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The days following the Second World War were days of creative submission to the state. Luca saw this clearly and in order to save himself as a poet, he left in 1952, first for Israel, and from there to Paris. Thus, there was no possible way for him to be re-printed in Romanian, other than a few entries in an anthology edited by Ion Manolescu and published during the short period of the easing of restrictions. My curiosity and desire to read more of Luca went unsatisfied until the early 1990s, when my friend Sanda Agalidi returned from Bucharest with a recently-published anthology of the Romanian avantgarde. It contained the beginning fragment of The Inventor of Love and some of the prose poems from what would come to be called in English The Praying Mantis Appraised. We shall discuss later how Luca’s “wolf” became a “praying mantis.” In order to sound Luca in English as he sounds in Romanian, English must be honed in an uncommon fashion. Translated directly from the Romanian into English, mot-a-mot, Luca often falls flat, losing qualities mentioned above—nuance, innuendo, cultural reference, musical tone and overtone, rhythm—in other words, the poetry. From the outside, English seems a language of efficiency and precision; Romanian not so. Perhaps this is so because for centuries Romanians suffered from malnutrition. Rahter than remaining inactive, the tongue found other means to entertain itself. Words became longer, more engaging to pronounce. From the outside, Romanian language seems to retain freshness, while words in American English usage have lost their tang and texture. For example, the word “love” has become indistinct, distracted; the Romanian “dragoste” implies palpable experience no longer living in “love.” Thus, the “love” of translated Luca renders at times as “rapture.” “Carry” invigorates, intactiles to “hoist” or “haul,” muscles at work. Luca’s “eye” demands empotation, must become “eyeball.” “Walking” must become more aware, an “ambulation.” Magnified details hone the whole, words summoned for their rhythm and tonality. “Covered with flowers” transmutes, specifies into “layered with lilies.” Head becomes cranium, an enriched lingering linguistic

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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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