Petőfi in Romanian
It is not only for its own sake why the Romanian reception of Petőfi's poetry is interesting: the past 150 years history of Romanian - Hungarian relationship is reflected in it, like in a mirror, with all the elevating and saddening moments. It is the greatest Hungarian poet we talk about, whose poetic grandeur cannot be doubted and who cannot be disregarded (because when the first Romanian translations of his poems were published, those were already known in the important languages of the world), yet whose Hungarian nationality, especially in the second half of the 19th century, was so willingly identified with the official nationalism of the official Hungary after the Compromise of 1867. Seeing through the 150 years history of the Romanian reception of his poetry, one can hardly separate it from politics, that has often been a determining factor of this reception.
The Romanian intellectuals of Transylvania have already paid enough attention to contemporary Hungarian literature far before the appearance of Petőfi. The Romanian adaptations of Csokonai'sBéka-egér harc (Frog-mouse fight) and Fazekas's Lúdas Matyi remained manuscripts, but the diligent researchers of Romanian-Hungarian relationships of the first half of the 19th century found data proving that the poems of Kazinczy, Kölcsey, Sándor Kisfaludy and Vörösmarty were familiar to the Romanian intellectuals of Transsylvania. However, literary development and Romanian journalist-tradition had to reach a level where this interest could be manifested in printed translations and not only in references.
The pioneer role on this ground was taken by two periodicals published in Pest one after the other: the Concordia between 1861 and 1866 and the Aurora Romana published between 1863-65. Jókai's short stories of Romanian topics (Jordaki's Head in 1862 and The Boyar-daughter in 1863) appeared in this journal with many others, and parallel to this the stories of Frigyes Balázs(?), Gusztáv Remellay, László Beöthy, Vilmos Győry, Károly Vadnai. So the first two Petőfi-poems adapted to Romanian (Az ember (The Man) and the Ifjúság (Youth) - both by G. Marchisiu in 1865) were the fruits of a pre-Compromise natural interest and search for connections.
One can add the name of I. Scipione Badescu, who got to Bukarest, and the translation of Az őrült (The Lunatic) from 1869, that is commented by the newspaper Albina Pindului. This datum is especially interesting since the Orientul Circle, where the translation was presented by the translator, was also visited by Eminescu, who later on, getting to Vienna, started to learn about Petőfi, and even about the Hungarian intellectual life, from Ioan Slavici, the Transsylvanian Romanian prose-writer and outstanding publicist-representative of the national movement.
With the presentation of Az őrült in Bukarest, with Eminescu and Slavici, we are in the era after the Compromise in '67. By this time, chances of a common Romanian-Hungarian evolvement were shattered: Hungary became the representative of great national state-ideology inside the Monarchy with the idea of becoming the "melting-pot" of minorities while hiding inner tension behind a spectacular national phraseology. The Romanians on the other hand - after uniting the two principalities (Havasalföld and Moldavia) and inviting the Hohenzollerns to the throne - began to lay the foundations of a nation state, by acquiring Transsylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina, and taking irredentism as their ideology.
Slavici, who was born in Világos, Arad County, and did his studies in Pest and Vienna, belonged to that part of the Romanian intellectuals of Transsylvania who knew the Hungarian literature and history - and he knew it thoroughly. But he adapted this knowledge as part of the political conflict, as an element of the Magyar-image that still has determining effects on the Magyar-image of many of today's Romanians. One Romanian journal, one of the most prestigious at that time, the Convorbiri Literare from Ia°i publishes his essay (Studii asupra maghiarilor - Study on the Hungarians) in which he equals the Hungarian nationalism of the post-Compromise era with the national consciousness of the Reform Age (and the poets representing it). That is why he sees Berzsenyi, Vörösmarty and Petőfi as "the most definite manifestations of the extravagant nationalism, that is unwilling to acknowledge anything beside itself". As the cited essay also proves, Slavici exactly feels the novelty of Petőfi's poetry ("the real popular trend starts here" - he writes in another context), but the politically rooted negativism is stronger in him, similarly to the best of the Romaanian intellectuals of the '70s and '80s.
