Mircea Eliade

Mircea Eliade

Overview
Mircea Eliade (ˈmirt͡ʃe̯a eliˈade; – April 22, 1986) was a Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

s in religious studies that persist to this day. His theory that hierophanies
Hierophany
The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

form the basis of religion, splitting the human experience of reality into sacred and profane
Sacred-profane dichotomy
French sociologist Émile Durkheim considered the dichotomy between the sacred and the profane to be the central characteristic of religion: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden." In Durkheim's theory, the...

 space and time, has proved influential.
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Quotations

The crude product of nature, the object fashioned by the industry of man, acquire their reality, their identity, only to the extent of their participation in a transcendent reality.

The Myth of the Eternal Return (1954) [also published as Cosmos and History (1959)]

For those to whom a stone reveals itself as sacred, its immediate reality is transmuted into supernatural reality. In other words, for those who have a religious experience all nature is capable of revealing itself as cosmic sacrality.

The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion: The Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual within Life and Culture (1961)

A religious phenomenon will only be recognized as such if it is grasped at its own level, that is to say, if it is studied as something religious. To try to grasp the essence of such phenomenon by means of physiology, psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics, art or any other study is false; it misses the one unique and irreducible element in it — the element of the sacred.

Patterns in Comparative Religion (1963), as translated by Rosemary Sheed, p. xiii

Psychoanalysis justifies its importance by asserting that it forces you to look to and accept reality. But what sort of reality? A reality conditioned by the materialistic and scientific ideology of psychoanalysis, that is, a historical product...

Journal entry (7 October 1965) as published in No Souvenirs (1977) later retitled Journal II, 1957-1969 (1989), p. 269

It is not without fear and trembling that a historian of religion approaches the problem of myth. This is not only because of that preliminary embarrassing question: what is intended by myth? It is also because the answers given depend for the most part on the documents selected.

The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (1969), p. 72

The history of religions reaches down and makes contact with that which is essentially human: the relation of man to the sacred. The history of religions can play an extremely important role in the crisis we are living through. The crises of modern man are to a large extent religious ones, insofar as they are an awakening of his awareness to an absence of meaning.

Ordeal by Labyrinth, Conversations with Claude-Henri Rocquet (1982), p. 148
Encyclopedia
Mircea Eliade (ˈmirt͡ʃe̯a eliˈade; – April 22, 1986) was a Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

s in religious studies that persist to this day. His theory that hierophanies
Hierophany
The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

form the basis of religion, splitting the human experience of reality into sacred and profane
Sacred-profane dichotomy
French sociologist Émile Durkheim considered the dichotomy between the sacred and the profane to be the central characteristic of religion: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden." In Durkheim's theory, the...

 space and time, has proved influential. One of his most influential contributions to religious studies was his theory of Eternal Return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

, which holds that myths and rituals do not simply commemorate hierophanies, but, at least to the minds of the religious, actually participate in them.

His literary works belong to the fantasy
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

 and autobiographical
Autobiographical novel
An autobiographical novel is a form of novel using autofiction techniques, or the merging of autobiographical and fiction elements. The literary technique is distinguished from an autobiography or memoir by the stipulation of being fiction...

 genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s. The best known are the novels Maitreyi ("La Nuit Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

i" or "Bengal Nights"), Noaptea de Sânziene ("The Forbidden Forest"), Isabel şi apele diavolului ("Isabel and the Devil's Waters") and the Novel of the Nearsighted Adolescent, the novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

s Domnişoara Christina ("Miss Christina") and Tinereţe fără tinereţe
Youth Without Youth (novella)
Youth Without Youth is a 1976 novella by Romanian author Mircea Eliade. It follows the life of Dominic Matei, an elderly Romanian intellectual who experiences a cataclysmic event that allows him to live a new life with startling intellectual capacity. In 2007, it was adapted into a film by Francis...

("Youth Without Youth"), and the short stories Secretul doctorului Honigberger ("The Secret of Dr. Honigberger") and La Ţigănci ("With the Gypsy Girls").

Early in his life, Eliade was a noted journalist and essayist, a disciple of Romanian far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 philosopher and journalist Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

, and member of the literary society Criterion. He also served as cultural attaché
Attaché
Attaché is a French term in diplomacy referring to a person who is assigned to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency...

 to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. Several times during the late 1930s, Eliade publicly expressed his support for the Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

, a fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and antisemitic political organization. His political involvement at the time, as well as his other far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 connections, were the frequent topic of criticism after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Noted for his vast erudition, Eliade had fluent command of five languages (Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

) and a reading knowledge of three others (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

). He was elected a posthumous member of the Romanian Academy
Romanian Academy
The Romanian Academy is a cultural forum founded in Bucharest, Romania, in 1866. It covers the scientific, artistic and literary domains. The academy has 181 acting members who are elected for life....

.

