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Ineditul jurnal din 1930-1931 al lui Mihail Sebastian – un preview al întregii sale opere

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Mihail Sebastian’s Unpublished Diary From 1930-1931: A Preview of His Entire Work

Abstract: In this essay I bring to attention the event of the recent discovery of an unpublished diary of the Romanian-Jewish literary critic, writer, and diarist Mihail Sebastian (1907-1945). This diary—written between 1930 and 1931—contains fragments that were published in the press of the author’s time (in 1932), but also some passages that remain unpublished until today. All the passages related to the author’s Jewish origins and his anguish of living in a “closed and defined circle,” a metaphor for the real or symbolic ghetto, are unpublished. Also, these unpublished passages expose his strategy for creating and publishing prose fiction: since they are the work of a Jewish author, the characters would be impossible to conceive of as anything other than “Jews,” but, upon publication, the author would delegate them a non-Jewish identity. This strategy would allow Sebastian’s “Jewish-Romanian” “truths” to be communicated publicly, but without explicitly assuming them as such. The information provided by the unpublished fragments of this diary—nowhere expressed so firmly and transparently in author’s writing—reconfigure how Sebastian’s entire oeuvre is to be interpreted, from the first prose fiction intended for publication to his (private) diary, partially published after 1989. I will show in this essay, following unpublished passages from this journal between 1930 and 1931, that all of Sebastian’s writings—both those that apparently ignore the theme of Jewishness and those that approach it head-on—are permeated by the same anguish: the anguish of living and writing in a “closed circle,” a feeling heightened by the increasingly anti-Semitic atmosphere in 1930s Romania. I also prove that Sebastianʼs strategies of obscuring his Jewish identity and indirectly communicating his “truths” as a Romanian Jew are coherent and well connected with his strategies of direct communication of the same “truths.”

Keywords: unpublished diary, antisemitism, jewish interwar literature, Mihail Sebastian

Citation suggestion: Dumitru, Teodora. “Ineditul jurnal din 1930-1931 al lui Mihail Sebastian – un preview al întregii sale opere.” Transilvania, no. 2 (2023): 26-41. https://doi.org/10.51391/trva.2023.02.03.

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