Corneliu LEU - SECOLUL SI DEMOCRATIA
Mariana Cristescu, Damen Passo Doble, Editura Nico, Târgu Mures, 2012

INVADATII INVADÂNDU-I PE INVADATORI – „TESTAMENT” – ANTOLOGIE DE POEZIE ROMÂNA ÎN LIMBA ENGLEZA

Daniel REYNAUD


In anii 70, studiind literatura in Australia, acopeream un teritoriu previzibil pentru nivelul universitar al acelei perioade. Textele canonice de literatura engleza erau Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot, Bernard Shaw si alti grei ai literaturii britanice. Studiam de asemenea cativa scriitori reprezentativi americani: Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman si Steinbeck. Traind in Australia, bineinteles ca era inclusa literatura nationala, de la scriitori precum Henry Lawson si Banjo Patterson, pana la laureati ai premiului Nobel, spre exemplu Patrick White. Pana si literatura de peste Marea Tasmaniei era reprezentata printr-o nuvela din Noua Zeelanda. Pe de alta parte studiul nostru acoperea si mari lucrari, in traducere, din Europa. Desi acestea nu erau cuprinzatoare, eram familiarizati cu literature franceza, germana, rusa si chiar norvegiana – Camus, Goethe, Kafka, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Cehov si Ibsen, asigurandu-ne astfel ca avem ceva cunostinte in legatura cu splendorile literaturii europene. Doisprezece ani mai tarziu, reintorcandu-ma la universiate ca lector, lucrurile se schimbasera. Nici o universitate care se respecta nu mai neglija acum scriitoarele sau vocile literaturii post-coloniale din Africa, India, Asia de Sud-Est, zona Pacificului si America de Sud. Am predat majoritatea acestor literaturi, dar cu toate acestea, existau inca spatii goale, taceri nemiscate.

Aici isi face intrarea in scena un fanatic al literaturii, usor obsesiv, departe de limba lui nativa, de radacinile lui cultural-literare, exilat in cel mai indepartat colt posibil. Era de fapt un exilat dublu, nu numai geografic, ci si profesional, traind intr-o profesie straina de literatura, precum Managementul Asigurarii Calitatii si Psihologia Organizatiilor etc. Totusi, pasiunea l-a tinut aproape de patria lui. Desi a trait in Noua Zeelanda sau Australia, Daniel Ionita a continuat sa urmareasca literatura care aparea „acasa“, si dorea sa-i gaseasca un loc in lumea cea noua in care traia. Asa a inceput proiectul sau de a traduce o selectie reprezentativa de poezie romana in limba engleza, un proiect care, in cele din urma, m-a prins si pe mine in vartejul lui.

Daniel m-a rugat sa ma implic in stagiul final al traducerii, sperand sa se asigure ca noile haine lingvistice ale poemelor vor arata bine in engleza, retinand in acelasi timp substanta romaneasca. Avand origine franceza (franceza a fost prima limba de comunicare pentru mine), a fost o mare placere sa ma angajez in acest dialog care incerca sa captureze romantismul poeziei de origine latina, trasferandu-l intr-o functionalitate solida, tipic anglo-saxona. Prin acest proiect, Daniel Ionita a acoperit un spatiu gol pentru mine.

Desi educat in literatura universala, nu cunosteam aproape nimic din literature tarilor „din mijloc“, acele tari mici si vulnerabile infipte de la nord la sud, undeva intre Germania si Rusia, care raman ascunse privirilor lumii, afara de faptul ca cineva decide sa asasineze vreun arhiduce austriac in Bosnia, sau altcineva invadeaza Polonia, sau reclama teritorii „pierdute“ declansand astfel noi conflagratii militare. Totusi si in aceste natiuni mici se nasc, traiesc si mor oameni care trec prin aceleasi experiente de viata ca si noi toti ceilalti: imaginatie si plictis, dulce si amar, triumf si tragedie. De fapt, probabil ca aceste simtaminte sunt traite si mai intens in aceste zone, deoarece aceste popoare au fost bantuite de unele din cele mai drastice evenimente ale istoriei umane, aflandu-se prinse intre marile puteri politice. Una din aceste tari „mici“ este tara de origine a lui Daniel, Romania. (Trebuie sa fiu circumspect in a eticheta alte locuri ca fiind „mici“: din perspectiva geografica, Romania este mica in comparatie cu intinsele spatii goale ale tarii mele, Australia, dar populatia este aproximativ egala ca numar. Daca e sa adaugam diaspora romaneasca din Italia, Spania, Franta si Lumea Noua, vorbitorii de limba romana sunt cel putin egali ca numar cu locuitorii Australiei, asa ca ma intreb ce inseamna, de fapt, „mic“?)

