The Persian Expedition
Translated by Rex Warner
Very interesting historic event. I felt I was with the soldiers on this great expedition across plains and through mountains, experiencing the political manoeuvres and negotiating through enemy territory.
Along the Enchanted Way
Truly enchanting. William Blacker lived many years alongside country people in mountainous northern Romania, the almost mediaeval Maramureş.
bury me standing
The Gypsies and Their Journey
A great learning and understanding about Gypsies. Fonseca’s book may change a reader’s attitude. I knew so little, particularly of Gypsies in the European Eastern bloc.
Salman Rushdie endorses bury me standing “A hidden world – at once ignored and secretive, persecuted and unknown – is hidden in these pages… A magnificent achievement.”
Jan Morris, Sunday Times says “A grand panorama of European gypsydom, its history, its present condition and future prospects.”
The next three are enlightening works. Glad I found them prior to my trip to Romania.
- A History of the Romanians by Georges Castellan
- Romania The Great Union by Ioan Scurtu, Nicolae Sarambei and Corneliu Rades
- Rumania by Romulus Seişanu – a lot to absorb
The more I read about Romania the better equipped I’ll surely be to appreciate not only the natural beauty but perhaps the people and their doings. I’m looking forward too of browsing the magical Bookshop in Bucharest: Cărturești Carusel — “The prettiest bookshop in Romania” — a restored 19th Century building confiscated during the Communist Period but in 1990 returned to the Chrissoveloni family who were in possession of it in 1903. The bookshop spreads over six levels totaling 1000sqm. It is open 1000-2200 – great idea the late closing hour for booklovers!
Translated by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno
A good read by a born story-teller, “a teller of Oriental tales”. Romain Rolland says in the preface to this charming little book (138 pages) that in a letter arrived from a hospital in Nice, his (Panaït Istrati’s) genius for storytelling is so irresistible that even before his suicide attempt, twice he interrupted his desperate account to narrate two humorous stories from his past life.
Panaït Istrati (1884-1935) was born in Romania six years after Romania separated from the Ottoman Empire. Later this son of a Greek smuggler lived in Constantinople which played a central role in Kyra Kyralina. First published 1923 in French, Kyra Kyralina established Panaït Istrati as a leading Modernist writer.
p.69 “The Danube attracted me like an irresistible force. I was eleven-years-old but had never known the pleasure of gliding along the river on one of the boats on which the rowers languorously sang as they made their way downstream.”
p.126 “What is charming, picturesque or interesting about the tumultuous life and adventures of a man with a fierce soul is not always found in the more prominent facts of his life.”
Each of the three “Books” of Kyra Kyralina is a short story as if memories from childhood (or a young man as Adrien Zograffi is in Book I) on the banks of the Danube to old age on different shores, amidst oppression and extraordinary living difficulties. Istrati left home as a 12 year-old and wandered for 20 years through Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, the East, Greece, Italy often penniless. For a while he was mixed up in revolutionary movements. But for Panaït Istrati friendship was a sacred passion. His insights into the human condition are profound. His writings take the reader into lives as if some other Thousand and One Nights.