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This review is taken from PN Review 145, Volume 28 Number 5, May - June 2002.

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE MARIN SORESCU, Censored Poems, translated by John Hartley Williams and Hilde Ottschofski (Bloodaxe) £8.95

The poems of Marin Sorescu (1936-96) have long appealed to those who like their ice dry, with the gin and tonic close by for use in an emergency. It was in what were in effect emergency circumstances - the worsening absurdities of the Ceausescu years - that Sorescu wrote what are here presented as Censored Poems, taken from two collections mostly written before 1989. On being left with little alternative but to live and write in such 'inner emigration' as conditions permitted, clearly some eminently human self-censorship took place.

If you already know Sorescu by way of Selected Poems (Bloodaxe 1983; reviewed in PNR 42), or the multi-version translations of The Biggest Egg in the World (Bloodaxe 1987), these Censored Poems will not greatly surprise you, though you might legitimately be surprised that any modern, developed nation could think them dangerous. In reality, of course, the Romanian authorities were only concerned with political expediency and not in the least concerned with any potential weakening of the country's moral fibre - there was perhaps (Sorescu often implies) not enough of that left to be worried about. What may perhaps surprise us here is how many of the poems gravitate towards the traditional form of the sonnet, or seem (given the absence of all but one of the Romanian originals) so to do, as if Sorescu wanted to let the shadow of an ancient 'conventional' form fall across modern versions and perversions of it.

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