I promised a few days ago to extract some tantalising goodies from the 130 pages and 400 hyperlinks which make up my little guide to Romania. It will be online in a few days – my daughter’s pending arrival being a useful deadline to force me to stop adding new discoveries eg the writing of Panait Istrati whom the French traveler Dominique Fernandez enthuses about in his The Romanian Rhapsody; an overlooked corner of Europe(2000) - a delightful mix of passionate text and evocative black and white photographs by F Ferranti.
Fernandez (now all of 90 I think) made four visits to Romania in the early-mid 1990s and a typical section at the start contrasts the images the west has of the country with its beauty and then says
“And the moral force of the people, their endurance, their courage and good heart, which fifty years of tyranny have not brought down, where books are still prized as much as food and medicine, where you will find more passion for matters that relate to the soul, more true culture , more intellectual curiosity than in the West where everything is easy and everything is commercial”
In the subsequent 20 years the changes have, sadly, not all been for the better – which is why almost half of those polled express nostalgia for the communist period.
So, as a curtain-raiser to next week’s full-scale production, I offer first two introductory freebies-
- “A Cultural Journey” with stunning photographs of Romanian monuments and useful material on prominent Romanians
- Romania, Bucharest and Beyond – City Compass 2013 a well-produced and useful booklet (of more than 200 pages) for those visiting the country.
- The Color of Hay by Katherine McLaughlin (2003) is a photographic account of a two-year stay in the Maramures area
- Transylvania by writer Bronwen Riley and photographer Dan Dinescu 2007).
- Photo archives from the first half of the 20th century - Costica Acsinte Archive
- BucharestTales (2011) It contains both poems and prose - all of which can be viewed at the hyperlink in the title with the additional bonus of photographs adorning every page!
- Corridors of Mirrors: The Spirit of Europe in Contemporary British and .Romanian Fiction by Pia Brinziu (2000)
These excerpts from The Mountains of Romania give a good sense of the area – the Piatra Craiaului is a dramatic range which I view from my rear terrace.
Two of Lucian Boia (Romania’s greatest contemporary historian)’s key books can be read in full and in English online –
· Romania; borderland of Europe (2001); and
· History and myth in Romanian Consciousness (published in Romanian in 2001)
And a powerful record of life in Romania is The Eighties in Bucharest published by Martor
And if you really must visit cities (rather than villages) and don’t know which (apart from Brasov) then have a look at these mini-guides
That’s just the hors d’oeuvre – now the meal starts!!