“A writer must express the human condition on every page:” Romanian literary star Mircea Cărtărescu on life, literature and success
Perhaps more than others, Cărtărescu’s escape was also in a metaphysical and expensive world. His skepticism of material reality and the belief that everything is consciousness is a recurring theme in his writings. In one of the Nostalgia five stories, “REM”, which unfolds the memories of a woman revisiting her younger self, we discover that “REM is an infinite machine, a colossal brain that regulates and coordinates, after a certain plan and for a certain purpose, all the dreams of all living things Others see in REM a kind of kaleidoscope in which you can read the whole universe at once.
With faint echoes of Borges, oddly associated with elements of science fiction, Cărtărescu’s literature goes far beyond the banality of everyday life and deep into the darker rooms of the human psyche. “I’m not interested in the kind of writing that is successful today, about ordinary people who talk like they do on the street. This is not my cup of tea, “he explains.” A writer must express on every page the human condition, with its realms of realism but also dreamlike, psychoanalytic, mystical, ecstatic, or in other words, poetic. Poetry is the most art form. high and every artistic object – whether it is music, painting or prose writing – must draw its light from it, otherwise it remains in the dark.
Although it was sent to publishers in 1985, Nostalgia was only printed in 1989 – then in a censored state, under the title The dream. The full version was finally published in 1993. The book became cult in Romania and, after the fall of communism, Cărtărescu’s notoriety continued to grow thanks to his ambitious novels, Orbiter and Solenoid, his diaries and his magazine columns.
With over 100,000 Facebook subscribers and an extensive press presence, Cărtărescu is today considered one of Romania’s most famous writers. Recent translations have propelled it to the bestseller lists of the Spanish and French book markets, leading New Observer to launch the title “What if Mircea Cărtărescu was the best writer in the world?” ”
I have often heard other Romanian writers say that Cărtărescu is perhaps the only author in the country who can really make a living from writing. Yet he debunks this myth. “I don’t live on literature alone, and I’ve never made a living from it,” he explains. In addition to writing, Cărtărescu also teaches literature at the University of Bucharest and has been a guest lecturer at other European institutions, in Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam. “Writers are among the lowest paid people for their work,” he says. “Of course, proper cultural policies would change the situation, but for our state, culture is the fifth wheel. Our politicians are poorly educated and do not understand art. the [cultural] the budget gets smaller and smaller every year, and institutions are more and more politicized and incompetent. Despite all his political skepticism, Cărtărescu has pledged to stay in Romania and often takes public positions on the news, criticizing last year’s bill banning gender studies, for example, or demanding the depoliticization of Romanian Cultural Institute.
But doing other jobs besides literature is also helpful for someone who says they hate the word “writer”. “He is accused of snobbery and lies,” he explains. “A person who writes is just that: a person who leads a normal life and who, on top of that, has the undeserved gift that books come through him into the world.”
Get your own copy of the book here.