A new project. Well, in fact I don't know how much of a project this is. It's not going to be so strict; it's not going to have a fix number of book reviews, nor a deadline.
Though this summers is going to be extremely colourful (two weddings, a possible job - still working on it! -, pupils, at least two trips) I plan to read. As much as I can. And I plan to write a few lines about the books that I manage to read. That's the J&J project: transforming complex and delicious dishes into intricate and wonderful reading adventures.
To begin with, have you read Concert din muzica de Bach by Hortensia Papadat Bengescu? I bet you did. To be honest, when I started to read HPB I had some prejudices about her and her work. I didn't read this book to like it or not, but to see if the comparison between HPB and Virginia Woolf is fair and adequate.
Before reading it I believed that the backbone of the novel must be similar to Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway: female characters, inner conflicts and a party, or a concert in this case uniting all other characters.
Yes, the concert does unite the characters, but one of the things that I liked about this book is that the famous and long-awaited concert didn't take place because the novel ended. Thus, the focus is more on inner conflicts and on what each character really feels about this concert; what are the true reasons - be they social, emotional or political - that determine the characters to get involved in this concert.
The same happens with Sia's funeral. Nobody seems to suffer the lost; to mourn her death. "O zi minunata de aprilie, calda, poleita. Multi ramasese pe scara sau in amvon si, pastrind cuviinta locului, vorbeau discret intre ei. Din cauza zilei frumoase, glasul lor soptit era vesel si fetele toate luminoase. De altfel, era o ceremonia indiferenta. Mai toti erau adusi acolo de consideratii indirecte. Erau intimii numerosi ai Draganestilor si tot concertul Bach in fiinta, printr-o atentie exagerata catre Elena, inlesnita de timpul frumos. Era o zi cind vreai sa faci o plimbare, fie si la o inmormintare. Pe un timp ploios poate ca lucrurile s-ar fi petrecut altfel." (p. 204, Editura Tineretului, 1967)
Concert din muzica de Bach does not follow the pattern of Woolf's novel. HPB's characters are much more ugly on the inside. Ada, Lica, Rim, Sia, Maxentiu ("Isi iubea mizeria, asa cum altii isi iubesc vitiul cu voluptate si cu rusine.", p. 99) create a grotesque world, populated by masks and interests.
Last but not least, I gladly enjoyed every piece of HPB's irony and I liked in particular the way in which she created the 'character' of the twins: "Ca goniti, gemenii plecase pe jos, apucind, fara sa-si vorbeasca, aceleasi strazi, mereu mai laterale, mereu schimbate, intr-un fel de cursa parca in care urma sa le fie pierduta. Ajunsi pe drumul asta intortocheat in fata feliei bizare de casa ce le era proprietate, se oprira printr-o aceeasi miscare, uitindu-se in sus spre camera sechestratei, apoi unul la altul.
– Nu mai trebuie femeie! mormai incet unul sau celalalt, pentru amindoi.
Apoi intrara in cucurigul ciudat al locuintei sa-si planuiasca mai departe returile bizare ale ingemanarii lor respingatoare." (p. 218)