We’ve unearthed some gems on our bookshelves of late.
From an old Romanian grammar primer to a copy of ‘Romanian for foreigners,’ we outdid ourselves yesterday when we came across a guide to Bucharest from 1962 (in Romanian), almost certainly picked up for a song at an anticariat many years ago.
The guide was written by a collective including Dan Berindei, who 20 years later would co-author the equally excellent (though not as thorough) Bucuresti guide we wrote about here.
Clearly a labour of love the book is gorgeous, and in very good shape, the slightly scuffed dust jacket apart. The pull out maps at the back are all intact, as are the lovingly produced seating plans of every cinema, theatre and concert hall in the city.
Running to over 300 pages, the book is one of the most thorough guides to Bucharest we have ever come across. The running order gives an idea of the priorities of the age: History and geography are followed by political organisations, and an in depth run down of the capital’s factories, industrial plants and educational institutions. Only then (from page 134 onwards) do the more frivolous things such as museums get a look in.
We have not read the whole thing yet, but skimming through we have perhaps so far liked the section on taxis best:
There aren’t all that many photos in the book, and all are rather small and black and white. Most (but not all) feature recently constructed buildings and districts:
One other thing of interest: published three years before Nicolae Ceausescu became the country’s leader, and long before the personality cult took hold, there is not a single photograph of a politician in the entire book. Indeed, so far we have found only one mention of the country’s then leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej: a quote in the history chapter from the proclamation of the People’s Republic of Romania in 1948.
Oh, and finally, the picture on the back cover is marvellous, the figures (if not the setting) almost Lowry-esque: