Caragiale is one of Romania’s major literary figures, best known for his plays but also his sharp satirical sketches. His short stories paint a discomfiting picture of the pretentiousness of Romanian society in the late 19th Century, although one might argue that the targets of his sarcasm – corruption, snobbishness and self-serving hypocrisy – are universal subjects. Most Romanians can recite many of his catchphrases, but I chose a slightly less well-known short story about helicopter parenting and influencing exam outcomes, which still shows his talent for capturing human foibles and rhythms of speech.
“Let me give you just a few examples of what schools do to the younger generation. I’ve seen children with excellent academic abilities being forced to repeat a year because they didn’t have pass marks in music or PE… You do realise the injustice of that, to be a year behind because of not having musical or athletic aptitude?… You have to agree, this is in the same vein, equally as absurd, as letting a young man who wants to study Law repeat a year because his Ethics is not quite there yet… What does Ethics have to do with practising Law, anyway?… Wouldn’t you agree?”
First published in 1900, you can read a work-in-progress translation of it on my blog