Caragiale: Eternal truths revealed by mediocre people

Hotel Paradise: Heaven doesn't get better than this

Hotel Paradise: Heaven doesn’t get better than this

In my new social position, a question imposed itself on me, a burning question: You, as a teacher, what kind of method do you practise, the rational method, or the intuitive method? There have been many and detailed discussions in competent circles about these two methods, arguing for, badly and against; as for myself, after a long and mature experience, I cannot practise any other method but the national-intuitive method.     [Shakes the rod] In noua mea pozitie sociala o intrebare mi se impunea, o intrebare arzatoare: ma rog, d-ta ca pedagog, ce metoda profesezi, metoda rationala, sau metoda intuitiva? S-a vorbit multe si marunte in cercurile competente, asupra acestor doua metode, s-a argumentat prost si contra; eu, dupa o indelungata si matura esperienta, nu pot sa profesez alta metoda, decat metoda intuitiva nationala. (Tremura nuiaua.)

Mediocrity can be exasperating when you have to confront it head-on, but in Art it has the advantage of revealing to us the true face of Reality:

We (=humans) are more or less groping our way around.

Above and below you can read my translation of some illuminating fragments from an otherwise-unremarkable play co-authored by a Romanian playwright named Caragiale.

My dear friend, I bow to you with brotherly love! First of all, I should not fail to inquire about your health, if you are well and happy, because I, as the Creator is merciful, I am really bad. I am so wretched that, even if I know that  you are (rightly) cross with me, I plunge ahead and write you this letter, first of all to ask your forgiveness for not heeding your advice and upsetting you, and secondly to kindly ask you for a favour.My dear friend, the cares of married life have bristled all my nerves and will soon make me bald, unless I decide to use some medicine. My wife’s hysterics, the children’s cries, the old hag nagging me… and above them all, an unfortunate pledge I made in a moment of weakness that I will never drink or go hunting again have brought me to a stage, which can no longer be suffered. I am wretched, passing all bounds.

So I’ve decided to do myself in, after I shall have made merry once more in my cellar, breaking my vows and then travelling to that other realm, where all pleasures and joys of married life are completely forbidden, and damn it all!

Therefore, in this grave moment, please, if you are still alive, come tomorrow evening to my cellar so that we can drink the night away again, forgive each other and part like brave men, or, if you have died, do reply at once so I know and do not wait for you in vain…

Yours, as always, Baltag

“Ma-nchin tie cu frateasca dragoste, iubite comise! Mai intai nu lipsesc a cerceta despre scumpa ta sanatate, daca te afli bine si multumit, ca eu, de la mila Ziditorului, ma aflu rau de tot. Asa sunt de apelipsit, incat, desi te stiu, cu bun drept, foc si para asupra-mi, imi iau inima in dinti si-ti scriu aceasta carte, mai intai ca sa-mi cer iertare ca nu ti-am ascultat sfaturile si te-am suparat, s-apoi ca sa te rog de ceva. Stacane, necazurile casniciei mi-au zbarlit toti nervii, si in curand are sa ma cheleasca, daca nu ma voi hotari a-ntrebuinta vreo doctorie. Istericalele nevestei, tipetele copiilor, cicaliturile viespei batrane… si mai presus de toate un juramant nenorocit pe care l-am facut intr-un moment de slabiciune, ca adica sa nu mai beau si sa nu mai vanez, m-au adus intr-o stare, ce nu mai poate fi de suferit. Sunt apelepsit, peste orice inchipuire.

Si m-am hotarat deci sa-mi fac sama singur, dupa ce voi mai petrece o data in pivnita mea, imi calc juramantul si plec pe ceea lume, unde sunt cu totul oprite placerile si fericirile casniciei, si fie ce-o fi!

Asadar, in astfel de grav minut, te rog, daca mai traiesti, vino mane sara in pivnita sa mai petrecem o data impreuna, sa ne iertam si sa ne despartim ca viteji, sau daca ai murit, incalte raspunde-mi pe data ca sa stiu, sa nu te mai astept…

Al tau ca in tinerete, Baltag.


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