Childhood


Born in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, he was the son of Romanian Land Forces
Romanian Land Forces
The Romanian Land Forces is the army of Romania, and the main component of the Romanian Armed Forces. In recent years, full professionalisation and a major equipment overhaul have transformed the nature of the force.The Romanian Land Forces were founded on...

 officer Gheorghe Eliade (whose original surname was Ieremia) and Jeana née Vasilescu. An Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 believer, Gheorghe Eliade registered his son's birth four days before the actual date, to coincide with the liturgical calendar
Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar
The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar describes and dictates the rhythm of the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Associated with each date are passages of Holy Scripture, Saints and events for commemoration, and many times special rules for fasting or feasting that correspond to the day of...

 feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste or the Holy Forty were a group of Roman soldiers in the Legio XII Fulminata whose martyrdom in 320 for the Christian faith is recounted in traditional martyrologies.They were killed near Sebaste, in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius,...

. Mircea Eliade had a sister, Corina, the mother of semiologist
Semiotics
Semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of signs and sign processes , indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication...

 Sorin Alexandrescu. His family moved between Tecuci
Tecuci
Tecuci is a city in the Galaţi county of Romania , situated among wooded hills, on the right bank of the Bârlad River, and at the junction of railways from Galaţi, Bârlad and Mărăşeşti.-History:...

 and Bucharest, ultimately settling in the capital in 1914, and purchasing a house on Melodiei Street, near Piaţa Rosetti
Piata Rosetti
Piaţa Rosetti is a small square in Sector 2 of Bucharest, 250 metres from Piaţa Universităţii. It is named after former mayor, politician, and 1848 revolutionary C. A. Rosetti. The square was designed as part of the modernization efforts of mayor Pache Protopopescu in 1888. A statue of Rosetti...

, where Mircea Eliade resided until late in his teens.

Eliade kept a particularly fond memory of his childhood and, later in life, wrote about the impact various unusual episodes and encounters had on his mind. In one instance during the World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 Romanian Campaign
Romanian Campaign (World War I)
The Romanian Campaign was part of the Balkan theatre of World War I, with Romania and Russia allied against the armies of the Central Powers. Fighting took place from August 1916 to December 1917, across most of present-day Romania, including Transylvania, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian...

, when Eliade was about ten years of age, he witnessed the bombing of Bucharest by German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

s and the patriotic
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 fervor in the occupied capital at news that Romania was able to stop the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

' advance into Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

. He notably described this stage in his life as marked by an unrepeatable epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

. Recalling his entrance into a drawing room that an "eerie iridescent light" had turned into "a fairy-tale palace", he wrote,
I practiced for many years [the] exercise of recapturing that epiphanic moment, and I would always find again the same plenitude. I would slip into it as into a fragment of time devoid of duration—without beginning, middle, or end. During my last years of lycée, when I struggled with profound attacks of melancholy, I still succeeded at times in returning to the golden green light of that afternoon. [...] But even though the beatitude was the same, it was now impossible to bear because it aggravated my sadness too much. By this time I knew the world to which the drawing room belonged [...] was a world forever lost.

Robert Ellwood, a professor of religion who did his graduate studies under Mircea Eliade, saw this type of nostalgia
Nostalgia
The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of , meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and , meaning "pain, ache"...

 as one of the most characteristic themes in Eliade's life and academic writings.

Adolescence and literary debut


After completing his primary education at the school on Mântuleasa Street, Eliade attended the Spiru Haret National College in the same class as Arşavir Acterian, Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian was a Romanian film and theater director, critic, dramatist, poet, journalist, and fascist political activist...

, and Petre Viforeanu (and several years the senior of Nicolae Steinhardt
Nicolae Steinhardt
Nicolae Steinhardt was a Romanian writer, Orthodox hermit and father confessor.-Early life:...

, who eventually became a close friend of Eliade's). Among his other colleagues was future philosopher Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

 and Noica's friend, future art historian Barbu Brezianu.

As a child, Eliade was fascinated with the natural world, which formed the setting of his very first literary attempts, as well as with Romanian folklore and the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 faith as expressed by peasants. Growing up, he aimed to find and record what he believed was the common source of all religious traditions. The young Eliade's interest in physical exercise and adventure led him to pursue mountaineering
Mountaineering
Mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...

 and sailing
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

, and he also joined the Romanian Boy Scouts
Cercetasii României
Cercetaşii României is the primary national Scouting organization of Romania...

. With a group of friends, he designed and sailed a boat on the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, from Tulcea
Tulcea
Tulcea is a city in Dobrogea, Romania. It is the administrative center of Tulcea county, and has a population of 92,379 as of 2007. One village, Tudor Vladimirescu, is administered by the city.- History :...

 to the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. In parallel, Eliade grew estranged from the educational environment, becoming disenchanted with the discipline required and obsessed with the idea that he was uglier and less virile than his colleagues. In order to cultivate his willpower, he would force himself to swallow insects and only slept four to five hours a night. At one point, Eliade was flunking four subjects, among which was the study of Romanian language
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

.

