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.