, Gjergj Fishta, Ndre Mjedje, Luigj Gurakuqi, Faik Konica, Mustafa Krujë, etc., - who were recognized for their great merits and cultural qualities in the creation of Albanian culture.

Koliqi was born in Shkodër on May 20, 1903, exactly 120 years ago, in a prominent family that gave the nation Cardinal Mikel Koliqi and the intellectual Viktor Koliqi; he was born at the time when the Albanians, crushed by the long Ottoman rule, were preparing to become independent. He was educated in the surroundings of this city at a time when prominent intellectuals and creators lived in it and around it, such as Gurakuqi, Mjedja, Fishta, Harapi, Shantoja, Shllaku, and many others. This environment and the spirit of the time, with noble ideals and great sacrifices to give the poor nation knowledge and culture, nurtured it with love and fed it with ideas and ideals for the beautiful, the useful, and the aesthetic.

Koliqi received the basics of education at Saverian College, then went to Italy, where he delved into studies and readings and was formed with modern concepts of culture, language, and art.

It was formed in a city with a cultural tradition, in the Albanian cultural center, in Shkodër, where the most important works of art and Albanianology, language, and cultural anthropology were created - and it connects the two most important and beautiful traditions of Albanian art culture: the great Franciscan tradition, which gave Albanian culture the most representative works, with the national poet Gjergj Fishta, and the Jesuit one with the great poet Ndre Mjedja as a representative, these cultural and aesthetic phenomena, which Koliqi knew by heart about which he wrote a valuable study, "The two literary schools of Shkodra." [1] Even as a writer, Koliqi is the most beautiful result of these two strong cultural lavas, but also of the cultural environments of Shkodra, a city that in history Albanian has the size of what Florence has for Italian and Western culture.

Koliq's poetic activity:

"The Trial of Skanderbeg" (1924)  

"Traces of the Seasons" (1933)  

"Albanian Symphony", (1936)

 "Renaissance Railings", (1959)

His artistic brilliance, meanwhile, culminates in the art of prose, giving Albanian literature the collections of stories and novels, "Shadow of the Mountains" (1929), "Tregtar flamujsh" (1935), "Pasqyrat e Narçizit" (1936) which lie in the foundations of modern Albanian prose.  

Koliqi is also the author of the novel "The Taste of Toasted Bread" (1960).

During his fruitful cultural work, he translated world literature masterpieces, especially Italian literature. With passion, he translated the great poets of Italy "Great Poets of Italy", (1932 and later in 1936): Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tason, Kardučin, Paskol, but he also translated Albanian poets into Italian. It should also be mentioned that Koliqi dedicated himself to collecting and publishing folklore, especially that of trees.

So, Koliq's contributions to Albanian culture are spread over several fields, with indelible and significant traces everywhere.

of secondment

Ernest Koliqi thought that there was no other weapon than culture and education to stop the onslaught of evil that plagued the afflicted Albanians. As a great worker of culture, he used this weapon, believing with devotion in the power of art, even considering it superior and with primary functions in the history of the Albanian nation. In the text "The three greatest Albanian poets", he says that "De Rada (1814-1903), Naim Frashri (1846-1900) and Gjergj Fishta (1871-1940) can be considered with full reason the builders of today's Albania. " [2] he further analyzed the superior, almost prophetic role that Albanian writers had in the difficult battle for national awareness at a time when the nation's state was miserable and deeply backward.    

On this premise, he builds the same axiology of values. He attributes the merits in the formation of the nation to the writers, who, according to him, are similar to Orpheus, "who moved the stones with the sound of the lyre and gave them spirit so that they were placed together over the other and build the city surrounded by wonderful walls, just as our three poets convinced even the most confrontational Albanian tribes with the pure power of poetry."[3]

Indeed, Koliqi himself and his work are the result of this philosophy. These creative and intellectual concepts somehow become the axis of his commitments, according to his conviction that a nation that despised its traditions decided its suicide and in this battle, it is unifying, it connects the mountain with the city, the old with the new. 

