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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “N”

November 12th, 2016 · Books, Communist Prisons, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, History, International Media, PEOPLE, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Translations

Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “N”

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Paul Celan

Paul Celan

  Naiveté:

“Now, I am a person who likes simple words. It is true, I had realized before this journey that there was much evil and injustice in the world that I had now left, but I had believed I could shake the foundations if I called things by their proper name. I knew such an enterprise meant returning to absolute naiveté. This naiveté I considered as a primal vision purified of the slag of centuries of whorey lies about the world.”

(Paul Celan (1920-1970), Poet, Exile)

( “Edgard Jene and The Dream About The Dream”)

                                              (“Collected Prose”, Cancarnet, 1986)

 

Mambel Nandris: "Romanian Folk Tales"

Mabel Nandris: “Romanian Folk Tales”

 

  Nandris, Mabel (née Farrell): Altruism:“All that I did for Romania I did for free, 

  without any personal gain.” (‘pe degeaba’ – t.n.)

(Mabel Farrell Nandris: Personal Communication to the Author, Cambridge 1980)

 

 

 

Twenty Years in Siberia

Twenty Years in Siberia

Nandris – Cudla, Anita: A woman’s gulag:

“So much misery and suffering I had never had before as I have had now. Can anyone imagine how – in a winter with 40 degrees below zero – could a woman have made a journey of 80 kilometres on a reindeer sledge through pathless snow-drifts, through forests, through wilderness? In the night I could see nothing but the whiteness of the snow. I hung on with great fear and attention to the “narta” for it was small and if they had tripped suddenly, I could easily have been thrown out to be abandoned in a snow-drift where I would  have never been found.”

(Anita Nandris-Cudla (1904- 1986), “Twenty years in Siberia”)

 

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran

  Nation:

  “When a nation has no principle left in its blood,

    the only resource is the will to  disintegrate.”

                                                          (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, exile)                                                           (“Précis de décomposition”)

 

 

Ion Gavrila Ogoranu

Ion Gavrila Ogoranu

 Nation:

“A Nation is not vanquished when foreign forces reduce it to pulp. A Nation is vanquished only                  when it gives up reaffirming its dignity, when it considers itself vanquished within its inner self.”

(Viorel Gheorghita, Farmer, Anti-Communist Resistance leader)

(Note on Ion Gavrila Ogoranu’s Memoirs: “Fir trees break up, they never bend”)

 

(1923 – 2006)

 

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran

Nationality:

“I have no nationality – the best possible status for an intellectual.”

                                  (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer, exile)

 

 


 Ana Novac,

Ana Novac

Nationality:

“I was born in 1929 in Transylvania (România). One good morning, when I was 11 years old I woke up to be a Hungarian citizen, without having moved to another place, another street, or even without having changed my shirt. At the age of 14 I was deported to Auschwitz, as a Jew. On my release in 1945 I had become again a Romanian citizen. That is why I have the greatest difficulty in establishing my nationality, other than from my identity papers which specified that I was Jewish.”

(Ana Novac (1929-2010) “The Beautiful Days of My Youth:

 My Six Months in Auschwitz and Plaszow”)

 

rhinoceros Negoità, Lucia Carmen: Rhinoceros:

“In the Orwellian world of communist dictatorship the mechanisms of censorship had reached a devilish threshold of perfection, especially during the last decade. Aggressive, obvious or hidden, these devices were a sure way towards the alienation of the individual. As in Eugène Ionesco’s famous play, we were all in danger of becoming rhinoceros.

The whole system, well planned in its structure, condemned a whole people to a slow but sure death of the soul. The kulturniks of the age, those who, higher or lower in ranks, carried out the instructions received from the Party, from Ceausescu himself, had an inexhaustible imagination in heightening suspicion, fear and terror. The comic and the absurd mingled with the tragic. The individual himself was doomed to being a mere number, in a monotonous mortifying series.”

(Lucia Negoità, b. 1945, Breaza, quoted by Vianu, Lidia, in:

“Censorship in Romania”, pp. 159-161)

 

Brancusi & Arethia

Brancusi & Arethia

Negroponte, Sanda, née Tàtàrescu (1919-2009) – about her mother Aretia Tàtàrescu:

“ Who suffered terribly in all this was my mother: her husband and daughter were arrested and her son was in a mental hospital in Paris. I must add that mother, who lived always in the shadow of my father, was never involved in politics, not even for a single day. Furthermore, as an anecdotal aside, she never ever voted in elections: she deemed it unethical to vote for one’s own husband. So this is how it fell upon her to look after her family.

She was a woman of an extraordinary perception for what is beautiful. After the First War she settled in Oltenia, in the native village of my father’s, at Poiana-Gorj and there she was able to mix the beautiful with social duties. She realized that County Gorj was a very poor region, with many orphans and so she founded a charity with the aim of reviving the tradition of the carpet weaving of Oltenian style.

Mother was faced with a stark choice: either that of leading a mundane life, as the wife of a Prime Minister, or a life dedicated to things she felt it her duty to carry out. She was a lady of means and, as such, she felt it was her social duty to assist the poor girls of County Gorj, for whom she founded a textile mill producing Oltenian-style rugs, with modern patterns. For it she received various prizes abroad. In 1937 one of her rugs received a medal in Paris. This was her vocation. She was an extraordinary woman as a mother and wife and I should add, an extraordinary woman for her country as well: Brâncusi’s coming to Romania was entirely due to my mother” (t.n. to create the monumental triptych ensemble of the ‘Column of Infinity’, the ‘Gate of the Kiss’ and the ‘Table of Silence’ ).

(Sanda Tàtàrescu-Negroponte (1919-2009),

Daughter of Romanian P.M. Gheorghe Tàtàrescu,

Interviewed by Marian Oprea, “Lumea Magazin”, nr. 7, 2002)

 

Negroponte at Buckingham Palace

Sanda Tatarescu as a Debutante at Buckingham Palace

Sanda Tàtàrescu-Negroponte,  (1919-2009) –

From Buckingham Palace to the Communist Prisons:

“Until 1950 I lived times of great happiness, to the point of irresponsibility. In the meantime I was married and had children and I was leading a happy life, I should say somewhat superficial, if one is to describe it more accurately; but how beautiful it was! That was until the moment when the terrible (political) persecutions started… of course members of the Tàtàrescu family were amongst its victims: in all eleven people three women – two aunts and myself, who committed no crime and all the brothers and brother-in-laws of my father’s.

