Doris Mironescu wrote a biography of an author’s inner existence: after diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis in 1928, M. Blecher spent most of his remaining ten years immobilized in bed, writing four volumes – a book of poetry and three more or less autobiographical novels. Willingly paradoxical in its attempt to reconstruct a life story that is in many ways a succession of cultural and sentimental encounters, Mironescu’s biography discusses in its introductory and concluding chapters the alternative ways of writing biographies, adapting his own biography according to Blecher’s own experimental ways of narrating and at the same time resisting to tell his autobiographical story.
After publishing his first experimental novel, Occurrence in the immediate unreality in 1936, Blecher wrote in a letter to his friend Geo Bogza about his idea to conceive a trilogy where he would tell about his experiences from different sanatoriums: Berck-sur-Mer (France), Leysin (Switzerland), and Techirghiol-Eforie (Romania), an idea that took shape only partially during his remaining years.
His first publications from 1930 show an author with a refined modernist taste, but meeting in Berck Pierre Minet, a member of the dissident Surrealist group Le Grand Jeu, makes him particularly interested in Surrealism, and publishes in 1933 L’inextricable position, a French poem in André Breton’s review Le Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution, a publication that will help him consolidate his reputation after returning to Romania.
As Mironescu points out, the poem itself blends the very concrete elements of living in a sanatorium with the oniric discourse of Surrealism, and the result fits perfectly into the Surrealist experiments of the time but in fact also into the fictional universe of Blecher’s future narratives where he is obsessed with objects and other concrete dimensions of everyday existence.
Another interesting dimension of Blecher’s connection to Surrealism is visual: most of his sketches and drawings have been lost, but from what we do know, the visuality of his drawings is more violent than his writings, and – as Mironescu convincingly points out – a connection can be established with the works of naïve painters valued by Breton and his comrades.
Some of Blecher’s drawings resemble in technique and vision Henri Rousseau’s or Frida Kahlo’s works, but we can see also how he imitates in a parodistic way the motifs of Giorgio de Chirico.
If we try to create a list of what could be improved in Mironescu’s biography in a revised edition, we can point out some instances of repetitions (of arguments, of quotations, of references) that seem tautological; some improvised associations that lack coherence and detailed explanation (the poem entitled Paris by Blecher is compared in three instances of the biography to three different poems written by other authors: Ulysses by Ilarie Voronca (78), Peter Schlemihl by the same Voronca (167), and the poems of Geo Bogza (200)); and maybe more accuracy in the cultural references could be expected (“chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella” – is quoted as a “definition of the absurd” in Lautréamont’s work, with no mention of the term „beauty” (72)).
Mironescu is clearly the best scholar of Blecher in the last decade, and besides this biography, his great achievement is a representative critical edition of Blecher’s complete works (issued in 2017), with many previously unpublished material and insightful notes concerning the variants of the texts. An author who did not enter group activities of avant-garde currents but who was clearly connected in some of his works to Surrealism, has now a biography of his friendly solitude.
(Doris Mironescu, Viaţa lui M. Blecher: Împotriva biografiei, Ed. revizuită, Humanitas, Bucureşti, 2018)
Balázs Imre József