Mircea Eliade: Themes And Symbolism In Literature

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Mircea Eliade – a Romanian-born historian of religions, phenomenologist of religion; author of novels, novellas, and short stories – was one of the most influential scholars of religion of the 20th century and one of the world’s foremost interpreters of religious symbolism and myth. In the 1930s he became an influential literary figure in Romania, especially after publication of his hugely successful novel Maitreyi (1933; Bengal Nights). During World War II, Eliade served as cultural attaché with the Royal Legation of Romania in London (1940) and in Lisbon (1941–45). An extremely prolific writer, Eliade spoke of his “dual vocation” as a fiction writer and scholar. He viewed his literary and scholarly concerns as autonomous but complementary and as necessary for his spiritual equilibrium and artistic creativity. His works of fiction were written in Romanian, and his major scholarly works were written in French; some 35 of his books have been published in English. Eliade wrote many popular books, his most ambitious and challenging novel is Noaptea de Sânziene (1955; Forêt interdite), which he considered his literary masterpiece and is the focus of this paper. The novel takes place between 1936 and 1948 and includes some of Eliade’s views on the historical tragedy and destiny of the Romanian people. It also reveals Eliade’s key mythical and symbolic trans-historical structures and meanings and the central belief that religious meanings are hidden and camouflaged in contemporary
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