It is true, that when I arrived at the prison sorting centre, at Ghencea, I was made to scrub the floors, something I had never done in my life, which prompted my self-analysis: ‘what was the point to have been presented to the King of England, when I could not even scrub the floors?’ But, at the same time, I said to myself: ‘I am deeply grateful to my father, who gave me the chance of being what I was, once upon a time, even though, now, I had to pay so dearly for it.’ But God helped to see me through all these prisons, with their terrible hardships and deprivations – so that at the end of my life, as I am now 82 years-old, I can state that I always looked people in the eye, that I protected my family and children and that I kept with dignity the name which I inherited from my parents.

(Sanda Tàtàrescu-Negroponte,

Daughter of Romanian PM Gheorghe Tàtàrescu,

interviewed by Marian Oprea, Lumea Magazin, nr. 7, 2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “M”

November 12th, 2016 · Books, Communist Prisons, Diaspora, Famous People, History, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Translations

 

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “M”

 

Marthe Bibesco

Marthe Bibesco

  Marriage:
“She was surprised to have nothing to do: marriage was a misfortune, but not an occupation.”
(Marthe Bibesco, (1886-1973), Writer, Socialite)

 

Rev. Calciu-Dumitreasa

Rev. Calciu-Dumitreasa

  Martyrs:
“…We are now witnessing an evident return to God, and this is happening in countries where faith is persecuted. Today the communist countries are giving the world new martyrs for Christ…”

(Fr. Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa (1925-2006), Dissident Orthodox Priest)

 

Gregor von Rezzori

Gregor von Rezzori

  Memory:
“Memory is not absolutely reliable – it makes an arbitrary selection of what it wants to preserve and it discards what it dislikes, it hoists the emotions to the fore, it transfigures and it destroys.”
(Gregor von Rezzori, (1914-1998), Writer, Exile)

 

Paul Goma

Paul Goma

  Mentality Change:

“If the Romanians would like to become a people, rather than remain a pupulace with an eternal rural mentality, if the Romanians would like to have their qualities and good deeds acknowledged, then they might need starting to acknowledge their own own                                                                                                                                                                    defects and misdeeds”.

Paul Goma, (b. 1935), Writer, Dissident, Political prisoner,

Exile in France)

 

Georges ENESCO

Georges ENESCO

  Menuhin, Yehudi:
“Wasn’t it a joy to give advise to Yehudi Menuhin? If I were to say that I had formed him I would be wrong, because he was already marvellous when I took him in hand.”
(Georges Enesco, (1881-1955) composer, conductor, violinist, exile)

 

Veronica Micle

Veronica Micle

  Micle, Veronica:
Longing:
“How often may I not have hoped
At each and ev’ry movement
So longing that you might appear
You, sweetest human being?

And then how oft’ have I not cried
For hours, in the night,
To snuffl’ alone the candlelight
Without my love in sight?

(Veronica Micle, poem dedicated to Mihai Eminescu)
(Copyright Translation by Constantin Roman, 2002)

Paul CELAN

Paul CELAN

  Mirror:
“She turned her back on the mirror, hating the mirror’s vanity.
(Paul Celan (1920-1970), Poet, “Backlight”, “Collected Prose”, 1986)

 

 

 

Nelly Miricioiu

Nelly Miricioiu

  Miricioiu, Nelly:
“…Nelly Miricioiu sang with a tremendous palette of colours, a delicate touch with the coloratura, and plenty of old-fashioned intensity…”
(Robert Thicknesse, The Times, London, 28 October 2003)

 

 

Vatican

Vatican

  Mistress:
“Let me through, I am the Pope’s mistress.”
(Countess Starjensky, née Princess Bibesco, ca 1900,

exhorting the Swiss Guards to let her enter the Vatican)

 

                                                                                                                     

Theodor Pallady

Theodor Pallady

Modern:
“I am not a modern painter, I am timeless”
Theodore Pallady (1871-1956), Painter, Exile)

 

Gen. Pacepa

Gen. Ion Pacepa

Monitoring:
“Monitoring the thoughts of the entire Romanian population

has been Ceausescu’s major domestic policy goal,

for which he has spared no expense or manpower.”
(Gen. Ion Pacepa, Securitate chief, defected to the US,
“Red Horizons”, Heinemann, London 1988)

 

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran

Music:
“Music is the refuge of souls ulcerated by happiness.”
(Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer, exile)
(“Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

Mystery:
“Mystery – a word which we use to trick the others, to make them believe that we are more profound than they are.”
(Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer, exile)
(“Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

                                          

The Village Girl who kicked a Hornets Nest

The Village Girl who kicked a Hornets Nest

Müller, Herta’s Wish:
“I wished that [my interrogator] would carry a sack with all his dead. I wished his hacked-off hair would smell like a newly mown graveyard whenever he sat at the barber’s. I wished his crimes would reek when he sat down at the table with his grandson after work. That the boy would be disgusted by the fingers that were feeding him cake”.
(Herta Müller, (b. 1953, Banat, Romania) “The Land Of Green Plums”)

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “L”

November 10th, 2016 · Diaspora, Famous People, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, quotations, Translations

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations – Letter “L”

 

Elena Lupescu

Elena Lupescu

  Laszlo, Philip de, on Madame Lupescu:

“I was greatly surprised – she has fine features, lovely red hair, is very versatile in her strong intelligence, and with great experience of the world. She spoke French, English and German to me. I was sorry that her face, particularly her mouth, was so heavily painted, for I think she would look better without, but this place is the home of exaggerated artificiality. I must admit that I am looking forward to painting her. She will be a splendid sitter. Whatever her life and past, she is simpler than these complicated comedians at the Court”.

(Owen Rutter, Portrait of a painter, pp. 376-377)

 

Dinu Lipatti

Dinu Lipatti

  Lessons:

“Giving lessons means receiving them.”

                                                                                             (Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950), Pianist, Composer, Exile)

 

 

Georges Enesco

Georges Enesco

  Life:

“It’s finished… this story started over there, in the Moldavian plains and it ends here, in the heart of Paris. To reach the great city, where I finished my contest, from the depths of my native village I took a dusty road marked by trees that are passing by to infinity. It was certainly a long road and yet I think of it so short!”

                        (Georges Enesco (1881-1955) composer, conductor, violinist, exile)

 

 

  Limerick on Madame Lupescu:

“Have you heard of Madam Lupescu,

Who came to Romania’s rescue?

