The Beautiful And The Good

Romanian literature. My first article about, and the winner is “The beautiful and the good” by Cristian Fulas. It was published at Polirom publishing house and launched on the 18th of January 2018 at Carturesti Verona library (for those who don’t know where it is, it is located in the center of the Bucharest on Gheorghe Magheru Boulevard, next to Piata Romana), one of the greatest libraries in Bucharest.

Today I will talk about the launching of the book and I will start with a short history of the building in which the library is located.

It was built in 1883 by the liberal premier Dimitire Sturdza, and nationalized during communism. In 1944, in the building it was located Hasefer library, and after that, an antique shop. After the 1989 revolution, precisely in 1996, it was claimed in court by Serban Sturdza, and in 2000 got again into the property of the Sturdza family.

I got to the library at about 7 PM. I was among the first ones to arrive. There was a table in the middle of the room and three books on the  front of it. Three copies of the book it was to be launched that evening. One by one people started to arrive, and shortly the event began. Ovidiu Simonca, chief editor at “Observator cultural” (Cultural observer) magazine, was first to start presenting. His role was, among saying something about the book, to introduce the other critics present at the event. He read some thoughts from the book and finished with three questions addressed to the author:

OS: Do you ever write letters? Electronic of physical?

CF: No. I get from time to time a long email. Its length terrifies me. I prefer messenger or whatsapp.

OS: On the other launchings of the book (in Timisoara, Craiova, Cluj), you said that this book is a more commode form of protest of yours. What is it that revolts you the most of what you see around you?

CF: Well I shouldn’t be mad about politics. It is more upsetting the fact that the general behavior of politicians reflects into the people. I mean there are so many companies who don’t pay the taxes of their employee. And this is what makes from this country what it is.

OS: Is the title an ironical one?

CF: It is about antiphrasis (figure of speech who, through a phrase, expresses a sense opposite to the reality acc. MDA2 2010 – Small academic dictionary, second edition). It is about where you look. If two thieves talk to each another, they are beautiful from their point of view.

The next one to take the microphone was Cristina Musat, literary critic. I will resume some of the thoughts she shared with us:

“This is the fourth book of Cristian Fulas. Apparently a short prose book. I am saying apparently because all those notions of novel, short story etc are starting to be put under a question mark. It should be analysed in what measure is short prose because there are many pages pf poetry, not with rhyme and rhythm or versal poetry, but one who comes from the way Cristian Fulas looks at the people and cuts out. The novelty in this book in the picture of the Romanian prose is a great stylistic variety between the covers of the same volume. He manages to put the light on another human situation and character type. The typology of the characters is not repetitive, but on the contrary, it is very varied, as the narrative techniques he uses. Cristi Fulas does not pose when he writes. His experience is a correct one and makes a character to be authentic. Not to be counterfeit.

There are two important things which the book accentuates. The first one is the fact that all these proses are unforeseeable. There are many twists and escape lines which turn the text so that the final surprises you. The second one is the intertextuality.  In <<Linistea>> (The silence) it is an allusion to Faulkner. The title also makes you think about a volume of short prose of Fitzgerald, <<The beautiful and the cursed>>.  ”

Silence for a moment. And then Ovidiu Simonca again.

“Cristi Fulas said that this volume was provoked by the professor Mircea Martin who told him at a book launch <<And now what’s next?>> .  The next one who will say some words about the book will be Bianca Cernat, professor, literary critic, and researcher at “George Calinescu” institute for the Romanian Academy.”

“Who hasn’t read any of his books could easily start from here, and then going to the other ones. Although it seems a volume with a rupture from the others, I can see here a network of ideas and scriptural obsessions, and I am convinced that at some point, after a time, we will talk inclusively about the prose of this author like of the prose of an author with operas. And it is not a great thing I’m saying and I am not anticipating. I fell that this prosaic construction of Cristian Fulas will extend on more than one level. The volume is one of short stories, short prose or whatever you want to call it.  Beyond the story of the book, the volume seemes somehow started organically from the writing of the author. An original volume which he would have wanted for a long time to write. It is a volume of four short proses and one ars poetica at the final. It has more or less 170 pages. It is a dystopian prose which gives you the idea of reality, especially in <<Agentia>> (The agency). They are some proses which bring face to face a utopian youth, dystopian at some point, with a consenescence and a death that does not forgive.

The first story is the one of a Romanian went to Italy which reaches in a mafia network from around Rome. In the prose/essay from the final of the book, as in some texts published over time by Cristian Fulas, he reflects over what it means the commitment of the current writer in the contemporaneity. The fact that he wants to sort of write an antihistorical. He reflects in his volumes some alternative realities.”

The comments were followed by an autograph session. At the end I left the building felling richer than when I got in. Actually I was quite happy. It was the first book launching I have assisted. I was proud of myself. I can’t wait to go to the next one.

Until then I will add on my reading list the book “The beautiful and the good”. I will come back with my own review over the book.

© picnicontheshelf, January 21, 2018


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