Society and Culture in East-Central Europe

Lena Constante, Author, Franklin Philip, Translator, Gail Kligman, Introduction by
Lena Constante, Author, Franklin Philip, Translator, Gail Kligman, Introduction by University of California Press $39.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-520-08209-0
Reviewed on: 04/10/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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Romanian artist Constante and her companion, Harry Brauner, an ethnomusicologist, were caught in the dragnet for the show trial of Romanian Minister of Justice Lucretiu Patrascanu in 1954. Patrascanu was convicted of treason and executed; Constante was sentenced to l2 years' imprisonment--as was Brauner--with five years deducted for the period she was detained while awaiting trial. In this expressive, desolate memoir, she recreates the test to her spirit of the solitary confinement she endured for seven years: ``For 576,000 minutes I was subjected to this assault... 288,000 times,'' she writes of the surveillance at the peephole of her cell. After her conviction, prison became marginally more endurable when she mastered the technique of ``talking'' to other prisoners--23 taps on the wall, for example, conveyed the letter w. At the end of this volume, Constante is moved into a communal cell--her experiences in which, she says, she will recount in another book. She also tells us that she was released in 1961 and exonerated in 1968. (Apr.)
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