Transylvania and Beyond: A Travel Memoir

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While world attention was focused on Bucharest after the execution of Ceausescu, acclaimed travel writer Dervla Murphy spent eight months in Transylvania sharing the everyday lives of ordinary Romanians. Upon her arrival soon after the revolution, Murphy found a nation both exhilarated and bewildered; unlike other East Europeans, the Romanians had had no warning that they were about to be liberated. During a return visit in 1991, she noticed a profound change in the national mood. Candid and eye-opening, Transylvania and Beyond describes a journey on two levels – wandering through the remotest corners of the Carpathians, on foot or by bicycle, and into the often daunting mental terrain of a post-Communist society where nothing is quite as it seems. Murphy was overwhelmed by the warmth of the hospitality she received. In urban blocs, small towns and traditional villages she spent time with teachers, factory-workers, writers, farmers, professors, engineers, vets, army officers, shepherds, students and doctors. As they revealed their hopes, fears and prejudices to her, Dervla gained some unexpected insights into what she calls “one of Europe’s least European countries.”