Aura Christi Aura Christi is a poet, novelist and essayist, born in Chişinău (Republic of Moldova), on January 12, 1967. She received her A-Level Certificate from the “Gh. Asachi” Romanian-French High School (1984) and has a degree in Media Studies from the State University (1990).

Biography

1983 was the year of her debut;  ten years later, she moved to Bucharest. In 2009 she settled in the legendary Mogoshoaia from the suburbs of Bucharest, with its Brancoveanu Palace, dedicating her life exclusively to literature. She is one of the most important and most challenging contemporary Romanian writers, and a contributor to the country’s most prestigious reviews and publishing houses. Her poems have been translated and published in Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Russia, the United States of America, Bulgaria, Albania. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Contemporanul review, one of the oldest in Romania (1881), which she has revived as a successful monthly. In 2006 Aura Christi launched an Appeal for the Salvation of the Living Romanian Culture, signed by approximately 900 Romanian personalities throughout the world.

She is a member of the English Writers’ Union and of the PEN Club.

Reputed publishers outside Romania brought out books by Aura Christi, such as: Geflüster / Șoptirea (Whispering), a bilingual German-English collection of poems, translated into German by Christian W. Schenk, Dionysos Verlag (Germany), 1994; Elegien aus der Kälte / Sfera frigului (Sphere of Cold), trans. Edith Konradt, Pop Verlag, 2008 (Germany); Arkitektura e natës / Arhitectura nopții (Architecture of the Night), Kopi Kyçyku, 2008 (Albania).

In The Letters’ Symposium, Aura Christi interviews personalities of Romanian culture. As an editor, she has published Colloquies on the Romanian Novel (2001), Breban · 70 (2004), The Shock of the World-Changing Crisis (2011), etc. In 2012 she launched a literary Manifesto, entitled “The Resurrection of Modernism”, in which she is pleading for the rebirth of Romanian literature through a return to its modernity. She has published over twenty books.

Works:

Poems:

  • On the Other Side of Shadow, 1993
  • Against Myself, 1995
  • The Rite of Going Blind, 1996
  • The Kings’ Valley, 1996
  • Touch Me Not, 1997, 1999
  • The Last Wall, 1999
  • Imperial Lilies, 1999
  • Elegies of the North, 2002
  • The Book of Temptation, 2003
  • Devouring Eye, 2004, 2010
  • Sphere of Cold, 2011

Essays:

  • Bits of Being, 1998
  • Exile’s Labyrinth, 2000, 2005
  • The Other Side, 2005
  • Religion of the Living, 2007
  • Three Thousand Signs, 2007
  • Exercises in Destiny, 2007
  • Hunger of Being, 2010
  • Nietzsche and the Great Noon, 2011

Novels:

  • Night Eagle, a Tetralogy.
    • Vol. I: The Sculptor, 2001, 2004;
    • Vol. II: The Stranger’s Night, 2004;
    • Vol. III: The Big Games, 2006;
    • Vol. IV: The Lambs’ Snow, 2007;
  • House of Darkness,  2008
  • Savage Circle, 2010

Albums of Glossed Photographs:

  • Europe at Home (2010)
  • The Planet Israel (2010)
  • The Great Gorduz (2011)

Literary Awards:

  • The Arts Ministry’s Award for Poetry, 1993
  • The Romanian Academy’s Award for Poetry, 1996
  • The Romanian Writers’ Union Award for Poetry, 1997
  • The Vinea Publishers’ Award for Poetry, 1997
  • The Moldavian Writers’ Union Award for Essay Writing, 1998
  • The “Ion Şiugariu” Award for Poetry, 1999
  • Awards for Fiction (The Sculptor, a novel) from the “Tomis” review and from the Dobrudja Romanian Writers’ Association
  • Poetry Award from the Antares review, 2003
  • Fiction Award for The Stranger’s Night, a novel, from the Convorbiri literare review, 2004
  • The “Author of the Year” Award from the Romanian Association of Literary Reviews and Publishers, 2007
  • Fiction Award for House of Darkness from the Poesis review, 2008
  • The “Opera Omnia for Poetry” Award of the Romanian-Canadian “Roland Gasparic” Festival, 2009

