Albanian Identities: Myth and History by Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd J. Fischer

By Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers, Bernd J. Fischer

''... a pioneering attempt in English-language reviews on Albania.'' -- Nicholas C. Pano

Albanian background is permeated through myths and legendary narratives that regularly serve political reasons, from the depiction of the mythical ''founder of the nation,'' Skanderbeg, to the exploits of the KLA within the contemporary Kosovo struggle. The essays in Albanian Identities, by way of a multinational, multidisciplinary workforce of students and non-academic experts, deconstruct familiar political or historiographical myths approximately Albania's previous and current, bringing to mild the ways that Albanian myths have served to justify and direct violence, buttress political energy, and foster inner solidarity. Albanian Identities demonstrates the facility of myths to at the present time, as they underpin political and social tactics in crisis-ridden, post-totalitarian Albania.

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Clothing, perfumes, deodorant, and so on, would provide the means of achieving love; alcoholic beverages would provide the route to friendship; and the proper automobile tires or insurance policy would provide the means of meeting family responsibilities. Commodities would be the source of satisfaction and a vital means of self-expression. Ponder, for example, the following description by a forty-year-old man of the relationship between himself and his expensive Porsche: Sometimes I test myself.

Instead of referring to a person’s sweetheart or betrothed, it came to refer to a commodity, a commercial product that could be consumed like any other. By the end of the nineteenth ­century, department stores were filling their windows with love missives, jewelry, and other suggestions for gifts. In 1910, a traveling salesman by the name of Joyce C. Hall began a postcard business specializing in Valentine missives that would evolve into Hallmark Cards. By the 1990s, Hallmark had 40 percent of the American greeting card business (Schmidt 1995:100).

English poet Geoffrey Chaucer is generally credited with laying the foundation for the pairing of St. Valentine with lovers when, in his Parliament of Fowls, he wrote that birds were said to choose their mates on St. ). Thus, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.  Valentine’s Day in Scotland, young women would try to divine their future mates, while among the elites it became a day for romantic poetry and gift giving, gloves being a popular item. By the 1840s and 1850s in the United States, the practice of exchanging cards became 21 Pillow Pets, the latest craze in stuffed toys, are a direct descendent of the Billikens doll, a figure designed to drive away worries and cares and convince people that the world is a good place with plenty for everyone.

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