Agatata oarecum necomfortabil (politic vorbind) ca un avanpost al latinitatii intr-o mare slava si binecuvantata cu sol abundent, campii fertile si petrol, Romania a creat o poezie care reprezinta ecourile propriei istorii. Colonie romana in trecutul indepartat, teritoriul de azi al Romaniei strajuia granita imperiala impotriva barbarilor care veneau sa pradeze Europa. De la caderea Imperiului Roman, Romania a simtit apasarea tuturor invadatorilor: triburi germanice, huni, slavi, mai tarziu Hoarda de Aur si Imperiul Otoman – cu totii lasandu-si amprenta asupra populatiei. Condusi de rusi, unguri, turci si greci, avand minoritati semnificative de origine germano-saxona si maghiara, Romania a absorbit influentele tuturor acestora. Spre exemplu, daca vei calatori prin tarile vecine savurandu-le bucatariile si apoi vei vizita Romania, vei gusta din nou toate aceste gusturi si arome care au influentat si bucataria romaneasca. Si precum mancarea, limba romana a absorbit cuvinte si expresii slave, maghiare, germane, franceze, italiene, turcesti si grecesti. Priveste doar la fetele de pe strada si vei vedea amprenta genetica a multor parti ale Europei, si chiar si ale Asiei. Si totusi, si totusi… Romania este in mod distinct romaneasca. Cumva, in acest maelstrom genetic, toate aceste texturi culturale s-au tesut intr-un tipar care enunta clar si fara greseala „Romania“, retinand in acelasi timp toate celelalte influente.

Poezia ei este poezia unei tari care a suferit tirania de secole a asupritorilor straini, precum si independenta si gloria de scurta durata daruita de eroi precum Stefan cel Mare, Mihai Viteazul, Vlad Dracul III (intrat in constiinta vestului prin propaganda media cu privire la Vlad Tepes, interpretat ca fiind monstruosul Dracula). Romania a cunoscut si tiranii native, atat in timpuri medievale, cat si prin despoti mai recenti, regali si comunisti, care au contribuit la suferinta poporului. In acest context constrans de asemenea factori, in prima parte a secolului XIX a avut loc un Risorgimento romanesc, care a inceput sa rupa in mod gradat catusele de secole ale asupririi unor imperii precum cel Otoman, Austro-Ungar si Rusesc.

In cadrul dezvoltarii acestor aspiratii nationaliste a avut loc trezirea interesului cu privire la limba romana, la literatura si cultura nationala. Modelele folosite au fost cele ale tarilor latine surori, in special Franta si Italia, conducand la un simtamant al romanismului, ridicat impotriva hegemoniilor turcesti, unguresti si rusesti. Alfabetul a fost schimbat de la cel chirilic la cel latin, iar literatura nationala a inceput sa fie cultivate in mod constient ca parte din larga scena culturala nationala, care a inflorit in aceasta perioada in mod comparabil cu cele mai bune traditii nationale ale oricaror altor tari.

Ca rezultat, in prima parte a secolului XX, Romania se mandrea cu scriitori care au influentat si condus cultura universala in mod decisiv: poetul Tristan Tzara, fondatorul miscarii de avangarda dadaiste, cercetatorul in istoria religiilor Mircea Eliade, si, intr-o mai mica masura, poetul si dramaturgul Eugen Ionescu (mai bine cunoscut in lumea vorbitoare de engleza sub numele francofon de Eugène Ionesco), o figura proeminenta a teatrului absurd. Luminozitatea sufletului literar romanesc a fost imbogatita de istoria proprie, traumatica si glorioasa in acelasi timp, iar poetii romani au sorbit adanc din izvoarele tristetii si bucuriei poporului. Dar va putea literatura romana sa supravietuiasca ultimele si celei mai agresive forme de imperialism cultural – limba engleza, aceasta mare devoratoare care invadeaza intreaga planeta si inghite culturi si limbi vulnerabile? Da! In mod hotarat, da! Identitatea unica a Romaniei a supravietuit invaziilor si ocupatiilor de aproape doua milenii si s-a reasezat triumfatoare in era moderna. Volumul acesta pe care-l tineti in maini este testamentul (sic!) acestei rezistente.  Invadandu-l pe invadator, aceste poeme proclama indentiatea lor romaneasca chiar in limba acestui cuceritor imaginat. Facand tranzitia in engleza, aceste versuri se imprima in constiinta lumii vorbitoare de limba engleza, reamintind acestei limbi potential monolitice ca exista si alte rezonante, alte sensibilitati care traiesc azi in lume si care someaza sa fie auzite – fiind mult prea rezistente pentru a fi inghitite de uniformitatea engleza.