It’s a wonderful thing

To be under a King:

Is Democracy better I ask you?”

(Anonimous)

 

Clara Haskil (1895-1960)

Clara Haskil (1895-1960)

  Lipatti, Dinu, seen by Clara Haskil:

“Oh, I could spend hours talking about Dinu. He was always so aware, so alive, in spite of all the terrible pain he had to suffer. And his music-making! I really can’t find the words to describe what I felt whenever I hear him play. I often thought he felt almost guilty he had been blessed with so much genius.”

“Clara Haskil, – a self-portrait”,

(from the plaquette of the CD – TAH 430-432 Clara Haskil en récital)

 

Maria Cebotari

Maria Cebotari

  Lisa della Casa about Maria Cebotari:

“Once heard, never forgotten!”

 

 

 

 

Eugene Ionesco

Eugene Ionesco

  Literature:

“So long as one lives, all is pretext for literature.”

                                                                                       (Eugene Ionesco (1912-1994), dramatist, “Exit the King”)

 

 

 

Emil Cioran (b. Transylvania, 1911 - d. Paris, 1995), celebrated in france as one of the greatest 20th c writers - He was a friend of Mircea Eliade, Eugène Ionesco, Paul Celan, Samuel Beckett, and Henri Michaux.

Emil Cioran
(b. Transylvania, 1911 – d. Paris, 1995)

 

 

  Literature:

“Prolific in essence, literature lives through the plethora of vowels, through the cancer of the word.”

                                            (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer, “Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

 

 

Ionesco: Exit the king

Ionesco: Exit the king

  Living:

“Living is abnormal.”

                                                                                  (Eugene Ionesco (1912-1994), dramatist, “The Rhinoceros”)

 

 

 

Gregor von Rezzori

Gregor von Rezzori

  Living:

“In time, it was not me who was living, it was the time which was living in me.”

(Gregor von Rezzori (1914-1998), writer, exile)

 

 

 

Emile CIORAN

Emile CIORAN

  Love:

“The art of love? That is to know how to match the temperament of a vampire with the discretion of an anemone.”

                                                                                                    (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer)

(“Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

 

 

Paul CELAN

Paul CELAN

  Love:

“Love despaired of them: so long was their embrace.”

                                                                                                                         (Paul Celan (1920-1970), Poet, Exile)

                                                                                                        (“Backlight”, “Collected Prose”, Carcanet, 1986)

 

 

Brancusi

Brancusi

  Love:

“Love calls for love. It is not as important to be loved as to love with all one’s power and one’s being .”

(Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), Sculptor, Exile)

 

 

 

Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran

  Lover:

“After the metaphors, the Chemist. This is how great sentiments are frittered away. To start as a poet and finish as a gynaecologist. From all conditions, that of the lover is the least enviable.”

                                                                                                       (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer)

(“Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

 

 

Elena Ceausescu

Elena Ceausescu

  Love making:

“A fuzzy noise together with heavy breathing and short yelps came suddenly out of the speaker… ‘They should be arrested! At eleven in the morning, working people should be out working, not making love.”

(Elena Ceausescu (1916-1989), on listening to a secret service tape,

recorded in a private home in Bucharest,

quoted by Gen. Ion Pacepa’s ‘Red Horizons’, 1988)

 

Syllogismes de l'amertume

Syllogismes de l’amertume

  Lucidity:

“Purpose of lucidity: to reach a reasonable despair, an Olympian ferocity.”

                                                                                                                       (Emil Cioran (1911-1995), philosopher, writer:

“Syllogismes de l’amertume”)

 

 

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations: Letter “K”

November 9th, 2016 · Books, Diaspora, Famous People, History, International Media, PEOPLE, quotations, Translations

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 Dictionary of Romanian Quotations: Letter “K”

 

Alice Keppel

Alice Keppel

 

  Keppel, Mrs.

“To these gatherings (n.t. Mrs. Keppel’s parties during WWII at the London Ritz), Princess Callimachi brought that element of the Orient Express which Violet Trefusis missed so much.”

(Philippe Jullian and John Philips,

“Violet Trefusis Life and Letters”, pp. 106)

 

Nichifor Crainic

Nichifor Crainic

  King:

“Have Mercy, o God, on our King,

Lend your ear and hear

The prayer of our whole Land…

Give Him many days,

Anoint His brow with Thy Grace,

Have Mercy, o God, on our King!”

(Nichifor Crainic, (1889-1972). Poet)

 

Constantin Brancusi

Constantin Brancusi

  Kosmutzà, Corneliu on Brâncusi:

“The work (Prometheus) was done in clay, whilst Brâncusi was telling various (folk) tales, when not playing flutes of his own manufacture or the guitar. He would be highly amused when I would take an Indian song to be a Romanian lament song.… the Atelier in Montparnasse where the artist was working was damp and spartan at the limit o bare necessity. Brâncusi’s lived between mounds of clay covered in damp cloth and of rafters needed for his sculpture.”

(http://www.Brancusi.ro/1911Prometeu1.htm)

 

  Kosmutzà, Otilia (Mrs. György Bölöni) seen by Gilberte Brassai:

“I enjoy spending time with the Bölönis. Mrs.. Bölöni (Ady used to call her Itoka and the name has stuck *) is short rotund and talkative in a woman-like way. She is sometimes highfalutin and effusive and sometimes she curses vehemently. But she knows a lot about Anatole France, whose secretary she used to be and also about Ady. It is just now that I heard that Ady once wanted to jump off the Eiffel Tower”.

*) (a.n. ‘Ady’ is the Hungarian poet Ady Endre (1877-1919), whose castle in Transylvania was bought by Octavian Goga, (q.v. Veturia Goga);

(Gilberte Brassaï, op.cit. 70)

Kossuth Lajos (1802-1894)

Kossuth Lajos
(1802-1894)

  Kosuth Lajos (Hungarian 1848 Revolutionary):

“He seemed to be not only a well informed and distinguished man, but also ‘un homme de bien’.”

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth of Romania, Pss. of Wied

Elizabeth of Romania, Pss. of Wied  Kremnitz, Mitte on Romanian folk grreting Queen Elizabeth of Romania:

“The people who came to greet her (Queen Elisabeta of Wied, t.n.) did not look like the conventional folk of Northern European capitals. They looked so beautiful in their multi-coloured and original costumes, so full of dignity and grace, that it almost looked as if it was set on artistic criteria by some theatre stage director in order to play the scene of a princely cortège.”