After the beginning in 1865, the Romanian reception of Petőfi's poetry emerges slowly: in 1870, 1872, 1875, 1877, 1879 and in 1880 only one Petőfi-poem appears in Romanian each year (Anyám tyúkja, Lennék én folyóvíz, Ez a világ amilyen nagy..., A nép nevében, Az én szrelmem). Besides the Slavici-essay only one reference can be mentioned from his Romanian reception: however, it is from Eminescu, who, in a theatrical note about the Russian drama, mentions Petőfi as "a Hungarian national poet" among those poets who "... have the real life of the people burnt into their souls". (Curierul de Iassi, 1876.5.)
The uncertain continuation following the dispirited beginning has a deeper explanation beyond contemporary politics, hidden in literary development: Romanticism was still prevailing in Romanian poetry, along with the national patriotic poetry slowly emerging from almanac- and drawing-room lyric poetry, and with the kind of gloomy crisis-poetry that so characteristically alloys the poetry of the greatest Romanian poet, Eminescu. Some poems translated from Petőfi like Az őrült and Az ember are united with this sort of poetry-ideal and it is only by the end of the '80s - the Romanian popularity coming into power - when the time of the first great reception-wave of the '90s and of the turn of the century comes (mainly because of the translations of St. O. Iosif).
The reservation demonstrated by the attitude of Slavici started loosening by the middle of the 1880s. The presentation of Petre Opri°iu of Temesvár about Petőfi was published in print in that time (1885). The otherwise modestly gifted poet - also the translator of Egy gondolat bánt engemet...- says the following in his presentation: "And if we are interested in the real great personalities of other nations, if we admire the poems and other wonderful works of a Schiller, Goethe, Shakespeare, Moliere, Béranger and others, the more we should be interested in the life and the result of the works of a genius of the nation we keep encountering every day and everywhere, with the one that we are fated to live and die together according to the millennial Fate... I hope that when I am speaking about the greatest lyric poet of the Hungarian nation, you will appreciate that, the more so since, although Sándor Petőfi was every bit a Hungarian, his elevated range of emotions and fierce love of his homeland and of freedom could serve as an example for every people and every nations." (P. Opri°iu: Alexandru Petőfi. Viitorul, 1885. 16. sz.) So a literary commentary poets deserve was also added to the Petőfi-translations only lately increasing in numbers (the Portfoliul of Bukarest published six Petőfi-poems at once in the translation of Român B. Florescu, and Petőfi-poems could be found in the editions of the Literatorul of Bukarest and in the Convorbiri Literare of Ia°i). Furthermore, the Gazeta Poporului from Balázsfalva attempted to compare the revolutionary poetry of Andrei Mure°anu, the poet of the Transsylvanian Romanian '48, and that of Petőfi, putting the Nemzeti dal (National Song) and the ~Wake Up Romanian! (Desteaptate române!) known today as the Romanian national anthem side by side: "Petőfi was also a revolutionary poet and he did not wish anything but freedom to his nation in his poems. His revolutionary feelings were best expressed in his memorable poem: "Talpra magyar, hí a haza, itt az idő; most vagy soha..." (Ardeleanul: Andreiu Muresian °i Alexandru Petőfi. Gazeta Poporului, 1887. 8. Sz.)
The appearance of national-popular trends in Romanian literature is a determining factor from the aspect of the Romanian Petőfi-reception. The name of George Co°buc, whom the new trend is primarily associated with, appears at the same time in the periodical Familia of Nagyvárad when P. Opri°iu gives his lecture on Petőfi in Temesvár. The new poetic atmosphere, that later forms a public taste for the Petőfi-poems translated to Romanian, comes to life in his poetry through the folk pieces of life and genre-pieces (the folk idylls and pastels). Co°buc had only a few attempts of translating Petőfi in his schooldays (he did not have a real opportunity of learning Hungarian sufficiently at his birthplace, by the Romanian military borderland of Nászód), but researchers of his life refer to data about his late emotional ties (the poet who moved to Romania -as he himself wrote it - did not forget to go and see the place of the battle of Fehéregyháza, to pay tribute to the memory of Petőfi, when he visited his home in Transsylvania). And there is also the other part of Co°buc's poetry: the series of national-social program-poems filled with revolutionary passion that can also be related to Petőfi's poetry.
