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POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CD), Jorge BORGES (1899-1986), ARGENTINA – “Benedict Spinoza”, “Benedict Spinoza”

June 29th, 2016 · Books, Diary, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CD), Jorge BORGES (1899-1986), ARGENTINA – “Benedict Spinoza”, “Benedict Spinoza”

 

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges

Baruch Spinoza

Bruma de oro, el Occidente alumbra
la ventana. El asiduo manuscrito
aguarda, ya cargado de infinito.
Alguien construye a Dios en la penumbra.
Un hombre engendra a Dios. Es un judío
de tristes ojos y de piel cetrina;
lo lleva el tiempo como lleva el río
una hoja en el agua que declina.
No importa. El hechicero insiste y labra
a Dios con geometría delicada;
desde su enfermedad, desde su nada,
sigue erigiendo a Dios con la palabra.
El más pródigo amor le fue otorgado,
el amor que no espera ser amado.
*  *  *  *  *  *

 

Benedict Spinoza

 

Când raza de-asfinţit e pe vitralii

Pe manuscris culori se înfiripă

În infinite umbre şi detalii

Iar Domnul Sfânt apare-n Sfânta criptă.

Acum este purtat spre infinit

Într-un pocal născând pe Dumnezeu

E zămislit de Duhul Sfânt… el e Iudeu,

Cu ochii trişti şi corpul său căznit.

Timpul îl duce, ca pe o frunză ce-a pălit

În valul ce îl poartă, tot mereu,

Ne mai putând să se fi-mpotrivit –

Ceopleşte chipul chiar lui Dumnezeu…

Din neputinţă, din nimic, a reuşit

Să modeleze-n lut pe Domnul Sfânt, cu haruri noi –

Atunci când nimeni n-a primit

O dăruire ce nu-aşteaptă înapoi.

 

Versiune în limba Română de Constantin ROMAN, Londra,
© 2016, Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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Borges book cover

NOTE (from the British Encyclopaedia):

Spinoza, Amsterdam

Spinoza, Amsterdam

  Benedict de Spinoza, Hebrew forename Baruch, Latin forename Benedictus, Portuguese Bento de Espinosa (born November 24, 1632, Amsterdam—died February 21, 1677, The Hague) Dutch Jewish philosopher, one of the foremost exponents of 17th-century Rationalism and one of the early and seminal figures of the Enlightenment.Early life and career:

Spinoza’s Portuguese parents were among many Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity but continued to practice Judaism in secret (see Marranos). After being arrested, tortured, and condemned by the inquisition in Portugal, they escaped to Amsterdam, where Spinoza’s father, Michael, became an important merchant and eventually served as one of the directors of the city’s synagogue. Spinoza’s mother, Hannah, died in 1638, shortly before his sixth birthday.The Jewish community in Amsterdam was unique in its time. It originally comprised people who had been raised in Spain, Portugal, France, or Italy as Christians and who had fled to Amsterdam to escape persecution and to practice their ancestral religion freely. The community was granted toleration by the Dutch authorities on the condition that it not cause scandal or allow any of its members to become public charges. 

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BLOUSE ROUMAINE: Daughters of BESSARABIA – Milita PATRASCU (b. 1883, Nisporeni, MOLDOVA – d. 1976, Bucharest, ROMANIA)

June 26th, 2016 · Art Collections, Art Exhibitions, Books, Communist Prisons, Famous People, History, International Media, PEOPLE, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations

BLOUSE ROUMAINE: Daughters of BESSARABIA – Milita PATRASCU (b. 1883, Nisporeni, Bessarabia, RUSSIA – d. 1976, Bucharest, ROMANIA)

Milita Petrascu

Milita Petrascu

Milita Pàtrascu (b. 31 December 1883, Nisporeni, Bessarabia, RUSSIA – d. 1 February 1976, Bucharest, ROMANIA):  Sculptor, pupil of Constantin Brâncusi, graphic artist/illustrator, member of the 1930s-1940s Avantgarde Group Arta Nouà Movement.

Arrested in 1959 by Romania’s Communist regime, but was saved by writer and politician Mihail Sadoveanu and kept instead under house arrest.

Symbol of Latin Roots

Symbol of Latin Roots

  Chisinàu, where she grew up was the capital of the Romanian province of Bessarabia, annexed by the Soviets in 1940-1941 and again in 1944. Following the communist take-over, Bessarabian refugees who sought shelter in the old Kingdom of Romania were subjected to a persistent witch hunt by the Soviet-installed Communist government .

