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Drives, calls, thorns.

Part of his early life history I know of * from his friend and colleague, my father. Constantin Munteanu had a dream, to be a student at Costache Negruzzi High School, an elite boarding school initially designed for country boys who approximated the definition of prodigies. He was accepted, but not before he came first in the National Physics Olympics. As expected of him, he went on to win trophies for his new home, all through his high school days. But was it that smooth? I hear it was not. During the day he worked on physics and mathematics; when bedtime came he would leave the dorm and go downstairs, in the classroom, to write fiction. At two or three in the morning he would go to bed and sleep for a few hours, before he had to get ready for his classes. On Sunday, the only weekend day in a semi-military school like Costache Negruzzi, when his colleagues were permitted to get out of the school precincts, and they did--he used to stay behind and write no end of pages. Like I said, all of the students were (near-)prodigies and they are supposed to have understood his drive; the teachers are also supposed to have understood his urge unless it interfered with his science classes--but they were somewhat uncomfortable because they had met with poets, and their creative bouts were sporadic, never with such standing power, so much fury. I am tempted to describe him today, from a distance, as the "meeting point" between a scientific personality and an artistic personality.

Constantin Munteanu went on, in Bucharest, to study nuclear physics, at that time a pioneering domain in Romania. I am given to understand that he was a dedicated student and, in the years to come, an eminent scientist. He must have pursued his old dream to boot, because his short stories appeared in magazines while he was still a sophomore. His novels, too, were not late in coming out, one every third year, at a slower pace than expected because of communist censorship which, by the way, was very tough on his dramas and scenarios.

He eventually survived, but at what costs? I will hopefully find out, for he called me last month to say he wanted to see me in my "capacity." I do not know for sure, but I can guess it: these long, frustrating, censorship-laden years will have gnawed at him ... I am now waiting for him and, for better for worse, I asked him to send me one of his latest productions (herewith given in extenso) that supposedly provides a faithful psychological portrait of what he is like at this moment. I have already read his novels and I am now leafing through them again, in the hope of getting a fresh picture of the man behind the stories. I also compare notes with an earlier myself who wrote a study a couple of months ago, to describe the personality traits of the Iasi branch of the Writers' Union in Romania (Constantin Munteanu is a member of this branch), also, by comparison, the personality traits of the Association of former Negruzzi High School students who, just like Constantin Munteanu, have a polytechnical training (see Fig. 1.). On average, but a little closer to the artistic personality figures, I might just as well find the figures for Constantin Munteanu. It will be a promising assumption, to begin with.

Bogdan C.S. Pirvu

Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine

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Fig. 1. Personality traits in Romanian literature today

                     Poets   Fiction    Critics/     Control
                             writers   Biographers    Group

Anxiety (in %)        72       68         48           36
Extraversion (in %)   24       29         32           66
Openness to           71       82         77           66
  experience (in %)

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Title Annotation:Prelude to "Life histories"
Author:Pirvu, Bogdan C.S.
Publication:Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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