But the artistic break-through, the wider admission of Petőfi's poetry to the Romanian public is owing to St. O. Iosif, the other representative of the Romanian national-popular trend. His first Petőfi-translations appear in 1892 (he translates the Ez a világ amilyen nagy...(As big the world is...), A virágnak megtiltani nem lehet (You can't forbid the flower...), Stülőföldemen (In my homeland) and the Az őrült (The Lunatic)) and become regular, almost exclusive in his translating career from 1895. He finishes the translation of Az apostol (The Apostle) during this time that, with some other lyrical poems, is published as a separate volume in 1896. In the following year, he publishes another, almost 100 pages long, volume with 31 new translations in the popular series of Biblioteca pentru Toßi (Everybody's Library). Iosif's popularity as a poet greatly contributed to the popularization of Petőfi's poetry through his translations, and not only by newspapers of Bukarest, but by the press of the country-side, too (the Evenimentul from Ia°i, the Ramuri from Craiova, the Tribuna Poporului from Arad, Spicuiri Literare from Szászváros and the.Bursa Muncei from Piatra Neamß, etc.).
Iosif's influence in popularizing Petőfi also affected the Romanian Socialist press of the turn of the century and its readers. At one time, the poet had personal relationships with the Romanian socialist movement, where Petőfi's revolutionary poems met responsiveness. When the Romanian party-press starts to celebrate Petőfi's name as well after the Socialist take-over, it has a tradition of 50 years already. From the reactions only one, thoughcharacteristic, citation is mentioned here: "Az apostol is the most sublime rebelling voice that has ever been flung into the sky by the son of a nation... Petőfi has only been writing for six years, and what is left is a splendid and varied work of art. Petőfi became the favourite poet of his nation, his poems are still sung in the vast flatlands of the Hungarian Plains... A long poem composed of sighs and rebellion, hatred and enthusiasm... - lo! That is Az apostol. There are few stories like this: the story of an apostle of ideas of freedom who sows the seeds of rebellion in the heart of the ignorant people. The story of the martyr who dies for the happiness of his fellow-men..." - wrote the newspaper Seara from Ia°i about the publication of Az apostol in a separate volume. (Vior: Apostolul: Seara, 1896. Dec. 5.)
Octavian Goga who has at least such an important role in shaping the Romanian Petőfi-image, like that of Iosif, although he translated very few poems of Petőfi, also belongs to the national-popular trend. He, while joining it to his own poetry fulfilling an agitating function in the Romanian national movement of the beginning of the century, made a selection of the Petőfi-poems to be translated in a way that those became organic parts of his program-poetry - with only one or two exceptions (A kutyák dala (Song of dogs), A farkasok dala (Song of wolves), Egy gondolat bánt engemet...(A thought disturbs me...), Csalogányok és pacsirták (Philomels and larks), Véres napokról álmodom (I'm dreaming of bloody days), Beszél a fákkal a bús őszi szél (The sad autumn wind talks to the trees), Szeptember végén (By the end of September)). The comment attached to the Csalogányok és pacsirták characterizes his translating intention well: "The reason why I translated these lines of the Hungarian songs and publish it in Romanian is because the storm of passions and hopes that is sounded on the instrument of this foreteller of his people, must be echoed in the souls of our people too, who wait for the fulfilment of the same expectations." - he writes. (Luceafarul, 1907.Jan. 1.)