After its Independence, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova, could erect in a public place the Roman she-wolf, symbol of Bessarabia’s Latin identity and at the same time an implicit  rejection of Russian hegemony.

Eileen Lane* on Milita Pàtrascu:

“She was like Snow White, an Irishwoman with the regular features of an ancient beauty, with big enigmatic eyes, dark blue eyes, long lashes, with dark hair styled with a parting ending with a bun at the back and a long neck as white as her face.”

(* Eileen Lane was Brâncusi’s friend whose portrait is in

Eileen Lane & Brancusi

Milita Patrascu & Brancusi in the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

 

Constantin Brancusi wih Milita Patrascu (photo left)  and the  sculpture Portrait of Eileen Lane  (photo right), Centre Pompidou, Paris
 

 

BIOGRAPHY:

Milita Pàtrascu was born in Bessarabia. In 1919 she began working in Brâncusi’s atelier in Paris. During the 1930s and 1940s she was linked to Avant-Garde artists such as Marcel Iancu, Maxy and Margareta Sterian. Pàtrascu suggested to the Romanian Prime Minister’s wife, Aretia Tàtàrescu (q.v.), that Brâncusi be commissioned to create the celebrated monumental ensemble of Târgu Jiu.

Under Communism Milita Pàtrascu was completely excluded from  monographs on Romanian Art’ ( see Vasile Florea’s Meridiane Publ. Bucharest, 1984), which may be less a critical snub, than a conspiracy of silence based on political criteria. This is hardly surprising if one considers that Milita Pàtrascu was the victim of a political witch hunt resulting in a resounding trial of 1959, in which some of the best known Romanian intellectuals were summarily tried by a communist kangaroo court and given life sentences. Twenty-five years later, Milita was still treated as a pariah on the Romanian art scene, which was entirely government-controlled.

According to Mr. Victor Cràciun, heir, executor and trustee of Milita Pàtrascu’s memorial atelier and collection, the artist was arrested as part of the Bessarabian Group’ (Lotul Basarabenilor), but she was spared the communist prisons due to the intervention of Mihail Sadoveanu. As a result of Sadoveanu’s influence Pàtrascu was given house arrest instead – a lucky escape considering that her co-accused perished in prisons, slave labour camps, or in the atrocious gulags of the Bàràgan steppes.

Gate of the Kiss, Romania

Gate of the Kiss, Romania

Targu Jiu: Constantin Brancusi’s The Gate of the Kiss, a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the First World War commissioned by Aretia Tattarescu wife of Romania’s PM at the instigation of Milita Pàtrascu. Given her crucial role in bringing about Brâncusi’s works at Târgu Jiu, Romania owes Pàtrascu a debt of gratitude far larger than the latter-day ‘experts’ on Brâncusi, who remained silent when the Column of Infinity was marked for demolition during the early years of Romania’s Stalinism.

Ecaterina Teodoroiu monument by Milita Pàtrascu, Târgu Jiu, Romania

Ecaterina Teodoroiu Monument

Milita Pàtrascu as the little-known creator of the monumental mosaic which decorates the famed Mioritza Fountain opposite the Minovici Museum in Bucharest, on the road to the airport. This mosaic was recently restored after many years of neglect.

Milita PATRASCU - Fantana-Miorita

Milita PATRASCU – Fantana-Miorita

In 2001, Milita’s bust of Constantin Brancusi was placed in the Constantin Brancusi memorial Park, Piata Dorobanti, in Bucharest.

Brancusi by Milita-Patrascu - Bucharest

Brancusi by Milita-Patrascu – Bucharest

Romanian Museums displaying Milita Patrascu’s works :

  •   Romanian National Art Museum, Bucharest
  •   Tulcea Art Museum
  •   Liviu and Fanny Rebreanu Memorial Museum, Cotroceni, Bucharest
  •   Zambaccian Museum, Bucharest

Milita Patrascu inter-bellum Romanian group Exhibitions:

1924 – The “Contimporanul Group” Exhibition, Bucharest, with Arp, Klee, Michel Seuphor, Marcel Iancu, Victor Brauner, M. H. Maxy. Monograph Edition in “Revista Contimporanul”

1931? – “Arta Noua”, Group Exhibiton with Margareta Sterian, Marcel Iancu, M.H. Maxy

 

Book Illustrations:

