Publicat de: leonard oprea | 7 Ianuarie 2013

A GENUINELY DIFFERENT VOICE / O VOCE AUTENTIC DIFERITA/ by Vladimir Tismaneanu


A GENUINELY DIFFERENT VOICE

by Vladimir Tismaneanu

 

Trilogy of Theophil Magus – the Truth

(“Xlibris”/Random House Ventures, 2008, USA /Library of Congress Control Number: 2008901520/ ISBN: Hardcover 978-1-4363-2366-6/Softcover 978-1-4363-2365-9)

 

Leonard Oprea, a brilliant Romanian writer, the author of important fiction and non-fiction works, is one of the finest, truly original contemporary East European writers.

I have known him personally since 1990, but I had read his works long before that. Let me emphasize that Leonard Oprea, as an anti-Communist dissident played an important role in the oppositional culture during Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship, in Romania. Although widely known as a brilliant fiction writer, his works were censored and eventually banned in the late 1980s. He was involved in the underground anti-dictatorship activities and consequently suffered continuous police harassments.

His outstanding works of fiction, among which the poignant novel Camasa de forta (The Straitjacket) and an acclaimed volume of short stories Radiografia Clipei ( The X-Ray of an Instant ) were banned by the dictatorship’s censors and came out only after the anti-Communist revolution in December 1989.

Leonard Oprea’s books received the highest praise from the most influential critics in Romania who rightly compared his vision to works by Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and, to some extent, Borges, Paulo Coelho, and Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain.

Elusively written and hard to be pigeonholed in simplistic formulas, Leonard Oprea’s writings are truly original and give voice to a unique human experience and sensibility. History and psychology interact in a complex, ineffable, indeed, a mysterious dialogue, and the reader is mesmerized by the author’s insightful inroads into the characters’ visions, obsessions, fears, and traumas.

In 1999, Leonard Oprea came to the United States. Courageously, I would dare to say heroically, he decided to reinvent himself as an American writer from Central Europe. The books he wrote after his coming to the States (The Nine Teachings of Theophil Magus on Transylvanian Magic and The Book of Theophil Magus or 40 Tales About Man, as well as The Meditations of Theophil Magus or Simple Christian Thoughts at the Beginning of the Third Millennium) were bestsellers with a strong impact on Romanian culture. They came out from Romania’s most respected and highly selective Polirom Publishing House.

Leonard Oprea’s fictional writings impress me mostly through their narrative power.  He is a consummate storyteller, always able to discover deep meanings and implications, constructing unexpected perspectives and detecting, imagining astounding turns of events. His telltale stories from TRILOGY of THEOPHIL MAGUS – The Truth, the revised and complete edition of The Book of Theophil Magus or 40 Tales about Man are situated in a strange no man’s land where everyday life becomes truly magical.

I most enthusiastically define Leonard Oprea’s writings as splendid expressions of a uniquely original vision of our fragmented, shattered, but marvelously exciting world.  Here we have a truly unique voice, an unparalleled perspective rooted in the bizarre, exotic, but still immensely familiar world of things that are and are not what they promise to be.

Let me just add that Leonard Oprea’s American language style combines a discovery of hidden meanings of words with a fabulous sense of secret humor.

Serenely hopeless, these writings are a continuous invitation to soul-searching, self-scrutiny, and admission that the world’s deepest meaning lays in the ubiquitous presence of a hidden transcendence (what Arthur Koestler called the “invisible writing” or the “language of destiny”).

Leonard Oprea’s book will be for the American reader a fresh, uninhibited, genuinely different voice, and I most cordially urge you to listen to it.

(Vladimir Tismaneanu – philosopher, author, essayist and editor, professor of the University of Maryland; Director, Center for the Study of  Post-Communist Societies )

***

From: Trilogy of Theophil Magus – the Truth

(“Xlibris”/Random House Ventures, 2008, USA /Library of Congress Control Number: 2008901520/ ISBN: Hardcover 978-1-4363-2366-6/Softcover 978-1-4363-2365-9)

 

(In Trilogy of Theophil Magus’ 40 Tales about Man, a great variety of sacred and profane themes, archaic, mythical, contemporary /Moses, Gandhi, Christmas, children, journalism, pilgrimage etc./serves as vivid stimulation for this literary adventure, written with humor, knowledge and wit…in an inviting dialogue with the reader. /Norman Manea – American novelist, essayist);(The Truth, the second book of Trilogy of Theophil Magus is situated in the strange no man’s land where everyday life becomes truly magical. I consider these writings as splendid expressions of a unique vision of our fragmented but marvelously exciting world. Leonard Oprea’s style combines a discovery of hidden meanings of words with a fabulous sense of secret humor. His works received the highest praises from the most influential critics, who rightly compared his vision to works by Thomas Mann, Borges or Paulo Coelho./ Vladimir Tismăneanu – American philosopher, author, essayist); (Leonard Oprea’s 40 Tales of Trilogy of Theophil Magus – The Truth, range from the depiction of the everyday to the mythological and Borgesian to the religious. Honored with numbers of prizes in his native Romania, this writer is a true iconoclast and a true talent./ Adam J.Sorkin – American author, essayist, editor)

****

Vladimir Tismaneanu

O VOCE AUTENTIC DIFERITA

(Jurnalul National / 8-9 ianuarie 2005 http://www.jurnalul.ro/ Editorial)

 

Cultura democratica romaneasca include in chip necesar operele disidentei si ale samizdatului. Cunoasterea si recunoasterea contributiilor intelectuale si morale ale disidentei este obligatorie pentru combaterea imposturii si evitarea uitarii in raport cu un trecut nu foarte indepartat, dar prea putin stiut de catre generatiile mai tinere.

