Angela Gheorghiu is one of the most passionate and talented artists working in opera today, a larger-than-life figure whose intensity and drive, on stage and off, have commanded the attention of the opera world. Largely composed of exclusive interviews with the artist, this authorized biography of the internationally acclaimed soprano, covers Gheorghiu’s life and career from her childhood in Communist Romania to her spectacular Covent Garden debut in 1992 and up to the present day. In it, Gheorghiu shares new insights into the performance of many of her iconic stage roles and her collaborations with opera’s leading lights. Also featured are commentaries and reminiscences by such celebrated figures in the music and art worlds as Grace Bumbry, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Bryn Terfel, and Franco Zeffirelli.
On the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, R. G. Waldeck was checking into the swankiest hotel in Bucharest, the Athene Palace. A cosmopolitan center during the war, the hotel was populated by Italian and German oilmen hoping to secure new business opportunities in Romania, international spies cloaked in fake identities, and Nazi officers whom Waldeck discovered to be intelligent but utterly bloodless. A German Jew and a reporter for Newsweek, Waldeck became a close observer of the Nazi invasion. As King Carol first tried to placate the Nazis, then abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Waldeck was dressing for dinners with diplomats and cozying up to Nazi officers to get insight and information. From her unique vantage, she watched as Romania, a country with a pro-totalitarian elite and a deep strain of anti-Semitism, suffered civil unrest, a German invasion, and an earthquake, before turning against the Nazis.
A striking combination of social intimacy and disinterest political analysis, Athene Palace evokes the elegance and excitement of the dynamic international community in Bucharest before the world had comes to grips with the horrors of war and genocide. Waldeck’s account strikingly presents the finely wrought surface of dinner parties, polite discourse, and charisma, while recognizing the undercurrents of violence and greed that ran through the denizens of Athene Palace.
The fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 marked, in one famous formulation, the "end of history." In his apocalyptic novel Coming from an Off-Key Time, Bogdan Suceava satirizes the events in his native Romania since the violent end of the Ceausescu regime that fateful year.
Suceava uses three interrelated narratives to illustrate the destructive power of Romanian society’s most powerful mythologies. He depicts madness of all kinds but especially religious beliefs and their perversion by all manner of outrageous sects. Here horror and humor reside impossibly in the same time and place, and readers experience the vertiginous feeling of living in the middle of a violent historical upheaval.
Even as Coming from an Off-Key Time suggests the influence of such writers as Mikhail Bulgakov, the fantastic satirist of the early Soviet Union, Suceava engages the complexities of a quickly changing country in search of its bearings and suspicious of its past. Bogdan Suceava is an associate professor of mathematics at California State University, Fullerton. One of Romanian literature’s most promising and original young writers, he is the author of four novels, two books of short stories, and several collections of poems.
Alistair Ian Blyth’s previous translations include Filip Florian, Little Fingers (2009); Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Our Circus Presents (2009); and Catalin Avramescu’s An Intellectual History of Cannibalism (2009).
On May 21, 1991, University of Chicago professor Ioan Culianu was murdered execution-style on campus. The crime stunned the school, terrified students, and mystified the FBI. The case remains unsolved. In Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu, award-winning investigative reporter Ted Anton shows that the murder is what Culianu's friends suspected all along: the first political assassination of a professor on American soil.
Eugenics movements gained momentum throughout Eastern Europe between World Wars I and II. Maria Bucur demonstrates that the importance of the eugenics movement in Romania rests not so much in the contributions made to the study of science as in the realm of nationalist ideology and social policy making.
The notion that the quality and quantity of the human species could and should be controlled manifested itself through social engineering projects ranging from reshaping gender roles and isolating ethnic undesirables to introducing broad public health measures and educational reform. Romanian eugenicists sought to control such modernization processes as urbanization and industrialization without curbing them, yet they also embraced attitudes more typically identified with anti-modernists in Romanian politics and culture.