Instead, he became interested in natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

 and chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, as well as the occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

, and wrote short pieces on entomological
Entomology
Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of arthropodology...

 subjects. Despite his father's concern that he was in danger of losing his already weak eyesight, Eliade read passionately. One of his favorite authors was Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

, whose work he studied carefully. Eliade also became acquainted with the modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 short stories of Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.-Early life:...

 and social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

 studies by James George Frazer. His interest in the two writers led him to learn Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 and English in private, and he also began studying Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. At the time, Eliade became acquainted with Saadi
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

's poems and the ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

. He was also interested in philosophy—studying, among others, Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

, Vasile Conta
Vasile Conta
Vasile Conta was a Romanian philosopher, poet, and politician.He was born in Ghindăoani, a village in Bălţăteşti commune, Neamţ County....

, and the Stoics
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus
Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia , and lived in Rome until banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece where he lived the rest of his life. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses...

, and read works of history—the two Romanian historians who influenced him from early on were Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu
Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu
Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu was a Romanian writer and philologist, who pioneered many branches of Romanian philology and history. Hasdeu is considered to have been able to understand 26 languages .-Life:...

 and Nicolae Iorga
Nicolae Iorga
Nicolae Iorga was a Romanian historian, politician, literary critic, memoirist, poet and playwright. Co-founder of the Democratic Nationalist Party , he served as a member of Parliament, President of the Deputies' Assembly and Senate, cabinet minister and briefly as Prime Minister...

. His first published work was the 1921 Inamicul viermelui de mătase ("The Silkworm's Enemy"), followed by Cum am găsit piatra filosofală ("How I Found the Philosophers' Stone
Philosopher's stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal...

"). Four years later, Eliade completed work on his debut volume, the autobiographical Novel of the Nearsighted Adolescent.

University studies and Indian sojourn


Between 1925 and 1928, he attended the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

's Faculty of Philosophy and Letters in 1928, earning his diploma with a study on Early Modern Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 philosopher Tommaso Campanella
Tommaso Campanella
Tommaso Campanella OP , baptized Giovanni Domenico Campanella, was an Italian philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet.-Biography:...

. In 1927, Eliade traveled to Italy, where he met Papini and collaborated with the scholar Giuseppe Tucci
Giuseppe Tucci
Giuseppe Tucci was an Italian scholar of oriental cultures, specialising in Tibet and history of Buddhism. During its zenith, Tucci was a supporter of Italian Fascism, and he used idealized portrayals of Asian traditions to support Italian ideological campaigns...

.

It was during his student years that Eliade met Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

, who lectured in Logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, becoming one of his disciples and friends. He was especially attracted to Ionescu's radical ideas and his interest in religion, which signified a break with the rationalist
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

 tradition represented by senior academics such as Constantin Rădulescu-Motru
Constantin Radulescu-Motru
Constantin Rădulescu-Motru was a Romanian philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, logician, academic, dramatist, as well as centre-left nationalist politician with a noted anti-fascist discourse...

, Dimitrie Gusti
Dimitrie Gusti
Dimitrie Gusti was a Romanian sociologist, ethnologist, historian, and voluntarist philosopher; a professor at the University of Iaşi and the University of Bucharest, he served as Romania's Minister of Education in 1932-1933...

, and Tudor Vianu
Tudor Vianu
Tudor Vianu was a Romanian literary critic, art critic, poet, philosopher, academic, and translator. Known for his left-wing and anti-fascist convictions, he had a major role on the reception and development of Modernism in Romanian literature and art...

 (all of whom owed inspiration to the defunct literary society Junimea
Junimea
Junimea was a Romanian literary society founded in Iaşi in 1863, through the initiative of several foreign-educated personalities led by Titu Maiorescu, Petre P. Carp, Vasile Pogor, Theodor Rosetti and Iacob Negruzzi...

, albeit in varying degrees).

Eliade's scholarly works began after a long period of study in British India, at the University of Calcutta
University of Calcutta
The University of Calcutta is a public university located in the city of Kolkata , India, founded on 24 January 1857...

. Finding that the Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

 of Kassimbazar sponsored Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an scholars to study in India, Eliade applied and was granted an allowance for four years, which was later doubled by a Romanian scholarship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

. In autumn 1928, he sailed for Calcutta to study Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and philosophy under Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta was a scholar of Sanskrit and philosophy.-Family and Education:Dasgupta was born in Kushtia, Bengal . His ancestral home was in the village Goila in Barisal District. He studied in Ripon College Calcutta and graduated with honours in Sanskrit. Later, he received his Masters...

, a Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

i Cambridge alumnus
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 and professor at Calcutta University, the author of a five volume History of Indian Philosophy. Before reaching the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, Eliade also made a brief visit to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Once there, he visited large areas of the region, and spent a short period at a Himalayan ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

.

He studied the basics of Indian philosophy
Indian philosophy
India has a rich and diverse philosophical tradition dating back to ancient times. According to Radhakrishnan, the earlier Upanisads constitute "...the earliest philosophical compositions of the world."...

