The Pyramid is a novel by Ismail Kadare that was first published in 1995. As with all his novels, Kadare uses only strict Albanian language and does not add foreign words. This is unique to him and many credit him with restoring the Albanian language.
The storyline follows the Pharaoh Cheops in 26th Century B.C.E. who decrees the construction of the greatest pyramid in the world. The pyramid is used as a useless and infinite project with the purpose to waste the country's resources in order to keep the populace in check. The building supervisors routinely whip and torment their workers. A secret police is organized and the court priests and architects continually devise more and more schemes to keep the project in motion. Focus is placed on Cheops' subjects who vary their emotional response to the project from fear to elation to suspicion. Paranoia and exhaustion run through the builders of the pyramid, as Kadare details out how certain stones (numbered) were acquired and the tensions involved therein.
"The eleven thousand three hundred and ninety-seventh stone was delivered: heavy, unyielding, identical to the thousands and thousands of other stones that had been placed at the foot of the pyramid. . . . The eleven thousand three hundred and ninety-eighth stone, from the Saqqara quarry, caused more or less the same number of deaths and mutilations as the previous stone." - pg 50
- Ismail Kadare, translators Jusuf Vrioni and David Bellos. Arcade Publishing, NY 1996.
Metaphors and themes
Kadare uses his story to provide criticism of such endeavors. The novel can be read with various subjects in mind including the agony of bureaucracy, the burden of Communism, and/or the self-interest of tyrannical rule. Perhaps likeness could be drawn between the novel and Maoist Communism, Egypt's political rule under Mubarak, and Albania under Communism. Some readers have focused on the irrational dedication that the people have toward the massive, draining project. Also, the text can be read with consideration for the emotional swaying of the populace and the obsession of the character Cheops, much like readers consider works by Auster and Kafka.