Sunday, February 28, 2016
« Sur ce sentiment inconnu, dont l'ennui, la douceur m'obsèdent, j'hésite à apposer le nom, le beau nom grave de tristesse »
I remember having read "Bonjour Tristesse" (1954) back in high school like it was just a few months ago... I remember the amazement at how rebellious Cecile was, not wanting to study for her final exams, then falling in love but still being capable of creating a whole web of lies and tricks in order for things to get her way... This was truly a book that changed my life in the way of seeing things beyond what they may appear at a first glance, a book that made me discover the beauty and uniqueness of French literature, a discovery that no long after that turned into a passion that I still cherish quite fondly.
However, what I do not remember is whom I discovered first, Francoise Sagan or Paul Eluard, but I still know his perfect poem "A peine defiguree" (1932) by heart... the poem that probably inspired Sagan for the title of his controversial short novel and which can be found in the beginning.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
I first discovered Mircea Cartarescu back in 2001 when my college roommate introduced me to his poems, which I later decided to translate into English for the Traductology course which I passed with flying colors, the professor being thoroughly impressed with my translations. Curious by nature I wanted to see what his prose was all about and I was struck by how creative he could be in his short novel "Travesti" (1994).
In 2005 He came to my hometown to launch his easy-to-digest book "Why we love women” (2004) and I even managed to ask him a question. That was the moment I became one of his fans. I continued reading his masterpieces, because for me, everything he has written is highly remarkable and his writing demands to be taken into account when committees decide to nominate writers for the Nobel Prize of Literature. I am an avid reader but out of the thousands writers I have read he is the most powerful and imaginative. With each page you read, you become more amazed at how incredible his mind and writing is. At the end of 2014 he visited us again, to pick up his award for the best Romanian writer of the year, nominated by a local literary committee but meeting everybody's approval. He even donated all the money he received for a good cause: promoting young writers.
(M. Cartarescu talking about "Solenoid")
Back to present times, two weeks ago Mircea Cartarescu came once more in a campaign to promote his latest masterpiece, “Solenoid”, published in November last year, the book he described as his most impressive in terms of creation, topic and why not, time to write. It took him almost 5 years to finish the 800 page novel and he stated that he actually hoped the readers would complete it in three - or four months, taking their time to digest and absorb, but in my case, this will not happen, because I have already read 200 pages and I am planning on finishing it by the end of March... just in time for my Romanian Writers Challenge!
Sunday, February 7, 2016
If you love Venice, then I am sure you are familiar with Donna Leon's series set in the magic city and whose main character is Commissario Brunetti. I have read a few of her books with the intention of definitely reading some more, but a few weeks ago I came across this book, "Brunetti's Venice" and I had to leaf though it, since you cannot actually read it. You have to be in Venice to track Brunetti's walks, his favorite places, the churches he passes by, his stops at different cafes and his home. The book presents such an accurate description of his wanderings that you cannot but wish to discover Venice, book in hand, the way that Toni Sepeda, the professor of literature who compiled these walking tours envisaged for you. Each chapter takes us on a different tour, and the sights are blended with passages from Donna Leon's books (pictured above), in order to support and clarify the character's endeavors. At the end of each walk you can also find info on additional sites and details as well as the time the walk may take.
"He wondered what divine intercession could save the city from the oil slick, this modern plague that covered the waters of the laguna and had already destroyed millions of the crabs that had crawled though the nightmares of his childhood. What Redeemer could come and save the city from the pall of greenish smoke that was slowly turning marble to meringue? A man of limited faith, he could imagine no salvation, either divine or human." (Death at la Fenice, chapter 14)
So, next time you visit Venice, try to exchange your ordinary tour book with this fascinating account and you will be seeing Venice though the eyes of a famous character. And when you return home, why not try some of the recipes from "Brunetti's Cookbook" as well? :)
Monday, February 1, 2016
I have no intention of giving up on my other challenge, which turns 4 today, mainly because Venice is still my favorite city in the world and I can't wait to rediscover it though fantastic literature. I have in mind quite a lot of books, but I will definitely read these two: "La Tempestad" written in 1997 by Juan Manuel de Prada, translated into Romanian a few years ago, and which seems to present a totally different image of the Venice we may know, and the long awaited "Venice Noir", a selection of 14 stories set in Venice, which range from the ones depicting tourists during Carnevale to criminals trying to elude the law.... These two tomes should be quite intriguing, to say the least!
Do join me this month in my quest for the mysterious Venice!