what you get here

This is not a blog which opinionates on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers to muse about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

The Bucegi mountains - the range I see from the front balcony of my mountain house - are almost 120 kms from Bucharest and cannot normally be seen from the capital but some extraordinary weather conditions allowed this pic to be taken from the top of the Intercontinental Hotel in late Feb 2020

Monday, September 30, 2013

Kia "service"

The Kia car company markets itself very well with its 7-year guarantee – but my experience of trying to buy one of its cars here in Romania makes me wonder what this guarantee is actually worth.
In early July I placed a deposit for one of its Ceeds and was assured it would arrive in late August. That date came and went – without anyone from Kia bothering to get in touch. 
On 2 September I sent a formal letter of complaint to one George Damian at the sales office here in Bucharest – but have not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement. And I am also still waiting for details of their service network which I asked about in July. 
My experience has now raised some doubts in my mind about the type of service I am likely to receive when I need to activate the guarantee – whether for emergency repairs of the regular annual service. How far will I need to travel to find one of their service points? And will they bear the transport costs of an emergency repair?
This casual (if not contemptuous) approach to customers is, sadly, typical of most (if not all) companies in this part of the world, I have been amazed when approaching estate agents in both Bucharest and Sofia about purchasing property to find how little they seem to care about us. How, I wonder, do they make their money?

Update; I wrote this morning to the Managing Director of Kia Romania and was very impressed to receive an apologetic response within the hour from him promising a detailed explanation and outcome.......watch this space.....
further update; on 7 October (the day I left Bucharest) I received a message from the MD indicating that the car had arrived!

Friday, September 27, 2013

My happy days in Hell

Last week I mentioned Simon Winder whom I knew to be a book editor as well as author of the well-researched and literate Germania and Danubia books. I had not, however, realised that he is the genius behind the Central European Classics series of books issued by Penguin
I’m rereading one of them - György Faludy's autobiography My Happy Days in Hell, first published in 1962 - and finding it one of the most powerful bits of writing I've ever encountered. Far better than Gregor von Rezori's slightly surrealist evocation of an earlier generation - The Ermine in Czernopol - which I had been trying to read earlier in the week, its picaresque descriptions and musings occasionally give me glimpses of Voltaire's Candide.....
Faludy's 2006 obituary gave this vignette
This is the Hungarian-Jewish poet's story of his flight to France and Africa in the late 1930s, his years fighting as a volunteer in the US air force, and his return after the war to Hungary, where, after refusing to write a celebratory poem for Stalin's birthday, he was interned, emerging three years later as one of a very small number who survived. Often at risk of death, even flirting with it in his encounters with Nazis and communists, Faludy revelled in the sheer sensation of being alive. Born in 1910, Faludy spent most of his highly productive later life in Canada and died in 2006 in Budapest where he returned in the late 1989. An exultant sensuous verve jumps from the pages of this sometimes bleak, never deceived and yet always life-affirming book.
The book is a supreme example of a "poetic" book - with detailed and insightful observations scattered on every page, whether about the day he departed America (after 5 years there); or arriving back to the nightmare of 1945 Budapest before the 3 years he languished in prison there. This interview some 25 years ago catches catches his waspish tone
Well, look. I am 77 years old. When I was growing up there was still such a thing as Western Civilization, something I love almost as much as life itself. In any form in which one could recognize it, it's largely gone now. Or rather is transmuted into the bizarre society one finds now everywhere from Sâo Paulo to Singapore, with far too many people, a general subliteracy and, at the top, the hierarchy of technocrats, most of them — except for their technical specialties — as uneducated as the proles working for them at minimum wage, or less
Two Hungarian literary sites give a very good summary of this incredible man’s life - here and here  I just missed the anniversary of his birth - September 22 (1910 ).