(Mite Kremnitz on the reception reception given in 1869  by the inhabitants of Bucharest to their Queen – Elizabeth of Wied on her entry in the city.

(Quoted by Vasile Avram in: ‘Cetatea Literarà’, 2002)

*  *  *  *

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Dictionary of Romanian Quotations: Letter “J”

November 6th, 2016 · Books, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, History, International Media, PEOPLE, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Translations

can-stock-photo_csp5530633  Dictionary of Romanian Quotations: Letter “J”

 

James II by Peter Lely

James II by Peter Lely

  James II, King

“To revolt is one thing, to approve is something else. When James II had fallen, there were certain Anglican bishops who followed into exile the pro-Catholic, or perhaps the Catholic King, only because he was the legitimate Sovereign and no matter what happened to him, he was irreplaceable”.

(Nicolae Steinhardt, (1912-1989), Philosopher, Orthodox Monk, “Jurnalul Fericirii”)

 

Jewish Writers Union of Romania:

Mihail Sebastian

Mihail Sebastian

“This morning I made the stupid mistake of going to Dorian’s, where I had been invited to a ‘writers conference’. I helplessly witnessed the constitution of “the Union of Jewish Writers” with Benador, Calugaru and Dorian at its head. Unknown figures, non-entities, old ambitions and troubles, all drawing fresh life from impudence and ostentation.

I won’t forgive my cowardice at not having shouted out all they deserved to hear. But that’s the last time I let myself be caught in such snares.”

(Mihail Sebastian (Iosif Hechter), (1907-1945), Playwright, Journalist, “Journal, 1935-1944”, Heinemann, London, 2001)

 

Jonathan Swift’s Satires:

jonathan-swift  “Publishing Swift’s satires in 1985 (in Communist Romania, t.n.), I myself fought a lot with the censor in order to include “A Modest proposal” concerning eating Irish children, which had become ‘subversive’ here on account of meat shortage in Romania. Faced with the alternative of not publishing the book at all, or doing it without the famous text, I gave it up. The supreme level of censorship was a department of the (Communist) Party Central Committee.”

(Denisa Comànescu (b. 1954, Buzau, Romania, ibid., 219-221)

 

Paul CELAN

Paul CELAN

  Judgement:

“The day of judgement had come. In order to find the greatest crime the cross was nailed to Christ.”

(Paul Celan (1920-1970), Poet, Exile: “Backlight”, “Collected Prose”, Carcanet, 1986)

 

Petru Dumitriu

Petru Dumitriu

  Judgemental:

“(My western interlocutors), so impeccable, irreproachable, immaculate (…) who would have never fallen into temptation, neither under threats victims to their weaknesses, nor experienced half a century of tyranny (…) they would not be fit to judge me.”

(Petru Dumitriu (1924-2002), writer, exile: «La Moisson»)

 

Madeleine Cancicov

Madeleine Cancicov

  Judges:

“ Judges are prodigal because their life is not at stake”.

(Madeleine Cancicov (1904-1985), lawyer, writer, political prisoner, exile: “Le cachot des marionettes”)

 

 

 

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Constantin ROMAN – Love at the time of the Swine Flu (Part I of 2)

November 1st, 2016 · Diary, Education, History, OPINION, PEOPLE, quotations, Short Stories & Cameos

Constantin ROMAN – Love at the time of the Swine Flu (Part I of 2)

 

Black Death

Black Death

Hysteria had gripped the city: it made on wonder what might have been like living in London, centuries ago, at the time of the Black Death?

As always, the blame was left on the doorstep of hapless immigrants, foreign sailors, or refugees fleeing the horrors of persecution on the Continent: Flemish Huguenots, Jewish Estonians coming from Russia, Spaniards who brought the decease with them, decimating good Christians, like us, living in fear of God… Yes, the ‘Spanish Flu’ most certainly came from the Peninsula! What the Spaniards of Armada memory did not succeed, they certainly managed rather well with this pandemic. We were very lucky indeed to avoid it, during the Peninsular War, but what, with the rock of Gibraltar, still being British, the border acted more like a sieve, than a proper filter. We may have won the battle, but surely not the ongoing war: in 1918 one million of our people died of Spanish flu, caused by this mysterious virus, called H1N1. After such massive population cull, do you think, Britain might have become a better place? I doubt it: the flu unleashed the beginning of the end, the very decline of our great British Empire, as both WWI and the Spanish flu had a propensity of killing strapy young men. It caused our genetic pool to be frustrated of the best input: look at the result of these insipid pen pushers in our Civil Service, not to mention greedy parliamentarians, or incompetent financiers!

And then, some sixty years on, in 1977, we were visited, yet again, by another mortal affliction: the ‘Legionnaire’s disease’. This time we were told it came in two different strains – one of which was called ‘Pontiac fever’… Oh, how nice! Now I was expected to die of Pontiac rather than of Legionnaire – it is infinitely more chic! Remember, a few centuries back, bereaved relations, whose dearly departed died of some dreadful illness, which inflicted shame on the family? To avoid social opprobrium, honest folk would

Great London Fire 1066

Great London Fire 1066

bribe the coroner to mark on the death certificate a more respectable cause of death, such as heart failure. Surely, in the end we all died of heart failure, nothing wrong with it, so long as it was less specific. But rumors spread like flames during the Great London Fire, of 1666. Neighbors were no fools and knew too well that it was something fishy when the dead man’s corpse looked ashen, with purple spots on.

Oh, damn those dark memories, those evil spirits torturing my brain. Much better to be, as my friends insisted, ‘positive’:

– Be positive, old boy!

Daughter even went as far as recommending a shrink, suggesting that I was ‘depressed’:

Freud

Freud

                                           – Me, depressed? Never!

Besides, psychologists and sundry therapists, even those with an address in Harley Street, were very strange creatures and odd balls. Often, they took such profession as a result of their own intractable psychological problems, in the first place. Look at Freud, for example, say no more!