Koliqi also follows this path and this model of culture in his artistic creativity, especially in his stories and novels, but also in his literary and academic work, where he connects tradition with the present and becomes an expression of the new, founding the modern Albanian story and creating valuable cultural institutions.

It is precisely these features that make his personality a unique cultural model in creativity and in the field of studies.   

So, Koliqi worked with the conviction that society is worth as much as it is cultured, progresses as much as it pays attention and importance to culture, and is accepted in universal values ​​as much as it has the strength to give nutritional value to world culture and civilization. Therefore, his efforts to give multidimensional value to the nation never ceased.


In accordance with the biblical parabolic teaching, which Colic knew by heart, he entered the cultural land with the awareness that the harvest was great and there were few workers. He himself turned to work and became a tireless and peerless worker in this great harvest, and everywhere, he made a qualitative and multidimensional contribution.  

In the novel "Blood, " Koliqi asks the most conscious question that a writer and intellectual can ask: "Is there anything more wonderful in this world than bringing a nation immersed in the darkness of ignorance to civilization?" And the answer is this:

"The one who passes through your people sows the seed for a better life, the one who illuminates with a more beautiful light the earth that feeds us, the one who makes the dawn in the indefinite twilight of souls, in short: who gives them a path of true citizenship, worthy of being honored as half a god."[4]

It is known that the difficult circumstances the Albanian nation has gone through and the miserable consequences left by the long Ottoman captivity influenced Albanian writers to be charged with a noble mission, which Koliqi talks about through the voice of the prose character "Blood": to pave the way new civilization, to sow the seed of culture in a desolate land, to turn on the light in the great land, to water the great droughts and to become a stone of inspiration to quench the centuries-old thirst.

As Martin Camaj expressed, he managed to create this beautiful cultural connection, perhaps the most important in Albanian culture, because he believed in the positive qualities of the Albanian nation.  


Ernest Koliqi occupies an important place in Albanian cultural history for a major contribution to Albanian education after his appointment as Minister of Education during the Second World War, when Albania was occupied by Italy. Upon taking office, he started a large group of teachers for Kosovo and Kosovo at that time, crushed, occupied by Serbs, without schools, without elites, and in a large territory; his enterprise to send it a large group of teachers looked like an intervention of higher forces, simply magnificent and certainly the most important in the history of this country; therefore Kosovo owes a lot to his work.

All this time, under his responsibility, he started an army of education and culture towards the "Free Lands," the fruits of which are the foundations of today's Kosovo.


The theme of Shkodra dominates Koliq's artistic work. This city resembles an Ithaca of longing for love, where the city's landscapes, the evenings and mornings of Shkodra, the walls, the collisions of the new with the old are displayed in beautiful artistic colors, in which holli Koliqi always creates paths for his reader through beautiful sounds and sweet expressions, through creative fantasy that is closely related to real life and through high ideals that are related to the real situation, which he seeks to emancipate.  

In the history of Albanian prose, Koliq deserves the main credit as the founder of modern Albanian prose, which he enriched in style and language, introducing an element unknown until then. He created new models, especially of psychological prose, where, as various researchers have pointed out, elements of psychological analysis of the Freudian type come to the fore.

In his work, which revolves around the mountains and shadows of Shkodra, the young and the backward meet, but Koliqi, as a writer, challenges the reader with the need for change: the triumph of love against the hatred of backward customs, knowledge against ignorance, aesthetics against ugliness, the love of unity for the motherland against pretending. And he always raises his voice against the onslaught of evil and the denationalizing coup.

Unfortunately, his work was cut short when his homeland was seized by the communists who hated his work. Still, it developed rapidly and fruitfully in Rome, where he developed an active intellectual and creative life and became a communicator of intellectuals and great creators of arboretums and the diaspora, such as the meeting point with Martin Camaj, who left an indelible mark and who followed the tradition of his predecessors.   

