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Paul Cernat

Biography

Paul Cernat (b. 1972) is a highly appreciated literary critic, lecturer within the Department of Romanian Literature at Bucharest University. Co-author of the volume În căutarea comunismului pierdut (In Search of Lost Communism, 2001). He also published the experimental novel Războiul fluturilor (The War of the Butterflies, co-author: Andrei Ungureanu; Polirom,...

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Excerpt from

Memories, "Ego-grafii" series, 2004, 464 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

The endeavour of the four authors - Paul Cernat, Ion Manolescu, Angelo Mitchievici, Ioan Stanomir - of this book is spectacular. In turn, each of them descends into his own history, seeking details, the “madeleines” of a past epoch, of a vanished world : that of Romanian communism. However, the result is by no means an attempt to salvage in any way the ideology that scarred Romania for almost half a century. On the contrary, by assembling minor personal histories, which construct a kind of glossary, an insectarium of childhood and juvenile life in communist Romania, the authors thereby unveil, in the background, a grotesque, painful and absurd tableau. Written with nostalgia for one’s personal past, but at the same time in a tone that acquires the necessary gravity when personal history intersects with the wider, terrible and dramatic narrative of Romanian society, the histories contained in this book touch upon a multitude of topics, from episodes connected to the pioneer’s red cravat to the films that attempted to indoctrinate at an early age, from food queues to “contraband” cigarettes, from innocent childhood games to obligatory participation in the mass rallies organised on the occasions of official Communist Party holidays. Gradually, an Orwellian atmosphere is created, blurred, nonetheless, by the eyes through which it is filtered : the eyes of innocence, capable of seeing in the most dramatic of episodes something pleasing and innocent, in which children, as yet incapable of understanding the realities of the surrounding world in all their harshness, prefer to take refuge.

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