I once had a friend whose daughter was completely screwed up, to put it mildly and she became a marriage counselor, inflicting permanent damage to good Christian couples, which were trying to patch up their sexual incompatibilities… How would this daughter manage such little project? Well, quite simply: she was educated in a catholic convent and was very persuasive. No other qualifications were needed to become a therapist, except good looks, combined with a gift of the gab, smooth language and the right accent, nothing more that that: no higher education, or specialist training, nothing at all! As the profession was not scrutinized by the Medical Council my friend’s daughter’s brainwave hit the jackpot. She may have been screwed up mentally, but she was certainly presentable, knew how to look sane and knowledgeable. Well, in the process, she succeeded emasculating all her male patients AND sterilize mentally their wives, all in one! Luckily, she plied her art in a Catholic country, like Ireland, bereft of the usual forms of contraception. Her Dublin practice helped bring the population explosion under control. The effect did not go amiss with a grateful government: universities and learned societies heaped on her honorary degrees, Television channels all over the world queued to ask her appear on talk shows, or even on ‘Britain has Talent’, ‘Have I got News for You’ and more … Her books became best sellers and were made compulsory reading in schools. She got in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’. She became a millionairess and was proposed for a Nobel Prize. But, luckily, by some divine intervention, this final accolade eluded her.

The Catholic Church had a mysterious way in this murky affair: my friend became a convert and a devout Roman Catholic, once she realized that her life was afflicted by an incurable disease. She even confided to me:

– You know, my dear boy, Catholicism is a very good religion to die in, it is the best.

She left her millions to the Vatican, to consecrate her in a gigantic statue in the guise of the Virgin Mary, no less, opposite the gigantic Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro, only, this time, perched on an African mountain peak. In her lifetime she was no saint, to put it mildly, but she was beautiful and many a hopeful bachelor passed between her bed sheets, hoping for a share of the spoils. When they did not succeed to woe her, she offered them an honourable exit, which they could hardly refuse: she made suicide respectable. When she became a reformed rake, only weeks before she died, she was persuaded that she was a reincarnation of Mother Theresa, as she retired to a Convent of Dominican nuns. Her less charitable friends and relations, being frustrated of the spoils of any material windfall, spread the rumor that

                                – she now tried to seduce God….

So much for that, but, surely, my case was rather different, in trying to resort to the services of a shrink. Besides, I was not destined, by some divine providence, to become the focus of attention of my friend’s late daughter: my modest ability of putting away, quite erratically and parsimoniously, a few hormones, did not change the world’s statistics and were most unlikely to affect adversely the population growth of Britain, or any other country.

Back to my own good self, for me, suddenly all changed the day I went to see my GP for some innocuous bother. As I was reputed to be, in our village, ‘the man who lived at the big house’, the doctor had not seen me for ages (as a recluse I am loath of seeing anybody): one thing lead to another, as I heard the quack recommend:

                        – My dear Sir, make love more often!

I was gobsmacked. He noticed my raised eyebrows and he immediately qualified his advice:

­                        – It helps lose some weight, you know? Lose two stones and you’ll  feel more positive. You will feel even on top of     the  world, I assure you!

I was rather skeptical of such advice, and not a little diffident! I had visions of the late Archbishop of Paris, who, in the 1970s, died in flagrante delito, as he was called upon to administer the last rites, at the home of a professional Madam and he died on the job, as it were, to put it mildly…

   At my age, I thought this was a dangerous gamble to take… That evening I took a stiff drink, before retiring to bed, to ponder over the iniquity of losing so many stones, in one go. It made me feel uncomfortable and suspicious of the quack’s motives. Besides, I liked my food and I was not entirely certain that I would find all those willing partners, capable of assisting me with some contortionist Kama Sutra. Rightly, or wrongly, I thought that such act had to be spontaneous, less mechanistic and, perhaps, inspired by true love, rather than prophylactics, or even Charity!

A strange hang over, came haunting me, from my romantic school days, when I was still a virgin and considered the virtue of eternal love being superior to physical love: it had its mystique, almost like the love for the Virgin Mary!

That night I did not sleep well and even the late-night cup did not help allay my discomfort. Eventually, I appeared, somehow, to have fallen asleep, I do not know for how long, as the sunshine lit my bedroom and the church bells across the village green reminded me that it was Sunday.

                   – Ah, what a lovely day! Surely, I could enjoy listening to Baroque music played after mass by the Vicar’s wife:

She was a real gem, trained at the Royal School of Organists, a talented musician, now marooned in the wilds of the shires, withering her life away, with a well-meaning, but dull husband.

                   – Poor shrinking violet, I thought: she was in dire need of tantric prophylaxis!

(End of Part 1 of 2)

 

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Constantin ROMAN – Love at the time of the Swine Flue (Part 2 of 2)

October 31st, 2016 · Books, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Short Stories & Cameos

Constantin ROMAN – Love at the time of the Swine Flue (Part 2 of 2)

parish-church_1  I spruced myself up, to look more like a country squire that I was and had to live to the expectations of the man who lived at the Manor House. Moreover, I was painfully aware of what was expected of a man who, by ancient tradition, had his own pew, decorated with flying angels bearing the family coat of arms, bang opposite the Vicar’s pulpit. Let us not forget that even my ancestors had their graves here. Scores of stained glass windows, with their mitered figures, filtered the light in the interior of this Norman church: its Gothic Perpendicular aisles were added much later, also by a forebear of mine, in the 15th century. Yet, by some strange quirk of events, the irony was that I was no Anglican, as my ancestors left England when a great-great grandfather went to Saint Petersburg, at the bequest of Catherine the Great. The empress wanted him to design her English gardens and so we obliged and went native in Russia, where scores of sons and grandsons climbed the greasy social ladder to command imperial favors.

Eventually, we married in the local aristocracy and became ourselves bearded Russian Orthodox: but, no sooner that we espoused our new religion, that the Bolshevik revolution engulfed Russia, family fled the country, across Siberia and the Far East, to become rudderless: they fell between two stools, two civilizations. A schizophrenic crisis of identity took hold of us:

– What were we, really: Russian? or, English? or, maybe Huguenots?

Pushkin

Pushkin

To this day I have not come with a clear-cut answer to this dilemma! We were tall people, with blue eyes, the shade of a faded sky, which could have been both Russian and English. Yet, because of a dark secret in the family, I had dark curly hair, not unlike Lord Byron, or even Pushkin, who, rumor had it, was the great grandson of a black slave, brought to Russia, as a curiosity and survived the harsh winters! Luckily, he was hardier than Napoleon! My hairstyle was definitely very striking, and a head-turner in Society.

One day, when I was old enough for safekeeping family secrets, Mother confessed to me that:

           – Her real name was not Olga Ayvasovskaya, but rather Olga Romanovna!

           – How come?

          – Because she was the result of the secret love affair between Grand Duchess Olga, the Tsar’s youngest daughter by an Ossetian Imperial Guard, posted to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg!

