The Book Smuggler

Jan 24, 2019 | Posted by Cristina in Past Newsletters

The text below was sent at the end of 2018 to our newsletter subscribers. If you enjoy it and want more, join us.

Once upon a time, in a village lying at the base of some of the highest Carpathian Mountains, there lived a self-taught shepherd.

He used to cross the Carpathian mountains with his sheep, right between its highest peaks, and secretly bring back with him Romanian-language books. He was giving those away to priests, pupils, teachers and peasants throughout the Transylvanian villages.

Why all the trouble, you might wonder. He wanted to contribute to reunite the Romanians living in Transylvania, a part of the country that back then was under Austro-Hungarian rule, with those from the other side of the Carpathian mountains, who were also Romanian speakers.

This “hobby” got him thrown into prison, and the books were confiscated and burned. Only a personal intervention from the King of Romania’s Old Kingdom made to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor granted the shepherd amnesty and brought his release.

In over 30 years, he managed to smuggle in more than 200,000 books.

However, what he was renowned for was his insatiable thirst for knowledge and seeing with his own eyes all those things that he read about in books.

He walked to Rome, a 1,400 km long journey (that’s 860 miles) that took him two months, only to see for himself Trajan’s Column – an evidence of the Latin origins of his ancestors. He got there late at night, saw the column and, since he was exhausted, wrapped himself in his peasant’s coat and fall asleep right next to it.

The next morning, a policeman woke him up, amused to see that “a Dacian has fallen off the column” (The “Dacians” were a sub-group of Thracian people who inhabited Dacia, located in the area of present-day Romania).

Throughout his life, in pursuit of truth, he continued to visit as many countries as possible. He went to Jerusalem, Constantinople (current Istanbul), Alexandria and Iaffa, Paris, and more.

This is the story of my great-great-great-grandfather, Gheorghe Cârțan, also known as Badea Cârțan. He died in 1911 from complications caused by cold exposure, after an extreme snowstorm caught him by surprise in the mountains.

I grew up listening to stories about his adventures, his bravery, insatiable curiosity, how he always questioned everything and challenged the status quo (my parents even named me after his niece, Cristina).

In the recent years, the overlap between our missions and values became increasingly clearer.

I might not be carrying paper books across the mountains, but I did make it my life’s mission to be an ambassador for the best books and independent thinkers. Well, and one of my favorite activities is running long-distances on the Carpathian mountain trails, but that’s only my way of meditation. :p

Throughout The CEO Library and what I’ve been writing in these newsletters, I encourage you to question everything, enjoy the process of learning, identify credible sources on which you can rely, and improve just 1% every day.

I want to thank for your support so far. I’m glad that you find value in what we’re doing here, at The CEO Library, and will relentlessly pursue the chosen path, together with my colleagues Bobby and Ștefan.

We’re taking a short break for the winter holidays – there will be new materials published on the website and our Instagram, but no emails until 2019, so we can recharge our batteries, regroup and reassess. 🙂

Merry holidays, dear unstoppable learners!

– Cristina, Bobby, Ștefan
The CEO Library team

The text above was sent at the end of 2018 to our newsletter subscribers. If you enjoyed it and want more, join us.

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