Bucur is the first historian to explore the role of eugenics as a response to the challenges of nation- and state-building in Eastern Europe. She presents a balanced assessment of the interwar eugenics movement’s success and failures and identifies connections and discontinuities between the movement and the post-war communist regime.
Amid the rising nationalism and racial politics that culminated in World War II, European countries wishing to "purify" their nations often forced unwanted populations to migrate. The targeted minorities had few options, but as R. Chris Davis shows, they sometimes used creative tactics to fight back, redefining their identities to serve their own interests.
Davis's highly illuminating example is the case of the little-known Moldavian Csangos, a Hungarian- and Romanian-speaking community of Roman Catholics in eastern Romania. During World War II, some in the Romanian government wanted to expel them. The Hungarian government saw them as Hungarians and wanted to settle them on lands confiscated from other groups. Resisting deportation, the clergy of the Csangos enlisted Romania's leading racial anthropologist, collected blood samples, and rewrote a millennium of history to claim Romanian origins and national belonging—thus escaping the discrimination and violence that devastated so many of Europe's Jews, Roma, Slavs, and other minorities. In telling their story, Davis offers fresh insight to debates about ethnic allegiances, the roles of science and religion in shaping identity, and minority politics past and present.
At the beginning of 1918 the British War Cabinet endorsed the view of the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that after the war "Austria-Hungary should be in a position to exercise a powerful influence in south-east Europe." These reassuring professions were the essence of hypocrisy, since the Allies had already given away, at least on paper, large chunks of Austro-Hungarian territory as bribes to potential allies. In 1916 Romania was promised the whole of Transylvania, the Banat - both components of historic Hungary - and the Bukovina in return for her entry into the war. These promises persuaded the Romanian Prime Minister Ion Bratianu (1864-1927) to intervene in the war on the side of the Allies in 1916. He lead the Romanian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, where he insisted on those promises to be fulfilled. His often-strained relations with the Big Four and the Supreme Council were further eroded when Romania invaded Hungary. Romania, however, in the end signed and adhered to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye with Austria, Neuilly-sur-Seine with Bulgaria, the Treaty of Paris (1920), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary, and the minorities treaty.
"Sixty-seven members of my family—my mother, her father, my three sisters, three of my brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins—were murdered at Auschwitz."
As Rudolph Tessler's mother stepped from the train in Auschwitz, shortly before she was sent to the gas chamber, she heard "Hello, Esther." In a polite tone, a young German SS officer greeted her as he would any old friend. His family lived down the road from the Tessler family in Viseu, their hometown in northern Romania. They, like the rest of the town, admired Esther for her wonderful cooking, particularly the delicious cakes she brought them each Christmas. Now he ushered her and six of her children to their deaths.
Throughout Letter to My Children, Tessler offers vivid glimpses of the senselessness that surrounded him during World War II. Of the thousands packed in trains and transported from Viseu to Auschwitz, just a small group survived to see liberation. Among the survivors were Tessler, his father, and two of his brothers. This is the amazing story of their experiences as Hasidic Jews caught in the chaos and terror of the Holocaust.
Tessler's upbringing had emphasized community and family devotion—traits not forgotten in the concentration camps, where he and his family members often rescued one another from certain death. Few fathers and sons survived the concentration camps together. In spite of the odds, Tessler and his brother Buroch managed to stick together, sharing their father's labor assignments to protect him from death, preserving not only their family bond but also their spirituality. Tessler's father, always a source of strength and guidance to his family, provided counsel to many prisoners in the camp and eventually assumed the role of rabbi.
Despite an environment in which their captors tried to reduce them to animals, Tessler's remaining family and seven other Jews from Viseu made a special effort to observe their faith. Bending rules in ways that risked their lives, they worked together to smuggle wheat, grind it into flour, and bake matzos to distribute for Passover. The group also secretly gathered to pray on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. These religious observances offered some comfort in the camp.