Janco, Costin, Jacques G., Exercitii Pentru Mîna Dreaptà si Don Quichotte. Cu un portret al autorului si 5 desene de Marcel Iancu, 1 desen de Milita Pàtrascu,

Editura Nationalà, S. Ciornei, Bucharest, 1931

 

Various works commissioned:

  • Bust of actor Constantin Nottara, (1859-1933), Nottara Memorial House and Museum, Bucharest
  •  Bust of poet George Bacovia, Bacovia memorial House and Museum
  • Busts of Ion Vinea, Mihail Jora, Liviu Rebreanu
  • Bust of George Cosbuc, Cismigiu Gardens, Bucharest
  • Bust of Alexandru Odobescu, Cismigiu Gardens, Bucharest
  • Bust of Constantin Brancusi, The Brancusi Memorial Park, Piata Dorobanti, Bucharest
  • Mosaic on the ‘Mioritza Fountain’, architect Octav Doicescu, 1936, Bucharest
  • Sarcophagus-monument of Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Târgu Jiu, 1935
  • Funeral Monument of Victor Eftimiu, Bellu Orthodox Cemetery, (Fig. 34bis), Bucharest
  • Funeral Monument of Panait Istrati, Bellu Orthodox Cemetery, (Fig. 37), Bucharest
  • Funeral Monument of Misu Fotino, Bellu Orthodox Cemetery, (Fig. 59), Bucharest
  • Funeral Monument of Liviu Rebreanu, Bellu Orthodox Cemetery, (Fig. 8), Bucharest
  • Funeral Monument of Eliad, Bellu Orthodox Cemetery, (Fig. 103/9), Bucharest

Secondary Sources:

Victor Cràciun, Private Communication, October 2003

Georgeta Adam, Private Communication, October 2003

Robert Adam, Private Communication, October 2003

Ioana Vlasiu, Doamnele artelor frumoase românesti, Observatorul Cultural, Bucharest

The Poets’s Corner in Bucharest’s Cismigiu Gardens has two of Milita Pàtrascu’s busts displayed – George Cosbuc and Alexandru Odobescu

 URLs:

The wonderful story of the Endless Columns:

http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Gallery/4106/endless.html

Luna Bucurestilor:

http://www.arcub.ro/about-lb.htm

Romanian Modern Art Gallery:

http://www.ici.ro/romania/en/cultura/mz_garm.html

Primaria sectorului 1 nu reuseste de peste un an sa restaureze Fantana Miorita:

http://www.gardianul.ro/index.php?a=investigatii2004102603.xml

fantana Miorita:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:F%C3%A2nt%C3%A2na_Miori%C5%A3a%3B_oct_2oo7.jpg

Fantana Miorita:

http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A2nt%C3%A2na_Miori%C5%A3a

 

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POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CCCXCIX), Pablo NERUDA (1904-1973), CHILE – “Sonetul XVII” “Soneto XVII”

June 25th, 2016 · Books, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations, Uncategorized

POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CCCXCIX), Pablo NERUDA (1904-1973), CHILE – “Sonetul XVII” “Soneto XVII”

pablo neruda

SONETUL XVII

Pablo NERUDA   

 

Nu te ador ca pe o floare de topaz,

Sau de garoafe roşii care-nfloresc mereu:

Te-ador ca pe o fiinţă diafană, de pripas,

Care-n secret se-ascunde la umbra sufletului meu.

 

Te-ador ca planta ce nu’nfloreşte niciodată,

Dar ce pastrează-n sine lumina florilor ascunse

Şi prin iubirea ta ce-oferă-n zori nespuse,

Parfumul dulce, ce-a pătruns în pieptul meu.

 

Te-ador fără să ştiu, nici când, nici unde…

Iubirea-mi e profundă şi fără de zăgaz…

Te-ador fără să ştiu vre-un fel altminteri.

 

Decât atâta: când, simţindu-mă aproape ,

Cu mâna ta la pieptul meu, şi inima-mi ce bate,

Iar ochii tăi se-nchid de-abea când eu adorm.

 

Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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Neruda Sonnets

Neruda Sonnets

Soneto XVII

Pablo NERUDA

(1904-1973)

No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

* * * * * *

 

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POETRY IN ENGLISH ORIGINAL (CCCXCVIII), ENGLAND – Constantin ROMAN, LONDON – “ SALVETE TO ED TRAPP”

June 22nd, 2016 · Diary, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, Science

POETRY IN ENGLISH ORIGINAL (CCCXCVIII), ENGLAND – Constantin ROMAN, LONDON – “ SALVETE TO ED TRAPP”

AMOCO EUROPE Exploration Offices in London's Cavendish Square

AMOCO EUROPE Exploration Offices in London’s Cavendish Square

SALVETE TO ED TRAPP

(AMOCO EUROPE, North Sea Exploration)

Author: Constantin ROMAN

 

To see you go, my heart is wrenched

By lateral strike-slip.