Affiliations

Further reading

  • Sorin Alexandrescu, Une anthologie de la poésie moldave, transl. by Odile Serre and Alain Paruit, English version by Cornelia Golna, Paris: L’Esprit des Péninsules, 1996
  • Nicolae Ţone, Aura Christi, Nu mă atinge, second edition, Ed. Vinea, 1999
  • Marin Mincu, Poeticitate românească postbelică, Ed. Pontica, 2000
  • Ion Bogdan Lefter, Scriitori români din anii ‘80-’90. Dicţionar bio-bibliografic, Ed. Paralela 45, 2001
  • Henri Zalis, O istorie condensată a literaturii române (1880-2000), Ed. Bibliotheca, 2005
  • Dicţionarul general al literaturii române, Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, 2006
  • Aurel Sasu, Dicţionarul biografic al literaturii române, Ed. Paralela 45, 2006
  • Ion Ianoşi, Marile jocuri, postfaţă, Ed. Ideea Europeană, 2007
  • Irina Petraş, Marile jocuri, postfaţă, Ed. Ideea Europeană, 2007
  • Irina Petraş, Cărţi de ieri şi de azi, Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă, 2007
  • Irina Petraş, Literatura română contemporană. O panoramă, Ed. Ideea Europeană, 2008
  • Ion Rotaru, O istorie a literaturii române de la origini până în prezent, Ed. Tempus, 2009

External links

Critical References

Poems:

(Romanian) “Aura Christi attacks the serious and eternal themes of poetry head-on, with the awareness that the experience she has gained provides her with the depth and authenticity necessary for the success of this attempt. (…) Beyond time and fads, fervently acting her life and living her poems against her own self, Aura Christi – who could always come under attack exactly because she is so formidable – may be one of the survivor-witnesses of a world undergoing constant degradations; a consequence of this survival will be that given her intractable self, she will resume her role as the slayer of all things shallow.” (Ioan Es. Pop)

(Romanian) “Aura Christi is a poet, novelist and essayist of remarkable originality, who has become a household name over the past two post-communist decades. She writes eclectic poetry, reviving classicism, mannerism, the baroque or romanticism and anchoring herself in modernism, albeit without all the exclusivisms of contemporaneity. While turning a blind ear to the rhetoric of intolerant, metonymic postmodern poetry, Aura Christi continues to offer the reader a metaphorical feast by using the rhetorical criterion as a beacon and revealing how a trope can come to impose a poetic model. Psalms coexist with a harsh, expressionist vision. The universe and the language have tragic twists in poetical narratives that are both crude and fabulous, quasi-mythical. Death is a familiar presence, poignant in terms of sight and smell. Myth is present here as a self-fashioning game.” (Marian Victor Buciu)

(Romanian) “Here is, in the words of Aura Christi, flowing abundantly from hidden sources, the vivifying fluid of poetry, so we should not be afraid of the rhetoric of capitalization, of great Poetry.” (Nicolae Balota)

● “Many of Aura Christi’s commentators have pointed out the ‘explosive rise’ of the poet. Penetrating, Aura Christi had the chance to be seen in the Bucharest milieus. But beyond her valuable substance, the poet’s merits also reside in her tenacious self-construction, bent on programmatically promoting ‘the schism’.” (Adrian Dinu Rachieru)

(French) “Aura Christi is one who possesses the deepest sense of the tragic. Her lyrical discourse, of exceptional verbal and imaginative force, does not avoid pathos, found to a lesser extent in the texts chosen here, making thus an exception from the general rule detected for the 1980s’ generation. The exile of the individual and that of the spirit overlap: ‘I come from the Siberiad of defeats, from the Satania of the unknown,/ (…) I come from the foreignness of my own exile,/ from the excruciating wilderness of self-awareness’.” (Place intangible). (Sorin Alexandrescu)

(Romanian) “Proudly titanic, the Elegies written by Aura Christi probe the divine identity of the poet, of the being in relation to the self, and they are never separated from a subjective participation, even if it is one that engages an ahistorical subject. (…) Most often, however, this subjective participation is raised onto the pedestal of an incandescent idea. These poems about God, death and poetry are all written under the sign of a somewhat instinctive participation in the mystery of existence itself, of positioning oneself in pain. In all, a hymnal, solar, solemn poetry, with rough syntactical seams, as if deliberately refusing shallow rhythms, and being grounded on the cornerstones of devotion and of a creed that is fervently upheld, almost to the point of fanaticism. Throughout Aura Christi’s poetry, which is unique in terms of its themes and expression, and in which the self adheres to an elevated didacticism, attitudes materialize in a Titanism in which divine praise and self-dissolution are the face and the reverse of one and the same discourse. This is why in their severity, the statements sometimes sound brutal, revealing that her entire lyrical work is written as poetry of conception (…).

In all, a poetry whose lyricism is deliberately carved in stone with a chisel, spouting forth an interrogative-hymnic lyricism, a heroic engagement of the self that assists in the metamorphosis of any absence into presence and of any nostalgia into exultation.” (Mircea A. Diaconu)

Critical References

Essays:

(Romanian) Dostoyevsky – Nietzsche is an essay that, along with others, though not too many, from here or elsewhere, connects us to the imperial past of Europe, that ‘Kingdom of the spirit’ that Faustus invokes. And its author, a romantic in classical garment, a sovereign among the sovereigns of her time, who prophesied for the first time Europe’s cultural unity.” (Nicolae Breban)

(Romanian) “Descended from Bessarabia, from a family in which bilingualism was a fruitful tradition that enabled the powerful effluvia of Russian literature to mould her subconscious, Aura Christi has assumed her exile as a royal chance to walk among the elect: ‘I come from the foreignness of my own exile,/ from the excruciating wilderness of self-awareness’.” (Tatiana Radulescu)

● “The last chapter […] , which focuses on a mystery of eerie charm, the mystery of Mishkin’s ‘idiocy’, may be called a masterpiece without any doubt or reserve. The essayist dares to change the perspective on a famous and cryptic character, covered in overlays of exegesis, often forgotten by the new generations of European critics, and surprises her readership through unexpected associations and revisions in sharp contrast with dry academic discourses. Admirable are also her candour and irrepressible need to understand values which are symptomatic features of the authentic, creative mind. Eternal and permanently modern values, actual and also outside time, defying fashions, passing trends concocted mostly in universities, filled with their stuffy air and finding release in naive and improvised positions. The need to put an end to confusion, to decadence and the decay of values in Continental art and science will now and then force overt protests through clenched teeth and muted mouths. This is an essay which, along with a few others, connects us with that past of Imperial Europe, that ‘kingdom of the spirit’ mentioned by Faustus, as well as with the author, the romantic in classical guise who prophesied the cultural union of Europe for the first time”  (Nicolae Breban, România literară, nr. 46, 2012).

Critical References

Novels:

Presentations ● critical references (selection)

The tetralogy Night Eagle

● Vol. I: The Sculptor, 2001, 2004

The first volume of the novelistic tetralogy Night Eagle features, at the heart of the narrative, the sculptor Andrei Rogujiv, who is working on the anniversary portrait of a famous professor. The atmosphere is tense, the air is thin, and the protagonists are caught in the middle of an identity crisis, as they attempt to regain their balance in a society that has lost its bearings.

The four novels – The Sculptor, The Stranger’s Night, The Big Games and The Lambs’ Snow – form a tetralogy entitled Night Eagle. Although they are part of a vast narrative structure, each novel represents a distinct narrative entity.

References

♦ “Aura Christi has many virtues. The force of a many-tiered composition. Her personal impact, for she is well read and exhibits a vigorous inventiveness. Lithe means of characterization. A style adapted to expressive needs.” (Ion Ianoşi)

♦ “The novelistic body is marked by originality and – the biggest gain – it has a style of its own. It is unclassifiable in terms of Manolescu’s Doric-Ionic-Corinthian triad. But, unlike other recent writings, it makes all three of them throb.” (Nicoleta Sălcudeanu)

 

● Vol. II: The Stranger’s Night, 2004;