Georgian Princess

Georgian Princess

Ossetians came from the Caucasus and were reputed to be loyal soldiers, like the Swiss Guards at the Vatican and, doubtless, their fiery demeanor caused Olga, the youngest Imperial Princess, to loose her head and in the process become pregnant. Revolution was brewing and times were uncertain, when, in the dead of night, Grandmother was called upon by Empress Alexandra, herself and ordered to take the baby girl away for adoption. Grandmother was too old to have children herself, but she took pity at the bundle of flesh and adopted her as her own, so that the child’s identity should not be discovered. She inquired about the Ossetian officer’s identity, with the Georgian Princess Oberliani, a Lady-in-waiting to the Czarina: only after she was bound to utter secrecy she was told that the putative inseminator was none other than Prince Koussov, son of a rich Caucasian aristocrat… This Prince of Caucasian lineage had all the qualities of quick blood, good looks, flamboyance, excellent shot, and not a little extravagance! crocodileGranny remembered very clearly the dashing Ossetian Commander of the Palace Guards. He used to keep a crocodile as a pet, which he took, on a silver chain, for a walk in the streets of St Petersburg. It caused great alarm among the beautiful ladies.… Those were the days, in the wake of the Bolshevik uprising. Soon after, Lenin’s revolution put paid to this wayward, if colorful society, which disintegrated, either by being slaughtered, or forced into exile.

O, how much I loved grandmother’s tales of old Russia, whether they were true, or fancy! They marked so many milestones in my imagination, which never left me for the rest of my life.

Russian mouzhik

Russian mouzhik

As one would expect, scores of historical characters came to posses my life: Princes and Dukes galore, bearded Patriarchs and Metropolitans, intrepid Cossacks, Tolstoyesque Russian nobility, eccentric revolutionaries and conspirators (Herzen, Kamenev, Zenoviev), ignorant – but loveable mouzhiks, followed by the new children of the Revolution: the destitute Counts dressed in rags, spies, foreign correspondents, diplomats and last but not least, the new contortionists – the communist bureaucracy, not forgetting the NKVD & GRU satraps, interrogators and informers: in fact, all the colours of a riveting Russian panorama, present in my mother’s and my grandmother’s tales, came to life, before my eyes….

Love thy neighbour!

Love thy neighbour!

Suddenly, I stopped reminiscing, as I noticed the Padre coughing, so that I should focus my attention on him: was I nodding, perhaps? No, I was not, just evoking our times in old Russia, in this very English church, in the shires. I managed to put up with the Padre’s sermon, a rubicund fellow, who, at some point, I thought, made an oblique reference to me:

– Love thy neighbour!

he urged the congregation, fixing me, with his bespectacled eyes. How right he was! For a split second my face lit up and I noticed the Padre thinking foolishly that his sermon had some effect on me, as his own face was transfigured, in turn.

Soon, the Bach Fugue saved further embarrassment. The congregation started to shuffle and cough, signalling that service ended. They wanted to make an undignified rush for the exit, but tradition expected that they should wait for the Squire to stand up and leave first. Too bad! I wanted to wait for the last bars of the organ, before I was going to budge: this was my little revenge! At the church door I could not avoid shaking hands with the Vicar and exchange some bland words, as I heard him say:

– Squire, how good to see you! We do not have this privilege very often!

 

Our Viking ancestor

Our Viking ancestor

My dear Vicar, you should not be so surprised: you know that I  am Russian Orthodox, my wife is Roman Catholic and our children are Anglicans: we are a very ecumenical family indeed, but you  are right in expecting us here, more often. This is the church  founded by our ancestors, who were here on Doomsday… well,  even before that, if I were to think of the Vikings… Story goes that our Viking ancestor, Cedric, of the House of Odin, raped all women in this village, and nailed their husbands’ skins to the church door.  One single villager escaped: he was in the woods, herding the swine… he must have been your ancestor!

The Vicar was not going to rise to the occasion: he ignored my provocation, saying instead:

– Squire, you must come to the Vicarage, for tea. We shall have scones, specially baked for you, in the oven!’

vicarage

vicarage

Dreams of the Vicar’s wife’s oven lit my face, as I warmed up to the offer, thinking at the advice given by the village quack, only the day before: “Make love more often, my dear Sir!”

How can I resist, Vicar? It would be churlish of me to say no!  Besides, I live a rather frugal life. So, for me, the offer of scones  with Jersey cream and Vicarage jam is as memorable an experience as listening to a Bach Cantata

 

I suddenly realised that I must have been dreaming: I was in the middle of the road, on this pedestrian crossing, when an impatient driver started tooting, prompting me to jump off my skin and move on:

– These days, people were so impatient with absent-minded, elderly folk:

            – People are so rude… they have no manners… no education, nothing at all!

I thought:

Maybe I am getting too old! Perhaps my children are right complaining that they heard this story before…

  zebra_crossing

                                                            * * * * *

(End of Part 2 of 2)

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Romanian Dictionary of Quotations, Selected & Translated by Constantin ROMAN: Letter ‘I’

October 29th, 2016 · Books, Diaspora, Famous People, OPINION, PEOPLE, quotations, Translations

Romanian Dictionary of Quotations, Selected & Translated by Constantin ROMAN: Letter ‘I’

letter-i

Lauren Bacall, Movie Star (Lauren's mother was born in Romania and migrated to New York with her parents.

Lauren Bacall, (1924-2014), Movie Star (Lauren’s mother was born in Romania and migrated to New York with her parents)

 

Imagination:
“Imagination is the highest kite that one can fly.”
(Lauren BACALL (1924-2014), “By Myself”, Jonathan Cape, London, 1979)

 

 

 

 

 

Isidore_ISOU (1925-2007)

Isidore_ISOU (1925-2007)

Impulses:
“All impulse escapes stereotyping.”
(Isidore ISOU (1925-2007), Amos (1953), Writer, Founder of Lettrism)

 

 

 

 

Emile CIORAN

Emile CIORAN (1911-1995)

 

 

  Indifference:
“Let man lose his faculty of indifference: he will become a virtual assassin. Let him now make God out of a transformed idea – the consequences are incalculable. ”
(Emil CIORAN (1911-1995), Philosopher, Writer: “Précis de decomposition”)

 

 

Isidore ISOU (1925-2007)

Isidore ISOU (1925-2007)

Intimate:
“An intimate experience maintains curious specifics”.
(Isidore ISOU, (1925-2007): “Amos” (1953), Writer, Founder of Lettrism)

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Asquith, Princess Antoine Bibesco

Elizabeth Asquith, Princess Antoine Bibesco (1897-1945)

Irony:
“Irony is the hygiene of the mind.”
(Elisabeth ASQUITH (1897-1945), Essayist, Poet)

 

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POETRY IN TRANSLATION (403). Hector MCDONNELL (b. 1947), Co. ANTRIM, IRELAND: “ Patrick”

October 19th, 2016 · Books, Famous People, History, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

PATRICK
Hector McDONNELL (b. 1947, N. Belfast, Ulster)

 Patrick, cine eşti Tu?