In Southern Comfort will be drenched

My sorrows’ normal dip.

Hope you’ll enjoy old New Orleans,

The hamburgers and the baked beans

And you will miss ou’r fish’n chip,

The lager and the food in tins

(And Roman Constantins…)

 

(LONDON, 1977)

*  *  *  *  *

Amoco

GLOSSARY NOTES: The poem alludes to Tectonics geological terms such as: “Wrench faults” (infra: wrenching), Strike-slip faults and Normal-dip faults, used by the author in his seismic evaluation/interpretation in the hydrocarbon exploration of the North Sea.

BACKGROUND NOTE: in the 1970s Amoco Europe’s offices were located in Cavendish Square, near Oxford Circus, Central London.

Ed TRAPP was at the time a Senior Executive in the Exploration Department, who supported this author’s new approach to Seismic Interpretation of the North Sea.

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POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CCCXCVII), ENGLAND – Louis H. P. de BERNIERES (b. 1954, Woolwich) – “And now he’s gone”, “ Veşnicie”

June 21st, 2016 · Books, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations, Uncategorized

POETRY IN TRANSLATION (CCCXCVII), ENGLAND – Louis H. P. de BERNIERES (b. 1954, Woolwich) – “And now he’s gone”, “ Veşnicie”

Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres

Veşnicie

Louis de Bernières

 

De-abea acum, când el s-a dus, ea ştie cât de bun a fost…

Şi-atunci, răbdarea lui s-a rupt, fiind mult prea istovit,

Prea crunt snopit, ne mai având nici carnea de pe os.

 

De-abea acum, când el s-a dus, ea a’nţeles c-a fost iubită,

C-un suflet consecvent, dus de ispită…

Alfel ca foşti iubiţi, cu faţa prefăcută.

 

De-abea acum, când el s-a dus, ea nu-şi mai are nici un rost…

Anii umbriţi, ce-a irosit, rând după rând,

Când nu s-a’nfiripat nimic din visul sfânt ce-a fost.

 

Dar în final piesa s-a consumat, aşa cum altfel am mai spus,

Însăilând o-adevarată dramă, la căpătâiul lui, plângând,

Convinsă că-l adoră-acum, când sufletu-i s-a dus.

 

Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

 

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And now he’s gone

Louis de Bernières

 

And now he’s gone, she thinks how generous he was,

That possibly his patience failed, from being tried too far,

Was battered, wrenched, eroded to the bone.

 

And now he’s gone, she understands he loved

Her with a steady mind, was not a bird of passage

As so many other, slyly smiling loves.

 

And now he’s gone, she counts them back,

The slow and blighted years she wasted in his wake,

When nothing came of what she hoped would come.

 

This scene was foreordained. My friends,

She staged a wondrous drama, weeping by his bed,

And finds she loves him truly now he’s dead.

 

(From: “Love and Desire”, Harvill Secker, London)

* * * * * *

BERNIÈRES by Nicola Jennings

BERNIÈRES by Nicola Jennings

  SHORT BIO NOTE: Louis H. P. de Bernières-Smart is issued from a Huguenot family; he was born near Woolwich, on the Thames estuary, in 1954 and grew up in Surrey. Trained briefly as an officer at Sandhurst, he obtained a degree in Education from the University of London. Before becoming a full-time writer he held odd jobs, such as mechanic, motorcycle messenger and English teacher in Colombia. He now lives in East Anglia.

De Bernières is an avid amateur musician, playing the flute, mandolin, clarinet and guitar.. His literary work is replete with references to composers he admires, such as the guitar works of Villa-Lobos and Antonio Lauro in the Latin American trilogy, and the mandolin works of Vivaldi and Hummel in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

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Poetry in Translation (CCCXCVI), PORTUGAL – Fernando PESSOA (1888 – 1992, Lisbon) – “The Herdsman”, “Ciobanul”

June 15th, 2016 · Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations, Uncategorized

Poetry in Translation (CCCXCVI), PORTUGAL – Fernando PESSOA (1888 – 1992, Lisbon) – “The Herdsman”, “Ciobanul”

Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa

The Herdsman
Fernando PESSOA (1888-1935)

I’m herdsman of a flock.
The sheep are my thoughts
And my thoughts are all sensations.
I think with my eyes and my ears
And my hands and feet
And nostrils and mouth.