In aceasta consta, dupa parerea mea, importanta acestui volum: transfera aceasta voce distinct romaneasca in limba engleza, facand astfel auzit accentul romanesc al acestor poeme prin cuvintele limbii engleze. Prezentul volum este un pod, o poarta prin care Romania isi face simtita existenta in aceasta noua lingua franca, si in acelasi timp permite accesul vorbitorilor de limba engleza inlauntrul sufletului romanesc. Si ca intodeauna cand traversam granite culturale, ne regasim intr-o situatie cu totul noua, dar in mod straniu familiara. Pe de o parte patrundem intr-o lume de experiente, commune umanitatii intregi. Insa in acelasi timp aceasta experienta este exprimata cu o voce care provine din suma totala a rezonantelor istorice si culturale care fac ca Romania sa fie Romania.

Associate-Profesor Daniel REYNAUD
Avondale College of Higher Education
New South Wales, Australia
februarie 2015

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INVADATII INVADANDU-I PE INVADATORI – „TESTAMENT” – ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN ROMANIAN VERSES (SECOND EDITION)

In the late 1970s, when I studied literature in Australia for my first degree, we covered the predictable territory for university literature courses of the era. There were the canonical texts of English literature: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Wordsworth, T. S. Eliot and Bernard Shaw, along with many other British literary heavyweights. Then of course, American literature with a sampling of Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and Steinbeck. And, being in Australia, there was naturally our own national literature, from the famed bush writers such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson, through to Nobel-laureate Patrick White. There was even room to taste a bit of literature from across the Tasman Sea: one New Zealand novel was included in the course.

Then there was a representation of great European works in translation. While this was far from comprehensive, we were introduced to some French, German, Russian and even Norwegian writers: Camus, Goethe and Kafka, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, and Ibsen, ensuring that we had some consciousness of the splendours of European literature.

Twelve years later I returned to the university scene as a lecturer. Things had changed. No self-respecting university would now overlook the important contributions of women writers, or of the many voices of postcolonial writing from Africa, India and south-east Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and the rest of the Americas. And much of this I taught. But in all of that, there were still gaps, still silences.

Enter one mildly obsessive literature fanatic exiled about as far as he could get from his native linguistic, cultural and literary roots. He was in fact a double exile, not just geographically but also professionally, into strange, remote occupations such as Quality Assurance Management and Corporate Psychology. Yet his own passion kept him in touch with his distant homeland. Even in New Zealand and Australia, Daniel Ionita followed the latest writing emerging from “home”, and longed for it to find a place in the new world in which he now lived.

So began Daniel’s project to translate a representative selection of Romanian poetry into English, a project that eventually sucked me up in its path. He asked me to be involved in the later stages of the translation, hoping to ensure that the new linguistic clothes the poems wore would look good in English while still retaining their particular Romanian cut. With my French background (French was actually my first language), it was a delight to engage in the dialogue of trying to capture the romance of Latin-based poetry in its sturdy, functional Anglo-Saxon equivalent. And in doing so, Daniel Ionita helped close a gap for me. Ostensibly schooled in the literature of the world, I knew virtually nothing of the literature of the European lands-in-between, those many little nations vulnerably wedged from north to south in a belt somewhere between Germany and Russia, and which escape the world’s gaze except when someone shoots an Austrian Archduke in Bosnia, or invades Poland, or tries to reclaim “lost” borderlands, sparking another round of military conflagration.

And yet in those little nations, people are born, live and die through precisely the same set of experiences that we all do: glorious imagination and dull drudgery, sweetness and bitterness, triumph and tragedy. Indeed, perhaps they experience these things more intensely than many of us, for these nations have been subjected to some of the greatest highs and lows in human history, as the unfortunate meat in the sandwich of Great Power politics.

One of those “little” countries is Daniel’s homeland, Romania. (I need to be careful when labelling other places “little”: geographically

Romania is just a sliver of a country compared to Australia, yet its population just about equals that of my own vast but largely empty country. Throw in the Romanian diaspora from the borderlands, as well as Italy, Spain, France and the New World, and Romanian speakers easily match Australian numbers – so just what does “little” mean?)