Te căutam prin versuri latineşti,
Bezmetici, prin noianul de neştiri…

Cuvintele- ţi ne scapă printre mâini,
Iar leagănul nu-ţi este nicăieri.
Erai in Mayo, sau in Slemish Hill?
Şi ce uriaşi te-au strâns la pieptul lor?

Aiurea,
L-ai strigat pe Dumnezeu,
Ce-a coborât adânc, în trupul tău,
Să-ti dea curaj să-nvingi la drumuri noi.

Care-a fost împăratul
Ce te-a-njosit? Unde-ai plecat?
Te căutăm, dar încă nu te ştim
Străjerii tăi se uită-n vârf de munţi şi-aşteaptă
Pasul tău.

Versiune în limba Română de Constantin ROMAN, Londra,

© 2006, Copyright Constantin ROMAN, London

 

*  *  *  *

BIO NOTE:

Hector McDonnell is one of the finest figurative Irish artists of his generation. Best known for his observations of daily life he captures the mundane and ordinary with an extraordinary quality.

Cruce Irlandeza contemporana cu Sf. Patrick

Cruce Irlandeza contemporana cu Sf. Patrick

Born in West Belfast in March 1947, Hector studied at the Munich Art Academy and later moved to Vienna where he spent a year working in a studio of the sculptor and architect Fritz Wotruba (1907-1975). Following the continental experience, about 1967 McDonnell entered Christ Church, Oxford College to study history. On graduating from Oxford, he began to exhibit his paintings regularly in London. Self-confessedly, Hector McDonnell is a loner, a maverick, an unbranded steer. As a completely figurative painter in the early 1970s he was out on a limb. The fashionable contemporary art at that time was abstract, pop or conceptual. His output is prolific. He produces a large quantity of oil paintings, both very large and very small, using dashing thick square brushstrokes, and presumably painted very quickly. His specialty is interiors, usually with a lot of floor in the foreground. These are often pub and cafe interiors, but more particularly shops, especially butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers. He also regularly produces small sets of etchings on the same subject. McDonnell allows himself to be seduced by what he sees: events startle him into perceiving what he calls the ‘magical’ in everyday situations. In his painting each object is imagined with the stout atmospheric density he.

(Biography Note after: The Night Before Larry was Stretched“)

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=17799548441&searchurl=sortby%3D17%26an%3Dhector%2Bmcdonnell%2Billustrator

 

Constantin ROMAN, author of the Romanian version of this poem, is a member of the “Society of Authors”, London

 

 

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Synopsis of “The Blouse Roumaine – An Anthology of Romanian Women” Selected and introduced by Constantin Roman

October 2nd, 2016 · Books, Communist Prisons, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, History, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, Poetry, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Reviews, Science, Translations

Synopsis of “The Blouse Roumaine – An Anthology of Romanian Women” Selected and introduced by Constantin Roman

"Blouse Romaine - The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women"

“Blouse Romaine – The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”

Marqués de Tamarón

Marqués de Tamarón

A Spanish grandee and Ambassador to the Court of St James’s once compared the success of an Anthology to that of a culinary chef d’oeuvre: for Santiago de Mora-Figueroa y Williams, Marqués de Tamarón, a great Anglophile but also a refined European –

the perfect anthology, like the perfect hors d’oeuvre, should turn us into gluttons. The many small dishes add up to a balanced and nourishing meal, but they are so exquisite that they whet one’s appetite for more. And the anthology should also include unexpected delicacies, things that even the literary gourmet had not heard about.

On a deeper reflection, Tamarón’s metaphor encapsulates perfectly well the ethos of the ‘Blouse Roumaine’. Yet, as an Anthology of Romanian women, this corpus was initially conceived to connect with a French painting of Henri Matisse – the eponymous canvas, ‘La Blouse Roumaine’ (1940), which hangs today in the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris: for every and each biography contained in this Women’s Anthology is like a minutely embroidered stitch on an ethnic tapestry, such as we have admired, not so long ago in the Retrospective exhibition of Matisse’s collection of textiles, presented at the Royal Academy in London and later also shown in New York. For those of us who missed this exhibition the analogy to the current book is like a roll call of women presented in a sequence of biographical cameos. These sketches are displayed like a series of miniatures in a virtual National Portrait Gallery: they are all glittering stars from Western galaxies and Eastern nebulae, in all 160 of them…

The manuscript gestation involved a work of love and dedication, spanning over several years, a creation which gradually came to life very much like in the Marqués de Tamarón’s definition – a ‘menu of diverse and delicious hors d’oeuvres, visually appealing’ but at the same time teasing the imagination and stimulating the taste: for such choice not only offers food for thought as well as for the heart, but also food for academic appetite, extending the frontiers of taste beyond the familiar courses of history, politics, literature, music, film, theatre, feminism or science – for ‘Blouse Roumaine’ is at the same time a trans-disciplinary book.

This subjective if somewhat esoteric compilation of impressionistic essays is preceded by a historical, cultural and political

Constantin ROMAN: "Blouse Roumaine - Anthology of Romanian Women"

Constantin ROMAN: “Blouse Roumaine – Anthology of Romanian Women”

overview of Romanian society. This introductory social fresco sets the tone of the narrative which is perceived through a European looking glass, allowing the reader to consider Romania not in its exotic isolation, but as part of a much broader ‘concert of nations’ and therefore evaluate it within a familiar territory. These will be countries such as France, Spain, Italy or Britain which for the last two hundred years were the playground of Romanian aristocrats (Bibesco, Noailles, Ghika, Brancovan, Cantacuzène) and lately the land of exile of many an uprooted artist and writer (Constantin Brancusi, Eugène Ionesco, Emil Cioran, Vintila Horia, Mircea Eliade, Georges Enesco, Dinu Lipatti, Clara Haskil, Nadia Gray, Elvire Popesco, Hélène Vacaresco).

