Romania and France : Story of a mutual Fascination

ROMANIA AND FRANCE : STORY OF A MUTUAL FASCINATION SUMMARY

 

A.J. Fabre                                                                                                                                          June 2, 2010

 France and Romania have a common heritage in all fields of arts and literature

In literature three names come first :

Elizabeth Anna de Noailles (1876-1933), born Princess of Bibesco Bassaraba Brancoveanu, was a famed poet and novelist. The Bibesco Family has been, all along the last century, very active in French literary life : thus, Anna's cousin, Martha (1886-1973), who left a whole body of encounters accounts and short essays.

Panait Istrati (1884-1935), French writing Romanian, obtained international fame from his novels on life in Romania : Romain Rolland had dubbed him "The Balkan Gorky". He was doomed to a tragic fate, cursed by both communists and fascists he died in poverty...

Georghiu Ionescu (1909-1994) born from a Romanian father and a French mother became the leading playwright of the "Theater of absurd", legacy of a long tradition in central Europe, illustrated by, among many others, Ion Luca Caragiale.

It should also be reminded of Mihai Eminezcu, the great romantic poet of Romania, Tristan Tzara, founder of Surrealism and Paul Celan, the greatest German writing Romanian writer.

Many travel-writers could be reminded of :

Paul Morand (1886-1976), diplomat and writer who maintained all his life close links with Romania, reinforced by his marriage with Helene Chrissoveloni, Princess Soutzo and his nomination in 1943 as ambassador in Bucharest. However, after Soviet occupation of Romania and the death of his wife, he remaind, as he said, "widower of Romania".. .

Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), during a long career as writer and politician, showed a keen interest for Romania, expressing at a meeting the immortal motto " We are all Rumanians". He had been elected in 1846, President of the Society of Romanian Students in Paris. He made a long travel in Romania during his famed "Voyage en Orient" in 1832 .

Dominique Fernandez, French Academician (b. 1929) celebrated in one of his best books, " Romanian Rhapsody", the appeals of a travel through Moldova.

Romanian Artists hold a very important place in this list :

Painters: Theodor Aman, a precursor of the Impressionists, Stephane Luchian, talented landscaper pupil of Edouard Manet and Eustaciu Stoenescu (1884-1956) gifted portraitist.

Sculptors: Constantin Brancusi, the creator of sculptural abstraction

Musicians: George Enescu, famed violinist, pianist and composer, Dino Lipati, virtuoso pianist and Sergiu Celidabache, celebrated orchestra conductor.

Film directors : for a long time, French spectators never  heard of anybody else, as Romanian  film director than Jean Negulesco, celebrated Hollywood cineast, who directed the best seller film "How to marry a millionaire". However since the fifties, many young directors are arrived as Lucian Pintilie (Terminus Paradis) or Mircea Danieluc ("The conjugal bed")("Patu conjugal") and demonstrate that such a thing as true Romanian cinema exists!

Entertainers : Edouard de Max, Alice Cocea, Jean Yonnel, Jany Holt, and also Lana Marconi, actress and last wife of Sacha Guitry and Johnny Weismuller, "Tarzan of Timisoara".

This everlasting fascination between Romania and France raises many questions :

Myth or reality ?

For the Romanians, is France just a chimera ? No doubt that the Medie cetăţean from Romania is familiar with the French "Three C's" : culture, cooking and couture, but what about the elite, and, first of all, is there still a French speaking elite in Romania ? According to a recent poll among Romanian students know little more than Eiffet tower, perfumes and cheese…

For the French, Is Romania something else than a myth? All along XIXth century there was a real interest in France for "Mittel Europa" but, in our time, "Monsieur tout le monde" sees Romania as a country filled with fur-coated peasants, fiddlers dancing on a roof and Pan flute naists. The same poll, among French students emphasizes an image of Romanian pickpockets watching for tourists in front of the Louvre Museum ...

Thus, the importance to bring, as early school age, some valid in formations on the two countries.

Which place has France in Romania, among other nations ?

We should keep in mind that Romania had to face in the Past, so many influences from the outside : Russia, Turkey, Austria, and, to-day North American, maybe the Far East to-morrow…

France is still present everywhere in Romania, thanks to such brilliant institutions as the Institut Francais de Bucarest, the Lycée français Anna de Noailles and the many Centers of Alliance Française. However, globalization is coming fast and economy is growing faster than culture…

Can we get some more ties between France and Romania ?

Rome is our common reference, Rome which provided to the Mediterranean World a common heritage in culture, in legislations and of course, in language. It is enough to cite here Portugal, Spain, Latin America, why not, Italy and, of course, France.

This is clearly time to launch the idea of a LCC, a Latin Cultural Community.

As pointed out General de Gaulle, "Whatever tragedies encountered over the last centuries, Romania and France have always kept for each other the greatest respect, esteem and sympathy"

 

Dr. André Julien Fabre_

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