Synopsis of Vasile Ernu’s Born in the USSR

Vasile Ernu | November 01, 2008
Translated by: Florin Bican


The Observer Translation Project cites “ The Ironical Lucidity of a Man ‘Born in the USSR’” in this brief synopsis of Vasile Ernu’s Born in the USSR.



Born in the USSR is a small encyclopedia of daily life in the Soviet Union, which didn’t lack enjoyable aspects. Some were creations of the regime (the pioneers’ camps, for instance), others were created by the “Soviet people” in the context imposed by the regime (the rustic parties that followed May 1st demonstrations, for example), and finally, through a bizarre transformation of a phenomenon into its opposite, there were theoretically negative situations that morphed into pretexts for having fun: standing in line the grocery stores, for instance. Vasile Ernu talks ironically and softly about the small pleasures of the Soviet people. Sometimes regrets the vanishing of all these things. But you must be devoid of humor to take the following lines ad litteram:  “Such a shame that these capitalists succeeded in producing so many commodities that they overcame our ability to construct lines. The commodity production outnumbered the line production and transformed us from proletarians with a higher conscience into low-life consumers. The dictatorship of the commodity overcame the dictatorship of the line. And the Soviet “civil society” stood aside and watched a commercial break” (p. 203).


                        Florin Constantiniu, Dosarele Istorie, Nr. 7 (119), 2006.


About this issue

This July, The Observer Translation Project leaves its usual format to present a special CRISIS ISSUE. Things are tough all over. Hard Times suddenly feels like the book of the moment. The global economic crisis impacts life as we know it, and viewed from Bucharest the effects reverberate in domains that include geo-politics and publishing in Romania and abroad, with the crisis at The Observer Translation Project as an instance of a universal phenomenon. read more...

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