Introduction : Exile-and-Emigration
Sanda Golopenţia

The breaking off stage may be temporary or it may be prolonged indefinitely. Those who exile themselves anticipate at times the moment of their active return to the country they left because they could not serve, dominate or exploit it the way they wanted. Even if their return may never take place, the breaking off of the exiles is minimal, it is a zero degree split, a permanent and tantalizing aspiration to keep being somewhere else than they are or, more exactly, in two places at once. Whether in a neighboring country or somewhere close by (in Switzerland, Germany or England in the case of the aristocrats fleeing the French Revolution), or far away from their homeland (as was the case of the French aristocrats who arrived, at approximately the same time, in North America), the exiles are uninterruptedly living in their country of origin as well. They establish relationships, develop and institutionalize projects, imagine and shape the short or long-term future while always having their home country in mind, as a secret horizon. Temporary emigrants (we may as well call them migrants) such as the inhabitants of the Transylvania and Banat regions ? famous, at the beginning of the 20th century, for their line Merem la America (?We?re agoin? to the America?) ? likewise oscillate between a country with needs galore and the bountiful U.S. where they can earn the magic one thousand dollars needed to start up a household, found a prosperous marriage, or build a solid abode. On the contrary, emigrants of no return, such as the Irish or the Italians in the second half of the XIXth century, break off for good and leave this consummate fracture as an inheritance to their children and children?s children.

Leaving one?s country may be perceived as a temporary or permanent separation not only for personal reasons, but also depending on the historical moment and the psychology of the time. When, after WWII, safe planes and pilots necessary for fleeing Romania became an expensive desired commodity in Bucharest, those who chose to contract such services were still convinced that ?the Americans are going to come? (Vin americanii was the phrase of the moment) and their exile will soon be over. Thirty years later, on the contrary, the idea that the communist regime was immortal became so strong in everybody?s mind, that both exile and emigration came to be lived as plecări definitive(?definitive leavings, leaving for ever?) and seeing the departing ones to the train station or to the airport converted into almost funereal ceremonies. The Romanian exiles were at this point assuming more modest missions: maintaining and passing along the memory of what happened in their and their parents? lives, speaking the truth about what was going on in the country they had left (this is how ?The Truth About Romania? association, founded by Brutus Coste came to be), representing points of competent and correct information in luckier states and cultures. The legal emigrants of the seventies and the eighties used to visit Romania on a regular basis, send their children to the free and prestigious Medicine Schools in Bucharest, Cluj or Iassy, spend their vacations in the Romanian mountains or at the Romanian sea-side, while the exiles, who ?fled?, ?remained? or left after extended public wars with the authorities, vowed to never return, expressing through this self-inflicted painful deprivation their non-acceptance of the regime in power and of its institutions. In contradistinction to the detached and rather apolitical emigrants, for the exiles of that period every gesture was politically significant and had thus to be carefully scrutinized.

Once, and in certain countries, officially imposed, the breaking off of the exile remains a characteristically forced move, even when, after WWII, it is personally revendicated as a gesture of protest and irreducible political opposition. Life itself is at times at stake ? in the case of the exiled of all revolutions, civil wars, regime changes who ask for political asylum; its professional core or its religious drive are risked by many ?from the British puritans who exiled themselves to North America, to the extraordinary Romanian mathematicians who left to the four corners of the world after the Mathematics Institute of the Academy in Bucharest was closed. Those who emigrate due to poverty or absence of civil rights, such as the young sons with no inheritance rights in the 17th and 18th century France or the Romanian peasants in the Austro-Hungarian empire at the beginning of the 20th century, are obliged to go into the wide world (în lumea cea mare) as well. But, in their case, departing occurs in order to give a new impetus to idle luck, and the initiative of leaving, with its mixture of hopelesness and hope, is entirely theirs.

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