Horia Ursu


Horia Ursu (b. 1948) studied Literature at the “Babeş-Bolyai” University in Cluj, where he is now a lecturer in the French Department. As an associate teacher, he taught courses on Twentieth-Century French Literature at Jules Verne University, Amiens (1990-1991), and was invited to give a series of lectures on Central-European Literature at the same university in 1994. He has been awarded research grants by the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1995), and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (1996). He is part of the group of writers who came to prominence through the Cluj-based Echinox (Equinox) magazine, and was included in the anthologies Debut 1986 (Cartea Românească, 1986) and The 1980s Generation in Short Prose (1998)....

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Novel, "Prose" collection, Cartea Romānească, 2007, 456 pages

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In The Siege of Vienna, Horia Ursu realises a fresco of Transylvania after the Second World War – from the period of triumphal communism to the chaos of post-revolutionary transition – a novel of Central-European nostalgias, of the decay of a world with aristocratic roots. The characters – Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Armenians, who make up a multi-ethnic milieu, a harmonious Babel where linguistic differences are no obstacle to communication – are united in the pride of having belonged to a former empire and at the same time in their complex of dwelling far from the Centre, far from a Vienna imagined as a place of miracles… But not even Vienna is what it used to be: it is by no means accidental that one character in the novel hangs a copy of Franz Geffels’ painting The Siege of Vienna in the dining room of his modest apartment-block home. The whole world, in fact, is completely different from what it was half a century ago. The old social hierarchies have collapsed, and with them aristocratic values. A former collective-farm manager, the picturesque and frustrated Ignat P. Brînduşă, who since the 1989 Revolution has become a prosperous entrepreneur, ends up buying valuable paintings from the collection of a distinguished lady – impoverished aristocrat Alieta Ster. Likewise, the same genial and self-satisfied character, who believes his time has at last come, evokes in passing the decline of the family of Count Teleki after communist nationalisation. The author displays a fine and sombre irony : characters cut from the same cloth as Ignat P. Brînduşă lay their hands not only on the priceless homes and belongings of the former aristocracy, but even on their sumptuous and “well-sited” funerary vaults…
The Siege of Vienna is a novel that ought to place Horia Ursu among the important writers of Central-European literature, alongside Bohumil Hrabal, Jaroslav Hasek, Milorad Pavic, and Milan Kundera.


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