An interview with Radu Aldulescu
One of the most important contemporary Romanian writers of prose, Radu Aldulescu (born on June 29, 1954, in Bucharest) made his debut in 1993, at the Albatros publishing house, with the novel Sonata pentru acordeon (The Accordion Sonata), for which he received the Romanian Writers’ Union Award. Since, he has published the novels Amantul Colivăresei (The Funeral Cake Maker’s Lover), Îngerul încălecat (The Mounted Angel), Istoria eroilor unui ţinut de verdeaţă şi răcoare (The Story of the Heroes in a Land of Green and Chill), Proorocii Ierusalimului (The Prophets of Jerusalem), Mirii nemuririi (Immortality’s Bridegrooms), Ana-Maria şi îngerii (Ana-Maria and the Angels). He co-wrote the script for Terminus Paradis, a movie directed by Lucian Pintilie.
Some seem surprised that you would choose to write about a ‘world of those who dwell on the periphery’, as one of your writer colleagues would say.
Not only do I write about the so-called ‘losers’, but I also empathize with my characters. Research and empathize with the characters and their universe, that’s what a writer is supposed to do. Many don’t understand this, because they’re stuck. We had no solidarity between intellectuals and blue-collar workers, neither before, nor after 1989. The intellectual elite would aseptically distance themselves from what we refer to as the profound Romania, the country’s backbone, the common people. May I remind you that in 1977, there was a series of miners’ strikes in the Jiu Valley, about which no one knew anything, these intellectuals and dissidents we keep talking about.
Did they not know or did they pretend like they didn’t know?
They didn’t want to know. And in’87 the strike in Brașov took place, which, once again, was overlooked by the intellectuals. And that intellectual elite is still maintaining that same position – it is totally out of touch with this world, to the point where a book like Parabolele lui Iisus (Jesus’ Parables) comes out, written by Andrei Pleșu, where he offers us the image of a personal Jesus, which has nothing to do with the masses, the crowd. A Jesus for the intellectuals.
You say the intellectuals knew about the strikes. What do you think they ought to have done in those circumstances?
Rally with the strikers, that’s what they should have done, but the Romanian intellectual, as opposed to the Czech or Polish one, has a certain respectability complex. It would be a tragedy for him to be removed from his teaching position and sent out to sweep the streets, as it happened with Havel, or with Lech Walesa, who worked as an electrician.
An interview by Ionuț Sociu, translated into English by Ioana Pelehatăi