Breviar pentru păstrarea clipelor. Filip-Lucian Iorga în dialog cu Alexandru Paleologu [Breviary for Preserving Moments. Filip-Lucian Iorga in dialogue with Alexander Paleologu]

breviar_mareHumanitas Publishing House, Bucharest, 2012 (3rd Edition, revised)

What an unsettling return to the past, what a floating sensation in the summer house in the cherry orchard of the history Alexandru Paleologu’s memories produce! […] The evocations of “Conu’ Alecu” are caressing us in an admonishing way, set us free and burden us, humiliate us and elevate us to the illusion of the blazon.

Dan C. Mihăilescu, Ziarul de Duminică journal

The difference of age, the first which comes into notice, promises a dialogue between generations and, why not, between two worlds, a dialogue in which the connection between the Pre-Communist Romania and Romania nowadays, older through experience, but younger through ignorance, a connection broken for such a long time, can recover in a convivial, emotional way.

More important than the evocations themselves is the tone in which this plea for the past is made almost always: at all ”past-ridden” in a didactic and scolding way, with a lot of self-ironical monologues and with stunning conceits which can qualify a dramatic life event with elegance, without being pathetic.

The former ”ambassador of rascals” is a great stylist, whose language, extremely oral, gets at cultural landmarks with the same easiness with which he recounts the rituals of the coquettes in the interwar period.

Doris Mironescu, Suplimentul de cultură journal

The Breviary depicts moments. Those moments in life which, once you’ve reached a certain age, want as close to you as possible, memories which warm your heart and make it quiver. The charm of the sparkling conversation doesn’t lie in the preset questions and their answers, the tone changes as the interviewee progresses on the logical course and establishes connections with other worlds, topics, which the interviewer feels compelled to cover, driven by an endless curiosity for a long gone way of living.

The visual alternates with the sense of sound, the latter with the sense of smell so that, in the end, all intertwine and provide the reader with sublime pleasure and nostalgia for worlds he isn’t familiar with. Personally, I had a warm sensation until the very end of the book. I had that good feeling offered by a well maintained, silent, sometimes with twitches and very bright fire in the fireplace. The book left me with the desire for that fire never to burn down.

Ioana Ristea,

The book brings to the fore the 86-year-old nonconformist, charming as always, but it also defines Filip-Lucian Iorga as a young intellectual who rethinks the history of his country with a sense of responsibility and critical thinking.

Alex. Ştefănescu, România literară journal

In Breviary…, the octogenarian Alexandru Paleologu outlines the ideas of a ”lesson” of survival in prison, especially in the circumstances of a social collapse like the one suffered by a young man who came from a family of aristocrats. Although at a first glance, he, a dandy, frivolous by definition, seems to be doomed to losing his identity the moment he enters the penitentiary system, he can find unexpected resources for survival. Everything on the condition that he uses ”the Paleologu method” of adaptation, a combination of frivolity, humour, indifference and amused curiosity towards the ”experiments” his own body is subjected to.

Tudorel Urian, Observator cultural journal

A troika taken to amble through the shattered past.
Equal strips of memory which hand on the torch in a vivid chronicle so that when one grows, the other follows it like a hem. A countryside or a city testimonial, in a way adequate to redeem all the indignities which were imputed to this uneven world, many times tough, but overly tidy, by the storytellers of the fifties.
After all, Breviary… isn’t a book of advice. It’s just a way of recreating a life which you have already started to forget and, of all things, to show, as if to a dissatisfied client with his piece of cloth, that it’s only when it starts to become dull you realize that it lasted for a long time. It’s the world of reading and characters – taken out from shelves or encountered in reality – of a diplomat who has no taste for competition.
We, the consumers of a big historical hydromel fermented with petite causerie, meet Alice Voinescu, Mihail Sebastian, Enescu, Noica, Grigore Gafencu… Names from a short diary, maybe less rigorous because of the caprices of the memory but no doubt more delightful. A path marked by inquisitive questions which, nevertheless, show, by the way they cut the ‘portions’ of the journey, a method of a good partner of conversation, who draws his seat nearer to his companion and guides him, from time to time, towards another path.
A book about the combinations of cards which we make without thinking so they come out wrong and about the patience we’ve lost. A book like a good song…

Simona Vasilache, România literară journal

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Dan C. Mihăilescu about Breviar pentru păstrarea clipelor, Omul care aduce cartea, PRO TV, 08.09.2012

Photos taken during the talks, 5 and 7 August, 2003, Armenească Street, Bucharest:

Cover of the 2005 and 2007 editions: