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The Romanian writer Mateiu I. Caragiale (great playwright Ion Luca Caragiale's son), lived between 1885-1936. His main literary works are the short story Remember (1921) and the novel Gallants of the Old Court (1929, Romanian Writers Society's Award). He shines through the originality and distinction of his masterly controlled style.
Written in the first person, The Gallants of the Old Court (Craii de Curtea-Veche) reveals the traits of, and satirizes, Romanian society in the early 20th century. Three self-indulgent, decadent characters while away their time, drinking, playing cards, chasing women. They also make allowance for the company of Gore Pirgu, an uncultured self-seeker of very low extraction, whose abominable character mirrors the new political class of the time.
In this novel, the dying world of medieval boyars meets a rising fiercely capitalistic world, with new rules and ruthless behavior. Respected Romanian literary critic George Calinescu wrote: Reality is transfigured, it becomes fantastical and a sort of Edgar Poe-like unease stirs these worthless figures of the old Romanian capital.
Gallants of the Old Court opens a fascinating universe in front of us, as well as explains usually untapped regions of the human soul, helping us to better understand not only most of the Byzantine, Balkan, and Romanian spirit, but also a large size of our own unexplored self.
The translator has done a painstakingly perfectionist work in rendering the text into English in the best possible way and also explaining every detail that might help us understand the spirit and the letter of the original, even without any hint of knowledge of Romanian.
Gallants of the Old Court is a great read and one of the masterpieces of world literature; and this translation is surely the best so far.