Two destinies intersect in Broken April. The first is that of Gjor, a young mountaineer who (much against his will) has just killed a man in order to avenge the death of his older brother, and who expects to be killed himself in keeping with the provisions of the Code that regulates life in the highlands. The second is that of a young couple on their honeymoon who have come to study the age-old customs of the place, including the blood feud.
While the story is set in the early twentieth century, life on the high plateaus of Albania takes life back to the Dark Ages. The bloody shirt of the latest victim is hung up by the bereaved for all to see―until the avenger in turn kills his man with a rifle shot. For the young bride, the shock of this unending cycle of obligatory murder is devastating. The horror becomes personified when she catches a glimpse of Gjor as he wanders about the countryside, waiting for the truce of thirty days to end, and life with it. That momentary vision of the hapless murderer provokes in her a violent act of revulsion and contrition. Her life will be marked by it always.
travelers. Gjorg asked again about the Kulla of Orosh. First, people told him it was quite close by, then, further on, when he thought he must really be drawing near, they told him it was still a long way. And each time the passers-by pointed in the same direction, in the distance where sight was lost in the mist. Two or three times Gjorg imagined that night was falling, but it turned out that he was mistaken. It was still that endless afternoon in which the villages drew further away from the
beyond. . . .” At those words she was offended and her cheeks burned. A month ago she herself had put that very question to him: Is the Code good or bad? Then he had smiled without answering her, but now. . . . “You needn’t be sarcastic!” She withdrew to the far end of the seat. “What?” It took some minutes before they came to an understanding. He laughed aloud, swore to her that he had never meant to offend her, that he did not even remember that she had once put the question to him, and he
Orosh had reached him, saying that he would be welcome at any season of the year and at any hour of the day or the night) was no clearer than the one he had cut off then in Tirana, drinking a cup of tea, seated on the sofa in his studio. But perhaps that came from the fact that there was something unclear in everything that had to do with the kulla where they would soon be guests. “He’s not exactly a prince,” Bessian said, “and yet, in a way, he’s more than a prince, not only because of his
multiplied as if in a mirage, of a single great mountain rather than a range of real peaks differing in height. The fog had made them unsubstantial, but it was strange how much more oppressive they seemed than in fine weather, when their rocks and sheer cliffs were plain to see. Gjorg heard the dull grating of the pebbles under foot. The villages along the road were far apart, and places with administrative functions or with an inn were rarer still. But had there been more of these, Gjorg would
walked side by side on the thick dark brown carpet formed by successive layers of dead leaves, here and there richly rotten, as if suffering a luxurious disease. Bessian felt that his wife was getting ready to say something to him. She appeared uneasy, but the sound of the leaves underfoot seemed to relieve her in part. “There’s another lake,” she said suddenly, on seeing the shoreline through the fir trees, and when he turned his head in that direction, she went on: “Bessian, surely you’ll