User:Andries/Mircea Eliade's cultural legacy

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Mircea Eliade was an influential scholar with an extensive cultural legacy.


An endowed chair in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School was named after Eliade in recognition of his wide contribution to the research on this subject; the current (and first incumbent) holder of this chair is Wendy Doniger.

To evaluate the legacy of Eliade and Joachim Wach within the discipline of the history of religions, the University of Chicago chose 2006 (the intermediate year between the 50th anniversary of Wach's death and the 100th anniversary of Eliade's birth), to hold a two-day conference in order to reflect upon their academic contributions and their political lives in their social and historical contexts, as well as the relationship between their works and their lives.[1]

In 1990, after the Romanian Revolution, Eliade was elected posthumously to the Romanian Academy. In Romania, Mircea Eliade's legacy in the field of the history of religions is mirrored by the journal Archaeus (founded 1997, and affiliated with the University of Bucharest Faculty of History). The 6th European Association for the Study of Religion and International Association for the History of Religions Special Conference on Religious History of Europe and Asia took place from September 20 to September 23, 2006, in Bucharest. An important section of the Congress was dedicated to the memory of Mircea Eliade, whose legacy in the field of history of religions was scrutinized by various scholars, some of whom were his direct students at the University of Chicago.[2]

As Antohi noted, Eliade, Emil Cioran and Constantin Noica "represent in Romanian culture ultimate expressions of excellence, [Eliade and Cioran] being regarded as proof that Romania's interwar culture (and, by extension, Romanian culture as a whole) was able to reach the ultimate levels of depth, sophistication and creativity."[3] A Romanian Television 1 poll carried out in 2006 nominated Mircea Eliade as the 7th Greatest Romanian in history; his case was argued by the writer Dragoş Bucurenci (see 100 greatest Romanians). His name was given to a boulevard in the northern Bucharest area of Primăverii, to a street in Cluj-Napoca, and to high schools in Bucharest, Sighişoara, and Reşiţa. The Eliades' house on Melodiei Street was torn down during the communist regime, and an apartment block was raised in its place; his second residence, on Dacia Boulevard, features a memorial plaque in his honor.[4]

Eliade's image in contemporary culture also has political implications. Historian Irina Livezeanu proposed that the respect he enjoys in Romania is marched by that of other "nationalist thinkers and politicians" who "have reentered the contemporary scene largely as heroes of a pre- and anticommunist past", including Nae Ionescu and Cioran, but also Ion Antonescu and Nichifor Crainic.[5] In parallel, according to Oişteanu (who relied his assessment on Eliade's own personal notes), Eliade's interest in the American hippie community was reciprocated by members of the latter, some of whom reportedly viewed Eliade as "a guru".[6]

Eliade has also been hailed as an inspiration by German representatives of the Neue Rechte, claiming legacy from the Conservative Revolutionary movement (among them is the controversial magazine Junge Freiheit and the essayist Karlheinz Weißmann).[7] In 2007, Florin Ţurcanu's biographical volume on Eliade was issued in a German translation by the Antaios publishing house, which is mouthpiece for the Neue Rechte.[7] The edition was not reviewed by the mainstream German press.[7] Other sections of the European far right also claim Eliade as an inspiration, and consider his contacts with the Iron Guard to be a merit—among their representatives are the Italian neofascist Claudio Mutti and Romanian groups who trace their origin to the Legionary Movement.[8]

Portrayals, filmography and dramatizations[edit]

Early on, Mircea Eliade's novels were the subject of satire: before the two of them became friends, Nicolae Steinhardt, using the pen name Antisthius, authored and published parodies of them.[9] Maitreyi Devi, who strongly objected to Eliade's account of their encounter and relationship, wrote her own novel as a reply to his Maitreyi; written in Bengali, it was titled Na Hanyate (translated into English as "It Does Not Die").[10] Several authors, including Ioan Petru Culianu, have drawn a parallel between Eugène Ionesco's Absurdist play of 1959, Rhinoceros, which depicts the population of a small town falling victim to a mass metamorphosis, and the impact fascism had on Ionesco's closest friends (Eliade included).[11]

In 2000, Saul Bellow published his controversial Ravelstein novel. Having for its setting the University of Chicago, it had among its characters Radu Grielescu, who was identified by several critics as Eliade. The latter's portrayal, accomplished through statements made by the eponymous character, is polemical: Grielescu, who is identified as a disciple of Nae Ionescu, took part in the Bucharest Pogrom, and is in Chicago as a refugee scholar, searching for the friendship of a Jewish colleague as a means to rehabilitate himself.[12] In 2005, the Romanian literary critic and translator Antoaneta Ralian, who was an acquaintance of Bellow's, argued that much of the negative portrayal was owed to a personal choice Bellow made (after having divorced from Alexandra Bagdasar, his Romanian wife and Eliade disciple).[13] She also mentioned that, during a 1979 interview, Bellow had expressed admiration for Eliade.[13]

The 1988 film The Bengali Night, directed by Nicolas Klotz and based upon the French translation of Maitreyi, stars British actor Hugh Grant as Allan, the European character based on Eliade, while Supriya Pathak is Gayatri, a character based on Maitreyi Devi (who had refused to be mentioned by name).[10] The film, considered "pornographic" by Hindu activists, was only shown once in India.[10] In addition to The Bengali Night, films based on, or referring to, his works, include: Mircea Eliade et la redécouverte du Sacré (1987), part of the television series Architecture et Géographie sacrée, by Paul Barbă Neagră; Domnişoara Christina (1996), by Viorel Sergovici; Eu Adam (1996), by Dan Piţa; Youth Without Youth (2007), by Francis Ford Coppola.

