There is no such thing as fantasy. “Wandering Through Romania. Diary of a French Traveler,” by Gregory Rato

What is impressive about this Diary of a French Traveler, published in 2019 by Polirom publishing house, whose original version is entitled “Hors-piste en Roumanie” (L’Harmattan, 2016) is the effort to capture the beginning.

Text by Laura T. Elia, writer

That moment when an area appears before our eyes with all the power of its guide, with new funparentsWith its trams, its tombs, its unknown history, its religion, its superstition and its barbarism, with the feeling that we are always being dragged by a thread, with the fear that we have come to the end of the road and that we have fallen into its net once and for all, whether by its ugliness or by what it has More tempting, by the promise of adventure it offers us.

Adventure has many ghosts, and Gregory Rato knows them well, as his heroes, Panayet Estrate and Jack London, knew the depth of the mirage of enduring adventure. The legend of the great adventure disappears in front of reality, because loneliness is the price usually paid by strong adventurers, who often end their lives in solitude and loneliness. Thus, the impressions of the traveler oscillate between the desire for pure adventure – the search for turbulent immersion in the most unexpected first impressions – and the search for familiar Romania, with the novelty of human relations, the passage of family contact and access to the most unexpected. Historical monuments.

The most interesting is the starting point – Romania, to which they escape. Therefore, from the beginning, rather than being a point from which one escapes, it becomes the promise of desertion from a Western world in which immersion is obsessive. To immerse oneself is to fall into oneself, without prior detour through what might be called multiple states of being. In the book, they became “documented, traveler, exiled, estranged, itinerant, unemployed, whiny, reserved” (p. 8-9). Passing through this spectrum, the conviction that there is no such thing as fiction is self-imposed: that is, the author says that any story is a cold extraction of reality, a distillation of one’s own experience. Writing, moreover, has no utilitarian function, it is the ingenious ploy that prevents the world from turning against itself.

So the narrator makes an immersive experience, fully aware of the fact that his passing here bears witness to the last vestiges of a world on its way to extinction, in the inevitable march towards globalization. It’s a nostalgic look into the past, with intermezzo– the inevitable scattering of every day: for example, the fact that the wonderful patron who seemed to so generously support them, the whole exploration, turned out to be precisely at the end the explorer and his fiancée in the dubious world of the corruption of Eastern Europe began; The two are trapped in the clutches of an invisible mafia, a highly pathological persecution complex develops.

Another essential element of the book is the feeling that this careful traveler who is the author is ready to allow himself to transform, to permanently change his complexion, to experience deep immersion.

I will give an example: Instead of being the imprint of a world that has been transcended, the sacred and all its incarnations challenge those who bear witness to this world they have come to by chance. Specifically, he asks if it is possible to live your faith differently from what it is For a Roman believer, “poetry” is closely related to the sacred. Of course, in a world in which the author searches for authenticity, in travel, in clarity, in truth, in friendship, in humanity (these are some of the titles of the chapters), the desire for the sacred may seem outdated, but it is met with the same by the attitude of the authentic wanderer, who He waits to meet with others rather than wait for his own assumptions to be confirmed. So the question he asks himself is the following: “Is it possible to live your faith fully without waiting for miracles to work and answer all your prayers, falling into superstition?” (p. 23).

Therefore, what characterizes the reading of the “Diary” are the following signs: capture of seemingly insignificant details, reflections on memory, travel and writing, confrontation with a destabilizing moment, which for the author means adventure.

The sights are chosen very well: first of all, the attention paid to the “Wanderer” maps, in macro and micro, the essential details of this country that he is trying to capture. On the one hand, we have the carnival scenes in Tram 5, then the Baroque details in the Bello Cemetery, and then the memory of the still earthquake-stricken Bucharest. 77, Encounters with the Sacred, including “Father Arseny Boca’s Cell”, harks back in time, through the last hat-maker in Bucharest, to emotional experiences relating to the Roman countryside.

But in addition to this fresco, there are two other elements worth remembering, for they offer, I think, from the “Diary of a French Traveler” the promise of a narrative that will spread its sensational tentacles beyond the effusion, confusion or flight-flying. It is an inherent and constantly recurring desire, not only to write, but also to build, just as “real” writers do. And this infectious energy seemed to spread out of the feeling he experienced in front of the house of such a writer, George Kalinscu. touching, in a “very sensual and everyday” way (p. 198) the walls that capture, spectroscopically, the energy of life, tell him about encounters with other writers of the world, always in exile, who carry their writings with him, because they wear “hidden jeans”, because this guild can , by contagion of a model and continuing to write, create other models. What does the writer look like? She is “that being, whose heroic deeds are cured in whispers after a white night, with a sticky mouth and eyes burned by the cold frost, … sometimes painted as aloof, often a little mad and always far from her horn.” (p. 198) ). In front of this romantic legend, with all its perils, the “Wanderer” repeats his mantra: “Make me a real writer!” (p. 199).

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I think the energy of this magic, beyond the journalist’s attention to detail, is the most emotional testimony in this book. It serves as a vector of originality, like a crucible in which word art is born and which, I am convinced, will make Grhe isBloody missed a real writer. Especially considering that on February 7 its second volume, ““Noir de Soleil”published by Maurice Nadeau Publishing, confirming the intuition of the one person who extracts his own personal voice by listening carefully, far from the noise of the world: “Although I have lived in the noise of the world, I feel it on the day when I will end up speaking, at last That secret language of those who live with the memory of loved and lost beings” (p. 223), he stated.

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