Author: Ion Luca Caragiale
(1852 – 1912)
Ion Luca Caragiale is far and away Romania’s greatest and most beloved playwright; and that’s quite a mouthful to say, given that Eugene Ionesco formed himself and started his writing career in Romania, too.
At times humorous, at times sarcastic, now caustic, and now ironic, Caragiale laughs at an entire range of human foibles, at lack of education, at empty vanities, at political ambitions, as well as at cuckold husbands. And yet, when all is said and done, Caragiale doesn’t crush his literary children, but rather wraps all his less-than-perfect characters in a cocoon of amused tenderness… You can almost see the Great Puppet Master create his characters then sit back and watch them with a smirk on his face.
Caragiale is quoted by Romanians in their daily lives more than any other authors and the Bible put together. Consider the following quotes from his best known play, A Lost Letter:
Yapper: How long must we wait to get our own, home-grown bankruptcies?
Or: Doddery: (My son says,) Poppa, where there’s no mow-rality, there’s corruption, and a sow-ciety without principles, it flat out don’t have them!”
Or: Handsom: Ridiculous!
Turnip: Clean ridiculous!
Hansom: The scoundrel!
Turnip: Clean scoundrel!
Hansom: The filthy dog!
Turnip: Clean filthy!
Or: Turnip: Now, ain’t my poor wife right when she says, she goes, “Boris, Boris, carry their buckets and fill your pockets, because them with a full belly won’t hear the rumblins comin’ from your own empty one…”
Or: McPlatter: Take your pick, if you will! If it’s revision you want, I’m all for it! But then let’s not us change one single thing! On the other hand, if it is not revision that you want, I’m all for it, too, but then, some changes must be made here and there, namely in the essential… parts… This is a dilemma that you cannot possibly escape!
From: Don Leonidas and the Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy:
Leonidas: The minute she hears me bring up freedom, the deceased jumps outta bed, too…
Or: Ephtimia: If nobody pays taxes, where’s the folk salaries gonna come from, sis?
Leonidas: (fighting sleep) That’s the Government’s problem, sir, what other business have they got? That’s why we got the Government in the first place. It’s their duty to make sure folks get salaries on time.
With a “father” like that, is it any wonder the theater of the absurd and the dada movement were born in Romania?
With the exception of some very feeble attempts, for almost an entire century, amazingly, unbelievably, Caragiale was not translated into English.
www.Translators-Pantheon.com offers now most of Ion Luca Caragiale’s plays and some twenty of his sketches, and short stories.
Read them and enjoy them.