To think a flower is to see and smell it.
To eat a fruit is to sense its savor.

And that is why, when I feel sad,
In a day of heat, because of so much joy
And lay me down in the grass to rest
And close my sun-warmed eyes,
I feel my whole body relaxed in reality
And know the whole truth and am happy.

(Translated by Edouard Roditi)

Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Edouard Roditi.
Source: Poetry (Poetry)

* * * * * *

Ciobanul
Fernando PESSOA
(1888-1935, Lisabona, Portugalia)

Eu sunt ciobanul turmei.
Oile sunt gândurile mele,
Iar gândurile sunt simţirea mea.
Cuget cu ochii şi urechile,
Cu mâinile şi picioarele mele,
Cu nările şi gura.
Când mă gândesc la o floare, o văd şi-i adulmec parfumul.
Când muşc un fruct, îi incerc gustul.
De aceea, când sunt trist,
În timpul caniculei, din cauza bucuriei,
Când sunt culcat pe iarbă, să mă odihnesc
Şi închid ploapele calde de soare,
Atunci îmi simt trupul cuprins de viaţă,
Trăind adevărul adevărat şi simţindu-mă împlinit.

Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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SHORT BIO NOTE: Fernando Pessoa, born Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (June 13, 1888 – November 30, 1935), was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.
He also wrote in and translated from English and French.

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Poetry in Translation (CCCXCV), ROMANIA/SPAIN – Horia VINTILĂ (1915, Segarcea, Romania – 1992, Madrid, Spain) – “Echilibru”, “Balance”

June 14th, 2016 · Books, Diaspora, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Translations, Uncategorized

Poetry in Translation (CCCXCV), ROMANIA/SPAIN – Horia VINTILĂ (1915, Segarcea, Romania – 1992, Madrid, Spain) – “Echilibru”, “Balance”

Vintila Horia

Vintila Horia

Horia VINTILĂ

(1915, Romania -1992, Spain)

ECHILIBRU

Te voi iubi din umbră, necunoscut şi grav,
Pe drumurile toamnei îţi voi ciopli icoană
Şi-n fiecare frunză, cu patimi de zugrav,
Voi auri feeric altare de prigoană

În razele de soare, ca-n ape reci de vis,
Voi risipi medalii cu chipul tău săpat
Şi fiecare frunză va fi un paraclis
Şi fiecare toamnă un drum înmormântat.

Tu ştii să treci senină, cu braţele-n rotund
Şi palid joc de umbre tăiate-n marmori reci.
Eu rup din mine zvonuri şi clinchete de gând
Ca să păstrezi surâsul şi ritmul tău pe veci.

* * * * * * *

Horia VINTILĂ
(1915, Romania – 1992, Spain)

BALANCE

I’ll love you, from the shadows, still unbeknown to you,
At these autumnal crossroads I’ll fashion you your statue…
With every falling leaf, and all my artist’s passion
I’ll dedicate, in Heaven, the stations of my cross.

Under the dazzling sun rays, under the cold stream’s spell,
I’ll show the world your icon, for which, my soul, I gave…
By gathering these tree leaves, to make your sacred chapel,
All the autumnal pathways, now lead to our grave.

You’re passing, like a fairy, in shimmering of shadows,
Which ripple in the echoes, to freeze in marble stone.
As in my singing body reverberates your music
Which keeps your smile eternal, with its angelic tone.

 

Rendered in English by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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SHORT BIO:

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“Continental Drift: Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures” – Review by Prof. Thomas G. Gallagher

May 3rd, 2016 · Books, Diary, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, quotations, Science

Constantin Roman: “Continental Drift: Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures” Reviewed by Thomas G. Gallagher (Bradford University)

Constantin Roman: "Continental Drift, Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures"

Constantin Roman: “Continental Drift, Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures”

