a feast of historical prose
The author discovers a manuscript from 1796, which contains the story of a man from Thessaloniki (Leun, aged seventeen), who comes to Bucharest to get rich. He is counting on the generosity of Mavrogheni, the Prince of Wallachia. But arriving in Bucharest, he falls in love with slave girl Maiorca (aged fourteen), who is owned by the boyar Doicescu (aged twenty-five), owner of the Coltea district and one of the pillars of the Bucharest aristocracy. According to the law, if a free man marries a slave, he becomes a slave in his turn, being added to the goods of his wife’s rightful owner, along with his family. The story of Leun has an unusual denouement, which captures the spirit of the Phanariot Age and the Romanian mentality of the time. Based on a historical document, the novel embellishes the tale, transforming it into something fantastical, interwoven with the story of Bucharest under Phanariot rule.