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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!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Encountering Romania - part V Memoirs

Amidst the huge groups of people who have suffered from war, starvation and murder over the past century, the inhabitants of Central-East Europe occupy their own particular niche which has been well documented by over the decades by people such as Arthur Koestler, Aleksander Wat, Czeslaw Milosz  and, more recently, by academics such as Norman Davies, Ann Applebaum and Timothy Snyder 

Gregor von Rezzori is one of the most neglected of writers from lands which have been variously part of Austro-Hungary, CzechoSlovakia, Hungary, Romania and now Ukraine. Over thirty years he wrote marvellous prose about his early years in the town of Czernowitz when it lay in the northern redoubts of Romania eg  
Mihai Sebastian was a Jewish journalist in Romania whose Journal 1935-1944 TheFascist Years caused quite a stir when they were eventually produced after 1989 – the English version in 2000.

Norman Manea is Romania’s most translated author and still writes in Romanian although he left the country almost 30 years ago. The Hooligan’s Return (2005) is a powerful and bitter memoir.

The education of a political animal IIB – Book III A Diary of Nine Months in the Peoples’ Democracies 1959-60  by Arthur D Kahn (2009) gives us almost a hundred pages of fascinating insights from one political writer’s three- week visit to Romania in 1959. It was entirely by accident I came across it on the internet yesterday. It does not figure on any list I have seen but deserves its place on this list

Jessica Douglas-Home was one of a small group who spent a lot of time in the 1980s supporting dissidents in central europe (Timothy Garten Ash is the most famous) and wrote it up in Once Upon another Time; (2000)

The Eighties in Bucharest is a powerful record of life in Romania in that decade published by Martor (Anthropological Review of the Museum of the Romanian Peasant) - Number 7 (2002). The link seems to give the entire text - structured alphabetically eg starting with "abortion". The Review (and the Museum) is to be congratulated for its website which allows access to the entire run of this worthwhile journal!

The title of Carmen Bugan’s Burying the Typewriter; childhood under the eyes of thesecret police (2013)  says it all.

Since the 1990s there has been an explosion of diaries (in Romanian) about life under communism. An English-language  Sibiu cultural magazine has an article about the artefacts which figured in old households which lists the titles of some of these

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