Feminism and 19th century Albanian literature

Sami Frasheri with his wife Emine

From ANI news agency:

Uncovering feminist views in 19th century Albanian”s works

Submitted by Karan Jakhad on Sun, 12/20/2009 – 09:21.

Washington, Dec 20 : An American academic has discovered some radical ideas on women”s equality in the works of a Muslim author penned during 1872 to 1900.

The expert has written an article about his findings that will appear in the January 2010 issue of Middle Eastern Studies, a British academic journal published in London.

Dr. George Gawrych, a professor of history professor at Baylor University, reviewed the works of Albanian novelist and playwright Semseddin Sami Frasheri and found that he saw women as “equal but different.”

This was a revolutionary point of view in the patriarchal society of the time.

Gawrych, who received a Fulbright Senior Researcher Scholar grant for 2008-2009, was in Turkey to study about Ataturk and the War of Independence waged from 1919 to 1923.

While studying about Albanians under Ottoman rule, Gawrych came across Semseddin Sami”s ideas in an 1879 published book titled Women.

Gawrych went on to read Sami’s novel on arranged marriages and reviewed entries about women in his six-volume encyclopaedia on the world.

Talking about Sami”s thought, Gawrych said: “He was a Muslim who in his novel briefly gave an image of a wife having an education and discussing child-rearing with her husband.

“But there are lots of nuances beyond that in his book.”

In his encyclopedia, Sami wrote a three-column entry on George Sands, a female French writer.

Not “George Sands”, but George Sand; pseudonym of Amantine (also “Amandine”) Aurore Lucile Dupin; a socialist.

In Sami”s opinion she was a better writer than most of her male peers, but she wrote using a man”s name because it was easier than being a female writer.

Gawrych said: “He (Semseddin Sami) was expressing some revolutionary ideas through her in the encyclopedia, which censors let get by.”

According to Gawrych, Sami stated unequivocally that women must have equal rights, education and freedom to work like men. He was, however, patriarchal in his view in so far as he considered men should be protectors of the society.

In a society where having multiple wives was permissible, Sami said that a second wife is not good for the marriage and the children, “although he reluctantly accepted the possibility of a second wife if the first could not produce the children and if the first wife gave her permission,” Gawrych said.

Sami married a Turk in 1884. Gawrych pointed out that a posed photo of the pair shows Sami”s convictions.

The snap shows Sami”s wife unveiled and wearing European clothes. She sits next to him with her left hand resting next to his with three books directly behind their elbows.

Gawrych sees the photo as meaning that “their marriage is going to be one of equal minds.”

He added: “He gave his daughters a progressive education through tutors. He was still a patriarch but at the same time pushing the envelope.”

French philosopher says feminism under threat from ‘good motherhood’: here.

2 thoughts on “Feminism and 19th century Albanian literature

  1. One Dimensional Woman By Nina Power, Zero Books, 2009, 81 pp., $22.95

    One Dimensional Woman offers an interesting contribution to the current debate on work, sex and politics. Consciously drawing upon the critique of consumerist ideology in Herbert Marcuse’s 1964 work One-Dimensional Man, Power argues that when it comes to women’s liberation under capitalism, “what looks like emancipation is nothing but a tightening of the shackles”.



  2. Pingback: Novelist George Eliot, 150 years later | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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