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A series of leaked letters sent by Ismail Kadare to the widow of the former Stalinist dictator, Enver Hoxha, have reopened a debate on the writer’s rapport with the authorities.
The letters appeared in Albania's local media after Albania's best known writer sued Hoxha’s widow for the return of a manuscript of his 1977 novel, "The Great Winter".
In two letters, one written in 1973 and the other in 1982, the writer seeks Nexhmije Hoxha's help in fending off attacks on his novels by communist bureaucrats.
Although the letters have nothing compromising about them, they have stirred a debate on whether Hoxha's intervention saved the writer from persecution by the communist apparatus.
Kadare was born in 1936 in the southern town of Gjirokastra, near the Greek border. He first studied at the University of Tirana in Albania and later at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow.
During the half-century of Stalinist rule in Albania, his works attacked totalitarianism and the doctrines of Socialist Realism with subtle allegories.
Kadare is not the first Eastern European writer whose relationship with a former communist regime has been questioned.
In October 2008, the Czech weekly Respekt publicized an investigation by the Czech Institute for Studies of Totalitarian Regimes, which alleged that Milan Kundera had once denounced a young Czech pilot, Miroslav Dvoracek, to the police as a spy.
A year earlier, the Polish language version of Newsweek magazine published allegations that the journalist and writer Ryzyard Kapucinski had worked for the Polish secret police during the Sixties and Seventies, even spying on fellow writers.
Shortly before the collapse of the Communist regime in 1990, Kadare claimed political asylum in France, issuing statements urging the democratisation of Albania and an end to single-party rule.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.