Mihai Eminescu
Thinker, writer, journalist (1850-1889)

“The universe strains its efforts in every man. Isman aquestion?”
“Eminescu is not known entirely even to the specialists, if truth be told.
And this may be clearly pointed out: in the thousands of pages of Eminescu’s
manuscripts, dozens of pages are written in German.
To our knowledge, nobody has yet deciphered and used them.”
Constantin Noica

      A character, a great thinker, a great writer, a genius - he is often presented in aminimalist, reductionist manner as: the national poet. A great economic thinker, given the exceptional fact that he saw and understood the whole and not only the relations between the parts, as great economists do today, 135 years later, through the contributions of dozens of personalities in the field. Here is the essence of the national economy, in short, straight forwardly, without any embellishments: “the freedom of productive labour is the engine of society, and the core that gives it consistency is capital.” And here is the conclusion of an infallible demonstration in the article “Economic Parallels” (from Timpul, Time, the issue of 13 December 1877), which raises the crucial issue of national labour productivity : “We must by no means remain an agricultural people, but we must also become an industrial nation…” An exceptional thinker, topical even in the third millennium, he very acutely observed: “It is obvious that wealth can only be earned either through direct labour, hence through the use of muscular or nervous force, or through the valorisation of labour through capital. When we see the red millionaires: Stolojan, Carada, etc., making a fortune without working and without capital, there can be no doubt that what they have was lost by someone - without compensation. Tertium non datur. There is no other source of wealth than either actual and capitalised labour, or larceny, theft, legal or illegal.” But as the philosopher Constantin Noica noted: “Eminescu’ scelebration has not seized the entire Romanian cultural community, because there are still few people who know about it.” Today, after 50 years of Bolshevik darkness, Eminescu’s moral stature is as fruitful as his philosophical, economic, historical work was and still is. He could be bought by no one, which is why he was in conflict with some of his contemporaries. Many did not understand him. Many hate him, because looking at themselves in Eminescu, they see themselves as they actually are –hideous or petty and trivial. He could be bought by no one because he was too big! The Director of the National Printing House in Iaşi asked him to write in the newspaper Curierul de Iasi several lines in defence of a friend, the mayor of Iasi, attacked in another publication. All the editors in the world do such favours, but Eminescu did not! When it came to his being conferred a royal distinction, Eminescu energetically opposed this: “Himself a King of human thought, which other King could have distinguishedshim?” - Titu Maiorescu wondered. The intransigent P. Carp was angry with the “clever folks”fromTimpul because in Letter IIIEminescu had indictedthe offspring of both the Liberal bankers and the Conservative landowners who wasted their time, wealth and youthsin the brothels of Paris. The almighty Conservative minister, Alexandru Lahovari, accused Eminescu, during the War of Independence, thatshe had sided with the Liberals: “Mr. Lahovari”, Eminescu answeredshim in the first phase, “war is a serious, nationalsproblem, which must beadsdressed abovesand beyond partysstrife.” Slavici remembered: “Eminescu was both relentless towards the party members when they happened to fall into sin, and capable of praising good deeds even if they were committed by political opponents.” Eminescu could not make compromises, as Tudor Arghezi pithily put it: “He was a man, a whole man. Otherwise, he could not have been what he was and is.” Eminescu was criticised ignobly, indirectly, through second-rate intermediaries, for having condemned usury. The orchestrators of his denigration forget, however, the essential - north of Maramureş and Ţara de sus, their coreligionists were subjected to pogroms at that time, and for them Moldova, with its gentle Moldovans, was then more than a promised land - a realm in which they found salvation.

