The Vandals' Academy

Bucharest, the city of all filth, all sorts of architectural absurdities, moronic and petty houses, disgusting hotels, stinky pubs… Bucharest full of flies and primitive latrines; Bucharest with no water and few sewers; Bucharest with horse-drawn trams; Bucharest with asphalted alleys in view of conserving the eternal mud – but also, Bucharest full of pompous and inflated monuments; the capital of bad taste and crime, or that of municipal Byzantium; a metropolis of bed bugs, rats, whores, political maneuvers, fraud, flunkeyism, syphilis, Romanian Writers' Society, international fashion shops, degradation, luxurious rags, gossip, carriages and cripples, scaredy-cats and obnoxious fellows; Bucharest, the city of greed, the pig of the Orient, the cemetery of feelings and ideals. Etc., etc., etc. It's enough to cross this city, our pride and joy, and look at it from uphill to see how small and ridiculous it is. The most fantastic alignments, the most disgusting hygiene, the most ephemeral plans. Bucharest's toilets are involved in politics too, much like most of its remarkable men. We show as much respect for the infected corner of a street, a deposit of excrements, as for a minister, as soon as it belongs to a partisan, and the latter may take his "house" further over the line by 10 meters when building a new series of matchboxes for rent, or better yet he may start building it from the middle of the road, so that for yet another half a century it will stand in the way of a number of three hundred thousand citizens. Translated by Daniela Oancea

by Tudor Arghezi (1880-1967)