"With only three anecdotes, you can make a portrait of a man," Nietzsche once said. Anecdotes have always been part of our culture. But what is their place in European history, where smaller stories have always lived in the shadow of greater histories?
Baudouin Decharneux, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, historian and essayist Adrian Cioroianu, Romania’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, and Matei Vişniec, a Romanian-French playwright, poet, novelist and journalist take a closer look at the short narrative form. The encounter is moderated by Jacques De Decker, Secretary of the Académie Royale de Langue et de Littérature françaises de Belgique.
Born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.
Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.
Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some twenty of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.