, and, in parallel, learned Sanskrit, Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 and Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

 under Dasgupta's direction. At the time, he also became interested in the actions of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

, whom he met personally, and the Satyagraha
Satyagraha
Satyagraha , loosely translated as "insistence on truth satya agraha soul force" or "truth force" is a particular philosophy and practice within the broader overall category generally known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The term "satyagraha" was conceived and developed by Mahatma...

as a phenomenon; later, Eliade adapted Gandhist ideas in his discourse on spirituality and Romania. In 1930, while living with Dasgupta, Eliade fell in love with his host's daughter, Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi was a Bengali-born Indian poetess and novelist, the daughter of philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta and protegée of poet Rabindranath Tagore. She was the basis for the main character in Romanian-born writer Mircea Eliade's 1933 novel Bengal Nights...

, later writing a barely disguised autobiographical novel Maitreyi (also known as "La Nuit Bengali" or "Bengal Nights"), in which he claimed that he carried on a physical relationship with her.

Eliade received his PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in 1933, with a thesis on Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 practices. The book, which was translated into French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 three years later, had significant impact in academia, both in Romania and abroad. He later recalled that the book was an early step for understanding not just Indian religious practices, but also Romanian spirituality. During the same period, Eliade began a correspondence with the Ceylonese
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

-born philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician, as well as a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West...

. In 1936–1937, he functioned as honorary assistant for Ionescu's course, lecturing in Metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

.

In 1933, Mircea Eliade had a physical relationship with the actress Sorana Ţopa, while falling in love with Nina Mareş, whom he ultimately married. The latter, introduced to him by his new friend Mihail Sebastian
Mihail Sebastian
-Life:Sebastian was born to a Jewish family in Brăila. After finishing his secondary studies, Sebastian went on to study law in Bucharest, but was soon attracted to the literary life and the exciting ideas of the new generation of Romanian intellectuals, as epitomized by the literary group...

, already had a daughter, Giza, from a man who had divorced her. Eliade subsequently adopted Giza, and the three of them moved to an apartment at 141 Dacia Boulevard. He left his residence in 1936, during a trip he made to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, when he first visited London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

.

Criterion and Cuvântul



After contributing various and generally polemical pieces in university magazines, Eliade came to the attention of journalist Pamfil Şeicaru, who invited him to collaborate on the nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 paper Cuvântul
Cuvântul
Cuvântul is a newspaper from Rezina, the Republic of Moldova, founded in 1995 by Tudor Iaşcenco.- External links :*...

, which was noted for its harsh tones. By then, Cuvântul was also hosting articles by Ionescu.

As one of the figures in the Criterion literary society
Literary society
A literary society is a group of people interested in literature. In the modern sense, this refers to a society that wants to promote one genre of literature or a specific writer. Modern literary societies typically promote research about their chosen author or genre, publish newsletters, and hold...

 (1933–1934), Eliade's initial encounter with the traditional far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 was polemical: the group's conferences were stormed by members of A. C. Cuza
A. C. Cuza
A. C. Cuza was a Romanian far right politician and theorist.-Early life:Born in Iaşi, after attending secondary school in his native city and in Dresden, Cuza studied law at the University of Paris, the Universität unter den Linden, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles...

's National-Christian Defense League
National-Christian Defense League
The National-Christian Defense League was a virulently anti-Semitic political party of Romania formed by A. C. Cuza.-Origins:The group had its roots in the National Christian Union, formed in 1922 by Cuza and the famed physiologist Nicolae Paulescu. This group, which used the swastika as its...

, who objected to what they viewed as pacifism
Pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

 and addressed antisemitic insults to several speakers, including Sebastian; in 1933, he was among the signers of a manifesto opposing Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

's state-enforced racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

. In 1934, at a time when Sebastian was publicly insulted by Nae Ionescu, who prefaced his book (De două mii de ani...) with thoughts on the "eternal damnation" of Jews, Mircea Eliade spoke out against this perspective, and commented that Ionescu's references to the verdict "Outside the Church there is no salvation
Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus
The Latin phrase Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus means: "Outside the Church there is no salvation". The most recent Catholic Catechism interpreted this to mean that "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body."...

" contradicted the notion of God's omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

. However, he contended that Ionescu's text was not evidence of antisemitism.

In 1936, reflecting on the early history of the Romanian Kingdom
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

 and its Jewish community
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

, he deplored the expulsion of Jewish savants from Romanian soil, making specific references to Moses Gaster
Moses Gaster
Moses Gaster was a Romanian-born Jewish-British scholar, the Hakham of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation, London, and a Hebrew linguist. He was also the son-in-law of Michael Friedländer, principal of Jews' College. The surname Gaster is taken from Spanish Castro, indicating his Sephardic...

, Heimann Hariton Tiktin
Heimann Hariton Tiktin
Heimann Hariton Tiktin , born Heimann Tiktin, was a Silesian-born Romanian Jewish linguist and academic, one of the founders of modern Romanian linguistics.-Biography:...

 and Lazăr Şăineanu
Lazăr Şăineanu
Lazăr Şăineanu was a Romanian-born philologist, linguist, folklorist and cultural historian. A specialist in Oriental and Romance studies, as well as a Hebraist and a Germanist, he was primarily known for his contribution to Yiddish and Romanian philology, his work in evolutionary linguistics, and...

