Matila Ghyka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Matila Ghyka
Matila Ghyka.jpg
Born (1881-09-13)September 13, 1881
Iaşi, Kingdom of Romania
Died July 14, 1965(1965-07-14) (aged 83)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation Naval Officer, Diplomat, Writer, Mathematician, Aesthetician, Historian
Spouse(s) Eileen O’Conor
Children Maureen Ghyka (1920 – 1979)
Roderick Ghyka (1923 – 1978).
Parents Matila Costiescu (father)
Maria Ghyka (mother)

Prince Matila Costiesco Ghyka, K.C.V.O., M.C. (born Matila Costiescu; September 13, 1881 – July 14, 1965), was a Romanian novelist, mathematician, historian, philosopher, diplomat and Plenipotentiary Minister in the United Kingdom during the late 1930s and until 1940. His first name is sometimes written as Matyla.

Life[edit]

He was born in Iaşi, the former capital of Moldavia, of the Ghica family of boyars. On his mother's side he was the great-grandson of Grigore Alexandru Ghica, last reigning Prince of Moldavia before the union of the Danubian Principalities.[1][2]

As a boy he lived in France studying first at the Salesian Order school in Paris then a Jesuit college in Jersey where he became interested in mathematics. In his early teens he was a cadet at the French Naval Academy in Brest, and of the last generation in the old sailing ship Borda. He became a French Navy midshipman and made a cruise in a frigate to the Caribbean.[3] In later years he attended the High School of Electricity in Paris, and finally at the Faculty of Law of Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he took his doctorate magna cum laude. Ghyka entered the Romanian Navy as a junior officer, serving mainly on the Danube. He was also involved in taking newly constructed river gunboats from the Thames Iron Works to Romania via European waterways. During the First World War he was Romanian Navy liaison officer on the Russian cruiser Rostislav, acting as a shore bombardment director along the Black Sea coast.[4] He had joined the diplomatic service in 1909, being stationed at the Romanian Legations in Rome, Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, Stockholm (as Minister Plenipotentiary) and twice again in London between 1936-1938 and between 1939 and 1940.[5]

In 1918, at the Brompton Oratory, he married Eileen O'Conor (b. 1897, Sankt Petersburg), daughter of the late Sir Nicholas Roderick O'Conor (d. 1908), the former British Ambassador to Istanbul and Saint Petersburg, and Minna Margaret Hope-Scott. During his first diplomatic assignments in London and Paris, Prince Ghyka was introduced by Paul Morand and Prince Antoine Bibesco to the English and French literary circles. He became a friend of Marcel Proust and a "piéton de Paris" with the poet Léon-Paul Fargue. A frequent visitor of Natalie Clifford Barney's literary salon, he also met most of the American "exiled" writers of the 1920s, but his chief interest was always the synthesis of high mathematics and poetry.[5]

Matila Ghyka with family in 1935

After World War II, Ghyka fled Communist Romania, and was visiting professor of aesthetics in the United States, at the University of Southern California and at the Mary Washington College, Virginia. An unassuming scholar, he took a mild interest in politics. His memoirs, which were published in 1961 under the title The World Mine Oyster, concluded with a confident message on the indestructibility of humanism.[5][6]

Grave of Matila Ghyka and his wife in Gunnersbury Cemetery, London

Prince Ghyka died in London and was survived by his son, Prince Roderick Ghyka, and daughter, Princess Maureen Ghyka. He was predeceased by his wife Eileen on February 10, 1963. Both Prince Matila and Princess Eileen are buried in Gunnersbury Cemetery in London. The second photo implies the grave is tippling over, seen on 26 June 2013 it has been restored to the vertical. Location:- section ED Grave 20 [7]

Works[edit]

  • Esthétique des proportions dans la nature et dans les arts (1927) (printed in Italian, Russian, Spanish)
  • Le nombre d'or. Rites et rythmes pythagoriciens dans le development de la civilisation occidentale (1931) which ran into many editions and was prefaced by his friend and admirer Paul Valéry (translated into Italian, Czech, Spanish, Polish)
  • Pluie d'etoiles (1933) (English as Again One Day, 1936) - the only novel Ghyka wrote, printed also in roumanian
  • Essai sur le rythme (1938)
  • Sortileges du verbe (1949), prefaced by Leon-Paul Fargue
  • A Documented Chronology of Roumanian History from Pre-historic Times to the Present Day (1941), printed also in roumanian
  • The Geometry of Art and Life (1946)
  • Tour d'horizon philosophique (1946)
  • A Practical Handbook of Geometry and Design (1952)
  • Philosophie et Mystique du nombre (1952) (translated into Serbian, Spanish, Roumanian)
  • Couleur du monde (1: Escales de ma jeunesse,1955, 2: Heureux qui comme Ulysse, 1956)" (translated into roumanian)
  • The World Mine Oyster. London, Heinemann, 1961 (English version of "Couleur du monde")

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arbre généalogique de la famille Ghyka
  2. ^ GEN-ROYAL-L Archives
  3. ^ Ghyka, Matila - The World Mine Oyster, Heinemann, 1961 pp7-36
  4. ^ Ghyka, Matila - The World Mine Oyster, Heinemann, 1961 pp184-204
  5. ^ a b c Matila Ghyka - The World Mine Oyster, Heinemann, 1961
  6. ^ Mihai Sorin Rădulescu - Pe urmele lui Matila C. Ghyka - România literară October 24–31, 2008 [1]
  7. ^ Find a Grave