what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

absurd and autumnal Romania


The last week has seen glorous weather and I was sad to be missing the crispness of the mountain views – but the weather has held and I’ve just gone through the pleasure of opening up the Sirnea house for an unexpected visit in a warm early November. Sadly, Maritsa’s welcome was missing this time – the 80 year old hadn’t apparently been eating last week and has been taken to hospital in Brasov for a month. Viciu is therefore having to cope on his own – although, inevitably, he had his daughter from Bran and a friend doing various things in his kitchen when I arrived. It will be interesting to see how what he makes of my cooking! A few Amazon packets were waiting for me – the 2 Diderot books I mentioned in October; Primo Levi’s personal anthology (common book) The Search for Roots ; and a lovely hardback reproduction (complete with charming original sketches) of Jane Grigson’s 1971 Good Things which, as her opening sentence, nicely puts is “is not a cookery book but a book about enjoying food”.
Although so much of Romania has capitulated to American cultural crap, their television still manages to retain some great cultural programmes – I was a great fan in the mid 1990s of Josef Sava’s music interviews and celebrations. And I was very impressed last night with an hour long tribute to a little known intellectual and journalist of the immediate post-war period who suffered (Candide like) every infliction which could be visited on an individual. A young communist, he was thrown into jail by every political regime – on one occasion for refusing to inform on his academic boss in Cluj, the famous poet Blaga. I lost count of the number of years he spent in jail (“such an enjoyable experience – with an Archbishop on the bunk above me; a philosopher to my right; and another academic to my left”) – although he did manage to escape to the West – only to return because he was missing his wife One of his publications. I noticed, was called Journal of a journalist without a journal. He died a couple of months before Ceauecesu fell. No wonder Romania has played such a role in the history of the absurd! The programme is part of a weekly series about such people.

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