The Wedding Book

excerpt Only when, after three hours, Jim breathed the salty air of Constanţa did he regain his self-possession. Medy let them walk through the city and went to prepare the home reception. They took a round in front of Ovid's statue, who looked at them pensively, like at some dolphins in the waves, they stopped in front of the graceful sarcophagus near the City Hall, walked around the mosque and then, chasing a carriage whose tram bell amused them terribly, reached the promenade jetty in front of the Casino. The sea was still and blue and it was only the long rolls of foamy webs that unreeled on the rocks of the jetty with muffled thumps that triggered the water's undulation.The bitter and salty breeze of the thick overwhelming wind unsettled Jim's limbs. He felt his clothes dirty and heavy and, if the etiquette hadn't prevented him, he would have ripped his rags off with an exultant shout and would have jumped in the water, moving his legs to and fro under the waves, like a young centaur. On that land strewn with white buildings, some of which even cubic, the ancient Greek flavor of Scythia Minor could be felt. From every wave lightened by mother-of-pearl flakes it seemed to him that a salt-covered Ulysses pulled his hairy arms out, in a whirling swim, or that a herd of centaurs rushed at once over the water foam. He felt the urge to roll naked over the burning sand on the beach that could be seen nearby, to shoot, kneeling, long arrows in the cymbals of the sun, to run barefoot from the road dust to the glass core of the wave. The buildings and the people seemed to him anachronistic. There should have been Greek stone walls, white columns, people wrapped in white cloth, a civilization in white rock relief, on the seashore. Only when a noisy group of young ladies in bathing suits and still wet passed by him from the beach, did he recognize the natural population of old Tomis. The sun and the open air have pantheistic effects. Jim was imagining himself, without horror, turned into ashes in one of the big ancient stone sarcophagi, with the lid with eves, sunken in the sand field, among the fibrous savory smelling weeds, in the monotonous buzzing of the crickets. He was actually experiencing the voluptuousness of every townsman enfeebled by the clothes of letting himself burnt by the sun, scratched by stones and drenched by water, in order to thus regain on the epidermis his feeling of dependence on the world.This elation lasted for a short while, as a cloud obstructed the feeble autumn sun. The sea suddenly became blue, turning into a funeral lake with crude oil-like waves. The dark green stone jetty seemed a funeral monument and Jim remembered Ovid and Scythia Minor, the Bastarns and the Sauromats overrunning the frozen Istros. Frequent snows transformed the Pontus into Scandinavia, and the crust of ice, beneath which the sea waves roared, was shining in Pole-like sadness. "Brrr, how sinister the Black Sea is!" Dora shuddered. "Let's go to Medy's." 1933

by George Călinescu