Before being the most important novelist of his generation and one of the most awarded figures in European fiction, Mircea Cărtărescu (Bucharest, 1956) wrote poetry compulsively. An admirer of the beat generation, of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, his poems were considered subversive by the Ceausescu dictatorship, as might be expected of a young man in love with Natalie Wood, dazzled by the West and a member of the generation blue jeans Romanian. Many poems seem like lyrics to unwritten music, melodies with an “air with diamonds.” Interweaving realism and dreams, memory and myth, irony and parable, epic and lyrical, his poetry shines in the absence of limits: “because love is everything / and everything is made above all of nothing ”. He has always reiterated his belief in poetry as a special way of thinking and seeing things, an “oblique view” of the world as unexpected as that of a child.
Around thirty, he decided not to compose more verses, although his prose always has a defining poetic nature. From 1980 to 2020, he has published nine books of poetry, some already written 20 years ago. Essential poetry brings together poems expressly chosen by Cărtărescu from among five of his books (Lighthouses, shop windows, photographs; Love poems; Everything; Love, and Any), published between 1980 and 2010. He does not include part of his poems due to, as he himself admits, translation difficulties as they are deeply rooted in the Romanian language, the rewriting of the Romanian poetic tradition and imagination. The chosen ones outline their self-portrait, the daring and animated drawing of their writing: narrative, ironic and humorous, doubly fantastic, at the same time excellent and imaginative, their poetry grows fed by registers and resources (from intertextuality to the inclusion of slang, you speak everyday life and languages that go from the press to the audiovisual media) capable of transfiguring the smallest and most invisible details of reality, of the imagined and the dreamed of.
A world reflected in the hallucinatory amplitude of the most common and ordinary things, as in that “love game” of a sink that “lost his mind” and “fell in love with a little yellow star in the corner of the kitchen window”, a story told from “the hole in the curtain” by a narrator who once loved a “wonderful car (…) that I saw only once”. The story grows between the earthly and the celestial, the everyday and the cosmic: “I am all spaces at the same time / I am both existence and all possibilities / I speak with all words.” Cărtărescu creates a new poetic narrative, ethereal and watery like “currents of air, like liquid slogans”, but material and solid. Polymeric poems, as elusive and irrepressible as a love that “breaks the asphalt for the sewage works / to ensure a decent existence.” It is almost a tomographic vision of existence, a superposition of planes that, poem by poem, shows in sections the time and the body of a life: “I am a mirror slid along a mirror”.
We can only thank Marian Ochoa de Eribe and Eta Htrubaru the elegant transfer to Spanish of the play of voices that, like neon lights, illuminate the virtual lyricism of Cărtărescu, although sometimes a glossary of terms, neologisms and references is missed that help the reader when they break the fascination of his reading . Versions that spiral upward and weave the dynamic threads of timeless words that are of all time and, at the same time, are everywhere, like “a brueghel velvet ”.
Author: Mircea Cărtărescu. Translation from Romanian and editing by Marian Ochoa de Eribe and Eta Htrubaru.
Editorial: Impediments, 2021
Format: 520 pages. 24.90 euros.
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