Eliade's Iphigenia was again included in theater programs during the late years of the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime: in January 1982, a new version, directed by Ion Cojar, premiered at the National Theater Bucharest, starring Mircea Albulescu, Tania Filip and Adrian Pintea in some of the main roles.[14] Dramatizations based on his work include La Ţigănci, which has been the basis for two theater adaptations: Cazul Gavrilescu ("The Gavrilescu Case"), directed by Gelu Colceag and hosted by the Nottara Theater,[15] and an eponymous play by director Alexandru Hausvater, first staged by the Odeon Theater in 2003 (starring, among others, Adriana Trandafir, Florin Zamfirescu, and Carmen Tănase).[16] In March 2007, on Eliade's 100th birthday, the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company hosted the Mircea Eliade Week, during which radio drama adaptations of several works were broadcast.[17] In September of that year, director and dramatist Cezarina Udrescu staged a multimedia performance based on a number of works Mircea Eliade wrote during his stay in Portugal; titled Apocalipsa după Mircea Eliade ("The Apocalypse According to Mircea Eliade"), and shown as part of a Romanian Radio cultural campaign, it starred Ion Caramitru, Oana Pellea and Răzvan Vasilescu.[18] Domnişoara Christina has been the subject of two operas: the first, carrying the same Romanian title, was authored by Romanian composer Şerban Nichifor and premiered in 1981 at the Romanian Radio;[19] the second, titled La señorita Cristina, was written by Spanish composer Luis de Pablo and premiered in 2000 at the Teatro Real in Madrid.[20]


  1. ^ Conference on Hermeneutics in History: Mircea Eliade, Joachim Wach, and the Science of Religions, at the University of Chicago Martin Marty Center. Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion; retrieved July 29, 2007
  2. ^ The Sixth EASR and IAHR Special Conference; retrieved July 29, 2007
  3. ^ Antohi, preface to Liiceanu, p.xxiii
  4. ^ (Spanish) Sergio Vila-Sanjuán, "Paseo por el Bucarest de Mircea Eliade" ("Passing through Mircea Eliade's Bucharest"), in La Vanguardia, May 30, 2007; retrieved January 16, 2008
  5. ^ Irina Livezeanu, Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building and Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930, Cornell University Press, New York City, 1995, p.x. ISBN 0801486882
  6. ^ Oişteanu, "Mircea Eliade şi mişcarea hippie"
  7. ^ a b c (Romanian) "Biografia lui Mircea Eliade la o editură germană radicală de dreapta" ("Mircea Eliade's Biography at a Right-Wing Radical German Publishing House"), in Altitudini, Nr. 17, July 2007; retrieved November 8, 2007
  8. ^ Oişteanu, "Angajamentul..."
  9. ^ Steinhardt, in Handoca
  10. ^ a b c Ginu Kamani, "A Terrible Hurt: The Untold Story behind the Publishing of Maitreyi Devi", at the University of Chicago Press website; retrieved July 16, 2007
  11. ^ Oişteanu, "Angajamentul..."; Ornea, p.19, 181
  12. ^ (Romanian) Mircea Iorgulescu, "Portretul artistului ca delincvent politic" ("The Portrait of the Artist as a Political Offender"), Part I, in 22, Nr.637, May 2002; retrieved July 16, 2007
  13. ^ a b (Romanian) Antoaneta Ralian, interviewed on the occasion of Saul Bellow's death, BBC Romania, April 7, 2005 (hosted by; retrieved July 16, 2007
  14. ^ (Romanian) Radu Albala, "Teatrul Naţional din Bucureşti. Ifigenia de Mircea Eliade" ("National Theater Bucharest. Ifigenia by Mircea Eliade"), in Teatru, Vol. XXVII, Nr. 2, February 1982 — text facsimile republished by the Institute for Cultural Memory; retrieved January 19, 2008
  15. ^ (Romanian) Irina-Margareta Nistor, "Un cuplu creator de teatru - Gelu şi Roxana Colceag" ("A Theater Producing Couple - Gelu and Roxana Colceag"), September 2001, at the LiterNet publishing house; retrieved January 18, 2008
  16. ^ (Romanian) "La ţigănci... cu Popescu" (To the Gypsy Girls... with Popescu"), in Adevărul, May 31, 2003; retrieved December 4, 2007
  17. ^ (Romanian) "Săptămâna Mircea Eliade la Radio România" ("The Mircea Eliade Week on Radio Romania") (2007 press communique), at the LiterNet publishing house; retrieved December 4, 2007
  18. ^ (Romanian) "Scrieri de Eliade şi Vişniec, în cadrul festivalului Enescu" ("Texts by Eliade and Vişniec, as Part of the Enescu Festival"), in Gândul, September 12, 2007; retrieved December 4, 2007
  19. ^ (Romanian) Săptămâna Internaţională a Muzicii Noi. Ediţia a 14-a - 23-30 Mai 2004. Detalii festival ("The International New Music Week. 14th Edition - May 23-30, 2004. Festival Details", at the Institute for Cultural Memory; retrieved February 18, 2008
  20. ^ (Romanian) Joaquín Garrigós, "Pasiunea lui Mircea Eliade pentru Spania" ("Mircea Eliade's Passion for Spain"), in Dilema Veche, Vol. IV, October 2007; retrieved January 21, 2008