What do we know about Alexandru Vona ( 3. March 1922; 12. November 2004)? Just a few. He was just one of the maudits of the Romanian literature. Let’s say a writer (usually a poet: the poets are the poor brothers of the literature: the less words written, the less food received) who is not so well known or (and) has a disgraceful life. Let’s say that Eminescu can be one of the maudits of the Romanian literature: Romanticism fits perfectly with the turbulent lifes. In fact, Romanian literature hasa big list of maudits. For instance, George Bacovia and his poems about death and ovens, in the way that reminds us to Baudelaire. Or Urmuz, according to George Calinescu, the father of European Surrealism, and we can add: the proto Ionesco, the dopplegänger of Tzara and one of the necklaces of selfkillers of Romanian literature (he shared the atmosphere with the Manual of Perfect Happiness by Ilarie Voronca). Or Max Blecher, going beyond the limits (here the spot language is perfect), a Lautreamont handicapped, all the time lying and inventing worlds, as it was written in the article dedicated to Mihail Sebastian, another maudit just because. Or the ones that are maudits thanks to extraliterature reasons. Let's say Radu Gyr, the prophet of the evil, if we can exaggerate. Or Ioan P.Culianu, assassinated by the evil. Or one of the dwellers of the limb, condemned there by both by the evil and by the oblivion of everybody, the great Marcu Beza.
But let's come back to Vona, because writers as Bacovia, Urmuz or Blecher are well known, either in Wikipedia or in the critics. For instance, in Spain, Joaquín Garrigós has rescued Blecher. But Vona, who knows anything about Vona?
Alberto Samuel Béjar y Mayor was a descendant of Spanish Jews, and was well considered at the beginning of his career. But then he had problems with the communist authorities and had to dissapear, or at least became a shadow. He is son of that myth about the writer who is minute after minute, hour after hour, rewriting the same book. I knew about her thanks to Sergio Pitol who, in he book of essays 'The Art of the Fugue' writes in this terms about him:
Hugo se las ingenia para recalar en uno de sus temas predilectos: Rumania o, mejor dicho, la literatura rumana. Le entusiasma que el Premio Mundo Latino, otorgado hace unos cuantos días en Roma, le haya sido dado al rumano Alexandru Vona, a quien conoce bien. Lo ha ganado por una novela única, nos comenta, con la que ha vivido a solas desde 1947, año en que terminó de escribirla y en que estuvo a punto de publicarla. Esa novela, Las ventanas clausuradas, ha configurado su destino. ¡Sigue siendo su destino! Los pocos amigos íntimos a quienes el autor rumano permitió conocer esa novela declaraban que su estilo narrativo revelaba una búsqueda formal tan rigurosa y soberbia que, si se quería compararla con alguien, sólo saltaban a la mente las grandes personalidades narrativas de nuestro siglo: Kafka, Joyce, Broch o Musil. Durante décadas, el novelista vivió con la certeza de que jamás lograría ver publicada su obra. No obstante, siguió cuidándola, afinándola en secreto. Su primera sorpresa debió ser la publicación en 1993 en su idioma; luego, la traducción al francés y ahora el premio que le otorgó por unanimidad un jurado excepcionalmente brillante compuesto, entre otros, por Vincenzo Consolo, Luigi Malerba, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Rubem Fonseca y nuestro admirado Alvaro Mutis.
What, in a free translation, means:
Hugo has always the ability to bring us to his favourite topic: Romania or, better, Romanian literature. He loves that the Latin World Prize, given a few days before in Rome, has been conceded to Alexandru Vona, whom he knows really well. He has won it thanks to an extraordinary novel, he told us, which he has been since 1947 living alone with, when he finished writing it and was about to publish it. That novel, named The Bricked-Up Windows (Ferestrele zidite), has configured his destiny. In fact, it is yet his destiny! The few close friends which could read the novel say that the narrative style shows a so rigorous and superb formal research, that only can be compared with the biggest writers of the XX century: Kafka, Joyce, Broch or Musil. Along decades, the novelist lived being positive that it would not be never published. However, he went on, taking care about it, considering secretly every detail. His first surprise came when it was published in Romanian in 1993; then it came the translation into French, and now the prize conceded unanimously by a jury composed by Vincenzo Consolo, Luigi Malerba, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Rubem Fonseca and our admired Alvaro Mutis.
Here is considered as well as good as the (re)founding fathers of the novel. Anyway, now you know the same as I know about Alexandru Vona. Although important writers like Marta Petreu (yet I'm asking why, with a little bit of melodrama, that book about Sebastian!) or the briliant Gabriel Dimisianu. Maybe I'll find something in an old book shop in Timisoara, Cluj, Bucarest, Iasi, Transnistria. Ce sa fac?