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Blecher, M.

(1909–1938), writer. Max Blecher (he signed his works “M. Blecher”) was born in Botoşani, Romania, and spent his childhood and adolescence in Roman, where his family settled, and where there was a large Jewish community. The son of Lazăr Blecher, a businessman who owned a china shop, he attended high school in Roman and was an active member of the Maccabi Zionist association.

After his graduation, Blecher attended medical school in Paris, but during his first year became severely ill with tuberculosis of the bones. He never completely recovered, despite six years in Berck-sur-Mer, France, followed by a stay in a sanatorium in Leysin, Switzerland, then in Braşov, Romania, and in Tekirghiol, on the Black Sea. Blecher finally retired to Roman where, though on his sickbed, he engaged in literary activity, contributing to numerous Romanian reviews, especially Bilete de papagal (The Parrot Tickets, edited by Tudor Arghezi) and to journals abroad (among them, André Breton’s Le surréalisme au service de la révolution). Blecher translated Western-language writers into Romanian (including works of Guillaume Apollinaire, Richard Aldington, and Shane Leslie) and into French from works of the Romanian poet George Bacovia, while also maintaining correspondences with Martin Heidegger and with André Gide, Léon-Paul Fargue, and Claude Aveline.

After publishing his first collection of poetry, Corp transparent (Transparent Body; 1934), Blecher received praised for his novel Intâmplări în irealitatea imediată (Events from the Close Unreality; 1936), set in a Moldavian shtetl that had standard houses, vague fields, and dust, but also messianic expectations. Among the scenes depicted, the most striking is that of mortuary preparation and Jewish religious burial. In Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts; 1937), Blecher’s diary from Berck-sur-Mer (published in Yiddish in 1938 [in Chişinău (Kishinev)], and in French in 1973 [in Paris]), he refused to turn suffering into sentimental capital. His third novel, issued posthumously, was Vizuina luminată (The Enlightened Lair; written in 1937–1938, published in 1971 in Bucharest, thanks to the writer Saşa Pană) describes his Black Sea sanatorium as a factory for repairing bones, evoking his body trapped in a plaster prison.

Blecher lived a double estrangement, as a Jew and as an ill person. With his hallucinatory and nightmarish visions, he is considered a “Romanian Kafka,” an avant-garde writer close to surrealism. As a genuine phenomenon of twentieth-century European literature, during his short life he created essential pieces of work deeply rooted in modernity.

Suggested Reading

Carol Iancu, “M. Blecher, écrivain juif,” Dialogue (Montpellier) 17 (1988): pp. 77–97; Mădălina Lascu, ed., M. Blecher, mai puțin cunoscut (Bucharest, 2000), includes previously unpublished letters to Geo Bogza; Alexandru Mirodan, “M. Blecher,” in Dicționar neconvențional al scriitorilor evrei de limbă română, pp. 180–193 (Tel Aviv, 1986); Mihail Sebastian, “M. Blecher,” in Eseuri, cronici, memorial, pp. 426–437 (Bucharest, 1972); Radu G. Țeposu, Suferințele tânărului Blecher (Bucharest, 1996).



Translated from French by Anca Mircea