Reporter: Can the Romanian fiction follow the successful path of the movie?
Ciprian Măceșaru: I wouldn’t know for sure if the Romanian literature could become significant in the West, following the same pattern that has been imposed by the Romanian movie lately. That there could emerge a new wave of Romanian writers who could seize the Western book market, I admit it is possible, but not without following some different aesthetic and conceptual coordinates. However, I find it hard to believe this would happen. I’d rather say we will continue to genuinely achieve success with one or two writers, from time to time.
R: Does television make us stupid or does it educate people?
CM: Television makes us stupid and/or educates us. It depends on what TV networks we watch, how much time someone spends in front of the TV etc. If we refer to our current state, I think television is heavily guilty for the way in which they depict the Romanian society. Let us not forget that nowadays the image is the most powerful communication means. Year after year, millions and millions of people have swallowed some individuals’ garbage that wanted rating figures as high as possible at all costs. Television owners have constantly told us with cynicism that “we offer what we are asked to offer”. They have never told us that once you give some dirt on TV, the audience will ask for a bigger dirt. The taste has to be educated; it has always been like that, but those Media moguls have never been interested in this as they only wanted to keep us on a tight leash. How can you block harmful programmes without this being called censorship or an attempt to block the freedom of speech?! The NAC cannot do many things in this respect, we’ve all seen that in so many occasions. Everything can be changed through both home or school education, it’s just that now, it is very difficult after so many years when our standards have fallen so dramatically.
R: If you were the Minister of Culture, what would be the first action you would take?
CM: Tough question. I have to admit I do not know what action I would take first. I know I would put all my effort to introduce a school curriculum according to which students would meet writers, musicians, artists, dancers, actors, to save not only the heritage building sites to satisfy the Romanian archaeologists’ needs, but also the old historical areas in towns or villages. Also, I’m thinking of programmes developed to improve the schools of restorers and curators, to found a Brancusi Museum in Romania and a museum dedicated to the avant-garde writers and artists, to create some tourist routes that would display the Romanian and Neo-Romanian architecture, to have more cinema theatres, to translate our significant works in foreign languages, to offer to the artists, musicians, dancers, actors, directors a healthy state environment where to work and promote themselves etc.
R: What is your opinion regarding the Romanian fiction during communism?
CM: Of course, the communist regime (fraudulently established, let us say it again and again) was a heavy blow given to literature, but even under those circumstances, despite the harsh censorship, several beautiful books emerged in Romania, some of them quite exceptional: Visul (Mircea Cărtărescu), Zenobia (Gellu Naum), Manualul întâmplărilor (Ştefan Agopian), Rebarbor (Alexandru Monciu-Sudinski), Grădina de vară (Răzvan Petrescu), Tangoul memoriei (George Cuşnarencu), Iarna bărbaţilor (Ştefan Bănulescu), Proiecte de trecut (Ana Blandiana), Caravana cinematografică şi Trenul de noapte (Ioan Groşan), Octombrie, ora opt (Norman Manea), Şoarecele B şi alte povestiri (Ion D. Sîrbu)… The poetry volumes, written by Mircea Ivănescu, Nichita Stănescu, Mircea Cărtărescu, Marin Sorescu… Cartea cu Apolodor by Gellu Naum, a jewel of the literature for children… and others. During those dark times, when the socialist realism set the tone and voice, publishing such books really meant something.
R: Do people write too much or do they read too little?
CM: People don’t write too much. Too many bad books are being published, that’s something else. Romanians read too little. According to the EU book market surveys, our country seems to constantly hit the rock bottom.
R: Have you ever been against the mainstream trend?
CM: I have never tried to be, but I guess my way of writing has put me in such a position that I didn’t find myself on the same wave length with the others.
R: What shadow would you ask to come into being?
CM: Are you referring here to Adrian Păunescu’s poems? I admit this makes me nervous, but I will accept the challenge and point to a writer that I would have very much enjoyed to meet: Italo Svevo.
R: Why are people running away from sensibility and beauty? Why wouldn’t they acknowledge their human nature?
CM: I doubt people are running away from something. Most of them think they are sensitive enough, that they are fond of beautiful things, and consequently, they have a pretty well-shaped human nature.
R: A lot of people complain about all these things: they no longer read, book reading is no longer appealing. What could be done to make people read again?
CM: Most of the time, those who complain about these things are those who no longer read. Nowadays, in Romania, more books are being published than ever before. Paradoxically, as I was saying, we have very few readers. Our Hungarian neighbours, though half our population, have a more powerful book market and many more readers. We have deficiencies in education, family values, the teaching establishment… No matter how hard it is to accept this, it is the truth.
R: Where do you think the intellectual’s attraction for extremes comes from?
CM: The intellectual will always have a certain world outlook and will be prone to approach utopia. He will always try to put into practice what he finds beyond the sensible world of contradictory ephemeral sensations. I’m referring to the ‘World of Ideas’, as Plato would say. There will always be intellectuals, who will think they have found out the Absolute Good, the Truth, the Beauty… Unfortunately, this is how things are.
R: In your opinion, which Romanian writer would deserve the Nobel Prize for literature?
CM: If there were a genuine prize awarded for literature, then Mircea Cartarescu would deserve it without a shadow of a doubt.
R: At present, what is the most relevant form of literary criticism (printed, TV or online reviews) and why?
CM: The one that is well done is the most relevant, but the impact of an idea is different according to the channel through which it is shared. Nowadays, the Internet has a huge number of users and that is clearly an asset to take into account.
Interview by Ingrid Marc, 12thB
Translated by Teodora Leon, 10thC
Ciprian Măceșaru was born in Câmpina, Romania, on the 7th of September 1976. He is a writer, illustrator, musician and cultural journalist. He has published several works of fiction („Trecutul e întotdeauna cu un pas înaintea ta”, “Portbagaj”, “Superhero”), poetry („Locul în care n-am ajuns niciodată”, “Cântecul greierilor de sub calea ferată”), literary essays („Despre nerăbdarea de a fi răbdător”), interviews (“Dialoguri în oglindă”) and books for children (“Super! Sunt un gândac!”). He has received several literary awards: Certificate of Excellence for European Jurnalism from EUROLINK, House of Europe, 2010 and a prize from the „Tiuk!” Magazine for the novel “Portbagaj”, 2015. He was included in some anthologies and literary magazines printed both in Romania and abroad and is known as the founder of the „Accente” Magazine and the „Next Page” Publishing House.
Fiction: “The Past Is Always One Step Ahead of You”, “The Trunk”, “Superhero”
Poetry: “The Place I Have Never Reached”, “The Song of the Crickets Under The Railway”
Essay: “On the Patience of Being Patient”
Children’s Books: “Far Out! I’m a Bug!”