George Topîrceanu

George Topîrceanu (March 20 1886–May 7 1937) was a Romanian poet, short story writer, and humourist.

Biography

Born in Bucharest, Topîrceanu began his schooling in the city, and then moved to the hilly countryside of the Argeş county, in the Şuici commune, where he formed his taste for themes taken from nature. After completing secondary studies, he attended the University of Bucharest Law School, and then its Faculty of Letters, without ever finishing either. This was largely due to a hectic lifestyle punctuated by numerous affairs and heavy alcohol use.

His debut came in 1905, the year he published his first verses in Sunday papers and minor magazines; in 1909, he managed to have poems featured in major periodicals, such as "Sămănătorul". He worked in handcopying, and in 1909 made his mark by having his satirical "Răspunsul micilor funcţionari" ("A Reply from the Minor Civil Servants") in "Viaţa Românească". In 1911 he moved to Iaşi, on Garabet Ibrăileanu's invitation, and became chief editor at "Viaţa Românească". He later wrote his well-received articles - "Cum am devenit moldovean" ("How I Became a Moldavia Native") and "Cum am devenit ieşean" ("How I Became a Iaşi Native") which trace his meanderings within Romania.

In 1912, he married a young schoolteacher, Victoria Iuga. They had one son, Gheorghe. Although the two were very much in love, the marriage soon began to crumble, due to Topîrceanu's bouts of womanizing and alcoholism. Unable to redeem himself, George nonetheless suffered enormously, and the gradual distancing from Victoria, whom he will repeatedly refer to as his "one saving grace", also impacted on his literary output.

With the beginning of World War I, Topîrceanu was drafted, then caught and imprisoned by Bulgarian forces at the Battle of Turtucaia, in September 1916. He was kept in a POW camp until the end of the war, in 1918. After his return, Topîrceanu published a volume of wartime recollections - it is, among others, a vivid depiction of the profound effects of the cholera epidemic had on the morale of Romanian troops during their attempted retreat.

He began publishing short verses to increasing critical acclaim. In 1926, he was awarded the National Poetry Prize.

He died of liver cancer in Iaşi.

Works

Poetry

His three main volumes of poetry, "Balade vesele şi triste" ("Ballads, Merry and Sad"), "Parodii originale" ("Original Parodies") and "Migdale amare" ("Bitter Almonds"), are a compelling mixture of humor and delicate lyricism. Topîrceanu's favorite device is to switch, without warning, from biting sarcasm to genuine sentiment and vice versa, often with beguiling ease. In his own words he aimed to: "through jest, render tears all too clear".

Topîrceanu's most celebrated pieces, such as "Balada unui greier mic" ("The Ballad of a Tiny Cricket") and "Rapsodii de toamnă" ("Fall Rhapsodies") can be enjoyed for their flowing verse, on an infantile level, as well as appreciated for carefully constructed metaphors, incisive humor and contemplative ambiance. Other, more muscular and less lyrical pieces such as "Acceleratul" ("The Bullet Train") and "Cioara" ("The Crow"), display his command of the Romanian language, with cascading similes and emphatic rhythms.

Prose

In addition to his many satirical pieces, almost all first published as articles, Topîrceanu left an unfinished novella, "Minunile Sfântului Sisoe" ("Venerable Sisoes' Miraculous Works").


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