28 September, 2023
"Shoe loves, umbrella loves" was translated by Ognyan Stamboliev
Matei Vişniec (source: Matei Vişniec)

“Shoe loves, umbrella loves” was translated by Ognyan Stamboliev

Matei Vishniec was born under the spiritual sign of Aquarius – in January 1956. He studied philosophy at the University of Bucharest. He worked as a teacher in the village. Since his student days, he participated in a literary circle from which the most important Romanian writers would emerge. They were to form the generation of the 1980s, which shook Romania’s literary and political landscape in the last decade of Ceausescu’s “Golden Age”.

Vișniec also found his way into literature. He was inspired by Kafka, Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, Dino Buzzati and Lautréamont – modernists, absurdists, existentialists and decadents. He liked the surrealists, the dadaists. He adored the comedies of Ion Luca Caragiale, considered by literary historian George Călinescu to be the greatest Romanian playwright. But Vișniec went beyond Romania, and not just because he emigrated in the 1980s. In his remarkable work, one can feel the influence of plays by Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco – of the theatre of the absurd, of Mircea Eliade’s esoteric fiction, of the magical realism of the Latin American novel, of Anglo-Saxon realist theatre. There is everything but socialist realism!

During Ceausescu’s time, the concept of “resistance through culture” was popular in Romania. This also became Vișniec’s credo. Since his student days, he believed in the ability of literature to destroy totalitarianism. He was convinced that it could defeat human manipulation, which is being done in Europe’s East in the name of big ideas, of Marxist ideology!

The novel “Sho Loves, Umbrella Loves” is composed of individual episodes that take the reader on a real journey through time and space. It is a journey into the world of ideas, into the history of theatre. Through the text, the past and present of the author’s second homeland – France, of his beloved city of Paris (about which he will write a separate novel), of the South of France – the so-called Provence – are explored. It is there that the country’s biggest theatre festival takes place – in the city of the popes – Avignon. The journey also takes us to his hometown of Radauți, in the historic Bucovina region of north-eastern Romania. We also pass through Bucharest – Little Paris, through the years of his youth and teaching in the village. 

The author has long been internationally acclaimed. What is the secret of his success? The ingredients are probably many, but here is one possible formula, which is also found in “Shoe Loves, Umbrella Loves”: the author collides two completely different worlds, “two tectonic plates”, in his own words. The first is real life and the second is the paradise of fantasy and fiction. This is how Vișniec’s literary universe takes shape, where he feels at home and to which he invites the Bulgarian reader with this text.

Books by the same author translated by Ognian Stamboliyev:

“Planned Chaos” – a novel

“Paris Attic with a View of Death” – 7 plays

“Panic in the City of Lights” – novel

“Mr. K. on the loose” – novel

“Passenger in the Rain” – 5 plays

“The Merchant of Beginnings Novel” – European Novel of the Year – 2016″

“The city with one inhabitant” – collection of poems

“Richard III will not be staged or Scenes from the life of Meyerhold” – play

UNDER PRESS – “Horses at the window” – a new collection of 9 plays

Photo: The Bulgarian cover of the book “Shoe Loves, Umbrella Loves” by Matei Vişniec (source: Ognyan Stamboliev)

Read in Romanian language!

Read in Bulgarian language!

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