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Ana Blandiana, award Princess of Asturias Award for Letters


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Diario de Navarra

Gabriel Insausti

Professor of Contemporary Literature

To think of the Romanian Ana Blandiana, pseudonym of Otilia Valeria Coman (1942), recently named award Princess of Asturias of Letters, is to think of the traumatic 20th century and the East: daughter of an Orthodox priest imprisoned by the communist dictatorship, censored and banned herself by the Ceausescu regime, Blandiana belongs to that aristocracy of great ladies (Akhmatova, Tsvetáieva, Szymborska) who from that part of Europe revolted against a castrating social realism and against the regimes that supported it, to seek a more humane literature (and a more humane life).

El result, from his first book of poems, Primera persona del plural ( 1964) is -despite the association that in the Spanish reader could arouse the degree scroll with social poetry, with "the passage from the I to the we"- the attempt to found a new community, alternative to the official one, which also pursues a sensual and imaginative relationship with the world, a possible innocence and a truth that is not controlled by the State. The climate of literature as resistance, as clandestinity in exercise: the literature of multicopyist, of samizdat, which builds a space of freedom in which to breathe. This is what emerges in the successive installments of Blandiana: October, November, December (1972), The Four Seasons ( 1977), Projects of the Past ( 1982)...

Of freedom? Also of responsibility: Blandiana is (re)known, among other things, for having led the Civic Alliance (1991-2002), which in her country set out to build a democracy on the ashes of the regime, as well as for chairing the national delegation of the PEN Club during those years. If social realism was emasculating (and forced an oblique speech to strain uncomfortable truths through the sieve of censorship), no doubt these experiences may have contributed to refine Blandiana's clean irony and to put in crisis his sense of the word: Blandiana is aware of the limits of language, that poetry "seeks flesh and finds words", as Brodsky, another great poet of the East, wrote. His poem "The Gift says it clearly": "Everything I touch turns into words, / just as in the legend of King Midas". Hence also that, in the concrete exercise of that responsibility, Blandiana knows that purity - like that which inspired the utopian project of the dictatorships she suffered - is not only unaffordable but sterile. "I know that purity does not bear fruit," begins another of her best-known poems. To be in History, to live, is to stain one's hands... to make the world, private and public, a little more habitable. Blandiana has achieved this and her books are available from the publishers Pre-Textos and Periférica.