I am very fond of the journal Romania, particularly in its late-19th-century heyday.
My fondness is personal as much as professional, and at least as subjective as it is the objective result of scholarly solidity and sound serious research. For I am a European and a mongrel, and I spent my formative years in a multilingual mongrel European country at the crossroads of Europe.
For most of my youth I lived actually physically on the language line; a line that dates back to the frontier between Roman colonisation and Roman conquest; nowadays, the infamous French-Flemish language-line. We lived a walk away from one of the great old north-south roads: old seasonal cattle-droving track and ley-line; Roman military and trade route; Medieval trade, pilgrimage, communications superhighway. We were not far from the other main ancient axes radiating outwards from the centre of Belgium, heading to every point of the compass. Belgium is a country whose rich identity is bound up with trade, traffic, accessibility, open dealings, talking to people, and doing so in their own language. A land of fine linguists and of multilingualism; with, yes, its other side in a long history of dodginess, espionage, and other diplomacy. It is unfortunate that the past couple of centuries’ recent history have moved matters and people towards divisions, and separation and separatism; it is, as ever, tempting to be flippant and blame Napoleon. (more…)