Phanariot by Victor Gingiu
Does Nostalgia confine the evolution of the City?
D o i n a R u ș t i
Behind every sadness there’s an inner call to arms. You refuse to return to the same old space; what you need is rebuilding the one inside your mind. When a person's heart lets in the love for a building that used to be, when the reverence for a street never before seen or even the obsession with a perfume only ever found in books overwhelms them, then that person is granted the invaluable power of spreading the feeling. And we’re not talking here about the dreams of paranoiacs or fanatics, but about the power held by tradition and by the pride rooted in having commendable ancestors. I read somewhere that there’s a bridge in Bucharest named Cilibiului, but not even for a second did I believe that this name came from Constantin Cantacuzino (stolnic), as various historians had claimed. Why would have anyone called the stolnic “pretty” or “dandy”? And in Turkish no less! Instead, I remembered that in 1666 Evliya Çelebi was visiting Bucharest, not long after she had recorded the experiment of the rocket-man, whose name was also Çelebi. Moreover, also in 1666, a princely wedding took place, and various shows were held around the area of the bridge. The events featured actors and acrobats and everything is thoroughly described in the Băleni Chronicle. And that is what prompts the reverie, that inebriant fantasy that scatters any trace of regret. What good does nostalgia do you if not making sadness blossom? The showmen had filled the banks of Dambovita, and among them were the imitators of the rocket-man, plus that nobleman (cilibiu), immortalized in the chronicles, a Hindu who could run on a rolled-up turban and pass unseen through the intertwined arms of people, leaving the townsfolk of Bucharest gawking. The stolnic was then 25 years old, had just arrived from Adrianople and was getting ready to travel to Padua the following year, in order to finish his studies. Was he a beau nobleman, a cilibiu? Of course he was.
Doina Ruști, among the most important contemporary Romanian writers, is unanimously appreciated for epic force, for originality and erudition of her novels. Award winning and translated into many languages, she wrote ten novels, including: Fantoma din moară (The Phantom in the Mill, 2008), Manuscrisul fanariot (The Phanariot Manuscript, 2015), Lizoanca (2009), Zogru (2006), and Mâța Vinerii (The Book of Perilous Dishes, 2017).
Doina Ruști lives in Bucharest, and is a university professor and screenwriter. Website: http://doinarusti.ro