Albania's Cappuccino CoupIssue: Winter 1997-1998
'Oh, I know all about the Albanians', cried a lady; 'they are those
funny people with pink eyes and white hair.' But the Albanian is not
so quickly explainable; and of all the Balkan peoples he is least
known to the English.
--Edith Durham in The Burden of the Balkans
To people only glancingly familiar with it, Albania is the country
that put the a's into Ruritania. With its all-too-familiar
pretensions to antiquity, a language that appears to have remembered
its p's and q's but not many other letters, and an interwar
ruler--King Zog--who can be considered the last word in eccentric,
self-styled (and in his case self-appointed) Balkan monarchs, it is
perhaps understandable that even educated audiences tend to think of
Albanians in terms of the outlandishly dressed impostors in Mozart's
Cosi fan Tutte.