For Koliq, Camaj said, "We get lonely for issues, and the sense of responsibility to work and live as a reborn was natural and inherent. This lifestyle left a clear mark on Koliq's literary creativity, first as a creator and then as a tracer of Albanian literature. In Koliq's work, the twists and turns of literary currents were immortalized because he was always open to new inspirations. Still, the essential theme remains until the end: the question of the nation's existence, "staying alive" or "aliveness". Koliq's literary genres change, but this content dominates; knew how to use his sharp pen in writings of a polemical character without hesitation that he was being "unpopular", when he thought that it was in the interest of the case."[5]

Ernest Koliqi was surrounded by high and noble ideals. He was tormented by contempt and infidelity. In his correspondence, he speaks with shocking concerns about national vices, as shown in a letter addressed to Mustafa Kruja when he analyzes the nihilism that was destroying Albanian hearts at the time and about a serious national vice: "We Albanians, in general, are pretty strongly inclined to the lust of the future... Excessive individualism prevents us, before the merit of others, the whims of the mind and the heart."[6]

Against this nihilism and these vices, he committed himself with active, solidary love, looking for points of cultural union.

And one hundred and twenty years later, his exemplary lessons should serve us today and tomorrow so that we don't walk blindly "in a headless and tailless smokestack, where every Albanian creates a Shqipní according to his pleasure, which does not exist no connection with the real world. He is satisfied because, in this Albania, he does not know the language of fantasy; he knows himself; first, it is Ali himself and Kadì himself; he defeats those who make him a shadow and wakes up in the majestic bracket ) honors and rewards that are in no way equal to his moral and intellectual value."[7]


In our cultural and identity edifice, now the cornerstones that Ernest Koliqi has placed occupy an important and prominent place; his never-outdated teachings and his art are a refreshing gurgling; therefore, we must maintain those radiant stones with care, and we must follow his footsteps so as not to get lost in the fog, and we must make his artistic work spiritual to ennoble our behaviors and improve national health because he is a multifaceted personality with contributions of numerous, and such personalities in the history of a nation are not many. Still, they are enlighteners and guides that determine the direction of a nation's development; therefore, learning about them and learning from their works remains the best lesson for today and our national tomorrow.

From his artistic and scholarly work, we understand that he was truly a devout and steadfast believer of culture, aware that culture was the noblest and most powerful weapon to stop the onslaught of evil. Believing in this weapon, he did not hesitate for a moment in his life to use it; used her strength to give a positive direction to spiritual developments, to enrich with noble work the poor spiritual and intellectual life of the time, which she expressed in her artistic writings, but also in her studies and analyzes when she said that "especially culture is the weapon they adapt to me to break the thrust of the denationalizing principles that annoy and infect the people of poor Albania."

On the 120th anniversary of his birth, Koliq's work has already won time, and his personality has a great influence on our social and cultural trends.  


Ernest Koliqi, Two Shkodra literary schools, Shpresa, 1998

Ernest Koliqi, Criticism and aesthetics, Apollonia, 1999

Ernest Koliqi, Flag Trader, Pakti, 2009

Magazine "Shêjzat," Year XIX/1978

"Shêjzat, Year IV, July-December 2019

Albanian Writers, 1941, V. II.

(This text was published in the magazine "Hylli i Drites," no. 1, 2023, and was read on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Koliqi, in the activity organized by the National Library of Kosovo and also by the "Ernest Koliqi" Library of Mother Teresa Cathedral in Pristina.)

[1] Ernest Koliqi, Two Shkodra literary schools, Shpresa, 1998
[2] Ernest Koliqi, Criticism and aesthetics, Apollonia, 1999, pg. 86
[3] Ibid., p. 86.
[4] Ernest Koliqi, Flag Trader, Pakti, 2009, pg. 3
[5] Magazine "Shêjzat" (Le Pleiadi), Year XIX/1978. p. 7-10
[6] Shejzat, Year IV, July-December 2019, p. 144
[7] "Shejzat" (1972), by Ernest Koliqi, Work 6, Faik Konica, Prishtina, 2003, p. 356.

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