Not only the artistic achievements of Iosif and Goga, but also these ideas played an important role in making Petőfi's poetry acceptable for the contemporary Romanian public, compensating those anti-Hungarian manifestations getting more and more radical at the time that - like the text cited below - were often published in the same editions the Petőfi-poems appeared in. For example: Alexandru Vlahußa's introduction to the Petőfi-poems translated by Iosif in the periodical Vieaßa of Bukarest: "Petőfi is the greatest poet of the Hungarians. We decided to show the readers some of the most beautiful poems of the poet so original, yet so unfamiliar for us. The hatred the Hungarians raised against themselves by their natural savagery and wildness, greatly contributed to the extinguishment of the glory of this talent, who was presented to the Hungarians only by accident - since Petőfi was a Slav, by origin. Otherwise, the influence of the barbaric environment he lived in is perceptible in his poetry. (Vieaßa, 1894. Jan. 16. Unsigned...)
A whole crowd of (far less talented) Romanian Petőfi-translators followed - and some even appeared parallel to - Iosif and Goga at the turn of the century. Dorothea Sasu-Zimmermann, who enumerates the Romanian Petőfi-reception, records 388 publications by the first year of World War I, some as separate volumes: there are 3 Petőfi-translations in Th. M. Stoicescu's volume published in 1887, 17 in Grigori N. Lazu's volume from 1894, 2 inP. Dulfu's from 1910, and 2 in F. Aderca's volume published in 1911; Iosif's translation of Az apostol is published again in 1908, while the volume of Petőfi's selected poems is re-published in 1909. One should add that those Romanian intellectuals who graduated from high school got familiar - in Hungarian too - with and experienced the actuality of the poetry of Petőfi as curriculum at a time in the middle of World War I, when a Romanian poet-teacher from Brassó interpreted not less than 25 Petőfi-poems together, like A rab, A szabadsághoz, A türelemről Bányában, Mit daloltok még ti jámbor költők, A bilincs, A rab oroszlán (the translations were published in the Gazeta Transilvaniei in 1915-16).
This prelude is followed by the centenary of Petőfi that one part of the Hungarians had to celebrate in the post-Trianon Great Romania. The centenary makes it understandable that the number of Petőfi-poems in Romanian is increasing after 1918 and not decreasing, and that new translators appear: Dorothea Sasu-Zimmermann's Petőfi-bibliography mentioned above (Petőfi în literatura romana. 1849-1973. Bukarest, 1980.) records 6 publications in 1919, 5 in 1920, 13 in 1921, 11 in 1922, 7 in 1923; and in the year of the centenary the authors of not less than 13 articles and notes (although mainly in the Romanian newspapers of Transsylvania) commemorated the poet.
Typically, at the time of the centenary a controversy started in connection with Petőfi in the Romanian press. G. Bogdan-Duica, a professor of the Romanian university of Kolozsvár (Cluj) published an article in the national newspaper of the National Peasants' Party issued in Kolozsvár. He writes: "It is a natural thing that the Hungarians celebrate Petőfi since Petőfi is theirs; but couldn't he be ours as well on such a festive occasion?... St. O. Iosif and Octavian Goga loved him, his sparks inflamed them. Others should be inflamed too, for the benefit of our literature." Further on, the old professor calls up the circumstances of Petőfi's death, and imagines what would have happened if Petőfi had managed to escape from the battle of Fehéregyháza and - together with Bem - had managed to get to Turkey as a fugitive. "What patriotic elegies would have emanated from his wounded soul! With what a devout passion would he have sung his beautiful wife! What songs of the sea and of the wonders of the Orient would have burst out of his beating heart! It hurts me that the Hungarians have lost, of course it hurts them..." He finishes the article with the following: "Celebrate him though! We also celebrate him in the silence of our homes, because the genius crosses, should cross, the borders dividing nations!" (G. Bogdan-Duica: Petőfi. Patria, 1922. Aug 1.) The article was published with a criticizing comment by the newspaper of the Peasants' Party (it claims that Petőfi is not such a great poet as the professor presents him and that he has nothing to do with the peasantry, so there is not any reason why he should be "popularized" in the newspaper of the Peasants' Party), that caused the professor to openly react to the national demagogy hidden between the criticism: "I would like to see the Romanian patriotism having the generosity the Hungarians did not and could not have at the time. It is not the first and not even the last case in the history of the Transylvanian Petőfi-cult when the acknowledgement (or the disacknowledging, positive or negative consideration) of the literary value depends on political conflicts."