Hungarians are attracting a lot of critical press at the moment – but we should celebrate the amazing contribution they have made to intellectual life in the 20th century. Here is one of the best tributes to Faludy
BOOK after translated book, a soft-spoken poet who spent a long life writing in an awkward, minority language is taking his rightful place among the giants of world literature — even in his homeland.György Faludy was born in Budapest in September 1910. He was a Jew who wanted desperately to be a Hungarian, but had to spend some of his best writing years in exile or in prison. His poetry, circulated at home illegally during the grim years of Nazi and subsequent Soviet occupation, kept alive the flame of freedom and decency for generations of his adoring public.Despite two decades since the advent of democratic rule in Hungary its literary establishment has managed to keep Faludy’s name out of the schoolbooks. Entirely in vain, for his poetry has now become a potent force in the struggle of post-Communist Europe to liberate itself from the lingering spirit of its bygone tyrannies.Penguin Modern Classics has just released Faludy’s autobiography My Happy Days in Hell , an elegant tale celebrating the triumph of the human spirit. First published in English in 1962, the book anticipated Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago by more than a decade.
A natural teacher and spellbinding raconteur, Faludy leads his reader across a blood-drenched landscape, sharing his enjoyment and surprise at morality, friendship, loyalty and sheer physical as well as aesthetic pleasure that have somehow overcome the carnage. His autobiography is an essential literary document of the 20th century, the testimony of a writer whose stature is comparable to that of his beloved Auden, Lorca, Rilke and Yeats. Faludy, who died in 2006, was my teacher for most of my life and my close friend towards the end of his. I have discussed the book with two of its principal characters, also close associates of the author, who were impressed with the veracity of Faludy’s recollections. Many of the events of My Happy Days in Hell are also described in Faludy’s poetry, written during or shortly after their occurrence. These contemporaneous testimonies confirm the accuracy of the later work.All his life, Faludy was relentlessly pursued by the hostile agents of repression while being well loved by a devoted public. He burst onto the literary stage of Budapest just before the rise of Nazi oppression with a collection of ballads exuding the love of freedom, adapted from the mediaeval French of Francois Villon. 
The Penguin autobiography covers a lively and horrendous 15-year period from Faludy’s first exile to his release from prison in 1953. But the camp never left him. It reappeared, for example, in a poem of 1983.
Learn by heart this poem of mine,
Books only last a little time,
And this one will be borrowed, scarred,
Burned by Hungarian border guards,
Lost by the library, broken-backed,
Its paper dried up, crisped and cracked,
Worm-eaten, crumbling into dust,
Or slowly brown and self-combust,
When climbing Fahrenheit has got
To 451, for that's how hot
it will be when your town burns down.
Learn by heart this poem of mine

He had opted for poetry early, seduced by Budapest's cafés and literary life, but his scientist father would have none of it. Budapest already had 20,000 poets, he said, none of whom could support themselves. The young Faludy was packed off to Vienna to study chemical engineering. He remained unknown to his professors, publishing instead the translations of François Villon, a rebellious 15th-century French poet, that launched his literary career. He also wrote a poem against Hitler that would have earned him 14 years in prison, but he was tipped off and escaped. He fled Hungary in 1938 for France and, when war broke out, took a boat to Morocco, finding eventual sanctuary in the United States and enlisting in the American army. The book opens with a description of the country of his youth, a semi-feudal backwater locked in bitter resentment then as now over Hungary’s territorial losses suffered after the First World War. The author fled to Paris after a Hungarian parliamentary deputy had suffered a heart attack on reading one of his poems, lampooning the politician’s pro-Nazi voting record. The poet thought this was his greatest literary achievement.
In Paris, Faludy wrote and starved a lot, and met many people who later influenced European history. As the Nazis advanced, he retreated first to French North Africa and then to the United States where he served the Free Hungary Movement as its honorary secretary. He later enlisted in the US Air Force to fight the war in the Far East theatre against Japan. He astonished his hosts afterwards by declining their offer of American citizenship and returning to his war-torn homeland at the first opportunity. He soon found himself in prison on trumped-up charges.The poet endured torture in the dungeons of the Communist state security organization AVO, which had been used earlier for the same purpose by the Hungarian Nazi movement, the Arrow-Cross. Eventually he “confessed” to being a CIA spy, but laid a trap for the planners of a prospective show trial by identifying his alleged American minders as Captain Edgar Allan Poe and Major Walt Whitman. He spent his final night in that building — now a museum open to the public called The House of Terror — awaiting his promised execution at dawn before being dispatched instead to serve a 25-year forced labour sentence handed down without a trial.He saved many of his poems composed in captivity by entrusting them to memory. He was assisted in this by his fellow prisoners — including my two informants whom I eventually interviewed in Toronto — who memorized and recited Faludy’s poems during work. On their release from prison in the confusion following Stalin’s death in 1953, the same comrades helped Faludy to compile the poems for publication.
Faludy chose exile again after the collapse of the 1956 Hungarian revolution against Soviet rule, edited a literary journal in London, taught at Columbia University in New York and received a Pulitzer Prize as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto. He was nominated for a literary Nobel Prize.Faludy returned to his homeland yet again at the age of 78, together with his lover Eric Johnson, an American classicist poet, to witness the implosion of Communism and the birth of democracy. He was greeted by a tumultuous welcome and more literary prizes. More than a decade later, he married Fanny Kovács, a poet then aged 28. This was his fourth marriage, in which he spent his final, extraordinarily creative years.English translations of Faludy’s poetry have been collected in East and West (1978) and Learn This Poem of Mine by Heart (1983), both ed. John Robert Colombo, and Selected Poems (1985), trans. Robin Skelton. Faludy’s irreverent Hungarian adaptation of the Villon ballads has been adapted further in my own English Free Women (1991).His poetry is rich in unforgettable, romantic or flippant turns of phrase that unfailingly draw their power from keen perception. The poems are often composed in delicate, chanson-like tones that can unexpectedly give way to heart-chilling horror, without ever compromising the highest standards of literature.
Yet Faludy has remained an irritant to many Hungarian teachers, critics and editors. I think this is because of his irrepressible voice in praise of freedom, an anathema to the very nature of the literary establishment here that has evolved through the long decades of rigid regulation under successive tyrannies. Perhaps he flouted social conventions too often, sometimes by provoking his detractors to embarrass themselves.The literary elite tore into Faludy’s reputation after his death by questioning the veracity of My Happy Days in Hell. While the world mourned the passing of a brilliant mind, a minor Hungarian writer opined in an obituary published by The Guardian newspaper of London that the book contained “picaresque adventures and saucy anecdotes… even if it is uncertain how much of it is based on fact”. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meanwhile…in the rest of Romania

