On Clowns: The Dictator and the Artist: Essays

Norman Manea, Author Grove/Atlantic $0 (178p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1415-0
Manea, who emigrated to the West in 1986, portrays life under Nicolae Ceausescu's dictatorship in Romania as a ``sinister carnival,'' a nightmarish Fellini movie. The country, governed by the dictator and his police ``like a penal colony,'' was nevertheless not totally monolithic, but instead full of ``ambiguity and duplicity, masks and falsehood.'' These elegant, outspoken essays explore the relationship between the writer, the state bureaucracy with its treacherous censorship and the ``not-so-innocent masses'' who accommodated themselves to lies and repression. Life was a state of permanent suspension, of cunning and silence, for the person with integrity and for the creative artist. Manea offers an intriguing expose of Mircea Eliade, historian of religion, as fascist sympathizer and right-wing ideologue. He names names in an autopsy of Ceausescu's ``hit squad,'' the special guard that enforced cultural conformity through denunciation of ``foreigners,'' ``liberals'' and ``European types.'' (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-8021-3375-5
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