* * *

      How did his contemporaries see him? Here is how Caragiale described him on their first encounter, in their youth: “He was a beauty! A classical face, surrounded by long dark hair; A high and serene forehead, large eyes - through these windows of the soul one could see that there was someone inside; a gentle and deeply melancholic smile. He had the air of a young saint descended from an ancient icon, a child destined to pain,on whose countenance one could detect the imprint of future suffering.”
       Anghel Demetriescu described him: “His Apollo-like head was adorned with luscious, shiny hair, his forehead was high and slightly curved backwards, hisfacial features were harmonious and hisexpression virile…”
       Nicu Gane exclaimed: “What a forehead... laden with thoughts! What amajestic and pensive gaze, stemming from the noblest human heart... You might have said hewas hovering in a supraworldly atmosphere! ‘
       Al. Vlahuţă thought: “People like Eminescu arise at a distance of centuries in the existence of a people.”
       Ioan Slavici recalled: “It was a heart-felt joy not only for him, but also for those with whom talked: one today, tomorrow another, for he was open hearted, radiant, expressive and full of verve, and made you feel better, smarter and worthier after spending hours under his sway.”
       Iacob Negruzzi recognised him without having ever seen him: “Suddenly the door opens and I see a lean, pale young man entering, his eyes both vibrant and dreamy, with long dark hair... with a gentle and melancholic smile, with a tall, intelligent forehead... As soon as I saw him, I was convincedhe was Eminescu.”
       Alecsandri wrote in the poem “To Some Critics”: “Is there a man who sings sweeter than me? The higher will fare the country and so will he! May he go forth and get as high as the skies, And then my sunset surely will bow to his sunrise.”
       Iorga considered him “The full expression of the Romanian soul.”
       Noica arguably regarded him: “The epitome of Romanian culture.”
       In The Transfiguration of Romania, Cioran was bewildered: “Aside from Eminescu, everything is approximate in Romanian culture. None of us has boasted about him. For have we not all declared him an inexplicable exception among us? What was the one who would have made evena Buddha jealous doing here? Without Eminescu, we would have known that we could only be essentially mediocre...”
       Liviu Rebreanu contended that: “The collaboration between the most modest Romanian and the greatest poet set the general line of Romanian literary originality”
       Mircea Vulcănescu believed that: “We will never talk enough about the phenomenon that the great Mihai Eminescu represented for the entire Romanian culture.”
       Referring to shallow criticism being stuck in Schopenhauerianism and Buddhism, Blaga retrieves the essence of Eminescu in his chapter“Moulding and Catalytic Influences”:
       “In terms of poetic material, Cosbuc is more Romanian than Eminescu. However, Cosbuc achieves Romanianness by describing folklore life. Moreover, Cosbuc’s temperament is also an echo of the rustic temperament. In Eminescu’s work, the Romanian stylistic matrix, with its deeply unconscious apriorism, becomes the creator on a foremostlevel. Eminescu’s Romanianism is sublimed,complex, and creative. He is closer to the Romanian idea, while Coşbuc is closer to the Romanian phenomena. Coşbuc represents the Romanian people through a kind of plebiscitary consent, while Eminescu represents it through a kind of divinely ordained legitimism. Our criticism has insisted on perpetuating taken an entirely regrettable confusion at every step, and we have tried to dispel it.”
      There have recently appeared more and more data and documents that endorse the conclusion whereby Mihai Eminescu was the target of Austria-Hungary’s intelligence services, which “prepared” his ending. O.C.

       How Eliade saw Eminescu
      “Mihai Eminescu, the great man of genius was, at the same time, a very cultivated man, a true universal man. He studied everything from philosophy to linguistics, from economic politics to folklore and occultism- eager to acquire encyclopaedic but also profound knowledge. Despite this, his creations, which sometimes preserve even the forms of folk poetry, are the absolute expression of the genius of the Romanian people. Eminescu’s productions have occupied a place in the history of world literature precisely because they are not a repetition of foreign works, but because they have brought a note of originality and novelty. His poem “Luceafărul”*, considered by critics as one “of the most beautiful poems of nineteenth-century European poetry, reveals to us the eternal tragedy of the genius, who knows immortality, but can never know terrestrial adventure; the “action” of this poem takes place on the one hand, in a cosmic setting and, on the other hand, in a Romanian legendary castle. The poem was written in a splendid folk rhythm, which is nonetheless new, unmistakable. In his masterpiece “Luceafărul,” Eminescu is not only a typical example for Romanian cultivated literature, but, to a certain extent, he is the definition of that culture. True, what compels attention in the Romanian culture is the fact that the majority of the creative geniuses are extremely cultivated people and good patriots at the same time, people who love very much their county. We have already mentioned Prince Dimitrie Cantemir. He was the one to inaugurate the tradition of the “universal man” along with a Romanianism that has endured to the day, and for which he was sometimes accused of “hot-headed nationalisms” by his contemporaries. Eminescu was of the same breed. He translated from Kant and read the Upanishads, he was a national prophet, the true author of Romanian poetical nationalism.”

       * Luceafărul (Lat. Lucifer) is the Romanian name given to the planet Venus (Morning or Evening star), which heralds the coming of the morning; it also means a guiding star, a perfect, luminous, brilliant appearance, etc. - our note.

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