In the Romanian literary press between the two World Wars, Petőfi's poetry is further propagated by newspapers continuing the earlier national-popular trend: the Familia from Nagyvárad, the ßara Barsei from Brassó, the Pagini Literare from Torda, the Abecedar from Brád, the Ramuri from Craiova, the Viaßa Literara from Bukarest. In these newspapers new names also appear as Petőfi-translators, people who became the exceptional (almost unbelievable, referring to their number) translators of Petőfi in the decades after 1944: Eugen Jebeleanu, Mihai Beniuc, Teodor Murasanu or Avram P. Todor, who left behind a great volume of manuscripts containing the Romanian translation of all the Petőfi-poems. New editions of the Petőfi-translations by St. O. Iosif (1924) and by Octavian Goga (1939, 1941, 1942, 1944) appear and with these, the nuber of Petőfi-translations published between 1919 and 1944 is 187.
Evaluations commanding Petőf's poetry to the Romanian public in a more profound way are also present in this period. In the Gandirea, the wide-range periodical of the new national-popular trend Zoltán Franyó invokes Petőfi in the spirit of Ady: "There are two Petőfis. One is the Petőfi of the haunted sessions of literary societies, who was turned into an enervated idol from the fierce temperament, who was buried into stupid textbooks, who was minified, crushed to death, derogated by the hangmen of all literary movements... The other is the Petőfi who sang the alarm of the blessed and never decaying freedom on that historical day of March... This Petőfi with his unstoppable rhythm is the true, the only one. The ecrasite of the eternal revolution is ready to burst in him, the poetic prophecy is roving in his wanton visions, in his far-reaching, complaining, painful, yet sublime words, and the fire is hidden under the crust of political and national ideas, from which the universal brotherhood will burst out of Hungarian brotherhood from under the encrusted layers of humanity." (Zoltán Franyó: Petőfi. 1823-1923. Gandirea, 1923. Nov-Dec.) Eugen Jebeleanu, only 19 years old then, who later becomes an exceptional Petőfi-translator, parallels Eminescu and Petőfi in the Viata Literara of Bukarest. He writes about Petőfi: "...his poetry is the whirling of the czardas, the sough of the Plains, snarling and caressing, the prancing of shining-haired stallions, silence and praying, but a fierce rebellion too." (Un romantic maghiar: Petőfi. Viata Literara 1930. March) Mihai Beniuc, a diligent translator of Hungarian literature and a representative poet of the decades after World War II, wrote the following about Petőfi right before the War broke out: "...among those who spent the treasure of their lives on the realization of human freedom, the most splendid was Sándor Petőfi. His word was flaming on the altar of freedom, his blood was spilt for it as a sacrifice. His motto was "world-freedom" and he died for it." (Micu Pavel [M. Beniuc]: Alex. Petőfi. Tara Noua, 1939. Aug. 6.)
In 1944-45 a new period started in the reception of Petőfi's poetry: these are the decades of the systematic reviewal of the poet's oeuvre, his continuous presence in the Romanian literary public knowledge, the wide spreading of Romanian Petőfi-editions. However, these are the decades of his degradation and appropriation by the ideological advocates of the political system, as a result of makinghis commemoration "official" and because of counting him among the great forerunners of Socialism. Petőfi's name is at the head of the list of names the Communist regime boasts of and keeps referring to, the names of people whose anniversaries is celebrated even by the Romanian press (and not only the literary press). Only between 1944 and 1973 Petőfi's poems appear in 659 publications, nine volumes are published in Romanian translation (among those the János vitéz) and Petőfi-translations can be found in 24 anthologies and volumes of translation collections.
