Category Archives: Literature

Simion Liftnicul by Petru Cimpoesu – Just Intro


Simion Liftnicul” (“Simeon the Liftite”) – 2001

Book of the Year 2006 in the Czech Republic, the Magnesia Litera Prize

Now, “Simion Liftnicul” is translated in Croatian, Italian, German, Bulgarian, Spanish.

“I’ve started writing fictions out of a psychoanalytical superstition, hoping that in this way the demon of my neurosis would devour itself. By writing, by plunging into my own dreams and breathing within them like some amphibious creature, I have gradually discovered that the reality of fiction is stronger, or at least richer in meaning than the fragmentary.” Petru Cimpoesu

Ioan Petru Culianu – mysteries in life and death


In 21 May 1991, at only 42 years old, Ioan Petru Culianu, Professor of the Religion  history  at the University of Chicago, was shot once in the back of the head. The murder took place in the bathroom of Swift Hall of the University of Chicago in a day when the building was full with visitors to a book sale.

Why and by who? is a question that still remains without answer.

But who was he? Ioan Petru Culianu, as many as you already know, was a Romanian historian of religion and culture, a short story writer, philosopher and political essayist, born in 1950 in Iasi, Romania.

In an interview made in 1990 by his student Emanuel Guano he said that he had decided to become a writer at  the age of 13 choosing between physics and literature as a carrier for live. At the age of 17 years old, he has already started being published in Romania. As student at the University of Bucharest he was studying also the history of religious, dreaming going in Indi as Mircea Eliade once did. After refusing the collaboration with the Romanian Security (Romanian Intelligence) during the communist period, in 1970, his new book was censored. In 1972, he leaves the country (some say that he succeeds in leaving Romania because finally he collaborates) to travel in Italy where he had obtained political asylum and then a scholarship.  He later graduated from the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan. He lived briefly in France and the Netherlands, before leaving Europe for Chicago.

After leaving Romania, he tried many times to go in Chicago at Mircea Elide. Shortly, he became the most loved and respected student of Mircea Eliade, he worked with him at the final tome of the notorious “Historian of religions” and at “Dictionnaire des Religions”. One of the three last wishes of the great philosopher and expert in religions’ history Mircea Eliade was that all of his manuscripts to be left to Ioan Petru Culianu, “the only friend to whom he has so many to say”, the only one who has the knowledge to understand. After the death of Ioan Petru Culianu, the manuscripts of Mircea Eliade were taken by the University of Chicago and then donated to the Louvre Museum.

Ioan Petru Culianu, being proficient in seven languages (Sanskrit, Hindi, French, Italian, German, Greek, English) and completed three doctorates (one in Milano, Italy and two in Sorbonne, France), was an encyclopedic personality. His studies were focusing on the interrelation of the Occult, Eros, Magic, History and Physics being specialized in Renaissance magic and mysticism. Some of his later studies were trying to decode the “myth” that lays in physics, like in Einstein equations upon universe and so to find the bridges between science and religion, mystic, history. Being seen by some criticizes more as a Faust with successful books in libraries than as a savant, Ioan Petru Culianu was definitely attracted in his work by dark, occult, demons.

After the Romanian Revolution in 1989, Ioan Petru Culianu criticized the new power in Bucharest, calling it just a new communist. He was also against the rights political Romanian formations, making requests for investigation of Holocaust in Romania during the war. That is why some say he was murdered by the Romanian Security or by KGB, some by the neo-fascist involvement.

Apparently, in the last years of his live, he was starting to attend occult movements, secrets societies. Experts in occultism see his dead as a punishment; he was killed in the closet just for having a degrading death. Many aspects of his live remain a mystery and his death, “the perfect murder”, the greater of his mysteries.

I let you choose a script for his live, “Nikita” or “Da Vinci’s Code”? Or maybe “Alias” because this one has both, secret services and secret societies.