. Eliade's views at the time focused on innovation—in the summer of 1933, he replied to an anti-modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 critique written by George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

:
All I wish for is a deep change, a complete transformation. But, for God's sake, in any direction other than spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

.


He and friends Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

 and Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

 were by then under the influence of Trăirism, a school of thought that was formed around the ideals expressed by Ionescu. A form of existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, Trăirism was also the synthesis of traditional and newer right-wing beliefs. Early on, a public polemic was sparked between Eliade and Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu was a Romanian playwright, novelist, philosopher and poet. He marked the end of the traditional novel era and laid the foundation of the modern novel era.- Life :...

: the two eventually reconciled and later became good friends. Like Mihail Sebastian, who was himself becoming influenced by Ionescu, he maintained contacts with intellectuals from all sides of the political spectrum: their entourage included the right-wing Dan Botta and Mircea Vulcănescu
Mircea Vulcanescu
Mircea Vulcănescu was a prominent Romanian philosopher, economist, ethics teacher and sociologist.-Biography:He studied philosophy and law at the University of Bucharest, graduating in 1925...

, the non-political Petrescu and Ionel Jianu, and Belu Zilber, who was a member of the illegal Romanian Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

. The group also included Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian was a Romanian film and theater director, critic, dramatist, poet, journalist, and fascist political activist...

, Mihail Polihroniade, Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu was a Romanian literary and art critic and translator.Born in Iași into a family that was related to the metropolitan bishop Veniamin Costache, he studied at the University of Bucharest law , philosophy and philology before going in 1931 on a two-year scholarship to the United...

, Marietta Sadova and Floria Capsali.

He was also close to Marcel Avramescu, a former Surrealist
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 writer whom he introduced to the works of René Guénon
René Guénon
René Guénon , also known as Shaykh `Abd al-Wahid Yahya was a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, sacred science and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.In his writings, he...

. A doctor in the Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 and future Romanian Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 cleric, Avramescu joined Eliade in editing the short-lived esoteric
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

 magazine Memra (the only one of its kind in Romania). Among the intellectuals who attended his lectures were Mihail Şora (whom he deemed his favorite student), Eugen Schileru and Miron Constantinescu
Miron Constantinescu
Miron Constantinescu was a Romanian communist politician, a leading member of the Romanian Communist Party , as well as a Marxist sociologist, historian, academic, and journalist...

—known later as, respectively, a philosopher, an art critic, and a sociologist and political figure of the communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

. Mariana Klein, who became Şora's wife, was one of Eliade's female students, and later authored works on his scholarship.

Eliade later recounted that he had himself enlisted Zilber as a Cuvântul contributor, in order for him to provide a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 perspective on the issues discussed by the journal. Their relation soured in 1935, when the latter publicly accused Eliade of serving as an agent for the secret police, Siguranţa Statului (Sebastian answered to the statement by alleging that Zilber was himself a secret agent, and the latter eventually retracted his claim).

1930s political transition


Eliade's articles before and after his adherence to the principles of the Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

 (or, as it was usually known at the time, the Legionary Movement), beginning with his famous Itinerar spiritual ("Spiritual Itinerary", serialized in Cuvântul in 1927), center on several political ideals advocated by the far right. They displayed his rejection of liberalism
Liberalism and radicalism in Romania
This article gives an overview of Liberalism and Radicalism in Romania. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ denotes another party in this scheme...

 and the modernizing
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 goals of the 1848 Wallachian revolution (perceived as "an abstract apology of Mankind" and "ape-like imitation of [Western] Europe"), as well as for democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 itself (accusing it of "managing to crush all attempts at national renaissance", and later praising Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

's Fascist Italy
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 on the grounds that, according to Eliade, "[in Italy,] he who thinks for himself is promoted to the highest office in the shortest of times"). He approved of an ethnic nationalist
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 state centered on the Orthodox Church (in 1927, despite his still-vivid interest in Theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, he recommended young intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

s "the return to the Church"), which he opposed to, among others, the secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 nationalism of Constantin Rădulescu-Motru
Constantin Radulescu-Motru
Constantin Rădulescu-Motru was a Romanian philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, logician, academic, dramatist, as well as centre-left nationalist politician with a noted anti-fascist discourse...

; referring to this particular ideal as "Romanianism", Eliade was, in 1934, still viewing it as "neither fascism, nor chauvinism
Chauvinism
Chauvinism, in its original and primary meaning, is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. It is an eponym of a possibly fictional French soldier Nicolas Chauvin who was credited with many superhuman feats in the Napoleonic wars.By extension it has come...

". Eliade was especially dissatisfied with the incidence of unemployment among intellectuals, whose careers in state-financed institutions had been rendered uncertain by the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

.

