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"Apparently out of nowhere comes the poetry of Cezar Ivănescu, for there is nothing in the history of Romanian poetry that even remotely resembles what he wrote, to say nothing of the fact that he sang his own poems in a manner that also has no precedent. His destiny is a very sad case of the end of the communist nightmare failing to bring the hoped for changes. To understand what happened to Ivănescu one needs to understand the events of December 1989 and of what followed. Under Ceaușescu’s leadership there had arisen a “new class,” as Milovan Đilas called it, that received certain privileges, such as access to better food without standing in line and the right to live in villas expropriated from their rightful owners in the 1950s, but not the right to own real estate or anything on the scale of what a ruling class would ordinarily expect to own. Ceaușescu in fact actively prevented the members of the “new class” to turn into a class of
owners, a fact they resented, feeling they were in fact worse off than the middle class of the West in financial terms, in particular as its younger generation was no longer satisfied with the sadistic pleasure of intimidating, humiliating, beating, and murdering the members of the previous ruling class, the way their parents had done, but rather were aiming at more hedonistic pursuits. Against the backdrop of popular dissatisfaction with Ceaușescu, the “new class” staged a coup, killed Ceaușescu and his wife, opened up the borders of the country, which ceased to be a prison for the first time since the Soviet occupation, and divided among themselves a large chunk of the wealth of the country, including the villas or mansions they happened to live in. In this way, the revolution that had started in 1948, which had brought the “new class” to power and had expropriated the previous owners, had come to an end, and the families of the have-nots of
1948 had finally become the haves of the 1990s. The leader of this transformation, Ion Iliescu, was a one-time heir apparent of Ceaușescu who had fallen out of favor, and who, in several ways, continued the practices of his mentor, such as the killing of enemies living abroad (in Ceaușescu’s case journalists of Radio Free Europe , such as Cornel Chiriac, and three of its directors, Noel Bernard, Mihail Cismărescu, and Vlad Georgescu, in Iliescu’s case Ioan Petru Culianu, professor of the history of religion at the University of Chicago , assassinated in 1991).
During all this upheaval, Cezar Ivănescu had been able to survive and keep his only job, a part-time position as the editorin- chief of a literary magazine during the communist times, although three times he went on a hunger strike to protest arbitrary decisions by the censors of the day. Yet in 1990, he first lost his job (the only journalist to be fired right after the coup d’état of December 1989), and then, still in 1990, was savagely beaten by the miners dispatched by Iliescu, who descended upon Bucharest to teach intellectuals protesting Iliescu’s rule a lesson with iron clubs. In an interview seven years later, he considered the years since 1990 to have been harder and more dangerous for him than those under the communist rule. In 2006, he was again beaten by “thugs.” In 2008, several prominent members of what used to be, in 1990, the younger generation of the “new class,” accused him, by means of a leak to the press, of having
collaborated with the Securitate, the hated Romanian secret police. Ivănescu, who considered that the libelous leak came from a fellow poet who was on the board of the institution in charge of the files of the Securitate, stopped eating, and died shortly afterwards after a series of medical errors. "
Professor of Mathematics
Arizona State University
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