Trafika Europe 8 - Romanian Holiday

The Phanariot Manuscript [Excerpt]

Translated by Liana Grama & Andrew K. Davidson

Prologue No story begins on the first page of a book. The Phanariot Manuscript is no exception. A possible beginning could be in Sarai Library, where Sultan Selim III came across some compositions written so cautiously that the musical notes looked like mosquitos drowning in coffee. Selim hummed the tune, as usual. Itwas a cheerful thing. It startedoffwith some short pattering and continued in an ample manner, which made it impossible not to realise how many had put their heart into that song. He felt the paper, ignoring

the tiny signature found in the corners. The same hand had written under the notes in a careful language, as if especially to remind him of the flawless bead-like figure of his first teacher. The tune flowed with the words. There were three stanzas that praised a city of all types of happiness. The song went to his heart and by evening the entire palace had learned it and from there it spread to the streets and, moreover, to the taverns. Firstly, because it came from the great Selim, but also because it was a lively tune, which made your heart flutter


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