Mircea Dinescu – the poet, the revolutionary, the chef, the singer, …


I was nine years old in December 1989 and I remember quite well the longest show I’ve ever seen transmitted on tv, The Live Romanian Revolution … one of the main actors, Mircea Dinescu … someone said to Dinescu that if he had died at the Revolution, his statue would have been raised in the Bucharest’s centre … this is true, his voice was very important back then.

There was also a line, in the old Romanian style I might say, that become history: “Mircea, fa-te ca lucrezi!” (“Mircea, pretend you’re working!”) said by Ion Caramitru referring to the writing of the revolutionary proclamation.

Mircea Dinescu was a living legend and this was the way I saw him in the summer of 1990 when “Moartea citeste ziarul” (“Death is reading the newspaper”), the volume prohibited for publication in 1988, appeared in the library from my neighborhood. I used to visit it frequently attracted by books and when I saw Dinescu’s book, black with white writing, thin, with a really strange title … I don’t know what makes your brain to keep some memories and forget the others … very, very hot … all the street were empty … I ran back to my house to tell my mother about my extraordinary finding … I asked her to buy like ten of them … I returned desperate that somehow the book can disappear in 10 minutes, bought by the invisible people from the street … I bought five books and then returned home … again, no one on the street at three o’clock in that incredibly hot summer day.

At home, I don’t know if I admitted that to myself, but I remember I couldn’t really understand at almost ten years old how somebody could write such a little book and still be considered big, how a poet who wrote without traditional rhyme could receive prizes for his talent or why for something like “ei n-aveau limba de carpa” („they had no tongue of cloth”), „imaginatia nu costa nimic” („the imagination cost nothing”), „istoria … parca a uitat sa se mai nasca” („it look like history forgot to be born”) you were prohibited to publish.

As gravity, it was definitely less harsh than I expected, but this was the tragedy, you couldn’t in fact say anything else than the Party said – everything that was already written. Nowadays, we do have some kind of freedom, but in my old neighborhood there is no library now and the son of a metal worker cannot buy twenty-five books at once as Mircea Dinescu could in the days of communism.

I can say that after the Revolution Mircea Dinescu has a succesful live, although many consistently criticised him for not being … like they expected. He started three journals of political satire: „Academia Catavencu” („Catavencu Academy”), „Plai cu boi” („Land of the Dumb”), „Aspirina saracului” („The Poor’s Man Aspirin”) and with Cristian Tudor Popescu the newspaper „Gandul” („The Thought”). He has a political talk show,  with Stelian Tanase („Dinescu si Tanase”). And he also started … yes, agriculture … in The Dinescu’s Cultural Harbor Cetate … there you can find a yearly Musical Camp, a Poetry Camp, a Film Festival, a Gastronomic Art Festival, … he now has his own brand of wine from Cetate, „Vinul mosierului” („Landowner’s wine”), named after a remark of him made by the former president Ion Iliescu.

About poetry … he recently published a book of love poetry, „Femei din secolul trecut” („The women from the past century”) that can be bought together with a disk, the same poems sang, of corse, by himself.

I guess that a foreigner can’t understand Mircea Dinescu, he is very … Romanian, he is just like the Romanians. I hope this to be true, I hope that there are still Romanians who can fight for their ideas.

I have to return now to the beginning of the story. After an interview in the French newspaper Liberation in which he criticised the political regime, Mircea Dinescu was under house arrest in 1989. Following the visit of Gorbaciov in Bucharest, the communist policy was afraid that with this occasion Dinescu might be interviewed by foreign journalists. That is why he was proposed initially to move from Bucharest in Tecuci as librarian and then he was offered passports for him, his wife and children for France. And he refused because he didn’t want to compromise his ideas. He reminded and reported everything after not only that he wasn’t allowed to speak at an election rally of president Traian Basescu (which in fact he supported in the first term) but he was also invited to move his harbor from Cetate to Bulgaria, on the other shore of Danube.

What president does Dinescu want for Romania? Go in the dark at the Athenaeum and choose someone from there, so maybe you could find a man with „common sense, courtesy, kindness, his presence to give you a peaceful mind”. So I guess Mircea Dinescu won’t stop criticising the political system too soon.