Constantin Roman is Romanian Honorary consul in the English university town of Cambridge where he was awarded a PhD for pioneering work in the field of geophysics in 1974. For over twenty years, he has been an independent consultant in oil exploration and his reputation as a successful oil finder has enabled him to settle down comfortably in a pleasant corner of England after many vicissitudes.
Dr Roman’s memoirs were published in 2000 by an Anglo-American scientific publisher. The title, Continental Drift suggests that plate tectonics, his field of expertise, dominates the book. In fact while frequent attention is given to his scientific ideas, how they were applied, and the collaboration with eminent scientists which resulted, the fascination of this book is to be found in its account of how the human spirit managed to triumph over considerable odds.
Roman is a determined and ingenious Romanian with a gift for striking up friendships with the eminent and the humble and also a genius for improvisation, which has extricated him from tight corners. Such survival skills, when not leavened by strong moral qualities, have produced a rather sinuous Romanian, immortalised by the playwright Caragiale, and much seen in the politics of the country for the past seventy years.
Roman ‘s ability to triumph against the odds and make a new life for himself in a land very different from the one he left, while retaining a strong moral formation and a desire never to lose touch with Romania, is a gripping and inspiring tale. It is one that young talented East Europeans contemplating an involuntary life of exile, might learn from: although the Iron Curtain may be history, the bureaucratic obstacles preventing gifted former Soviet bloc citizens from moving freely in Europe, remain formidable ones.
Roman describes in the chapter‘The DNA signature’ how his ancestors regularly found themselves on the wrong side of authority for religious and later political reasons. He was born into a middle-class Bucharest family in 1941, his father, Valeriu, being a chemical engineer working, as his son would do later, in the oil industry. Accused in 1948 of being a British collaborator, Valeriu escaped prison partly due to his popularity with the company workforce. His refusal to join the communist party was a black mark, which prevented the young Constantin training as an architect, when university entry was based on social class criteria.
With property and savings confiscated, education became a symbol of resistance to the communist system. But in the Faculty of Geology at Bucharest, which Roman joined in 1960, staff-student relations were those of master and servant. As I read about the refusal of staff to share information with students, their insistence in denying students the freedom to select a dissertation topic, and the desire of many to play God in other ways, I wondered how different Romanian academia was today. The tyrannical, miserly, and negligent professors still exist in both the state and private universities in Romania and the weakness of student associations (where they exist) in defending student rights is one of the dismal features of contemporary Romania. Perhaps this is because many of the student politicians know they are destined to be the bureaucrats and lawyers of tomorrow, ones who will in turn exploit and mistreat those who rely on their good offices.
At the age of 27, thanks to his resilience and sense of upholding an
independent family tradition, Roman would get the chance to experience a more liberal academic climate. Working as a tour guide in the summer months, he developed his language skills and made friends abroad who sent dictionaries or works of literature and history (such as Churchill’s History of the Second World War). He also received dozens of offprints of scientific publications from western universities, materials which, if in the hands of his professors, remained firmly locked in their filing cabinets.
The stratagems needed to overcome a Kafkaesque bureaucracy and obtain a passport, permission to leave the country, and a plane ticket in order to take up an invitation to attend a palaeomagnetic conference at Newcastle university, make absorbing reading. Human agency could still defeat the most opaque of bureaucracies. The Latin temperament of the Romanians may explain why Nicolae Ceausescu, the peasant shoemaker who acquired the reins of power in 1965, was determined to impose a brand of national Stalinism, in which all traces of nonconformity were erased.
Imagining what might have occurred to a free spirit like Roman if entombed in Ceausescu’s Orwellian system is a depressing thought. It is worse to contemplate that there were probably many other outspoken young Romanians who in nearly every case were crushed under the iron heel, broken or compromised by the system.
In the most entertaining part of the book, Roman describes how, as a young ingénue, he arrived on the shores of England, describing his reactions to the social customs, eating habits, and landscapes and buildings of this curious island.

Peterhouse College and Chapel (text by C. Roman)

Peterhouse College and Chapel (text by C. Roman)

He found the willingness of scientists first at Newcastle and then at Cambridge to share ideas, contacts, and funds with him totally at variance with what he had known as a student in Romania. The informal staff-student relations, the generous research facilities, and the innovative spirit had a galvanising effect on him.
Rueful accounts are provided of British insularity and bureaucratic rigidity, which qualify his enthusiasm, for English ways. But he became sufficiently attached to Britain to make his home there even though he was determined not to renounce his Romanian nationality. When studying for his PhD in the early 1970s, he managed to be a more authentic advocate for his country than its official envoys: he published translations of poetry, organized various exhibitions and festivals and mounted an exhibition devoted to the sculptor Brancusi.
Perenially short of funds and with a hostile Romanian embassy frequently breathing down his neck, Roman had to deploy all his ingenuity and will-power to progress with his research. He presented seminars on his PhD topic in various universities, a rather unusual initiative for a mere research student. One year into his PhD, he published a path-breaking article in the prestigious scientific magazine Nature on plate tectonics.

