Constantin Virgil Gheorghiu

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C.V. Gheorghiu

Constantin Virgil Gheorghiu (Romanian pronunciation: [konstanˈtin virˈd͡ʒil ɟe̯orˈɟi.u]; September 15, 1916 – June 22, 1992 in Paris, France) was a Romanian writer, best known for his 1949 novel, The 25th Hour, Editura Omegapres Bucharest (1991) & Editions du Rocher Paris.


Virgil Gheorghiu was born in Valea Albă, a village in Războieni Commune, Neamţ County, in Romania. His father was an Orthodox priest in Petricani. A top student, he attended high school in Chişinău from 1928 to June 1936, after which he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Bucharest and at the Heidelberg University.

Between 1942 and 1943, during the regime of General Ion Antonescu, he served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania as an embassy secretary. He went into exile when Soviet troops entered Romania in 1944. Arrested at the end of World War II by American troops, he eventually settled in France in 1948. A year later, he published the novel Ora 25 (in French: La vingt-cinquième heure; in English: The Twenty-Fifth Hour), written during his captivity.

Gheorghiu was ordained a priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Paris on May 23, 1963. In 1966, Patriarch Justinian awarded him the cross of the Romanian Patriarchate for his liturgical and literary activities.[citation needed]

He is buried in the Passy Cemetery, in Paris.

The 25th Hour[edit]

Gheorghiu's best-known book depicts the plight of a naive Romanian young farmhand, Johann Moritz, under German, Soviet and American occupation of Central Europe. Johann is sent to a labor camp by a police captain who covets his wife, Suzanna. At first, he is tagged as "Jacob Moritz", a Jew. Then, he and fellow Jewish prisoners escape to Hungary, where he is interned as a citizen of an enemy country. The Hungarian government sends its foreign residents as Hungarian "voluntary workers to Nazi Germany". Later, "Moritz Ianos" is "rescued" by a Nazi officer who determines he is a perfect Aryan specimen, and forces him into service in the Waffen SS as a model for German propaganda. Imprisoned after the war, he is severely beaten by his Russian captors, then put on trial by Allied forces because of his work for the Nazis. Meanwhile, Traian, son of the priest Koruga who employed Moritz in their Romanian village, is a famous novelist and minor diplomat whose first internment comes when he is picked up as an enemy alien by the Yugoslavs. Once imprisoned, the two heroes begin an odyssey of torture and despair. Traian Koruga is deeply unsettled because what he sees as the machinism and inhumanity of the "Western technical society", where individuals are treated as members of a category. He was writing a book within a book, "The 25th Hour", about Johann Moritz and the ordeal awaiting mankind. In the end, Traian suicides in an American-Polish concentration camp, while Johann is forced by the Americans to choose between either enlisting in the army, just as World War III is about to start, or to be interned in a camp (as well as his family) as a citizen from an enemy country.

The book was published in French translation in 1949 and was not published in Romania until 1991 (first time published in Romania by Editura Omegapres, Bucharest, 1991).

In 1967, Carlo Ponti produced a film based on Gheorghiu's book. The movie was directed by Henri Verneuil, with Anthony Quinn as Johann, Virna Lisi as Suzanna, and Serge Reggiani as Traian.


  • Ora 25, 1949. The twenty-fifth hour (translated from the Romanian by Rita Eldon), Alfred A Knopf, NY, 1950
  • La seconde chance, 1952
  • L'homme qui voyagea seul, 1954
  • Le peuple des immortels, 1955
  • Les sacrifiés du Danube, 1957
  • Saint Jean bouche d'or, 1957
  • Les mendiants de miracles, 1958
  • La cravache, 1960
  • Perahim, 1961
  • La maison de Petrodava (translated from the Romanian by Livia Lamoure), Éditions Plon, 1961
  • La vie de Mahomet (translated from the Romanian by Livia Lamoure), Éditions Plon, 1963. Éditions du Rocher, 1999, ISBN 2-268-03275-2
  • Les immortels d'Agapia, 1964. Éditions Gallimard, 1998 ISBN 2-07-040287-8. The immortals of the mountain (translated from the French by Milton Stansbury), Regnery Publishing, Chicago, 1969
  • La jeunesse du docteur Luther (translated from the Romanian by Livia Lamoure), Éditions Plon, 1965
  • De la vingt-cinquième heure à l'heure éternelle, Éditions Plon, 1965. Éditions du Rocher, 1990, ISBN 2-268-01038-4
  • Le meurtre de Kyralessa, 1966. The Death of Kyralessa (translated from the French by Marika Mihalyi), Regnery Publishing, Chicago, 1968, ISBN 0-8371-7991-2
  • La tunique de peau, Éditions Plon, 1967
  • La condottiera, Rombaldi, Collection Le Club de la Femme, 1969
  • Pourquoi m'a-t-on appelé Virgil?, Éditions Plon, 1968
  • La vie du patriarche Athénagoras, Éditions Plon, 1969
  • L'espionne, Éditions Plon, 1973. Éditions du Rocher, 1990, ISBN 2-268-00985-8
  • Dieu ne reçoit que le dimanche, Éditions Plon, 1975
  • Les inconnus de Heidelberg, Éditions Plon, 1977, ISBN 2-259-00195-5
  • Le grand exterminateur, Éditions Plon, 1978, ISBN 2-259-00323-0
  • Les amazones du Danube, Éditions Plon, 1978, ISBN 2-259-00402-4
  • Dieu a Paris, Éditions Plon, 1980, ISBN 2-259-00613-2
  • Mémoires: Le témoin de la vingt-cinquième heure, Éditions Plon, 1986, ISBN 2-259-01435-6

External links[edit]