Petar II Petrović Njegoš and Gjergj Fishta: Composers of National Epics

Matthew C. Curtis


While most modern theorists of nationalism emphasize the role of intellectuals “creating nations out of nationalism” (Gellner, 1983) or imagining the community of nations (Anderson, 1991), I argue that another role of intellectuals may also be equally as valid: the role of the poet as adapting existing communities, and the trappings of those communities, into the shape and appearance of a modern nation. Using the examples of the Montenegrin poet Petar II Petrović Njegoš and the Albanian poet Gjergj Fishta and their epics The Mountain Wreath (1847) and The Highland Lute (1939), I argue the continuation of their literary epics to the oral epic traditions which formed an important basis for Montenegrin and Northern Albanian communities.

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