Octavian Gabor - "Pray for Brother Alexander" and Noemi Marin - "Aerul departarii"

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Octavian Gabor and Noemi Marin

Octavian Gabor discusses his translation of Noica's Pray for Brother Alexander and Noemi Marin discusses Aerul departarii. They will be joined in conversation by Dr. Maria-Sabina Alexandru. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with CEERES: The Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the University of Chicago

At the Co-op

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About the book: Constantin Noica’s (1909–1987) Pray for Brother Alexander is a meditation on responsibility, freedom, and forgiveness. On the surface, the book describes events and people from Noica’s life during his time in a political communist prison in Romania. However, the volume is not a historical account only, but rather an honest introspection into how a human being may keep sanity when everything around him makes no sense. Unlike his famous Romanian contemporaries, scholar Mircea Eliade, dramatist Eugène Ionescu, and philosopher Emil Cioran, who lived abroad, Constantin Noica did not leave communist Romania. Considered an “anti-revolutionary” thinker, Noica was placed under house arrest in Câmpulung-Muscel between 1949 and 1958. In 1958, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released after 6 years, and Pray for Brother Alexander covers his experiences during this time. In his writings, Noica rekindles universal themes of philosophy, but he deals with them in a profoundly original manner, based on the culture in which he lived and for which he also suffered persecution. The volume will be of great of interest to scholars and students in history of philosophy and continental philosophy, but also to people interested in the recent history of Eastern Europe and the political persecution that took place after WWII in those countries.

About the author: Octavian Gabor is Professor of philosophy at Methodist College. He works in Greek philosophy and has strong interests in Dostoevsky. His most recent publications include: “Two Kinds of Responsibility in Crime and Punishment” (in Mundo Eslavo) and “Noica’s Becoming within Being and Meno’s Paradox” in A Handbook to Classical Reception in Eastern and Central Europe (Blackwell, 2017). He has translated work from French to Romanian and Romanian to English. His most recent translation, in addition to Pray for Brother Alexander, is Andre Scrima’s Apophatic Anthropology (Gorgias, 2016).

About the book: Aerul departarii, a book of poetry, is a poet’s journey and introspection moving between worlds, between Eastern Europe in communist times and United States as a new residence and identity. Structured in three parts, the book revisits the past to engage in the novel and complex identity of exile and freedom. In the first two parts the poet entwines new and old voices of freedom before and after the demise of communism, while the third part brings in translated poems from and into English as discoveries of new distances and spaces on identities engaged in such journeys. Mirela Roznoveanu, Professor at NYU, in her Book Review in the RSAA Journal (2018), wrote that “the poems in Romanian expose the immigrant’s identity crisis, the fear of the unknown, filled with longing and anxiety… Someone who never … got “translated” physically and mentally into another world cannot write with so much lucidity about the fear of living in a communist and post-communist world, and the hard process of being freed from fear.” Roznoveanu states that “American me” the last poem in the collection, brings out “the lyrical voice” as “an existential polyphony keen to the classical music canon”, and “the multidimensionality of being, acquired through freedom." Simona Preda, Romanian author, historian and journalist, states in the book review published by the Romanian National Guild’s online journal that Marin’s poetry makes one hear “inner tunes and poetic light bringing sonorities of the soul into life” (2017).

About the author: Dr. Noemi Marin, Professor, School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, held positions also as Director of the School (2011-2014), Director of the Peace Studies Program (2007-2012), and the Editor of the Journal of Literacy and Technology, since 2005. Dr. Marin authored the book After the Fall: Rhetoric in the Aftermath of Dissent in Post-Communist Times (2007), co-edited a volume on “Rhetorics of 1989” published by Routledge in 2015 and contributed to several books: Negotiating Democracy: Media Transformation in Emerging Democracies (2007); Advances in the History of Rhetoric (2007; 2006); Realms of Exile: Nomadism, Diaspora and Eastern European Voices (2005); Intercultural Communication and Creative Practices (2005); Culture and Technology in the New Europe: Civic Discourse in Transformation in Post-Communist Nations (2000). Scholarly articles have been published in East European Politics and Societies; Migration: A European Journal of International Migration and Ethnic Relations; Forum Artis Rhetoricae; Romanian Journal of Journalism and Communication; Global Media Journal; Controversia: An International Journal of Debate and Democratic Renewal. Dr. Marin edits the international academic journal Journal of Literacy and Technology, since 2005. Poetry volumes: Apa Timpului, (Water of Time) and most recent, Aerul Departarii (Flor of Distance), published by Tritonic Academic Publishers, Romania, 2017. Dr. Noemi Marin has been awarded five National Poetry Awards by different Romanian literary groups. Sole contributor to the International Encyclopedia of Communication (Blackwell, 2008) on Eastern and Central European rhetoric, Dr. Marin presented over 145 international and national conference papers, focusing on communist and post-communist discourse and societies in transition. She received the prestigious Presidential Leadership Award, 2010, and Researcher/Creative Scholar of the Year Award (2009), Florida Atlantic University.  In recent years, Dr. Marin lectured at Davis Center at Harvard University, at Columbia University-Harriman Center and at University of Chicago CERES. Dr. Marin is working on a new book project related to political communication in societies in transition.     

About the interlocutor: Dr. Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Bucharest and, since 2015, an Associate of CEERES at the University of Chicago. Her main research interests are: interactions between narrative and performance in contemporary global literatures in English; East European/postsocialist studies; narrative, gender and politics in postcolonial and postsocialist studies. She has published articles in journals such as Comparative Literature Studies, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Perspectives, The European Journal of American Culture, ESSACHESS, and The Journal of European Studies. Among her recent books are: Between History and Personal Narrative: East-European Women’s Stories of Transnational Relocation (co-edited; Vienna and Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2013), and Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Indian Fiction in English (Leiden and Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2015). She is currently completing a book on the global outreach of twentieth century American literature(s).  

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago 60637