Petőfi's becoming "fashionable" has some benefits though: 351 of the above-mentioned 659 publications are new translations composed after 1944 (most of Jebeleanu's oeuvre as a Petőfi-translator belongs here, carried out in such an artistic way, that can only be compared to the earlier translations of Goga). At the same time, many outstanding figures of the contemporary Romanian poetry took part in the adaptation of Petőfi's poetry (Mihai Beniuc, CostaCarei, Emil Giurgiuca, A. E. Baconski, Victor Tulbure, Veronica Porumbacu) and such achievements of artistic translations were provided by this period as that of Avram P. Todor mentioned above, who translated the whole oeuvre of Petőfi into Romanian, or that of N. I. Pintilie from Ia°i who learned Hungarian only because of Petőfi. The Helicon Publishing House from Temesvár published a more than 800-page long "selection" from his translator-heritage in 1996.
Here are some further data to demonstrate the richness of Romanian Petőfi reception after World War II: - not that we want to dazzle the reader with the numbers, but there are real translating achievements behind these numbers and one can estimate the inner dimensions of the post-War Romanian reception of Petőfi from these numbers.
After 1994, the most translated and published Petőfi-poem in Romanian was Egy gondolat bánt engemet...translated by Mihai Beniuc, Costa Corei, Francisc Pacurariu, Sebastian Craciunescu and Dimitrie Costa beside Eugen Jebeleanu. The next poem was A XIX. század költőihez (translators: Francisce Pacurariu, H. Apeleveanu, Costa Carei, Ioan Crisan, Vasile Grunea, D. Volbureanu, Victor Tulbure), then the Akasszátok fel a királyokat (Hang the Kings!), A nép (The People), Rongyos vitézek (Ragged Soldiers), A szabadsághoz (To freedom), Respublica, Föltámadott a tenger (The sea has upreared), Itt a nyilam, mibe lőjem (Here's my arrow, where to shoot it), Háború volt (There was war)followed it in the frequency-list of publishing, pushing the landscape-poet and the poet of the people into the background. This was the period when the translations of St. O. Iosif and Octavian Goga - that, to some extent, would have counterbalanced the over-politicized image - were not published again, because of political reasons. Costa Corei and Emil Giurgiuca, whose Petőfi-volumes from 1947 and 1948 had not been charged with ideology that heavily, were also driven out of literature. It is also typical that Jebeleanu, whose Petőfi-translations were Világosság and Az őrült, was compelled to leave out these poems from the Petőfi-volume published after 1948. The ideological pressure also demonstrated in the selection of Petőfi-adaptations started to easen after 1956 (excerpts from János vitéz were published in that year, while the whole work was first published in 1958 translated by Jebeleanu; Goga's selected poems, together with the translation of Egy gondolat bánt engemet..., were published in 1957; while Iosif's volume of his selected poems with 7 Petőfi-translations went to print only in 1959). Then comes the year 1961 when Szeptember végén appeared in Romanian (the first time since 1948) in a new translation by Jebeleanu in the volume of Petőfi-poems selected by himself and published in the series "The most beautiful poems". Then, in 1966, the second volume of the great, four-volumed anthology of Hungarian literature reached the Romanian public with 22 Petőfi-poems not yet translated into Romanian. In 1969 a bilingual Petőfi-volume (compiled from the translations of Jebeleanu) was published to the nation-wide celebration of the 120th anniversary of the poet's death, while, in 1973, the Apostol-translation by St. O. Iosif, the new edition of the János vitéz translated by Jebeleanu and a more abundant (more than 300 pages long) selection with 52 poems (the Apostol, the Helység kalapácsa, the János vitéz) went to print to mark the 125th anniversary of the poet. At that time 45 Petőfi-translations were published from 12 translators in different newspapers and periodicals (in due course according to the number of publications: N. I. Pintilie, G. Georgescu, Oct. Hodarnau, Verona Brates, Emil Giurgiuca, Stefan Bitan, Mihai Beniuc, Constantin Olariu, Victor Tulbure, Dan Culcer, M. Paltineanu, D. Muresan).
