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!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kindness in Romania

One man who met with great kindness here was Irishman Peter Hurley who made a snowy pilgrimage from Sapanta on the border with Ukraine arriving in mid December last year in Bucharest, overnighting mostly in village houses on the rural tracks he was using.
I was prepared to dislike the book he has just published on his journey - as another example of outsiders imposing themselves on unsuspecting locals - noting that a quick flick indicated that there was no mention of other books written about the country. 

But Hurley is not your typical expat – resident in the country for almost 20 years and developing a variety of musical and rural networks from his work some of whom are tapped for hospitality. Most of his overnight stays, however, are made in houses he chances upon late in the evenings as he finishes his daily treks and whose impecunious residents clearly take to this eccentric visitor. His vignettes, with a different pen, might have been found intrusive but Hurley's help create a gallery of highly sympathetic portraits of people living off God's land.... 

The book’s descriptions of the landscape make it a charming read and it contains several positive stories of (sadly rare) cooperative work in some villages for the production of milk and apple juice; of those practising craft skills which are (also sadly) disappearing; and of at least one good priest doing (very) good work (interestingly in Cristian near my own village).  
The book is entitled The Way of the Crosses - from the habit he adopted of prayer at the small roadside crosses (troite) he meets on his way. He says early on that he does not consider himself a religious person but he certainly seems to have made amends during his journey! As an agnostic myself, I might have found this note jarring - but the author's basic goodness rescues that and clearly inspires those he met. We can do with more of this in our lives!

The book has spurred me to make a list of the books I know of in English about Romania. A year back I had posted about good guides to the country and referred to a list I had found in one website And, in 20102, I also did a guide to blogs about Romania
But I know of only one (short) list of books which have Romania as their focus – whether novels, histories or whatever and that is in the blog Bucharest Life - although John Villier's "Romania" (Pallas Guide) had almost 100 book references (mainly histories) 

So thank you Peter for inspiring me to make what is probably the first real attempt at such a list of books in English about Romania. Currently it has 35 books on it - novels, travelogues, memoirs and histories.

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