In 1936, Eliade was the focus of a campaign in the far right press, being targeted for having authored "pornography
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

" in his Domnişoara Christina and Isabel şi apele diavolului (similar accusations were aimed at other cultural figures, including Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi
Tudor Arghezi was a Romanian writer, best known for his contribution to poetry and children's literature. Born Ion N. Theodorescu in Bucharest , he explained that his pen name was related to Argesis, the Latin name for the Argeş River.-Early life:Along with Mihai Eminescu, Mateiu Caragiale, and...

 and Geo Bogza
Geo Bogza
Geo Bogza was a Romanian avant-garde theorist, poet, and journalist, known for his left-wing and communist political convictions. As a young man in the interwar period, he was known as a rebel and was one of the most influential Romanian Surrealists...

). Assessments of Eliade's work were in sharp contrast to one another: also in 1936, Eliade accepted an award from the Romanian Writers' Society, of which he had been a member since 1934. In summer 1937, through an official decision which came as a result of the accusations, and despite student protests, he was stripped of his position at the University. Eliade decided to sue the Ministry of Education, asking for a symbolic compensation of 1 leu
Romanian leu
The leu is the currency of Romania. It is subdivided into 100 bani . The name of the currency means "lion". On 1 July 2005, Romania underwent a currency reform, switching from the previous leu to a new leu . 1 RON is equal to 10,000 ROL...

. He won the trial, and regained his position as Nae Ionescu's assistant.

Nevertheless, by 1937, he gave his intellectual support to the Iron Guard, in which he saw "a Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 revolution aimed at creating a new Romania", and a group able "to reconcile Romania with God". His articles of the time, published in Iron Guard papers such as Sfarmă Piatră and Buna Vestire, contain ample praises of the movement's leaders (Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was a Romanian politician of the far right, the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard or The Legion of the Archangel Michael , an ultra-nationalist and violently antisemitic organization active throughout most of the interwar period...

, Ion Moţa
Ion Mota
Ion I. Moţa [or Motza] was the Romanian fascist deputy leader of the Iron Guard killed in battle during the Spanish Civil War.-Biography:...

, Vasile Marin
Vasile Marin
Vasile Marin was a Romanian politician, public servant and lawyer. A member of the National Peasants' Party until 1932, Vasile Marin become a prominent member of the Iron Guard.- Biography :...

, and Gheorghe Cantacuzino-Grănicerul). The transition he went through was similar to that of his fellow generation members and close collaborators—among the notable exceptions to this rule were Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu was a Romanian literary and art critic and translator.Born in Iași into a family that was related to the metropolitan bishop Veniamin Costache, he studied at the University of Bucharest law , philosophy and philology before going in 1931 on a two-year scholarship to the United...

, sociologist Henri H. Stahl
Henri H. Stahl
Henri H. Stahl was a Romanian Marxist cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, sociologist, and social historian.-Biography:...

 and future dramatist Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd...

, as well as Sebastian.

He eventually enrolled in the Totul pentru Ţară ("Everything for the Fatherland" Party), the political expression of the Iron Guard, and contributed to its 1937 electoral campaign
Romanian general election, 1937
General elections were held in Romania on 20 and 22 December 1937. It was Romania's last election before King Carol II dissolved Parliament and instituted a royal dictatorship the following February. By the next elections under the 1923 Constitution, Romania had passed through two dictatorships and...

 in Prahova County
Prahova County
Prahova is a county of Romania, in the historical region Muntenia, with the capital city at Ploieşti.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 829,945 and the population density was 176/km². It is Romania's most populated county, having a population density double than the country's mean...

—as indicated by his inclusion on a list of party members with county
Counties of Romania
The 41 judeţe and the municipality of Bucharest comprise the official administrative divisions of Romania. They also represent the European Union' s NUTS-3 geocode statistical subdivision scheme of Romania.-Overview:...

-level responsibilities (published in Buna Vestire).

Internment and diplomatic service


The stance taken by Eliade resulted in his arrest on July 14, 1938 after a crackdown on the Iron Guard authorized by King
King of Romania
King of the Romanians , rather than King of Romania , was the official title of the ruler of the Kingdom of Romania from 1881 until 1947, when Romania was proclaimed a republic....

 Carol II
Carol II of Romania
Carol II reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until 6 September 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria...

. At the time of his arrest, he had just interrupted a column on Provincia şi legionarismul ("The Province and Legionary Ideology") in Vremea, having been singled out by Prime Minister Armand Călinescu
Armand Calinescu
Armand Călinescu was a Romanian economist and politician, who served as Prime Minister between March 1939 and the time of his death.-Early life:...

 as an author of Iron Guard propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

.

Eliade was kept for three weeks in a cell at the Siguranţa Statului Headquarters, in an attempt to have him sign a "declaration of dissociation" with the Iron Guard, but he refused to do so. In the first week of August he was transferred to a makeshift camp at Miercurea-Ciuc
Miercurea-Ciuc
Miercurea-Ciuc is the county seat of Harghita County, Romania. It lies in the Székely Land, an ethno-cultural region in eastern Transylvania, and is situated in the Olt River valley.The city administers three villages:* Ciba / Csiba...

. When Eliade began coughing blood in October 1938, he was taken to a clinic in Moroeni. Eliade was simply released on November 12, and subsequently spent his time writing his play Iphigenia (also known as Ifigenia). In April 1940, with the help of Alexandru Rosetti, became the Cultural Attaché to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, a posting cut short when Romanian-British foreign relations were broken.

