Plicul Negru ePUB ↠ Hardcover

Plicul Negru Reading still reading? Sign of unhappiness all this reading right? Most of The Black Envelope reviews posted on Goodreads express puzzlement or confusion or simply annoyance It's not difficult to understand their frustration for the novel is one of those exasperating books that although very well written prove hard to love probably because of their too obvious intellectuality In other words they ask for a second degree reading in Umberto Eco’s terms that is since a first degree reading would reuire a reader always on the lookout and besides with a passion for jigsaws since the main techniue used is as Matei Calinescu correctly observed the cryptic writingPublished for the first time in a Socialist Romania where every presumed subversive idea had to be disguised in one way or another to pass censorship The Black Envelope has become thus a wonderful illustration of Borges's observation that censorship is the mother of metaphor The novel language is amply metaphorical often turning into allegory The confusion of a rheumatic morning The tomcat coiled in the pipe muttering confusing warnings The key turning rusty words in the rusty lockThe stylistic mastery is astounding displaying a refined imagery that brands Norman Manea's style• Suggestive descriptions of desolate streets or architectural failures that appear to prepare the harrowing of hell of the Beauty The alley opens to the left to the refuge of a failed villa Gates columns balconies the vain rush of upstartness the nostalgia of a style The heterogeneous preparing the compromise with the barbarians the corruption of the form the assault of the rot• flash characterizations practicing the caricature The poor informers are not even servants of the devil they haven’t got this higher rank Only brutes swarming into the swamp called present that’s all• graphic images built like a Dali painting through the combined effort of the metaphor the personification and the epithet The words were left in the inflated air of silence They had not managed to vocalize they were still gathering energy postponed in potentialities• ironic sparks glowing unexpectedly through a comparison deaf deaf as a radish an oxymoron her frail giant appearance or an ingenuous use of the wooden language developing siren – created after developing country to burn themselves out in a depressing comical way in a perfect example of what Romanian people means by the aesthetic of the laughin’ cryin’ An old woman in front of the windows is straining to read the ad She is hanging tired like a chicken in a pleated grey bag She is faded bent curious dead charitably wrapped in the standard bagIn fact the whole novel and this to the delight of the Romanian reader and the ignorance of the foreign one is in a permanent intertextual dialogue with the greatest Romanian master of this type of irony Caragiale from the title that remind his famous A Lost Letter to the bitter end a subtle reinterpretation of a short story An Easter Candle Yes something is definitely lost in translation but is it not always so? but the universal reader can however refer to Kafka or Orwell or Robe Grillet for the modernist structure or even Homer for some graceful images like this one On the eyelids the infinite zephyr the long cool hands of the morning The greatest achievement of the novel comes in my opinion precisely from what first grade readers interested let’s say first of all in what is narrated complain about the narrative discontinuity the fracture of the epic logic designed to illustrate not only the hero’s progressive mental confusion but also the day to day nightmare of a world that scared and lost refuses nonetheless to wake up screaming a world of deaf mutes by choice for fear of being shut up in the hospice of the truth haunted only by Tolea The deaf mutes’ Party meeting the deaf mutes’ wedding the deaf mutes’ volleyball match The deaf mutes’ faces hands clothes anger laughter tears The deaf mutes’ parade groups knitting groups weightlifting groups the deaf mutes’ orgy and drunkenness and prayersAs Matei Calinescu beautifully says in his afterword The Black Envelope is ultimately a meditation on the incapability of the exile on alienation and desolation in a suffocating totalitarian society in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion in which discretion and privacy are brutally denied Note This is an approximate translation of the Romanian review of the novel that a friend of mine suggested Thanks Ema for pulling me out of my proverbial laziness That is why the uotes may significantly differ from the English edition „In ciuda structurii sale atat de complexe asemanatoare multora dintre romanele moderniste de la Musil la Mann de la Kafka la Robbe Grillet cartea minutios construita a lui Manea este in esenta un mister psihologic istoria cautarii unei organizatii oculte povestea unui anchetator care isi pierde mintile si pana la urma un foarte ingenios construit puzzle linear Romanul lui Manea probabil cea mai stralucita realizare a sa de pana acum construieste o lume fictionala care este in chip enigmatic suficienta siesi si in acelasi timp neasteptat de revelatorie pentru ceea ce unul dintre personaje numeste «psihologia claustrarii» a singuratatii si a exilului“ Matei Calinescu„Plicul negru al lui Norman Manea o capodopera tumultuoasa si tulburatoare“ Corriere della Sera„Din Plicul negru cititorul invata despre duplicitatea perfida a sistemului totalitar ceausist mai mult decat din zeci de eseuri politice“ World Literature Today„Realism magic in varianta central europeana patruns de umor negru si satira amara Un roman de rar nivel artistic“ Aftenposten„Dens si stralucit roman“ Times Literary Supplement„Marele roman al lui Norman Manea despre Romania“ Suddeutsche Zeitung„Citind Plicul negru ne am putea aminti nocivul «lapte