Three books by Mircea Cartarescu, the author who nourishes the past with poetic wealth

(By Emilia Racciatti) Mircea Cartarescu, the most renowned Romanian writer of today who has been a favorite for the Nobel Prize for Literature for years and recently won the 2022 FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages ​​for “his imaginative and overflowing prose”, has for these days two of his books reprinted in our country as “Nostalgia” and “The brown eye of our love” and one recently released in Spanish as “Essential Poetry”, a compilation of his poems made by himself.

Published by the Impedimenta label and translated by Marian Ochoa de Eribe, the three works are an example of the poetic richness that the poet, critic and teacher puts into play when writing, a practice that links to dreams or in the that the oneiric takes center stage by dint of evocation and device to present worlds.

“I dream a lot, in crazy colors, I have sensations in my dreams that I never look for in reality. I have written down hundreds of dreams over the last ten years; some of them compulsively repeat themselves and push me to the same caudine gallows of shame, rage and loneliness”, he says at the beginning of “El Mendébil”, one of the five texts that make up “Nostalgia”.

This book, divided into three parts (the first entitled “Prologue”, which includes “El Ruletista; the second “Nostalgia”, which consists of “El Mendébil”, “Los twins” and “REM”; and the third called “Epílogo “, which contains the text “The architect”) can be read as a novel, since the voice of the narrator/character maintains continuity throughout the texts, among which there are also various symbolic associations.

In the introduction entitled “Reality as fiction”, the writer Edmundo Paz Soldán states that the title of the book, “Nostalgia”, sets the tone that will prevail: “a trip to ‘the ruin of all things’, to ‘what been and will never be again'” in which Cartarescu walks through dilapidated neighborhoods of old Bucharest and in which “the most that can be done is ‘a memory of memories'”.

Owner of a particular way of combining intuition and dreams to build universes in which the grotesque nourishes what is narrated, Cartarescu (Bucharest, 1956) published, throughout his career, more than 30 books, was translated into 23 languages ​​and received prestigious awards, such as the Romanian Academy, the Austrian Prize for European Literature and the Thomas Mann Prize for Literature.

His poetic work was mainly produced in the 1980s and it was “El Levante” -for which he received the Romanian Writers’ Union Award in 1990- that consolidated him as an exquisite and innovative poet.

In those years he also wrote and presented his bachelor’s thesis, a work on the poetic imagery of the Eminemian lyric, which was later published under the title “The chimerical dream”. His academic journey continued with a doctorate in Romanian literature that he sealed with a thesis on postmodernism published by the Humanitas publishing house, with which he has signed an exclusive contract, in 1999.

Clues or clues to the beginning of his creative path can be found in “The brown eye of our love”, a collection of autobiographical texts in which he expands on love, death and nostalgia but also on his addiction to soluble coffee or the attempt to wear a jean while he was a student and the money he had did not allow it.

This conjunction of stories that form a system due to their folds of sensitivity with definitions of poetry or his explanation of why he considers himself a “professor” and not a “writer” brings us closer to a more personal Cartarescu willing to reflect and take a position on poetry as well. Romanian literature.

“Why are the great books of Romanian modernity not known in the world? The explanation is long and tedious. Suffice it, for now, to point out that it is not a question of lack of quality, but of disastrous cultural management”, he points out. in the article in which he analyzes his last name in addition to exposing his influences (Kafka, Ion Barbu, Ernesto Sabato, MH Simionescu, TS Eliot or M. Ivanescu), and where he asserts that his art “does not come from a purely Romanian tradition, but of the great European tradition”.

In another of the essays, “Europe has the shape of my brain”, the writer warns very clearly about the game of representations to which the organization of the literary market can lead and remarks: “Naturally, my subjects can be, by force, Romanian , the Romanian accessories, the language may have the inflections of my psycholinguistic space, but my themes can only be the great themes of the European tradition, the same as those of Euripides and Joyce”.

In a sense, he reaffirms that he does not want to become the “Romanian on duty” or “the quintessential guest to represent the country in colloquiums and symposiums.”

“I have nothing to represent except myself, the homeland of my texts. I could be Portuguese, Estonian or Swiss. I could be male or female, Greek or barbarian. The texture of my works would naturally be different each time.” , but his spirit would remain intact,” he says.

Edited and printed in Argentina at the same time, “Nostalgia” and “El ojo…” can be read crossed, mixed, going from one of his texts to others, and there the writer’s projection is fed back in that way of finding insistence on the representation. Because if there is something that returns the gaze of Cartarescu’s world, it is the ability to go through pain as an experience but also the possibility that this splinter has an after: that of writing.

For that writing he was the winner in 2018 of the Formentor Prize for Letters due to the “powerful narrative ability” of a work that “encompasses almost the entire human experience” and that “forces us to reconsider the existential condition while expanding unexpected way the limits of fiction”, according to a jury made up of Alberto Manguel, Basilio Baltasar, the Spaniards Francisco Ferrer Lerín and Andrés Ibáñez and the Franco-Moroccan translator Aline Schulman.

His work is also made up of the monumental “Solenoid” and the volume of stories “Las Bellas Extranjeras”, published by the Impedimenta label, which distributes his titles in our country. He is also the author of the novel “Lulu”, an investigation into the mystery of the double in which its protagonist, who seems to be taken from a Proust play, becomes obsessed with one of his companions who dresses as a woman and becomes a recurrence that he tries to face through writing.

Cartarescu has a literary project called “Blinder” (1996-2007), which can be presented as a trilogy that as it progresses takes the form of a butterfly and whose parts are “The left wing”, “The body” and “The on the right”.

Doctor in the Chair of Romanian Literature of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest, the writer participated in the 2020 International Festival of Literature of Buenos Aires (Filba) in a talk with the editor and cultural journalist Lala Toutonian, in which he He declared himself an admirer of Ernesto Sábato, whom he defined as “a kind of Dante Alighieri of the 20th century, especially with his ‘Report on the Blind'”.

On that occasion, he recognized that being a poet was “an enormous privilege, that of trying to find beauty” because he maintained that “beauty is everywhere and every search for the truth that a person pursues is a search for beauty.”

The Romanian writer was recently awarded the 2022 FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages ​​for “his imaginative and overflowing prose” that intertwines “fantastic and realistic elements” and manages to challenge “from the dreamlike and existential to readers around the world” , within the framework of the inauguration of the 36th Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

Cartarescu will be recognized for the “specular fictions that investigate the construction of identity from a liminal and peripheral space in the European landscape”, during the opening of the Fair, on November 26 at 11 a.m. in the Juan Rulfo auditorium of Expo Guadalajara Meanwhile, his work adds a more recent book: “Essential Poetry”, an extensive compilation of his poetic texts for which he was responsible. (Telam)

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Three books by Mircea Cartarescu, the author who nourishes the past with poetic wealth