After leaving London he was assigned the office of Counsel and Press Officer
Press secretary
A press secretary or press officer is a senior advisor who provides advice on how to deal with the news media and, using news management techniques, helps their employer to maintain a positive public image and avoid negative media coverage....

 (later Cultural Attaché) to the Romanian Embassy in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, where he was kept on as diplomat by the National Legionary State
National Legionary State
The National Legionary State was the Romanian government from September 6, 1940 to January 23, 1941. It was a single-party regime dictatorship dominated by the overtly fascist Iron Guard in uneasy conjunction with the head of government and Conducător Ion Antonescu, the leader of the Romanian...

 (the Iron Guard government) and, ultimately, by Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

's regime. His office involved disseminating propaganda in favor of the Romanian state. In February 1941, weeks after the bloody Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

 was crushed by Antonescu, Iphigenia was staged by the National Theater Bucharest—the play soon raised doubts that it owed inspiration to the Iron Guard's ideology, and even that its inclusion in the program was a Legionary attempt at subversion.

In 1942, Eliade authored a volume in praise of the Estado Novo, established in Portugal by António de Oliveira Salazar
António de Oliveira Salazar
António de Oliveira Salazar, GColIH, GCTE, GCSE served as the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. He also served as acting President of the Republic briefly in 1951. He founded and led the Estado Novo , the authoritarian, right-wing government that presided over and controlled Portugal...

, claiming that "The Salazarian state, a Christian and totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 one, is first and foremost based on love". On July 7 of the same year, he was received by Salazar himself, who assigned Eliade the task of warning Antonescu to withdraw the Romanian Army from the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 ("[In his place], I would not be grinding it in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

"). Eliade also claimed that such contacts with the leader of a neutral country had made him the target for Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 surveillance, but that he had managed to communicate Salazar's advice to Mihai Antonescu
Mihai Antonescu
Mihai Antonescu was a Romanian politician who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during World War II.-Early career:...

, Romania's Foreign Minister.

In autumn 1943, he traveled to occupied France, where he rejoined Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

, also meeting with scholar Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

 and the collaborationist
Collaborationism
Collaborationism is cooperation with enemy forces against one's country. Legally, it may be considered as a form of treason. Collaborationism may be associated with criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, which may include complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions,...

 writer Paul Morand
Paul Morand
Paul Morand was a French diplomat, novelist, playwright and poet, considered an early Modernist.He was a graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Studies...

. At the same time, he applied for a position of lecturer at the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

, but withdrew from the race, leaving Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

 and Ion Zamfirescu to dispute the position, in front of a panel of academics comprising Lucian Blaga
Lucian Blaga
-Biography:Lucian Blaga was a commanding personality of the Romanian culture of the interbellum period. He was a philosopher and writer higly acclaimed for his originality, a university professor and a diplomat. He was born on May 9, 1895 in Lancrăm, near Alba Iulia, Romania, his father being an...

 and Dimitrie Gusti
Dimitrie Gusti
Dimitrie Gusti was a Romanian sociologist, ethnologist, historian, and voluntarist philosopher; a professor at the University of Iaşi and the University of Bucharest, he served as Romania's Minister of Education in 1932-1933...

 (Zamfirescu's eventual selection, going against Blaga's recommendation, was to be the topic of a controversy). In his private notes, Eliade wrote that he took no further interest in the office, because his visits abroad had convinced him that he had "something great to say", and that he could not function within the confines of "a minor culture". Also during the war, Eliade traveled to Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, where he met and conversed with controversial political theorist Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt was a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, and professor of law.Schmitt published several essays, influential in the 20th century and beyond, on the mentalities that surround the effective wielding of political power...

, and frequently visited Francoist Spain, where he notably attended the 1944 Lusitano-Spanish scientific congress in Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

. It was during his trips to Spain that Eliade met philosophers José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism.-Biography:José Ortega y Gasset was...

 and Eugeni d'Ors
Eugeni d'Ors
Eugeni d’Ors i Rovira was a Catalan Spanish writer, essayist, journalist, philosopher and art critic...

. He maintained a friendship with d'Ors, and met him again on several occasions after the war.

Nina Eliade fell ill with uterine cancer
Uterine cancer
The term uterine cancer may refer to any of several different types of cancer which occur in the uterus, namely:*Uterine sarcomas: sarcomas of the myometrium, or muscular layer of the uterus, are most commonly leiomyosarcomas.*Endometrial cancer:...

 and died during their stay in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, in late 1944. As the widower later wrote, the disease was probably caused by an abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 procedure she had undergone at an early stage of their relationship. He came to suffer with clinical depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

, which increased as Romania and her Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 allies suffered major defeats on the Eastern Front. Contemplating a return to Romania as a soldier or a monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

, he was on a continuous search for effective antidepressant
Antidepressant
An antidepressant is a psychiatric medication used to alleviate mood disorders, such as major depression and dysthymia and anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder. According to Gelder, Mayou &*Geddes people with a depressive illness will experience a therapeutic effect to their mood;...

s, medicating himself with passion flower
Passion flower
Passiflora, known also as the passion flowers or passion vines, is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants, the namesakes of the family Passifloraceae. They are mostly vines, with some being shrubs, and a few species being herbaceous. For information about the fruit of the passiflora...

 extract, and, eventually, with methamphetamine
Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs...