The Anthology is complemented by texts often published for the first time in English and sourced from over 4,000 French,

Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German references. Six hundred quotations convey the narrative an arcane erudition inviting the reader on a joyful pursuit of an abstruse and little-explored subject. This is virgin territory offering sheer delight.
As we turn the pages of this book we are made witness to an exotic cavalcade of female characters who conjure the scent, colour and voices of time past to the present day, from the sunflower fields of the Danube Plains to the darkest forests of Transylvania, from the languid music of the Carpathian panpipes to the uplifting Parisian literary salons and the stages of La Scala, Covent Garden and the Metropolitan operas, or the prestigious Comédie Française and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Further afield some of these intrepid amazons reached the distant shores of the river De La Plata, or, in the 19th century discovered the sources of the White Nile.

Yet, if such momentous revelations were not surprising enough, ‘Blouse Roumaine’ would also evoke associations with scores of famous glitterati and politicians of European and American dimension… For these women of the Orient Express, disembarking in Milan, Paris, Madrid, London, New York or Buenos Aires, women who inspired poets and composers, who created new opera roles, these muses enthralled political eagles and aristocrats alike, caused crown heads to dream and lesser mortals to lose their heads. Some of these women made their lovers’ suicide respectable, before they retired to the seclusion of their convent to pray for the salvation of their soul, where some of them were suspected of “trying to seduce God”!… Through these enchantresses come to life a choice array of foreign suitors, lovers, admirers, patrons and sometimes husbands: King George V, Alfonso XIII of Spain, Carlos I of Portugal, the Earl of Carnarvon, the Earl of Asquith, Lord Thomson of Cardington, Sacheverell Sitwell, Noel Coward, David Farrar, Paul Morand, Marcel Proust, Pierre Lotti, Anatole France, Puvis de Chavannes, Vincent Van Gogh, Mark Twain, Verdi, Puccini, Richard Strauss, Eric Satie and more recently Humphrey Bogart, Lord Lloyd Webber, Roberto Alagna, Michel Foucault, or Jacques Lacan, to name just a few.

But looking at this rich social tapestry, this folk embroidery of multi-coloured and infinite stitches, one is equally absorbed by the darker side of the 20th century history – of women who died in prison for their political beliefs, of Passionarias who, after the Second World War, took the armed struggle to the Carpathian mountains, or simply the faceless yet equally important unknown illustrious peasant women, or middle class housewives, who steeled their obstinate resolve and silent resistance against the leveling steamroller of dictatorship.

Constantin ROMAN

Constantin ROMAN

  Constantin ROMAN evokes these heroines with a melancholy acknowledgment of the brutal destruction of a society and culture. This Romanian society was alive and well and it was so aptly described before WWII by Paul Morand and Marcel Proust, by Marie of Edinburgh and Patrick Leigh Fermor, by Sacheverell Sitwell, Elizabeth and Margot Asquith, by Vineretta Singer de Polignac and Violet Trefusis, Olivia Manning, Panait Istrati or Gregor von Rezzori, Colette, or Virginia Ocampo, by the Princess Hélène Chrissoveloni Soutso, Princess Marthe Bibesco, or Countess Anna de Noailles.

This was the ‘faraway country’ which inspired Dorothy Parker’s classic verse:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea
And love is a thing that can never go wrong
And I am Marie of Romania.

For some of these women also represent the extravagant if exotic Romanian society evoked in the correspondence of Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Don Pedro of Portugal or Ramsey MacDonald, Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, and de Gaulle. In the process we also admire portraits left to posterity by artists of world repute such as Rodin, Ignacio Zuloaga, Whistler, Singer Sargent, de Laszlo, Vuillard, Paul César Helleu, Edmond Lapeyre, Puvis de Chavannes. Many other portraits are also immortalised by the London society photographers Walter Barnett, Alexander Bassano, Van Dyke, Lafayette or Russell Westwood, or brought to life by film directors such as Federico Fellini of  ‘La Dolce Vita’ fame, or more recently by opera stage directors Francesca Zamballo, David Pountney and even and, quite oddly, by a young student of Edinburgh University by the name of Gordon Brown…

There is never a dull moment in this gallery of royals and aristocrats but also of ordinary but exuberant women of talent, who fascinated the British society to the point of venting
its wit in the now classic limerick about King Carol II’s mistress, a diabolically seductive and unrepentant divorcee, who kept the English gossip columnists busy for many long years:

Have you heard of Madame Lupescu
Who came to Romania’s rescue?
It’s a wonderful thing
To be under a King:
Is democracy better I ask you?

At the other end of this social spectrum we discover women inspired by loftier ideals: enrolling as fighter pilots during WWII, or breaking world records at parachute jumping, pioneer solo pilots across the Mediterranean, or international sports champions, opera divas, suffragettes shaking the Parisian bastions of male power in the legal profession, in architecture or international diplomacy… women with guts who inspired so many.

These colourful strong-headed and often beautiful ladies, whether of the exile or home-grown variety, had all, without exception, an amazing story to tell and often a memorable quote to impart. For ‘Blouse Roumaine’ is not only a celebration, it is also a memorial to the past, as the stories unfold before our eyes not just as pickings for the literary gourmet and delicacies for the academic palate, but also as an Orthodox liturgy, a Romanian Epiphany, which brings alive in our mind a nearly-forgotten but fascinating history with unexpected DNA links to the Western European psyche.

The lyrical, witty, and often satirical and uncompromisingly critical narrative of the  ‘Blouse Roumaine’ may appear to some readers if not controversial at least thought-provoking, as it offers forays into some of the recesses of time prior to WWII, reflecting a somewhat politically schizophrenic world of contrasts. To complement this period the reader is offered also a close look into the emotional times of modern communist Nemesis. This is the darker world of the vengeful and remorseless Ana Pauker, Elena Ceausescu and their fawning Court poets which explains the legacy of their system in the post-modern Romania.

The synthesis of such bipolar images conjured in the ‘Blouse Roumaine’ remains, (if we were to quote again our Spanish grandee the Marqués de Tamarón), a memorable witness to:

the joy and pain and privilege of a writer to save the memories and thereby the physical beauty of past glories, a task which he sets about to carry out supremely well and with an immense joie de vivre’.

 

NOTE: You can purchase the Anthology “Blouse Roumaine – the unsung Voices of Romanian Women” from:

http://www.blouseroumaine.com/buy-the-book/index.html

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