I’ve been remiss in not mentioning a couple of events which have been making the headlines here in Romania in the last few weeks. First the demonstrations in most cities against the Rosia Montana gold mine exploitation, spoilation and devastation in the heart of Transylvania.
The project’s opponents criticise the use of cyanide - 12,000 tons of it to be precise - that's 12 times higher than anything ever seen in European goldmining, which would have a devastating and irreversible impact on the region’s biodiversity. Four mountains surrounding the village would be destroyed in the process and Roman mining galleries unique in Europe would be damaged, archeologists and historians have warned on countless occasions. Alas, the Romanian government supports it, singing loudly of its economic value, and ironically, the ecological and cultural benefits for the region.
The new 'law' breaks legal and constitutional provisions for the protection of private property, cultural heritage protection, environmental protection, watersheds, forests, grasslands, public property, access to justice for citizens, free competition - enfin, bref, it is especially designed for a foreign private company - Gabriel Resources. Therefore, the government's proposed referendum is nothing more than a travesty. You cannot have a referendum on a law that is illegal. Not even in Romania.
This so-called 'law', writes Claudia Ciobanu for the Guardian, "would give Gabriel Resources extraordinary powers, including the right to conduct expropriations in Rosia Montana. The text mandates authorities to give the company all necessary permits for construction and exploration by set terms (15 days, 30 days, 60 days, etc) regardless of national legislation, court rulings or public participation requirements. If the parliament approves this law (a vote could take place as early as this month), Romanian citizens will no longer have a say over Rosia Montana. Outrage was compounded by the fact that, while in opposition, Ponta's Social Democrats had declared themselves against the project. This turnabout reinforced the perception that the political class is corrupted and unworthy of trust."
Useful background info can be found on this site and also on Der Spiegel. 
A young Romnian journalist also has a take....
The second event which has been gripping Romania’s cultural elite is the bi-ennial George Enescu International Festival – broadcast on the airwaves with interminable interviews with performers and audience.

Also quite a few book festivals going on – I missed the Transylvanian one at the beginning of the month (frankly I didn't fancy the clipped upper-class anglo-saxon tones which promised to be monopolising the area - compared with the Alba-Iulia Festival organised by Dilema Veche) but I might just make the tail-end of the Bucharest Book street festival. And the Iasi festival beckons 23-27 October – although I will almost certainly still be in Sofia then….. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Harvest treasures

A day for sensations in the comfort of our cosy stone and wood house in the autumnal mountains – hunkered with a good book in a wicker chair in front of a wood fire in the brick stove; eating local vegetables magically concocted in soups and stews. Pity I can’t quite extend to the Tuscan way of treating beans – left overnight softly bubbling in an old Chianti bottle in the embers of the fire! But I'm just waiting to get hold of a pumpkin to make a soup with a drop of ginger!
And the mixture of grated red beetroot, chopped celery, apple, garlic, pumpkin oil, honey and apple vinegar and touch of lemon offers not only a tasty salad but is so beneficial to organs such as the prostate.