negru» al Tangoului mortii de Celan sau atmosfera claustrofoba a terorii in crestere din Badenheim 1939 de Appelfeld“ The New York Times Book Review i managed to slog my way through this whole book but it was uite a struggle i kind of liked the writing but didn't really understand the book at all and the plot if there was one was incomprehensible i had plans to get a couple of his other books but don't think i will bother now I've written before in this space about how foolish it is to decide a book is bad because you didn't understand it and generally of the terrible and terribly freuent error in imagining that no one could possibly be smarter than you are Black Envelope is a difficult novel to review in so far as despite a serious determined effort large portions of it remained essentially obscure to me Part of that is deliberate – to the degree that there is a plot large portions of it are never explained nor does it come to any sort of concrete resolution Likewise the reader is obviously meant to be experiencing to some limited degree the same feelings of frustration futility and lingering madness are as the characters laboring beneath the oppressive regime of Romanian communism Still is it fair to complain about a book being too gnomic when that is so clearly the author's intent? If so then I am hereby officially complaining about it What I got of the book did not make me sufficiently enthusiastic to give it a second reading which might have clarified of it Or to put it another way – there is surely something of value here but you are almost certainly not going to be the one to find it Manea's dark postmodern novel shows a lot of promise but it is ever vague and confusing Yes this is the effect Manea's after because he wants the reader to have a sense of life in Fascist Romania; however his techniue is so effective that the book is a long series of events in a labyrinth of bleak darkness How anyone can make progress through this is beyond me The narrative is all over the place the plot remains a promise glinting on the horizon but never reached I've read a few Romanian writers and in this instance I can't help but wonder if the fault in pinning the whole thing down into something resembling structure is partly down to the translation Baffling Exuisite Disorienting Bleak Strange Dreamy Hopeful Mysterious Ominous Amusing Corrosive Maddening Sly Erudite Disastrous Grimy Fleeting Brash Meditative Supple Colorful Ashen Allegorical Layered Memorable Percussive Stilted Flippant Insane I had high hopes for this especially after the guy in my local bookshop told me when I took it to the till that he was also reading it and that the reading was goodBut it's almost completely incomprehensible Who is who what they're doing and why chronology narrative I couldn't make head or tail of any of it I persevered for 80 odd pages then decided life is too short Soon to be seen in an Oxfam bookshop near me I probably wouldn’t have persisted to the end of the book if I wasn't a just back from my third trip to Romania and feeling very attached to the country and b well over 50 years old It’s so dreamily written that I seldom knew who was speaking – or even who was in the room let alone whether it was live action or a dream or whether happening “now” 1980s Bucharest or 40 years before thatGetting close to 60 helps me be with situations where I barely have any idea what is going on And to enjoy the few clues from atmosphere tonality and repetition as to what might be going on and which dimension of dreamspace we are in Just returning from Bucharest gives me the energy to sit with the characters through some torrid times Pervasive is the sense of decay disappointment in the Party people spying on each other using connections and bribery to get every little thing done Endless favours and trading on favours – reminds me a bit of shopping in NairobiOne of the reasons I like Romania is that it feels close to home Haven’t you heard people in South Africa saying just what Manea’s Irina says? “Are we worse than the rest?” Yes she would have answered and then she would have said no not knowing which of the two replies was the sadder For South Africans who think our problems are uniue Romania helps bring perspectiveIs it so simple that communism has the result of denying the people their basic needs? Certainly the description of Gostat the people’s store in Bucharest reminds me of wannabe socialist Zimbabwe and seriously socialist Mozambiue in the 1980s “Vegetables chickens eggs – they ought to be in the Gostat hall where there’s nothing but jars of pickles”Is there a story amongst all the atmospherics? I am not sure The blurb says it is about an eccentric middle aged intellectual investigating his father’s death forty years after the fact There were certainly lots of eccentric people and lots of investigating but I couldn’t detect linear time or logic to it Rather like a lot of life This is one of the very few books that I couldn't finish and I am usually very patient with books that have no plot or are difficult to read for whatever reasons This one was like 'Hi I'm Norman look at how convoluted and confusing I can be and you'll think it's art' And it's a shame it could have been such a great book considering the subject matter not that he went very far with it in the first third of the book and the Romanian politics of the time


About the Author: Norman Manea

Norman Manea is a Jewish Romanian writer and author of short fiction novels and essays about the Holocaust daily life in a communist state and exile He lives in the United States where he is the Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer in residence at Bard CollegeHe left Romania in 1986 with a DAAD Berlin Grant and in 1988 went to the US with a Fulbright Scholarship at the


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