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Andrei Codrescu’s personal history, that is, Comrade Past and Mr. Present, had now become everyone’s history) did not seem to know who Luca was. I do not remember exactly how many cigarettes Mr. Director smoked before he signed the necessary document of approval, but it was not before I bribed him or at least flashed him a copy of my Celan translations in order to prove my credibility (he didn’t seem to know who Celan was either; perhaps it was the gloss of the book, in print, in English, bearing the stamp of an American press that got him), when he contemptuously told me that this photocopying business was going to cost me because "you Americans are rich." Yes, it would cost me… half a million; half a million Romanian lei, that is, amounting to the sum of about sixteen dollars! The rest was routine: a frail and yellowed copy of the original 1945 edition of The Inventor of Love was released to me along with directions to the basement of the Academy. I held the book gingerly, like a holy relic, between the tips of my fingers, and carried it through the hallways of the catacomb-like basement, incensed with the smoke of cigarettes, to the cramped office where two matrons, who had, or maybe had not seen better days, but had heard about them, more cigarettes dangling from their lips, stared at me with mocking smiles and told me to come back in a half an hour. As we were walking away to celebrate I told R----, “I’ll bet you anything that the entire Romanian works of Luca will be published in Romania in six months. Because the Americans want it! I bet you the director is on the phone with someone right now. And I am willing to bet he was only pretending he didn’t know who Luca was.” And indeed, now, exactly six months later, R---- was calling me from Bucharest to inform me that Luca was out. It is worth noting that although R---- sent me a copy of the book, edited by Ion Pop, and indeed containing the entire Romanian oeuvre of Gherasim Luca, my wife, Laura, and I translated entirely from photocopies: the one I obtained, and another that my friend Sean Soloway, on his own visit to Romania and at my request, managed to get from the Academy, again after a

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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