I used to swear by Shopska salad but it has paled by comparison with my current offering - which adds old crumbled toast, an egg, pumpkin oil and generous lashings of Telemen cheese to the usual mix of red onion, tomato, lettuce and garlic.
This encouraged me to look again at one of my favourite celebrations of the older (and better) ways of eating – Beaneaters and Bread Soup which focuses on various individuals in the Tuscan countryside who still stick with the simple and traditional methods – here’s one recipe for bread and beansoup, The bread in the picture, by the way, is the superb large potato one which lasts more than a week! If I can't have the Bulgarian black rye, I'll take this Romanian (actually Hungarian county!) white!   

By coincidence, one of my favourite bloggers’ most recent offering gives marvellous old illuminated treatments of harvest time which includes a medieval document called Tacuinum Sanitatis
And, while we’re celebrating the old ways, let’s raise a glass - or three- (of Murfatlar Feteasca white and Bulgarian red) to the superb photography of Robert Doisneau which usually lie on my desk and some of whose work can be seen here
The last website - online browsing - is a nice find which gives us glimpses of old photographs  and paintings from around the world

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back to the Habsburgs

"Our" cow was moved off the high ground last week down to the meadow around Viciu’s house; and this week saw the first snow on the Bucegi mountain range which the front of the house overlooks (the pic).
The quincy fruits are also large – always, according to grandmother wisdom here, a sign of a tough winter to come. Couldn’t get much tougher than the last one which saw our neighbour’s house snowed in during March – but we’re taking no chances and therefore padded today the central heating pipes with special care. Monday we will have the specialist up to do a bit of tweaking. Thus are the seasons marked on this southern border of Transylvania!
I’m stuck in a bit of a time warp at the moment – Chris Clark’s book on the origins of the First World War - TheSleepwalkers - made me realise how little I know about the world which created the killing fields of the 20th Century. I therefore reread Simon Winder’s Germania which I had found a bit indigestible at the first read - but which makes a bit more sense this time around. And, coincidentally, Winder published last week Danubia – a personal history of Hapsburg Empire which has attracted this useful review -
Why do we know so little about the Habsburg empire, given that it is the prime formative influence on modern Europe? Its pomp gave us the art, music, literature and pageantry of our high culture; its relationship with the Ottoman East and burgeoning European protestantism drew our religious and our political maps; its collapse fomented the nationalisms that shaped the 20th century across Europe.
A popular abbreviation on the internet is ‘tl; dr’. It stands for ‘too long; didn’t read.’ There’s space for another one that would come in especially helpful for the Habsburg empire: ‘tc; du’ — ‘too complicated; didn’t understand’. It’s much easier to teach schoolchildren about Our Island Story, or the first world war, or the nastiness of Nazis, because at least superficially these are containable subjects. There are baddies (Nazis), there are decisive battles (Waterloo), there are comprehensible treaties (Versailles) and there are what look like reasons for things to happen (railway timetables).
The Habsburg empire, on the other hand, has none of these consolations. Most of the places involved are now called something else, and the empire was cobbled together out of any number of rebellious, feuding or indifferent duchies, grand-duchies, principalities, margravates, palatinates and what have you. ......
One of the main things the empire did was to prevent the Ottomans from overrunning Europe. Its ups and downs often have to do with whether the Ottomans were busy gnawing at its bum or had their attention distracted for a few decades elsewhere. Like most of the things the Habsburgs did — Winder gently but seriously emphasises that to think of the empire as a rational, centralising authority is completely to miss the point — these distractions were often subcontracted........
This is almost an anti-history. Winder approaches his dementingly enormous subject more in the spirit of an amused and irreverent tourist, as his subtitle suggests: as much travel writer as historian. ‘The more we read about the past,’ he marvels at one point, ‘the more completely odd it appears.’
Danubia is framed by the author’s peregrinations around the Mitteleuropean sprawl of the vanished empire — from the dismal flatlands bordering the Danube to tiny towns in Transylvania. He visits dusty old museums (in one he finds a flap of human skin) and decaying fortresses. He observes endless suits of armour, eats stomach-churning omelettes, stumbles on a children’s rock festival in a town in Serbia and sighs frequently for love of the town of Brno.Yet one of the sly contradictions here is that an exceptional amount of reading and travel lies behind the showily teen-agerish dismissal of this monarch or that treaty. Winder plainly knows his way around the empire: he’s not only more knowledgeable than he makes out about military history; he’s also well-read and clever about art and music. Sometimes the winsomeness is trying. A down side of approaching history as a tourist is that, by definition, you never quite inhabit the period. There’s a sort of chronological orientalism to all this pointing and laughing. But at the same time it is very funny.
Danubia promises to be a very useful complement to the doorstopper of a book about the Habsburg Empire which arrived for me yesterday CA Macartney’s 1968 The Habsburg Empire 1790-1918. This promises to be a real resource to help deal with my ignorance of this part of the world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Abolish the news!