Mai mult, in cazul literaturii antitotalitare este important sa accentuam convergenta dintre dimensiunea etica si cea estetica, atat de elocvent sustinuta in scrierile Monicai Lovinescu si ale lui Virgil Ierunca.

In aceste randuri, ca ilustrare a acestei unitati dintre etic si estetic, ma voi referi la opera prozatorului Leonard Oprea, participant la revolta anticomunista de la Brasov din noiembrie 1987, scriitor remarcabil, marginalizat si persecutat datorita pozitiei sale extrem de critica in raport cu dictatura totalitara. Scrierile lui Leonard Oprea, subversive deopotriva prin ideile, dar si prin stilul lor, au fost privite de cerberii ideologici drept ceea ce erau: un indemn la rezistenta si o expresie a refuzului de a pactiza cu sistemul. In momentul conceperii lor, aceste carti erau transcrieri in registru funebru ale unei realitati politice tragice. Ospiciul inlocuise ratiunea, iar viata se exilase intre interstitiile unei pure mecanicitati. Simbolul broastei de yale tocite, dintr-o secventa a romanului „Camasa de forta” (editia a II, revizuita si adaugita, Editura Curtea Veche, 2004), contine toate sugestiile privitoare la aceasta lume sordida, in care comunicarea nu mai este posibila sub nici o forma. Prizonieratul in care traiesc personajele nu este doar unul fizic, ci si al mintii si al spiritului. Utopii negre, comparabile cu scrierile unor Orwell sau Zamiatin, sondarile lui Leonard Oprea in lumea bolnava a comunismului (ca si mai recentele sale incursiuni in universul debusolat al postcomunismului) sunt deopotriva documente ale refuzului si documente ale sperantei. Lucrari esentiale ale literaturii demnitatii, „Camasa de forta” si „Radiografia clipei” (editia a II-a, revizuita si adaugita, Editura Curtea Veche, 2003), scruteaza puncte tragice din cinica istorie care a dominat lumea atatea decenii din veacul al douazecilea.

Prigonit in acei ani, Leonard Oprea a luptat pentru dreptul sau de a ramane un om liber. Scrierile sale, de o sinceritate si directete perfect asumate, sunt rascolitoare invitatii la priceperea mecanismelor psihologice care au facut posibila nu numai functionarea, dar si destramarea finala a sistemului. Radiografia clipei este de fapt radiografia raului. Leonard Oprea a respins ideea scrisului pentru sertar. El a luptat, as spune cu disperare, pentru dreptul sau de a-si face auzita vocea. In urma unor discutii cu potentatii culturali ai epocii, scriitorul primea in vara lui 1989 o instiintare din partea Consiliului culturii si educatiei socialiste. Scrisa in sinistra limba de lemn, aceasta nota il condamna pe Oprea la disparitie publica: „In lumina exigentelelor formulate la Plenara CC al PCR din noiembrie 1988 privitoare la cresterea contributiei creatiei literar-artistice la educatia comunista, revolutionara a maselor, s-a renuntat la mai multe lucrari care nu raspundeau in mod satisfacator la cerintele privind reflectarea plenara a actualitatii socialiste, a realitatii zilelor noastre. Intre aceste titluri se numara si volumul dvs” (era vorba despre „Radiografia clipei”).

Initial, scrierile lui Leonard Oprea au aparut in reviste de cultura, au fost salutate drept extrem de originale de catre voci respectate ale criticii, inclusiv N. Steinhardt. Odata interzisa publicarea, singura solutie era sa faci sa circule cat mai multe exemplare dactilografiate printre prieteni si cunostinte. In acest fel, samizdatul devenea contrapartea libera a culturii oficiale.

L-am cunoscut pe Leonard Oprea in 1990, dar i-am citit operele cu mult inainte de aceasta data. Stiam de la Vasile Gogea despre activitatile sale disidente de la Brasov. Am recitit aceste carti dupa prabusirea comunismului si le consider drept purtatoare ale unei viziuni pe cat de personala, pe atat de revelatoare pentru ce a fost lumea halucinanta a comunismului. Cartile lui Leonard Oprea au fost elogiate de critica din tara (Liviu Antonesei, Mircea Mihaies, Sorin Antohi). Din punctul meu de vedere, ca profunzime metaforica, dar si ca forta a viziunii, ele sunt comparabile cu scrierile unor Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann (din „Muntele vrajit”) ori cu parabolele magice ale lui Borges. Un Borges nimerit in universul dezaxat al grotescului tiran de la Bucuresti, cum l-a numit Arrabal pe Ceausescu.

In 1999, Leonard Oprea a venit in Statele Unite. Curajos, fara inhibitii autoparalizante, el decide sa se reinventeze ca scriitor american originar din Europa Centrala. Cartile scrise in acesti ultimi ani, inainte de toate „Trilogia lui Theophil Magus” (editii romanesti la Polirom si LiterNet, editie americana la „1st Books Library”, 2004), sunt situate intr-o stranie tara a nimanui, unde viata devine vraja, intelepciune si tamaduire. Sunt expresia cautarii si descoperirii transcendentei ratacite in meandrele atator inselatoare aparente. Este ceeea ce Arthur Koestler numea „scrierea invizibila” sau „limba destinului”.

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