The Hatchet (orig. Romanian: Baltagul) is a 1930 crime novel written by Mihail Sadoveanu. The main character of the novel is the wife of a shepherd living in the Moldavian village of Măgura Tarcăului, Vitoria Lipan, which has a premonition that her husband, Nechifor, on a trip to buy a new flock in the town of Dorna, has died. Her premonitions are dismissed by the village's priest and by the prefect of the county, but for Vitoria the archaic symbols and superstitions of the peasant world are more trustworthy than the books of the priests or the science of the government's officials. She calls home her son, Gheorghiţă, who was also on business in Jijia village where he waited for news from his father to pay some debts, and together they embark on a mythical journey at the end of which they find Nechifor's dead body and take their revenge on the thieves who killed him. The determined and clever Vitoria Lipan is a unique female character in the Romanian traditionalist novel despite the known female stereotype.The Hatchet is considered Sadoveanu's greatest work and a creative adaptation of many themes from a famous Romanian piece of folklore, the ballad Mioriţa.
The main inspiration source was based on the popular ballad „Miorița” that took the symbol, the epic structure, the conflict between the three villagers and the perseverance that begins in the search of the killed villager. The author also inspired from other popular ballads by Vasile Alecsandri from the middle of the 19th century: „Șalga” - that took the example of a courageous woman villager that begins the adventure to search the groups of thieves and revenges in a dreadful way for robbing them - and „Dolca” - that takes the link between the human and the nature.The Hatcher is considered a monograph of a traditional romanian village because it shows the aspects of the villager typology with romanian traditions and the superstitions: baptism, wedding, and funeral. The title is based on the justice weapon that in a way made both criminals confess but also refers to the weapon that the dead shepherd been murdered with. The novel been parted in 16 chapters.
The novel was made into an eponymous movie, directed by Mircea Mureșan after its scenario. The official premiere of the movie been launched in October 1969.
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