News is a commodity sold on a mass market which despises in-depth assessments but goes for stock clichés and instant opinion. 
Where does one go when one wants, instead, good and thoughtful writing about issues, culture or history? The answer seems to be bi-weekly, monthly or bi-monthly journals of a general nature. 

Avoid journalists – the modern harlot – like the plague and find instead real writers who demonstrate (a) clear and original writing, (b) familiarity with the subject matter and (c) courage in challenging the conventional wisdom. 
This is what the fortnightly London Review of Books (to which I’ve been subscribing for the past year) is now giving me – take John Lanchester's two long articles on the British banking scandal here and also here; novellist James Meek's stark analysis of electricity privatisation; and this piece reviewing various European texts on the crisis as typical examples.
The New York Review of Books – of which I used to be an aficionado – no longer speaks to me…..it somehow seems to have become incestuous….
I would, of course, like to recommend a French or German journal – but cannot find one with the same scope and clarity as LRB. Le Monde and Die Zeit are both great heavyweight journals – one a daily, the other weekly – but are still newspapers with all the pressures that entail. A monthly (German) journal such as Cicero is too narrowly political – others too business. NachDenkSeiten is a website I've come across which has a nice focus. But don't get me started on the tens of thousands of specialised academic titles which waste our valuable time and warp our minds!!

The various monthly European literary reviews (such as Magazine Litteraire) just don’t seem to have mastered the more discursive tone (and editorial genius) of the London, Dublin and New York Review of Books which are patently reaching out to a broader audience than that for simple book reviews (with the strange mixture of internecine and marketing processes that can involve!). These three Reviews prefer to use a recently published book (or better a bunch) as a peg on which to hang a more general discourse. 

I always enjoy glancing at the Romanian version of Lettre Internationale even although its sponsor, The Cultural Institute of Romania now has dubious leadership. Its woodcuts are marvellous and the copious footnotes take me back to the good old days of Le Monde!
I also very much appreciate what Eurozine trying to do - with its collecting in one website the key articles from Europe’s 70 odd cultural magazines – even if most of that content is too highbrow! But at least it does try to give us a sense of what is happening in Europe outside the superficial treatment we get of the eurocrisis and how it is impacting on people. I have remarked several times in this blog about the scandalously uninformed coverage there is of the social context in which the majority of Europeans live their lives.

In desperation I have now added New Left Review and a new-look New Statesman to the list of journals which now wend their way to my mountain retreat. Already I feel a difference!!
But perhaps its time to ask a simple question - there are tens of thousands of journalists and academics churning out articles in (hundreds of) thousands of journals in the general field of politics and social policy. Can we not think of a way of making the better of these pieces more accessible - in various European languages?? That's the Eurozine idea - but they're selecting from a rather precious bunch!
Of course what gets in the way of this simple idea is the specialisation of political, professional and academic silos - there are a few journals who are trying this idea - eg Project Syndicate but from a rather narrow ideological base.
Time for more experimentation!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

