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A Romanian master’s fantastical visions

A nightmare vision of oppression from one of the country's most eminent novelists has finally reached Britain. It’s been long overdue

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life,” Hemingway said in 1954 when he received the Nobel Prize. The writer “grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

For Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu, a self-confessed solipsist, facing the eternity of his own thoughts is not a problem. In 2012, at the age of 56, he said that, “I have only expressed the tenth part of what’s in my mind.” The first 33 years of his life were spent in the shadow of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communist regime and his entrenched Securitate, or secret police. Citizens were urged to spy on their neighbours as well as friends. At its highest number, there were 500,000 informants in a population of…

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