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Julian Evans

Julian Evans is the author of Transit of Venus, a book of travels in the Pacific.

Kosovo

Julian Evans, 13 May 1999

Ismail Kadare knew what was coming six years ago. ‘The Albanians have kept extremely calm in Kosovo,’ he told me, ‘because they know that the Serbs are only waiting for a sign of provocation to start a terrible massacre. Milosevic is biding his time. All his plans are ready. He is encouraged by the passivity of the European nations and the US … The Slavs are very good at these nationalistic campaigns. Someone aggressive makes a move, puts extreme pressure on a neighbour, and the civilised world, which is tired out, accepts.’ Reading his words, published in the Guardian in February 1993, you could be excused for taking them (as I did when I heard them) as an indication of great foresight. Having talked to him several times since then I would now put it differently: his remarks spring not from foresight, but from terrible hindsight. What we are seeing on our television screens and reading about in our newspapers has happened before.‘

In Nabokov’s witty and disarming ‘Ballad of Longwood Glen’, published in the New Yorker in 1957, shy, dreamy Art Longwood climbs a tree on a family picnic to retrieve his son’s ball – and carries on climbing:

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