the poetry of tartan noir

I keep wanting to like poetry – but generally failing. Bert Brecht, Norman MacCaig and Marin Sorescu are the main poets who have ever really got through to me - the first for his political anger; the other two for their wry humour. TS Eliot and Adrian Mitchell also appeal. But I do enjoy and appreciate the poetic style which you can find in good novels and essays.
William McIlvanney has always been an admired writer in Scotland though his renown hasn't spread beyond the borders in quite the way some of us think it should have. 
McIlvanney isn't a crime writer per se; he's also written literary novels, short stories, essays and poetry since the 60s. But he did happen to write three crime novels, starting with Laidlaw  in 1977, that acted as a hard-bitten blueprint for all Scottish crime fiction to come, inspiring a generation of writers to take on the genre in his wake.
Laidlaw's eponymous detective is an existentially troubled individual with a strong moral compass and a stronger sense of socialist justice.
The Glasgow he stalks is a brutal place, rife with deprivation and poverty, yet depicted with dark humour and perceptive, poetic prose. The plot reads like a cliche today, but that's because McIlvanney was first to do it. The murderer of a teenager has to be found and, well, that's it. But McIlvanney subverts expectations, and gives away whodunit early on, focusing instead on the psyches of characters that represent different facets of Glasgow, and by extension Scotland. In a time when English crime writers were still copying Agatha Christie, McIlvanney took the hardboiled ethos of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and applied it to the working classes of the city around him. It was a revelation.
I was spellbound by which I've just read after its recent republication – the toughness of its taut text. Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw left university after one year. He had not failed -"University failed me ... I took acres of fertile ignorance up to that place. And they started to pour preconceptions all over it. Like forty tons of cement. No thanks. I got out before it hardened".
"Panda (one of the characters) was like a banana republic threatened by two contending major powers who don’t want direct conflict". (ch.11 p.75)
Laidlaw takes as much pleasure in the ordinary street life of Glasgow and of the dignity of its people. This indomitable spirit is captured in the last action of the book where Laidlaw after an evening’s drinking, dances outside Central Station with an old woman who had been standing in a queue. ‘Son,’ she said, ‘This is the best queue I’ve ever been in in my life.’ (p.298)
McIlvanney’s shorter pieces are marvellous examples of expressive writing and can be accessed on his website. 
Reviews of his work are available on a Glasgow University site about Scottish literature here and here

In researching for this post, I came across a very interesting website about lifesaving poems  one of whose posts was about Marin Sorescu  Perhaps the site can help me with my blind spot for most poetry. I know I need to focus more!

To end - not with a poem but with a symphony of wood! The spoons which head this post are the creation of this artist MANU whose studio in Tirgovishte we visited recently and two of whose beautifully-crafted dressers now have pride of place in our mountain kitchen.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The politics of painting

Bucharest is a city I would normally avoid in high summer like the plague – but dental issues have forced me to divide what summer I’ve had since my return from Germany in early July between the place and my mountain retreat. And the cooler summer weather has actually made the city much more bearable.
Having bemoaned what I saw as the lugubrious state of Romanian painting with which I was being served up in Bucharest galleries and museums in the past decade, my eyes have been opened in the past 12 months.
The new Museum of (22 separate!) art collections; a website; various finds in antiquarian bookshops; and a small new private gallery have helped me at last to appreciate the beauty of Romanian realist painting of the past century!
New names for me are Bassarab Louis/Ludovic (1866-1933) whose reputation seems to have been unfairly eclipsed by Grigorescu and Andreescu; the exquisite works of Grant Nicolae 1868-1950; Artachino Constantin (1870-1954); Strambu Hippolytus (1871-1934); Baesu Aurel (1896-1928); Leon Bijou (1880-1970); Georgescu Marian (1892-1932); and Aurel Popp 

It is Grant and Popp who intrigue me the most – for the neglect each has suffered – for very different political reasons.
Grant (as his name would suggest) was of Scottish (and high bourgeois) origin – his father was UK consul in Romania and Nicolae came of age when Romanian impressionist painting was at its height  - being part of the great generation of Artachino, Baltazar, Biju, Bunescu, Dimitrescu, Darescu, Eder, Muntzner, Pallady, Popescu, Popea, Ressu, Schweitzer-Cumpana, Steriadi, Theodresci-Scion, Tonitza, Vermont and Verona – all, amazingly, born within ten years of one another!
Nicolae Grant, however, seems to have been air-brushed out of history – his name does not appear in the key 1971 text by Dragut et al of the Meridian publisher’s Romanian Painting in 1111 pictures whose German version I was lucky enough to find this week (for 5 euros!). And, at the moment, I can find no site with which to illustrate his work - but one example is at the side here.

Aurel Popp was born in Satu Mare in 1879 and was (not unlike many painters of the time) a passionate Socialist - which landed him in deep trouble with the Hungarian authorities of the time. Not least because, in 1918, he was elected to the Budapest Soviet. For that heinous offence he was imprisoned, escaped and was hounded in post-war Transylvania. Last week I was delighted to pick up a copy of the 1968 Meridian series (German version) on his work.
And it is one of his paintings which tops this post