Tuesday 23 March 2010

John Reed in Romania

John Reed the extreme left-wing American journalist who wrote 'Ten Days that Shook the World' an inaccurate and admiring account of the October Revolution did not like Bucharest where he spent two months:
"The Rumanian... speaks a Latin language strongly impregnated with Slavic and Asiatic roots -- an inflexible tongue to use, and harsh and unmusical to the ear.
And he has Latin traits: excitability, candour, wit, and a talent for hysterical argument in critical situations. He is lazy and proud, like a Spaniard, but without a Spaniard's flavour; sceptical and libertine, like a Frenchman, but without a Frenchman's taste; melodramatic and emotional, like an Italian, without Italian charm. One good observer has called Rumanians 'bad Frenchmen' and another 'Italianized gypsies'."
"Shopkeepers and cabmen and waiters in restaurants are thieving and ungracious; if they can't cheat you they fly into an ugly rage and scream like angry monkeys. How many times have Rumanian friends said to me: don't go to so-and-so's shop, he's Rumanian and will cheat you. Find a French or a German place...
"There is nothing original about [Bucharest], nothing individual. Everything is borrowed. A dinky little German King lives in a dinky little palace that looks like a French Prefecture, surrounded by a pompous little court. The government is modelled on that of Belgium... Frenchified little policemen bully the market-bound peasants, who dare to drive across the Callea Victoria and interrupt the procession of kept women. Cabarets and music-halls are like the less amusing places on Montmartre; you can see Revues based on dull French ones... A surface coating of French frivolity covers everything -- without meaning and without charm."

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