Marin Sorescu

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Marin Sorescu (Romanian pronunciation: [maˈrin soˈresku]; 29 February 1936 - 8 December 1996) was a Romanian poet, playwright, and novelist.

Marin Sorescu was a poet, playwright, prose writer, essayist and translator. His works were translated into more than 20 countries, and the total number of his books that were published abroad rises up to 60 books. He has also been known for his painting, and he opened many art exhibits in Romania and abroad. He occupied the position of Minister of Culture within the Nicolae Văcăroiu Cabinet, without being a member of any political party, after the Romanian revolution of 1989 (from 25 November 1993 to 5 May 1995).


Born to a family of farmworkers in Bulzești, Dolj County, Sorescu graduated from the primary school in his home village. After that he went to the Buzesti Brothers High School in Craiova, after which he was transferred to the Predeal Military School. His final education was at the University of Iaşi, where, in 1960, he graduated with a degree in modern languages. His first book, a collection of parodies in 1964 entitled Singur printre poeţi ("Alone Among Poets"), was widely discussed. He himself called them "sarcastic and awkward". Ten volumes of poetry and prose followed, having a very rapid ascension in the world of literary, as a poet, novelist, playwright, essayist. He grew so popular that his readings were held in football stadiums. In 1971, he was a resident of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

On his poetry, Sorescu said, with characteristic irony: "Just as I can't give up smoking because I don't smoke, I can't give up writing because I have no talent." He often claimed a sense of alienation, saying "the spoken word is a crossed frontier. By the act of saying something, I fail to say many other things." On censorship, he said, after his last, post-1989 Revolution volumes were delayed, "we have won our freedom, so I mustn't complain. O censors, where are you now?"

Sorescu's collection of Censored Poems comprised poems could not be published until the end of the Nicolae Ceauşescu Communist dictatorship; of these, the best known is House under surveillance.

Iona, the play written by Marin Sorescu and first published in 1968 is a true masterpiece. The biblical myth says the prophet Iona was swollen by a whale.[1] In his play, Sorescu takes the story further and imagines what happens to Iona while he was inside the whale. "The most terrible part of the play is when Iona loses his echo", writes Sorescu in the foreword of this play. "Iona was alone, but his echo was whole. He shouted: Io-na, and his echo answered: Io-na. Then, it remained just half of the echo. He shouted Io-na, but all he could hear was Io. Io, in some ancient language, means me".[2] Iona was played to a full house in Bucharest in 1969, but the tragedy was quickly withdrawn, because its content was considered too controversial.[3]

He disappointed some of his admirers by allowing himself to be made Minister of Culture by the unpopular National Salvation Front government between 1993 and 1995.

Ill with cirrhosis and hepatitis, he died from a heart attack at the Elias Hospital in Bucharest, aged 60.


He was also nominated to the Nobel Prize in Literature.


See also[edit]


  • Hands Behind My Back: Selected Poems, trans. Gabriela Dragnea, Adriana Varga, & Stuart Friebert (Oberlin College Press, 1991). ISBN 0-932440-58-4
  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy, pg. 219.