Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Something is rotten in Bucharest

Clearly there's something problematic going on in the world of Romanian letters, but it's hard to tell exactly what from this piece in the Bucharest Daily News. First it seems to be about regularizing the language itself--a process that the Education Ministry is either impatiently nudging forward or resisting, I couldn't tell. Then the Education Ministry gets it in the neck for its penny-pinching ways, which have led to a rash of low-rent textbooks:
There appeared either history books that insisted on Decebal's sensual lips or the unmistakable hairdo of Andreea Esca or geography books in which the height of the Carpathians appeared with different altitudes. In recent years, during the auctions for the textbooks, the prices crushed the content. The Education Ministry, always with its pockets empty, encouraged the acquiring of manuals at toilet paper prices. Like price, like quality: poor print, unattractive illustrations, anonymous authors.
Decebal (86-107 AD), in case you were wondering, was the ruler of Dacia, who fought off two fierce incursions by the Romans before his kingdom was absorbed into Trajan's empire. His lower lip, at least, does look fairly sensual in this carving. But that's not the point, is it?

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