The Man Booker International-winning author of Broken April and The Siege, Albania's most renowned novelist, and perennial Nobel Prize contender Ismail Kadare explores three giants of world literature--Aeschylus, Dante, and Shakespeare--through the lens of resisting totalitarianism. In isolationist Albania, which suffered under a Communist dictatorship for nearly half a century, classic global literature reached Ismail Kadare across centuries and borders--and set him free. The struggles of Hamlet, Dante, and Aeschylus's tragic figures gave him an understanding of totalitarianism that shaped his novels. In these incisive critical essays informed by personal experience, Kadare provides powerful evidence that great literature is the enemy of dictatorship and imbues these timeless stories with powerful new meaning. With eloquent prose and the narrative drive of a great mystery novel, Kadare renews our readings of the classics and lends them a distinctly Albanian tint. Like Mark Twain's Mississippi River, M?rquez's Macondo, and Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, Kadare's Albania emerges as a microcosm of civilization; here, blood vengeance in mountain communities reaches the dramatic heights of Hamlet's dilemma, funereal rites take on the air of Greek tragedy, and political repression gives life the feel of Dante's nine circles of Hell. Like Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Essays on World Literature casts reading itself as a daring act of resistance to artistic suppression. Kadare's insights into the Western canon secure his own place within it. Gender: unisex.