Till now I have mostly written about foreign prose authors. This time I will just go classic and write about Mihai Eminescu.
Most of Romanian people definitely know about him. And I say most of them because sad enough there are people who have almost no access to education and are alliterate.
So let’s get back to business. Who is Mihai Eminescu? Well his real name was Mihail Eminovici and he is the national poet of Romania. He is one of the most influential poets in our country who let us an invaluable legacy that will always stay alive in our hearts.
Born in 1850 in a family of 11 children, he grew up in a country side house where he lived among the nature, singing birds and rivers flowing. This type of childhood influenced his writing, as we can find nature in many of his poems, weather is about writing about his childhood when he was wondering around in the forests or dedicating a poem to a woman on dreaming their way under the stars or their floating on a lake boat smelling the water lilies.
His first literary manifestations were in 1866 when his literature teacher, Aron Pumnul, died. His pupils launched a book called “Lăcrămioarele învăţăceilor gimnazişti” (The tears of gymnasium pupils) in which the first poem of Eminescu appeared, At the tomb of Aron Pumnul. Afterwards, he writes in various magazines. In the same year he writes in Familia (Family) magazine 6 poems.
His life led him to studying in Viena philosophy and law and continuing his studies in philosophy in Berlin.
Later in his life collaborated to “Convorbiri literare” (Literary conversations) and “Junimea” (Young people). He made friends with some other classic Romanian authors like Ion Luca Caragiale (playwright, short story writer, poet) and Ion Creangă (famous for his childhood memories stories).
Mihai Eminescu with I.L. Caragiale and Ion Creangă
He was called the star upon of the Romanian poetry, and unique poet and he started a real literary revolution. He was not very social and he let only the close ones see the real him. Some of the opinions about him were that he was strikingly beautiful and had a very beautiful voice. Also it is said that he liked spending the nights writing and smoking, and that he was a real patriot. He always saluted his friends with the expression Long live the nation!
An interesting fact is that he was placed on the 61st place among the greatest writers of all time in Daniel Burt’s list. He says in his book, 100 greatest writers of the world, the following:
“The perfect dosage of motives, romantic techniques […] change the poetical text of Eminescu into a pretext for initiations in major themes of existence: the erotic; philosophy and mythology; Romanian folklore; history; nature.”
People almost sanctified Eminescu. Beyond the effervescence created by the opera and his life, beyond the genius, was hidden the man, the real Mihai Eminescu. He was absolutely dedicated to writing. He liked so much that sometimes he was spending entire nights writing. When he was having an idea he was putting it on the paper no matter the hour.
Titu Maiorescu, one of the greatest Romanian critics, wrote the following about the writer:
“Eminescu is a man of the modern times, his individual culture stands at the level of today’s European culture. With his relentless perseverance in reading, studying, knowing, he was endowing him without stint his memory with important operas from the ancient and modern literature. Connoisseur of philosophy, especially the one of Platon, Kant and Schopenhauer, and no less of the religious beliefs, especially the Christian and Buddhist ones, admirer of Veledor, passionat for poetical operas of all time, possessing the knowing of the ones published till today from the history and Romanian language, he was finding in the treasure of the ideas gathered this way the actual material from which to form his high abstraction which in his poems opens us so often the limitless horizon of the human thinking.”
Beyond kindness and his golden voice, it seems that, after the age of 25, he had begun to face his own demons. The fire of creations, the often precarious lifestyle, the spiritual disorders, caused him to experience serious psychic problems and he developed maniac depression disorder or bipolar disorder. Somehow it is said that this helped his creations.
During 1883 and 1889 while he was sick, he wrote very little. His health condition deteriorated very quickly and unfortunately died on the 15th of June 1889, aged 39.
After his death, conspiracy theories started to emerge. Some say that his disease was induced because his political opinions. They say he was treated with mercury injections because doctors thought he was suffering from syphilis. However, studies had shown that he had not suffer from it and that the treatment hastened his ending. Also, it is said that on the very day of his death he has been hit in his head with a brick by a patient of Dr. Shutu’s medical illness clinic, where he was admitted.
He somehow conquered the hearts of the Romanian people, not only through his poetry but also through his mysterious way of dying. He transformed not only into the national poet of Romania, but also into a sort of hero because of his way of loving Romania and because of the speculations that he had died because of his political views.
But regardless if he had died from natural causes (which is more likely) or he was “helped” into this result, he will remain the greatest poet of all times in Romania.
For those who want to read his work, you can find the poem “Luceafarul” (Evening or the morning stars) here. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