These two anniversaries - that were important events in the life of Hungarians in Romania (the Ispán-well monument of Fehéregyháza was finished by 1969, the whole-figure statues of András Márkos in Székelykeresztúr and of András Szobotka in Csíkszereda were inaugurated in 1973 and every Hungarian newspaper could pay tribute to Petőfi's poetry with rich memorial editions) - were the last large-scale events of the Romanian Petőfi-reception. The dictatorship started to keep literature on a shorter leash, its "ideological opportunity" was measured more strictly and national homogenization (the more and more rough attempts of anti-nationalization in respect to minorities) made the heritage of Petőfi together with other values of Hungarian literary tradition "suspicious".
There are only sparse data of the Romanian reception of Petőfi concerning the decades after 1973. Although Dorothea Sasu-Zimmermann's often cited book was published in 1980, it covered the period until 1973, so one cannot seriously considerits references from a bibliographical point of view, while investigating the post-1973 period. So the image provided by the most recent past is defective from this aspect, too.
But this defection covers the almost total "dry-up" of Romanian Petőfi-reception - there is no new Romanian Petőfi-volume published between 1973 and 1996, i.e. for more than 2 decades. The atmosphere of national-communism raised to the level of state-politics is not suitable for the popularization of a Hungarian poet, whose only excuse - in a secondary school-level (the reason why he can have a place in the text-books) - that he died on "Romanian ground", so he can be counted "native". (This is the period, especially the second half of the 80s that the Romanian publication of a Berzsenyi- or a Csokonai-anthology is rejected by the censorship with the reason that the poets are "Hungarians".)
In 1989 great political changes took place in Romania, the dictatorship collapsed with its ideological apparatus, but the market conditions providing new challenges for publishing had negative effects on the ground of Romanian-Hungarian mutual translations. The translating works so significant in the preceding decades - that had outstanding importance regardless to the political background, and that resulted in the publishing of almost all the valuable pieces of Romanian literature and a great number of excellent works of classic and contemporary Hungarian literature in the language of the other nation - were stopped almost completely. Such an edition in which the Romanian or the Hungarian literature of the 90s appears in Hungarian or in Romanian respectively is a rare bird.
In this situation the fact, that the Helicon Publishing House of Temesvár published a more than 800 pages long edition of Petőfi's selected poems translated by N. I. Pintilie, is especially important.
This volume is the result of a translation effort of more than 40 years: N. I. Pintilie published his first Petőfi-translations in 1949 (Bányában, Föltámadott a tenger) in a Moldavian newspaper, two further pieces (A kutyák dala, A farkasok dala) in 1951 and three on the occasion of the anniversary of 1969 (Kiskunság, Fekete kenyér, Szeptember végén). 1973 is the year of the real break-through for him, when 10 Petőfi-translations of his appeared in print (with his own introductions in two Romanian papers of Ia°I) five of those were translated into Romanian for the first time (Zöldleveles, fehér..., Elnémult a fergeteg, Természet!Még te is gúnyolódol?, Fölszedtem sátorfám, Magány). The value of his interpretations and the analysis of his translation-conception would be worthy of another essay, since he entered into competition with the greatest personalities of Romanian poetry from the aspect of artistic achievement. Only the quantitative index of N. I. Pintilie's enterprise is demonstrated here: until 1973 - without considering his above-mentioned new translations, during the 108 years of the reception, 345 Petőfi-poems were translated to Romanian, while there are 416 translated Petőfi-poems in N. I. Pintilie's volume from 1996.
N. I. Pintilie, who died recently, had written an introduction to the Petőfi-volume, introducing Petőfi to the Romanian reading public on the one hand, and, on the other hand, telling how he had got connected with his poems, how he had got from "the first clumsy attempts", with those acknowledged leaders of Petőfi-interpretation like St. O. Iosif, Costa Carei and Eugen Jebeleanu.
The volume from 1996 adapted by N. I. Pintilie can be promising for those who feel sad in the present depression of Romanian-Hungarian literary relations and mutual translations-reviews, or feel sad because acquaintance was not followed by understanding and respect - as Jókai and other predecessors had dreamt it once. But we have to believe that their efforts have not been futile and that time will "ripen" the core once sown.*