The tetralogy focuses on a Renaissance theme: the master-apprentice relationship. The subject is anchored in the reality of post-communist Romania, which has been marked by a transition oftentimes undermined by false issues and false crises, while the real crises (for instance, those of values ​​or models) lie in hiding, lurking and causing havoc. The Stranger’s Night begins with a disconcerting story. The novelist confesses that a few years ago she glanced at “the first page of a Romanian daily which reproduced, in less than twenty lines, in a column, the story of the fall of a psychology student. Having been left alone at home, his parents being absent, a student who was in his final year, apparently, at the Faculty of Psychology dug a tunnel… in the house, without using a spade. Without resorting to anything that might have aided him in his incredible undertaking. He dug with his hands, with his nails, out of despair, for about seven meters, after having dismantled the floor, piece by piece. He was later subjected to a psychiatric examination, the specialists noting that the young subterraneanist was… perfectly sane. The news, at that time, dug a hole through my head. It was unbelievable. I reread it several times with the feeling that I was dreaming; and the more I make an effort to wake up, the more the result turned out to be exactly the opposite of what I expected: I sank further and further down into the unseeable waters of that dream, starting too, amazingly, to dig my own underground. My own underground. With the feeling I had become, overnight, the ruler of an empire. The story of Theodor Volceakovsky – a parabolic novel – with which my novel The Stranger’s Night begins is real; in vain have I tried to explain to a few friends of mine that this is not a fantastic novel. The story seems to tell itself, with the underground tunnel Theo digs, around a motif that returns obsessively, like a musical phrase: ‘Where their hatred stops, my foreignness begins.’”

References

“An indisputable literary destiny. A destiny Aura Christi assumes. Furthermore, she builds it herself, whatever the sacrifice.” (Nicolae Balotă)

 

● Vol. III: The Big Games, 2006

A novel about murder, debauchery and pathological eroticism, which founders – in Stoic-like manner – in a suicide regarded as fulfillment through death. A dark novel, with culprits lost in the thickets of immorality, with incestuous siblings and saints who are defeated by the death of their loved ones, yet chanting, nonetheless – from the Dostoyevskian underground – about the will to power, the will to believe in a decrepit world, lost in the valley of an endless decline.

References

“Through its third and penultimate volume, Night Eagle reveals itself as an ambitious Bildungsroman, with vast outstanding passages about the complicated master-disciple relationship; about the need for autonomy being as acute as that of belonging – the young man being equally hounded by the murky callings of his unfinished being and the need to walk on a safe trail; about art as a modus vivendi, about the auroral and the crepuscular, about dyingness and its words, about the always weightless ties of blood and thought. Against the backdrop of a neatly woven, thrilling plot, the reader will be able to discover, with the delight that only story-telling may impart, that Aura Christi’s big games are, once again, overwhelming.” (Irina Petras)

 

● Vol. IV: The Lambs’ Snow, 2007

The entire novelistic corpus is packed with stories strewn with the unpredictable, both real and fantastic at the same time, with suicides, dramas, insoluble situations, sudden reversals that exceed all calculations, and destinies turned upside down. Aura Christi proposes epic-scale narrative projects, approaching motifs like the master-disciple relationship, for instance, lifedeath, love, and sacrifice – all major themes of literature.

References

♦ “Although she writes polyphonic novels, Christi does not exclude spectacular stories with a tense plot, filled with suspense, and told alternatively from the perspective of the protagonist-narrator and from that of the character-reflector. The novelist excels at portraiture, her diverse characters being characterized through lithe, refined means. The descriptions lend the landscape poetic notes (…). Through evocations and vast emotional recollections, the author goes down the other side, exploring the human in its innermost recesses. The stylistic register of maximum expressiveness absorbs all the resources of language and of the literary genres, the narrative, the lyrical, the dramatic, the epistolary (…). A modern, perfectionist novelist, vacillating between the serene and the tragic, between the serious and the playful, between the Apollonian and the Dionysian.” (Ironim Muntean)

♦ “From a would-be outsider of the 1990s’ generation, Aura Christi has turned out to become an overtowering figure among her congeners, recuperating (literary) ground through rather a spectacular coming of age.” (Mihail Galatanu, Flacara, March 2008).

 

House of Darkness, 2008

This is the history of Matei Naidin, a post-adolescent, fatherless young man who refuses regimentation and chooses Semion Ruda, a professor and a specialist in the history of mentalities, as his master. A mock detective novel, with a classic scenario of initiation, packed with biblical symbols, a novel that is read with bated breath, focusing on a major theme, the master-apprentice relationship, and probing the essential reality of being. When it came out, the novel had contradictory reviews, ranging from denial to unconditional praise, which has ensured its success.

