The book published in Bucharest in 2011 under the title "La masa cu Marx" marks Matei Visniec's return to poetry... "Dinner with Marx" is composed of small poetic pieces that resemble skits. Funny, painful, absurd, fantastic, satirical, often theatrical, always singular, each reminds us that the Romanian writer, exiled in France under Ceausescu, is also a playwright... The author takes us into a universe constantly threatened by loss of meaning and negation of the individual...A bouquet of poems? No, a gathering of stinging nettles.
The silencing of the poet Matei Vișniec by the playwright Matei Vișniec seemed a decade ago an absurd literary crime. The poetry of a strange clarity with which the young man from Rădăuți had stood out since the age of 16 had conquered the connoisseurs of poetry by the power of suggestion, by stylistic elegance and by the fact that it did not resemble anyone else. To be so quickly accepted as an original poet... but choose to pursue the illusory call of drama seemed irresponsible to an objective observer.
What impressed readers from the very beginning is Matei Vișniec’s prodigious capacity to fantasize. An author with
such an imagination was not content just silently to record what surrounded him. The epic and dramatic schemes he manipulates allow him to create the image of a coherent world, which remains more or less the same throughout his poetry... Bogdan Crețu
The book published in Bucharest in 2011 under the title “La masă cu Marx” marks Matei Vișniec’s return to poetry... “Dinner with Marx” is composed of small poetic pieces that resemble skits. Funny, painful, absurd, fantastic, satirical, often theatrical, always singular, each reminds us that the Romanian writer, exiled in France under Ceaușescu, is also a playwright... The author takes us into a universe constantly threatened by loss of meaning and negation of the individual... A bouquet of poems? No, a gathering of stinging nettles. Bruno Doucey
The political poem “Dinner with Marx,” which also provides this book’s title, is not only a lesson about communism but also a painful interrogation of involuntary, powerless collaboration in the inexorable course of history.
Editura Cartea Românească
About The Author
Poet, playwright, novelist and journalist, Matei Vișniec was born on January 29, 1956, in Rădăuți, a small city in the north of Romania. He made his debut as a poet in the cultural review The Evening Star (Luceafărul) in 1972. Later, after moving to Bucharest where he was a student of philosophy, he was among the founders of the Monday Literary Circle led by the prominent critic Nicolae Manolescu. His first book of poetry, a collection entitled Tonight It Will Snow, appeared in 1980 from the publishing house Albatros. Vișniec is the author of five volumes of poetry, six novels and more than 50 plays. He writes his dramas in French and his fiction and
poetry in Romanian. Since 1987 he has lived in France where, from 1990 until his recent retirement, he was a journalist at Radio France Internationale. After the fall of communism in Romania in 1989, Matei Vișniec’s work has been conducted between France and Romania,
between two cultures and two languages, between West and East. His plays have been translated into over 30 languages and staged in many countries. His literary achievements have been recognized by numerous awards, starting with the Poetry Prize of the Writers’ Union of
Romania for his 1984 book, The Wise Man at Teatime. In 2015, he was honored with the Romanian Academy Prize as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Theatre Union of Romania (UNITER). In France he has won the Press Award of the International
Theatre Festival of Avignon several times, the European Prize of the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD), and the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature (2016). Recently he received France’s National Merit Award. In his native Romania, Vișniec has achieved quasi-canonical status since the fall of communism (his work was banned prior to 1989); many theatres stage his work on an ongoing basis, and the recently founded Municipal Theatre of Suceava was named the Matei Vișniec Theatre. Books of his drama (as well as one novel) have come out in English from Seagull Books and Bloomsbury Press in 2009, 2020, and 2021.
About the Translators
Adam J. Sorkin, recently described by Asymptote Journal as a “star translator,” has more than seventy books of contemporary Romanian literature published and in press. In 2020, his books included Cousin Shakespeare: A Tragedy in Five Acts by Marin Sorescu, translated with Lidia Vianu, A Spider’s History of Love by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated with multiple co-translators (New Meridian Arts), and Lavinia and Her Daughters by Ioana Ieronim, translated with the author (Červená Barva Press). In 2021, Sorkin published Quarantine Songs by Carmen Firan and Adrian Sângeorzan, translated with Alexandra Carides (New Meridian Arts), and Night with a Pocketful of Stones by Traian T. Coșovei, translated with Andreea Iulia Scridon (Broken Sleep Books [UK]). In 2023 thus far, Sorkin has put into print Dangerous Caprices by Nora Iuga, translated with Diana Manole (Naked Eye Publishing [UK]), and California (on the Someș) by Ruxandra Cesereanu and translated with her (Black Widow Press). Sorkin’s translations have won the UK Poetry Society’s Popescu Prize for Marin Sorescu’s last collection of poetry, The Bridge, as well as second prize in the John Dryden Translation Competition [UK]. His other awards feature the Kenneth Rexroth, Ioan Flora and Poesis prizes. For his translation activities, he has been granted Fulbright, Rockefeller Foundation, Arts Council of England, New
York State Arts Council, Academy of American Poets, Soros Foundation, Romanian Cultural Institute and NEA support. Sorkin is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, Penn State Brandywine.
Lidia Vianu, a poet, novelist, critic and translator, is Professor Emeritus of Modernist and Contemporary British Literature at the University of Bucharest, where she is Director of the publishing house Contemporary Literature Press and the eZine Translation Café.
She has been Fulbright professor at both the University of California Berkeley and SUNY Binghamton. Vianu has published more than twenty books of literary criticism, notably The AfterMode and T.S. Eliot: An Author for All Seasons. She has also authored English learning manuals and translated extensively into English and into Romanian. Her translations number among them Marin Sorescu’s The Bridge in a co-translation with Sorkin, which won the 2005 Poetry Society (UK) Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. Vianu has published both in Romania and abroad; her notable books include a collection of interviews
with Romanian authors along with samples of their work, Censorship in Romania (Central European University, 1997). She translated Eugen Simion’s critical volume The Return of the Author (Northwestern University Press, 1998). The most recent of the five volumes
of her own poetry that Lidia Vianu has published is The Wind and the Seagull (Eikon Publishing House, 2022).