Perched somewhat uncomfortably as the easternmost Latin outpost in a Slavic sea, and blessed with sun-drenched fertile plains and abundant oil, Romania has created poetry that holds the echoes of its history. Its origins were as a Roman colony guarding the imperial frontier against the barbarians who threatened to spill into Europe and claim its booty. It has felt the heel of virtually every invader of Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire: Germanic tribes, Huns, Slavs, and later the Mongolian Golden Horde and the Ottoman Turks left an imprint on the shattered population. Ruled by Slavs, Hungarians, Turks and Greeks, and having significant German-Saxon and Hungarian minorities, Romania has absorbed the flavours of them all. Just travel the nations surrounding Romania and sample their cuisine – then cross into Romania and eat again to savour the influences of a babel of cooking pots on the Romanian palate. And like its food, the Romanian language has absorbed words and expressions of Slavic, Hungarian, German, French, Italian, Turkish and Greek origin. Look into the faces and we see the genetic imprint of most of Europe and parts of Asia. And yet, and yet… it is still distinctively Romanian.

Somehow this genetic melting-pot, these flavours, these cultural textures, have been woven into a pattern that unmistakeably cries out “Romania”, even as we recognise the “otherness” of some of the influences. And its poetry is that of a land that has known the tyranny of centuries of foreigner oppressors, and the fleeting glories of medieval national independence with home-grown heroes such as Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), Mihai Viteazul (Michael the Great) and Vlad III Dracul (who entered Western consciousness mediated through the propaganda of his enemies as Vlad the Impaler, the monstrous Dracula).

And it has known its own native tyrannies as well, in the form of some of those same medieval heroes, and more recent despots, royalist and Communist, who have added to the miseries of the people. In this politically constrained environment, a cultural renaissance, a Romanian Risorgimento, began in the early part of the 1800s, gradually throwing off the shackles of centuries of rule by the great empires that dominated their region: the Ottomans, Austria-Hungary and Russia. Feeding nationalistic political aspirations was a revival of interest in Romanian language, literature and culture.

The models were from fellow Latin countries, particularly France and Italy, and the renewed sense of Romanian-ness could be asserted against Turkic, Hungarian and Russian hegemony. The alphabet was switched from the Cyrillic to the Roman, and a national literature was consciously cultivated as part of a broader Romanian art scene, which flourished into a corpus comparable with the best in any other national tradition.

Indeed in the first half of the twentieth century, Romania could boast about influential writers who led the world: poet Tristan Tzara a founder of the Dadaist movement, religious historian and philosopher Mircea Eliade, and, to a lesser extent, poet and playwright Eugen Ionescu (better known in the English-speaking world by his Frenchified name of Eugène Ionesco), a prominent figure of the Absurdist theatre. The particular luminosity of the nation’s literary soul has been enriched by its own traumatic and glorious history, and its poets have drunk deeply from the wells of national anguish and bliss.

But can Romanian literature survive the latest and most aggressive form of cultural imperialism – that great devourer, the English language, which is invading the whole planet and gobbling up vulnerable cultures and languages? Yes! Resoundingly, yes. Romania’s unique identity, founded in a brief century of Roman settlement, has survived the occupations and invasions of the better part of two millennia, and has triumphantly reasserted itself in the modern era.

Indeed, this volume that you now hold is testament (sic!) to its resilience. By invading the invader, these poems proclaim their Romanian identity in the language of the imagined conqueror. In making the transition to English, these verses imprint themselves on the consciousness of the English-speaking world, reminding a potentially monolithic language that there are other resonances, other sensibilities, alive in the world that demand to be heard, that are too resistant to be swallowed up in English uniformity. Hence, in my view, the importance of this volume: it brings that distinctive Romanian voice to the English language, helping us hear the Romanian accent through the English words of these poems. It is a bridge, or a gate, allowing Romania to make its presence felt in the new lingua franca, and at the same time giving English speakers access deep inside the Romanian soul. And, as always when we cross cultural boundaries, we find ourselves in an entirely-new-yet-strangely familiar home. On the one hand we sense a world of experiences that are common to all humanity. And yet, this world is presented to us with avoice that can only have come from the sum total of historical and cultural resonances that make Romania, Romania.

Associate-Profesor Daniel REYNAUD
Avondale College of Higher Education
New South Wales, Australia
February 2015
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Prof.Dr. Daniel Reynaud este decanul facultatii de arte la Avondale College, Australia, si a contribuit in rol de consultant lingvistic la traducerea volumului „Testament - Antologie de Poezie Romana” editia a doua -  versiune bilingva (Romana/Engleza) - autor Daniel Ioni?a, cu Eva Foster, Daniel Reynaud si Rochelle Bews - Editura Minerva 2015)

Prof.Dr. Daniel Reynaud is the Dean of the faculty of Arts at Avondale College of Higher Education – Australia. He helped as a linguistic consultant for the second edition of Testament – Anthology of Modern Romanian Verse – by Daniel Ionita, with Eva Foster, Daniel Reynaud and Rochelle Bews – published by Editura Minerva in January 2015

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