Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu distinguished herself by a work whose "hard-to-relate-to originality constantly stirred the mystery." Highly appreciated by the members of the Zburatorul circle, the novelty of the writer's style and vision, however, was hard to see by the public and the literary critics of the time.
In Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu's case, there is no Eros, only eroticism." (Protopopescu 2000: 121, 129, 130).
In an interview, she actually showed herself surprized that illness was not a central theme in every novelist, as it represented "the natural compromise between life and death, the adventurous struggle between the two equal forces." Illness is, therefore, for Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu, a privileged field, where the novelist finds herself in the vantage point, at the limit between life and death, where human personality and its depths are more accessible to the eye." Thus, illness becomes an experimental modality in the novel, as it was, in science, for the representative of the psycho-pathological method of Theodule Ribot" (Lazarescu 1983: 210-211).
"Seeing Battle, Knowing War: Feminist Re-Visioning in Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu
's 'The Man Whose Heart They Could See.'" Journal of International Women's Studies 4.3 (May 2003): 98-108.
As an exploration of the themes of disillusionment and the failure of language, Romanian writer Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu's "The Man Whose Heart They Could See" would seem to share much with better-known men's writing on the war such as Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms or Henri Barbusse's Le Feu: Journal d'une Escouade.
"First man; then, when hit, animal, writhing and thrashing in articulate agony or making horrible snoring noises; then a 'thing.'" Thus Paul Fussell, in The Great War and Modern Memory, paraphrases the soldier-poet Charles Sorley's graphic description of the three stages of what Fussell refers to as "the transformation of man into corpse." (5) As a Red Cross nurse during World War I, the Romanian writer Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu was surely all-too-familiar with this transformation.
(6) Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu, "The Man Whose Heart They Could See," trans.
Parvu treats each of the novels in a separate chapter and in chronological order: Nicolae Filimon's Bourgeois Old and New (1863); Ioan Slavici's Mara (1906); Duiliu Zamfirescu's Tanase Scatiu (1907); Liviu Rebreanu's Ion (1920), The Forest of the Hanged (1922), and The Uprising (1932); Ionel Teodoreanu's At Medeleni (1927); Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu
's Concert of the Music of Bach (1927); Cezar Petrescu's At Dusk (1928); Mihail Sadoveanu's Ancuta's Inn (1928), The Hatchet (1930), and The Jderi Brothers (1942); Mateiu I.
Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu (1876-1955) Often sick after World War II.
Opere de Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu, pp VII-LXXVII.