The Last Winter describes the agony of a researcher and, broadly speaking, of the honest Romanian intelligentsia, in the muddled period that followed the overturn of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship in late 1989. The deprivations that politicians imposed on the Romanian public for the sake of an ambivalent switch to the market economy and delusive future welfare took a serious toll on the country. The lead character, a researcher, found himself caught between two ostensibly different worlds that hardly differed in reality, insofar as they were products of the same clique of politicians that only paid lip service to Eastern Europe’s political U-turn of the 1990s. Persecuted under the Communist regime, the character has trouble adjusting to the mock capitalism that follows. His is a self- denying struggle for preserving the fundamental values of humankind embodied by the endangered library-that of his own research institute and its symbolic counterpart, Assurbanipal’s famous library in Nineveh. The researcher is killed while unsuccessfully trying to save the former but compensates by saving the latter in his dying hour’s visions-a silver lining to this gloomy ending as the author believes that fundamental values will eventually prevail.
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