Albania pays last respects to Robert Elsie, folklore scholar

TIRANA, Albania — Robert Elsie, a German scholar of Albanian literature and folklore, is being buried in Albania in accordance with his wishes.

Elsie died Oct. 2 of motor neuron disease in Bonn, Germany. He was 67.

His coffin was brought to the National Library in Albania’s capital, Tirana, on Tuesday so people could pay their respects. The burial is scheduled for Wednesday in Theth, a village 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Tirana.

A Foreign Ministry statement says a formal ceremony the next day will “honor his commitment and dedication to our country, traditions and our language, heightening our national values, culture and identity.”

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Elsie studied linguistics at Bonn University in the 1980s. He went on to write more than 60 books on Albanian studies from his frequent travels to Albania and Kosovo.

Elsie published anthologies and literary criticism, translated into English and German many Albanian poems and wrote books on its folk culture and history.

The best known is his English translation of Gjergj Fishta’s literary epic, “The Highland Lute: The Albanian National Epic,” a work in thirty cantos.

Elsie also worked for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague as an interpreter for the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and other detainees. He has been active with the United Nations and other international organizations.

In 2013 then-Albania’s president awarded Elsie with the Medal of Gratitude for his contributions as a scholar, who for over 35 years focused and internationally promoted the “culture, language, literature and history of Albanians” alongside the “positive image of Albania in the world.”

___

Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lsemini

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login