Marta Petreu Cioran Essay

An enormous contribution to our understanding not only of Romania's tormented past, but also of European intellectual history. (Marci Shore, Indiana University Slavic and East European Journal)

Represents the most thorough analysis of Cioran's inter-war fascination with fascism and nationalism…thought-provoking read. (Patterns Of Prejudice)

A thorough and vivid portrait of a Romanian gifted fascist thinker, who dreamed about ‘a Romania with the population of China and the destiny of France.' Like his legionary colleagues, Emil Cioran admired Hitler, justified his crimes and believed that capitalism was ‘immoral, Judaic and anti-Christian.' Unlike other Iron Guard ideologists, Cioran praised Lenin and envisioned a modern Romania driven by industrialization and urban values. Like his comrades, Cioran advocated a fascist dictatorship and cultivated Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the criminal führer of the Iron Guard. But unlike his friend and fellow Iron Guard ideologist, Mircea Eliade, who did not show any willingness to part with his totalitarian past, Cioran had the decency, in his productive French exile, to regret his fascist youth and break with it. (Radu Ioanid)

Dense but fresh work. (Publishers Weekly)

A vivid social and political memoir. (Diane C. Donovan, editor, Midwest Book Review Midwest Book Review)

A sure and unobtrusive guide to the fevered, alienated milieu that turned Cioran...into a passionate partisan of Hitler. (Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs)

Excellent.... Marta Petreu's biography is a well-documented account of everything shameful that Cioran ever wrote. (Zbigniew Janowski First Things)

Brilliantly thorough. (Carlin Romano The Chronicle of Higher Education)

From now on, I'll never read Cioran with as much appreciation. (Eric Rasmussen University Of Illinois, Chicago)

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Marta Petreu’s first book of poetry, Bring Verbs (Aduceți verbele, 1981), won the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize for a debut volume. She has issued seven other collections: The Morning of the Young Ladies (Dimineața tinerelor doamne, 1983); Psychic Place (Loc psihic, 1991); Shameless Poems (Poeme nerușinate, 1993); The Book of Anger (Cartea mîniei, 1997); The Apocalypse According to Marta (Apocalipsa după Marta, 1999); The Phalanx (Falanga, 2001); and Jacob’s Ladder (Scara lui Iacob, 2006, accompanied by a CD of the poet reading). Her 2011 novel, At Home, on the Field of Armageddon (Acasă, pe Cîmpia Armaghedonului). won Book of the Year from the review Literary Romania and the prize of the Festival du Premier Roman de Chambéry, France, in 2012, among other recognitions. Also in 2011, Petreu issued a 450-page anthology of her poetry entitled The Apocalypse According to Marta (Apocalipsa după Marta), part of a series of her works published by the major Romanian publishing house Polirom. A French selection of her poems, Poèmes sans vergogne (Shameless Poems), appeared in 2005, the same year that Ivan R. Dee published a translation of her study of the Romanian-French writer E. M. Cioran and his enthusiasm for fascism in the 1930s, An Infamous Past: E. M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania In 2009, she published The Devil and His Disciple: Nae Ionescu—Mihail Sebastian, which appeared in a second edition just a year later, one of half a dozen volumes of prose that she published in the last three years.

Petreu’s literary work has been awarded various recognitions including national literary prizes from the Romanian Writers’ Union and the Nichita Stănescu, George Bacovia, Lucian Blaga, Tudor Arghezi, Eugen Ionescu and Poesis poetry awards, among others including The Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize. Her book on Ionescu won a prize in France. Petreu is the editor of the much respected post-communist cultural magazine, Apostrof (still going strong, a difficult longevity in the Romanian economic climate and a tribute to her steadfast efforts). In the fall of 1998, she was granted a residency at the Ledig House International Writers’ Colony in Ghent, New York, and in 2001, she was awarded a Hellman/Hammett Grant from Human Rights Watch for her role as “a solitary voice of reason in Romania today” and for her criticism of the Romanian extreme right and for standing up to threats and to a mob attack at a reading. 

Norman Manea has written of Marta Petreu’s “severe poetic credo of integrity, challenging the terrestrial and everyday answer before the spirit’s tumultuous questioning” in a literature of “high dramatic undertaking, with a torrid heart and cool mind.” Her poetry embodies an anti-lyrical “sacrificial exaltation,” a “defiance” or “ferocious expressiveness” of the “abrupt, repeated, vehement, always powerful originality of ‘the truth,’…purified only through poetic expression and…the urgency of involvement.…” In short, to Manea, Petreu bears “the mark of true poetry, of true poets.”

Born Rodica Marta Crișan in 1955 in Jucu, a commune in Cluj County, Marta Petreu (this is her pen name) is in daily life Professor of Philosophy Rodica Marta Vartic at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj and the author of more than twenty-five volumes of philosophy and commentary, plus many edited and collaborative publications.

She is pictured here with The Book of Anger translator Adam Sorkin.

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