In addition to vividly portraying the daily struggles of camp life, Letter to My Children follows Tessler beyond liberation, recounting his days as a displaced person struggling for a new life in the midst of the devastation of postwar Europe, as an American immigrant striving to rebuild his family and succeed in business, and as a philanthropist for education and health care. Recalling the age-old way of life in Viseu that was erased by the Holocaust, this inspiring story conveys the hope, determination, and perseverance that made Tessler a survivor.
In 1958, after fourteen years of military occupation, Khrushchev—in an unprecedented act—withdrew the Soviet Union’s troops from Romania as part of a political move intended to encourage the withdrawal of Western military forces from Europe. In analyzing this crucial historic episode, Sergiu Verona’s comprehensive study illustrates the dynamics of Soviet military presence in Romania and provides a framework for understanding Soviet security policy, then and now, as well as the interaction between Soviet military objectives and diplomacy. Drawing on declassified archival material in the United States and the United Kingdom, the author considers Khrushchev’s reversal of Stalinist expansionism by examining the motivation, function, and operation of the initial occupation of Romania; the complex involvement of Soviet diplomacy and its perception by the United States and other Western powers; the process by which Khrushchev decided to withdraw Soviet troops from that country; and the impact of this decision on Soviet policy. Verona extends his analysis, providing comparisons between Khrushchev’s and Gorbachev’s approaches to Eastern Europe, noting that similarities exist not only in domestic policies but in the realm of foreign policy as well.
As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police—the Securitate—compiled a massive surveillance file on her. Reading through its 2,781 pages, she learned that she was "actually" a spy, a CIA agent, a Hungarian agitator, and a friend of dissidents: in short, an enemy of Romania. In My Life as a Spy she analyzes her file alongside her original field notes and conversations with Securitate officers. Verdery also talks with some of the informers who were close friends, learning the complex circumstances that led them to report on her, and considers how fieldwork and spying can be easily confused. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.
Romania occupies a unique position on the map of Eastern Europe. It is a country that presents many paradoxes. In this book the preeminent Romanian historian Lucian Boia examines his native land's development from the Middle Ages to modern times, delineating its culture, history, language, politics and ethnic identity. Boia introduces us to the heroes and myths of Romanian history, and provides an enlightening account of the history of Romanian Communism. He shows how modernization and the influence of the West have divided the nation - town versus country, nationalists versus pro-European factions, the elite versus the masses - and argues that Romania today is in chronic difficulty as it tries to fix its identity and envision a future for itself.
The book concludes with a tour of Bucharest, whose houses, streets and public monuments embody Romania's traditional values and contemporary contradictions.
Romania's Abandoned Children
Charles A. Nelson Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HV887.R6N45 2014 | Dewey Decimal 362.7309498
Romania's Abandoned Children reveals the heartbreaking toll paid by children deprived of responsive care, stimulation, and human interaction. Compared with children in foster care, the institutionalized children in this rigorous twelve‐year study showed severe impairment in IQ and brain development, along with social and emotional disorders.
In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement.
Wasted Morning: A Novel
Gabriela Adamesteanu Northwestern University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PC840.1.D34D5613 2011 | Dewey Decimal 859.334
Upon its original publication in 1983, Wasted Morning catapulted Gabriela Adamesteanu to the first rank of Romanian novelists. She has since been translated into many languages, and now her most famous novel is available in English for the first time. At the center of Wasted Morning is Vica Delca, a simple, poor woman in her seventies who has endured the endless series of trials and tribulations that was Romanian history from WWI to the end of the twentieth century.
She's a born storyteller, chatting and gossiping tirelessly. But she also listens, so it is through her that Adamesteanu is able to show us a panoramic portrait of Romanian society as the fortunes of its various strata shift violently. Rich or poor, honest (more or less) or deceitful, all of the characters in this polyphonic novel are brought vividly to life. From Bucharest's aspirations to be the Paris of Eastern Europe to the darkest days of dictatorship, the novel presents a sweeping vision of the personal and collective costs of a turbulent century.