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Kristina Gentile Mandala, one of the first Albanian writers

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Kristina Gentile Mandala is recognised as one of the first Albanian writers. She was born in the village of Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily. She came from an Arbëresh family, descended from the Albanian/Arbëresh settlements in Italy, which began in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries following the Ottoman conquest of Albanian lands.

Kristina was educated in the College of St. Mary. From her youth she was enthusiastic about the works of the Albanian Renaissance men Girolamo (Jeronim) de Rada and Demetrio (Dhimitër) Camarda, who lived and worked in Italy. Under the influence of her well-known cousin Zef Skiroi, she collected popular Albanian fairy tales, which she left as a collected manuscript.

After Dora d’Istria, she was the first Albanian woman who dealt with literary creativity. She published two collections of poetry: Pugare (1887) and Fatmeni (1887).

The writings of Kristina appeared in many journals of the time. For example, she published a considerable number of prose pieces in the journal Flamuri i Arbërit (Flag of the Arbërs), which was published in Italy.

Other Arbëresh women of the time followed in her footsteps, such as Mariantonia Braile (1894-1917) and Emrinia Tuttolomondo, who published a variety of literary profiles.

 

Extracted from the book “Distinguished Albanian Women” – Edi Shukriu

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