C. Roman 1970 Carpathians Plate Tectonic Model (Nature 1970)

C. Roman 1970 Carpathians Plate Tectonic Model (Nature 1970)

Months before the completion of his work, when it appeared that American researchers were about to publish identical results in the same area, he persuaded New Scientist, the prestigious UK weekly of popular science, to publish a summary of his findings, so that he would still have the chance to present his dissertation as an original piece of research.
Roman describes these academic thrills and spills with humour and irony. He admits that his single-mindedness could be trying for the university administrators and professors whose good offices he relied upon. But the indefatigable Romanian exile was not ambitious at any price. He described job interviews for posts in academia and industry where he threw away his chances by refusing to bow-the-knee to stuffy rectors and oil executives.
His greatest trouble arose from his refusal to give up his Romanian nationality. He was menaced on a number of fronts: by Securitate operatives masquerading as diplomats keen to end his flouting of socialist order and drag him back to Romania; by a prospective mother-in-law who refused to allow her daughter to marry him unless he accepted British citizenship; and by officials of the British Home Office who assumed that his desire to retain what he saw as his unalienable right of birth, his nationality, might stem from communist loyalties.
One of his innumerable visits to the Home Office coincided with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He was amazed to see that that the sympathy of the British public for the young Czech liberals was not shared by immigration officials: students claiming political asylum were ordered to move on by bureaucrats who possessed ‘the callousness of Communist satraps’.

Mircea Eliade

Mircea Eliade

For five years Roman struggled to obtain permanent residency. His ultimate aim was to obtain under the Geneva Convention, stateless travel papers for ‘a citizen of uncertain nationality’.
Upon writing to the philosopher Mircea Eliade in Chicago who had been in the Boy Scout movement with his father, he was advised to contact Ion Ratiu, the London-based Romanian émigré businessman. Ratiu declined to offer him practical assistance but suggested that he should apply for political asylum. This is not the only example in the book of the reluctance of a well-placed Romanian to help out a compatriot.
To apply for political asylum might have had unwelcome consequences for his family at home. Roman quietly mentions that both his parents were dead by the time he was able to re-visit Romania in the 1990s. Instead, he used his Cambridge connections to elicit the backing of lord Goodman, a lawyer and éminence-grise of British politics before 1979 in order to intercede with the Home Office.

Sir Duncan Wilson (1911-1983)

Sir Duncan Wilson (1911-1983)

Sir Duncan Wilson, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and an ex-ambassador to Moscow and Belgrade, sent Roman to be grilled by Lajos Lederer, a Hungarian working for the London Observer to see if he was indeed what he said he was. Afterwards Goodman decided to champion Roman’s cause, writing to the head of the Home Office that ‘He is a man of impeccable character and he is clearly determined to belong here and make a significant contribution to our national life’.
But what is striking is the difficulties that a power-broker like Goodman encountered in persuading the Home Office to adopt a more humane attitude. They insisted that he obtain a permanent job before releasing his papers: aged 32, Roman had ‘no previous employment history, lack of industry experience, “excessive” qualifications…lack of work permit, no permission to stay in Britain, and a dubious passport/nationality from a Communist country’. In the end, David Floyd of The Daily Telegraph and the author of “Romania: Russia’s Dissident Ally”, offered him a job which broke the bureaucratic log-jam.
Upon graduation, Roman set up his own oil consultancy business when a slump in the industry meant there were few job openings. He believed he made a success of it because of ‘the convergence of two most improbable spirits the obduracy, imagination and resourcefulness of the Romanian character, grafted on the liberalism, precision and luminosity of a Cambridge mind’.
When visa restrictions in the European Union were less rigid than today, the bureaucratic small-mindedness preventing a person of talent and integrity being able to make his way in British life, makes dispiriting reading. The ‘Roman cause-célèbre’, as he puts it himself, triumphed because he had the self-confidence to seek out help in high places. One wonders how many East Europeans who could have been an asset to their adopted country have been turned away by the states to the west who were shielded by geography from the Soviet experience.
Many young Romanians, even those who take refuge in bombastic nationalism, have lost the pride in their country, which motivated Constantin Roman. The Ceausescu tyranny, which he was lucky to avoid, has seen to that. Today, as an adviser to President Emil Constantinescu it would be good to think that this Cambridge man is putting the lessons he learned, during his formative years in Britain, to good use. Reform-minded Romanians need to learn how to deal realistically with foreign companies keen to benefit from their privatisation programme and with foreign governments whose decision-making cultures they are still only dimly aware off.

