Last month I had the privilege to be presented with a stack of five beautifully cloth bound books, written by British authors, one of whom mentions my architectural photography and articles. They were received from Mr Dan Ghetu, the director of Ex Occidente Press, a small, but dynamic and resourceful English language publishing house with an exclusive international distribution, based in Bucharest, specialised in fantastic and decadent literature, described on its website as “rara et nova fiction of the supernatural, the odd and the weird, the strange and the decadent, the fantastic and the obscure, the very holy and the luxuriously heretical”.
The books are entitled as follows: “The Mascarons of the Late Empire & Other Studies“ by Mark Valentine (2010), “The Silver Voices“ by John Howard (2010), “The Wounds of Exile“ by Reggie Oliver (2010), “Cinnabar’s Gnosis: A Homage to Gustav Meyrink“ collective work (2009) and “The Night-farers“ by Mark Valentine (2009). Photograph collages of the books’ dust-cover, hard back cover and title page are shown bellow.
Two of the authors, John Howard and Mark Valentine are readers of my blog, where John is a regular commenter of the Art Deco and modernist architecture themed articles, while Mark has found inspiration for the title and subject of the lead story of his “Mascarons of the Late Empire” from some my blog articles and photographs as he kindly acknowledges in the postface. Bellow is the photomontage presenting this particular book that contains a collection of four stories:
The postface contains, as I mentioned, a kind acknowledgement (see the text image bellow) of my architectural photographs and articles that sparked Mark’s imagination to write the story; a link to that particular blog article and image entitled “The Mascarons of Bucharest” is here. I am grateful for Mark’s appreciation of my ‘fine architectural photography’, as he puts it, an undeveloped visual arts field in Romania, which I strive to develop.
John’s book (see the photomontage presentation bellow) contains seven absolutely captivating stories, most of them with references to the period architecture and the tumultuous last eight decades of Romania’s history, focused on the cities of Bucharest and Sighisoara in Saxon Transylvania.
Bellow are photomontage presentations of the excellently produced “The Wounds of Exile” (Reggie Oliver), “Cinnabar’s Gnosis” (collective work) and “The Night Farers” (Mark Valentine):
Ex Occidente Press represents that rare breed of brilliant business ideas that have the high culture at the core, a model that I myself endeavour to develop with the “Historic Houses of Romania” blog and consultancy. I am enchanted to have received and thus given the opportunity to read these resplendently put together books. Most of the other publishing houses do not do this type of high quality paper and cloth bound books anymore. The fantastic literature was a close companion of mine during the long and dark years of Ceausescu’s dictatorship that I spent in the 1980s Romania, before I escaped to Britain, which became my adoptive country. The books of Franz Kafka and also some local authors such as Mircea Eliade or Constantin Abaluta were my reading staples in those surreal days and a means to evade the political and cultural oppression in Romania. The historic houses of Romania are indeed an excellent source of inspiration for the authors of fantastic and decadent literature. These buildings are endowed with a peculiar type of architecture developed in the more unusual circumstances present at the frontiers of Europe, among wars, dictatorships and revolutions, in a region that has been for centuries a triple periphery of the Ottoman, the Russian and the Habsburg empires. I am thus delighted if my architectural history articles and photographs from this corner of Europe have an echo among some of these authors.
I endeavor through this series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.
If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.