Introduction: Writings from Postcommunist Romania
Schimmel, Ehren, The Review of Contemporary Fiction
For much of the world, communism is only an odd, distant chapter in history. Remnants of this tragically flawed social experiment are visible across much of Europe in monuments, kitschy museums, and niche collector's items. In North America and other regions, its complex story is now read in history books as a cautionary tale, as though it were one of the great fables of Aesop. But in few places was the scourge of communism less of a passing trend and more of a difficult, protracted reality than in Romania. Amid the euphoria of communism's demise, as the historian Lucian Boia wrote, Romanians won their freedom, and "it seemed that freedom would solve everything." (1) Instead, generations will likely have passed before the deleterious psychological legacy of communism fades entirely, and the concrete bloc apartments that mar Romania's skylines will continue to house and shape the lives of Romanian families for decades. The revolution, which brought so much hope despite its controversy, was only the first step in reversing the effects of the long, dystopic dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.
My first direct experience with postcommunist Romania came as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2001-2003. What I encountered at that time, along with forty-five other volunteers, was the incarnation of images I had seen for years on television of heard of from Romanian emigres. Cities were stale and gloomy. Stray dogs staggered along broken streets. The air frequently smelled of petroleum and environmental decay while parks and yards were tended with a scythe, if they were tended at all. And despite the many redeeming aspects--a nation with a depth and beauty that could only be appreciated with greater inspection--the overwhelming sense was that I was wading through a landscape still strewn with the emotional and psychological rubble of a devastating conflict. The term "developing country" was a misnomer. The country was rather recovering than developing, and the rusted machinery that stood idly beside hollow, unfinished buildings was only a superficial glimpse at an underlying …
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Publication information: Article title: Introduction: Writings from Postcommunist Romania. Contributors: Schimmel, Ehren - Author. Journal title: The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Volume: 30. Issue: 1 Publication date: Spring 2010. Page number: 13+. © 2009 Review of Contemporary Fiction. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.
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