 

Constantin Roman writes with candour, wit, and humility. His remarkable life story unfolds with effortless simplicity thanks to his ability to write mellifluous English influenced by Romanian cadences. It is clear that he wishes to do service for the country he never lost touch with during 25 years in exile. Perhaps one way is to motivate and instruct young people with similar talents and ambitions to the ones he possessed in the 1960s.
The need for Romanians to rediscover the characteristic of group solidarity which Roman encountered in the British university world but which disappeared in communist Romania is a pressing one. That is why his story deserves to be better-known in Romania.

 

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Poetry in Translation (CCCXCIV), ROMANIA – Flavia TEOC (b. 1971): “Pastel la Cluj ”, “Watecolour”

April 29th, 2016 · Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

Poetry in Translation (CCCXCIV), ROMANIA – Flavia TEOC (b. 1971): “Pastel la Cluj ”, “Watecolour”

Flavia TEOC

Flavia TEOC

Pastel la Cluj

Flavia Teoc (n. 1971)
Degetele orașului
Cenușii ca umbra stâlpilor de telegraf
Se preling pe-acoperișuri, moțuri și pălării
Înșirând semne cuneiforme,
Scriind ceva ce numai de sus se poate citi.
Iar noaptea își întinde trupul de dragoste nimicitoare
Peste turle de cretă și aur dospit
O fi fost și el odată (de-o domnișoară oraș cu ochi de vitralii și drumuri însorite) foarte îndrăgostit.

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Watercolour

Flavia Teoc (b. 1971)

 

The city’s fingers

Grey like the shadows cast by telegraph poles

Oozing on rooftops, cap and feathers,

Like ancient hieroglyphs,

Writing something that can be read only from high up.

As the night is extending its body of destructive love

Over the cupolas of fermented gold

Maybe, once upon a time, I was in love

With a city with stained glass eyes

And sunny streets, verily indeed.

 

Rendered in English by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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TEOC carte

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Poetry in Translation (CCCXCIII), ROMANIA, Adrian MUNTEANU (b. 1948, Braşov): “Nu mă aştepţi c-un zâmbet”, “With open Arms”

April 27th, 2016 · Books, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

Poetry in Translation (CCCXCIII), ROMANIA, Adrian MUNTEANU (b. 1948, Braşov): “Nu mă aştepţi c-un zâmbet”, “With open Arms”

Adrian Munteanu - Poet

Adrian Munteanu – Poet

Adrian MUNTEANU (n. 1948)

NU MĂ AŞTEPŢI C-UN ZÂMBET

Nu mă aştepţi c-un zâmbet la intrare.
Între pereţi stă gârbovă tăcerea.
Ascunsă prin unghere, încăperea
A împietrit în picuri de uitare.

Nevolnic rost, împărtăşesc plăcerea
De-a mă retrage fad în aşteptare.
Rămân pustiu, un semn de întrebare
Ce-a năruit speranţa sau durerea.

Mi-ar trebui un zbor de dimineaţă,
Să născocesc poveşti cu trup fragil,
Să recompun altarele de ceaţă.

E prea târziu. În gândul meu debil,
Sleit de pofte, răvăşit de viaţă,

Aş vrea să fiu, dar nu mai sunt copil.
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adrian munteanu poet

Adrian Munteanu (b. 1948)

WITH OPEN ARMS

 

With open arms, don’t greet me on your threshold;

Your home is haunted by a hunchback silence,

Which hides in darkest corners, in defiance

Of frozen memories, which grip my world.

 

Being unable, now, to share all pleasure,

I will retreat onto the tallest tower.

I cannot answer, as I have no power,

My hope and body shattered beyond measure.

 

I need again the morning’s wake-up call,

To memorise this fragile tale of yore,

And raise, again, my prayer and my soul…

 

Yet it’s too late. My brain can’t keep the score,

I lost my strength that nothing can forestall…

I’d like to be, but am a child no more.

 

Rendered in English by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2016 Copyright Constantin ROMAN

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Adrian Munteanu @ Milan Book Fair

Adrian Munteanu @ Milan Book Fair

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