Behind the Iron Curtain seventy million people, all of them heirs of ancient civilizations, inhibit the six countries between Vienna and the Black Sea. Leslie Gardiner has been quietly travelling these parts on and off for the past 15 years and introduces them to us in a terse, springy, humorous manner all his own.
He presents Albania via a weird modern-dress performance of Bohème in Durrë (the ancient Dyrrachium) and the weekly denunciation session in a village school. Romania – that 'raffish, cocky, cringing, cynical and enigmatic nation with the largest gipsy population in Europe' – is interpreted to us through some surprising scenes of modern life in the Danube delta, and through the eyes of the romantic, ill-starred, British-born Marie of Romania, queen and novelist. In Bulgaria, least sophisticated of the three, he sleeps the night out in a rose orchard and has his heart broken by an official lady guide in Sofia . . . Six or more sketches on each suffice to give a fair picture of these countries, caught up today in the more or less agonizing process of modernization.
This edition is published by the Readers Union Group of Book Clubs. Originally published by Duckworth.
1. Thoughts of Chairman Misto - I
9. Pillar of Heaven
15. Moonlight and Roses