Prof. Dr. Florin Epure – director of the Valcea County Directorate for Culture
This 2006 edition of the GAUDEAMUS INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR presents the books The Irretrievable and The City of the Last Eclipse, written by the Valcean author M.M. Loviste. Mr. Dan Zamfirescu, the well-known writer, literary historian, theologian, literary critic, specialist in Slavic languages and ancient literature, university professor, and founding director of Roza Vanturilor publishing house, talks about these volumes and their author. He prefaced countless works by several authors. Mr. Dan Zamfirescu, the floor is yours.
Prof. Dr. Dan Zamfirescu – literary critic and historian
I am glad that I have the opportunity (by the way, I did it in Ramnicu Valcea as well) to present these books. I want to say one thing: Valcea now has one of the important writers in Romania. I wouldn’t want to use the word great, because when you say a great writer, it’s a relative thing. I wish to say he’s a real writer, which is rare nowadays.
Caragiale, when asked to define music, said “music is something that tickles your ears.” At the moment, the music from the West not only does not tickle you, but those who perform it are said to go crazy. But they can’t do anything about it, because they are part of the orchestra. The literature that is generally written today is a bit like this music. That is, it has no sounds and no melodic line. So when you find a writer who writes in such a way that when you open the book you don’t let it go from beginning to end, it’s something wonderful. The way the “old-fashioned,” the “expired,” Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Dickens wrote. You know, the term “expired” is all the rage now. Mr. Mihaita writes like these “expired,” next to whom we can also put Rebreanu and Sadoveanu. Only the subject he addresses was not available to the others.
His novelty, in Romanian literature and not just in Valcean literature, consists of the fact that he is an authentic author, who knows how to write and captivate his reader. If you read one of his books, you can’t put it down. Moreover, he doesn’t torment you. As I was put in the situation, damn it, I have to read it, because I’m going to present it. No. From the moment you read a book by him, you have this joy of reading. I can’t say it’s a joy to read The Irretrievable, because it talks about a terrible chapter in our existence. It is about the resistance to the Stalinist program of extermination of the Romanian people. But now, we have another one, orange, from the U.S., but still exterminating. Stalin failed to exterminate us. Mircea Eliade said he would deport millions of Romanians. But Stalin did not deport anyone, and the new regime deported about three million Romanians throughout the world and it is said that it will deport almost all of us by 2050.
The book The Irretrievable contains two short stories about today’s peasants, not at all of joy, as well as a micro novel on the epic of our Romanian resistance in the mountains, the famous phenomenon that those who condemn communism want to dig up. The commission appointed by the president is the son of one who, together with Ana Pauker, created these prisons. But these are the paradoxes of our existence. This Romanian work evoked in The Irretrievable presents itself as an overwhelming novel, extraordinarily written. There is someone in the world who has turned the ashes of the dead into gold. From King Midas, who made everything he touched to gold, he turned the ashes of the dead into gold for the living. They got dozens of gold wagons out of Germany. Well, we have not been able to create literature for the Romanian suffering, until now. This book is one of the masterpieces on the resistance of the Romanian people against this extermination program. I emphasize, the book is overwhelming, especially since it is based on real facts. What he describes there are events from his native Loviste. The heroes existed. There’s a character out there who says: Sir, I made them all. Small and nervous, I don’t know if it’s not Grunberg Nicolschi, who organized the Pitesti Phenomenon, among others. Anyway, I don’t want to tell you this story. It’s always said, sir, let it have a story. Please buy this book. I assure you that you are not wasting your money. The book is a ballad of suffering and an epic of victory. It’s a masterpiece. I can assure you this book will last in Romanian literature.
As for the volume The City of the Last Eclipse, it is written in another register. It’s about our reality, which is not at all exciting. Even my wife said. Only Caragiale could cope with what Caragialism there is in our lives. Well, there is now a smaller Caragiale, but still authentic. In fact, it’s a satire, a presentation of the society of our times, starting with the secretaries in miniskirts. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been strangled by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. You remember the killing of that guy, with those other 10, in the forest in Gabesti. Behind them with the rope. It’s a ritual killing. We’ve been killed with a rope for fifteen years now. Money. We’re being beaten to the grave. This satire of our time at least does not make us bitter. It’s a way to show all the ridiculousness and distortion in the lives of the poor. It’s a saying, Homo sine pecuniam imago mortis, meaning the man without money is the image of death. Well, the author portrays this world with the same exceptional talent, with the same force to make literature out of reality and not to copy reality. It gives you, if you want, the pleasure of an afternoon, to read an authentic satire. I don’t want to upset my friend with his upstarts, which is also a very long novel. By the time he gets to finish it, Mr. Loviste has written about upstarts in only one hundred and forty pages. It reads quickly and it is exceptionally well done. If you have something on your mind or you are in something over your head and you want to let go, laugh, read this book and I assure you that you will not condemn me “Oh, that guy has deceived us.”
I want to tell you that, from this moment, Valcea has in Mr. Mihaita one of the real and important writers of Romanian literature. We have not yet been able to take stock. The tops are made according to other criteria. Not those of value. Some writers will be up today and we will not hear from them again tomorrow. I assure you that these books with their author will remain. You are young. When I am gone, please remember that I made this prophecy here. Mr. Mihaita will remain in the history of Romanian literature.
Watch the presentation at the International Book Fair Gaudeamus, Bucharest in 2006.