References

“Aura Christi’s novel House of Darkness is not necessarily a romance, at least not in the current sense of that kind of… story. It is much more. In it the author speaks about moral failure and decay, purification and exorcization, about today’s man acquiring identity and dignity. It is a novel about the discovery of the individual’s pure inner life, beyond all the derisory pitfalls of the morally defiled society in which we live today.” (Constantin Cubleșan)

♦ “Daily life is interiorized, and the suspense-generating tensions are channeled towards the same urgent need to become. Aura Christi’s heroes are creatures in between worlds, in between ages, in between shores.” (Irina Ciobotaru)

♦ “The author’s manifest intention is to explore the characters to the depths of their being, so it is not the plot that takes center stage, but the characters.” (Bogdan Mihai Dascălu)

♦ “A text written by a scholar with readings from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Jung and Dostoevsky, whose works she has explored in depth, thoroughly. Consequently, it is a novel in which symbols appear everywhere, encoded in the text, with the technique of a hermeneutic modernism that cannot be removed from the equation (…). From a purely technical standpoint, this is a Bildungsroman  grafted on a classic scenario of initiation: the young Matei (all the names are taken from the Bible…) internalizes, in heartrending, dramatic fashion, the premature death of his father, David, dead in a car accident on the Olt Valley, and is in open conflict with his mother, Riri, a pragmatic woman who is nonetheless afflicted by a shortage of human warmth, masked by nervousness. Matei channels his entire affection onto the compensatory figure of his grandfather, Grig, who also dies towards the end of the novel, and on that of Professor Semion Ruda, a refined, elevated, aristocratic fellow-citizen and ‘surrogate father’. It is to the latter, ultimately, that the novel’s protagonist – the future student in philosophy – owes his intellectual revival and literary training as a novelist, as he discovers his compensatory talent for writing somewhat without premeditation or incentives from outside, as the inner effervescence of his own being.” (Stefan Borbély)

 

Savage Circle, 2010

A dramatic novel about a young woman who, sensing that she exists is a savage circle, spends her life in atrocious loneliness and has a few limit-experiences, eventually resorting to suicide as a last attempt to save her inner purity. The gesture of Diana Belinsky, the heroine of the book, is a refusal to become like the others around her, to accept this game in a circle of aggressive, self-sufficient mediocrity. The novel probes the individual subconscious of a young woman who exists at the limit of endurance, it scours the abysses of being, and is written ​​in an original key, following in the footsteps of the great masters of the modern novel: F. M. Dostoevsky and Proust. The novelist wrote the novel with her first cousin in mind, Angela, who committed suicide when she was about 36 years old.

References

♦ “Perhaps herein lies the huge merit of the Circle… It subjected me to the rather difficult exercise of spouting forth reasons why life is worth living. And not before a man who hates life, bewildered or disgusted by what life appears to be. But before this girl-woman, Diana, who looks for the deeper meaning, who loves flowers, water, and art. So full of life is this creature of yours that this fullness consumes her and hurls her into death. Diana shows that it is not easy to live at this high altitude of the hunger for life, of the huge power of living. Her thirst for life and beauty and tranquility exposes her, making her vulnerable… Her shipwreck is caused by the murky, dark waters of a careless world, indifferent to the point of being physically aggressive… A world of beasts, in which no one protects the cubs. A greedy world where butterflies and fawns are slain, gobbled up, as if… Maybe that’s why they were born … Maybe God is calling them unto him … Or maybe not! Maybe a huge responsibility should be taken off my shoulders and not just off mine! Perhaps beautiful people, like Diana, have unsuspected strength in their fragility. Perhaps nothing can be done for the teenagers who choose death … Perhaps nothing can be done against death…” (Irina Ciobotaru)

♦ “A mystical Dostoyevskian halo hauntingly envelops the protagonists’ destinies in Aura Christi’s novel, Savage Circle (…) It is, in its way, a novel of couples that are made and unmade, lasting, for a while, as best they can, by virtue of automatisms through which love is sought, mimed, betrayed, always remaining an illusion or a virtual hope, between life and death. Much is said about death in this novel. Existence itself is spent under its sign.” (Constantin Cubleșan)