. This was probably not his first experience with drugs: vague mentions in his notebooks have been read as indication that Mircea Eliade was taking opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 during his travels to Calcutta. Later, discussing the works of Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

, Eliade wrote that the British author's use of mescaline
Mescaline
Mescaline or 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid of the phenethylamine class used mainly as an entheogen....

 as a source of inspiration had something in common with his own experience, indicating 1945 as a date of reference and adding that it was "needless to explain why that is".

Early exile


At signs that the Romanian communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

 was about to take hold, Eliade opted not to return to the country. On September 16, 1945, he moved to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 with his adopted daughter Giza. Once there, he resumed contacts with Dumézil, who helped him recover his position in academia. On Dumézil's recommendation, he taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études
École pratique des hautes études
The École pratique des hautes études is a Grand Établissement in Paris, France. It is counted among France's most prestigious research and higher education institutions....

in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. It was estimated that, at the time, it was not uncommon for him to work 15 hours a day. Eliade married a second time, to the Romanian exile Christinel Cotescu. His second wife, the descendant of boyar
Boyar
A boyar, or bolyar , was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Moscovian, Kievan Rus'ian, Bulgarian, Wallachian, and Moldavian aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes , from the 10th century through the 17th century....

s, was the sister-in-law of prestigious conductor Ionel Perlea.

Together with Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

 and other Romanian expatriates, Eliade rallied with the former diplomat Alexandru Busuioceanu
Alexandru Busuioceanu
Alexandru Busuioceanu was a Romanian essayist, poet, historian and diplomat.As a historian he wrote studies about Zamolxis, the god of the ancient Dacians...

, helping him publicize anti-communist
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 opinion to the Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an public. He was also briefly involved in publishing a Romanian-language magazine, titled Luceafărul ("The Morning Star"), and was again in contact with Mihail Şora, who had been granted a scholarship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

 to study in France, and by Şora's wife Mariana. In 1947, he was facing material constraints, and Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Coomaraswamy
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese philosopher and metaphysician, as well as a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West...

 found him a job as a French-language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 teacher in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, at a school in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

; the arrangement ended upon Coomaraswamy's death in September.

Beginning in 1948, he wrote for the journal Critique, edited by French thinker Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille was a French writer. His multifaceted work is linked to the domains of literature, anthropology, philosophy, economy, sociology and history of art...

. The following year, he went on a visit to Italy, where he wrote the first 300 pages of his novel Noaptea de Sânziene (he visited the country a third time in 1952). He collaborated with Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 and the Eranos
Eranos
Eranos is an intellectual discussion group dedicated to the study of psychology, religion, philosophy and spirituality which has met annually in Switzerland since 1933....

circle after Henry Corbin
Henry Corbin
Henry Corbin was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.Corbin was born in Paris in April 1903. As a boy he revealed the profound sensitivity to music so evident in his work...

 recommended him in 1949, and wrote for the Antaios magazine (edited by Ernst Jünger
Ernst Jünger
Ernst Jünger was a German writer. In addition to his novels and diaries, he is well known for Storm of Steel, an account of his experience during World War I. Some say he was one of Germany's greatest modern writers and a hero of the conservative revolutionary movement following World War I...

). In 1950, Eliade began attending Eranos conferences, meeting Jung, Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn
Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn
Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn was an English-Dutch spiritualist, theosophist and scholar.-Early life:Born in London to a feminist/social activist mother and engineer father, Olga studied art history in Zürich, Switzerland, and in 1909 married musician and conductor Iwan Fröbe who died a few years later in a...

, Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem
Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

 and Paul Radin
Paul Radin
Paul Radin was a widely read American cultural anthropologist and folklorist of the early twentieth century. Born the son of a rabbi in the cosmopolitan Polish city of Łódź, he became a student of Franz Boas at Columbia, where he counted Edward Sapir and Robert Lowie among his classmates...

. He described Eranos as "one of the most creative cultural experiences of the modern Western world."

In October 1956, he moved to the United States, settling in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 the following year. He had been invited by Joachim Wach
Joachim Wach
Joachim Ernst Adolphe Felix Wach was a German religious scholar from Chemnitz, Kingdom of Saxony, who emphasised a distinction between the history of religion and the philosophy of religion....

 to give a series of lectures at Wach's home institution, the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. Eliade and Wach are generally admitted to be the founders of the "Chicago school" that basically defined the study of religions for the second half of the 20th century. Upon Wach's death before the lectures were delivered, Eliade was appointed as his replacement, becoming, in 1964, the Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions. Beginning in 1954, with the first edition of his volume on Eternal Return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

, Eliade also enjoyed commercial success: the book went through several editions under different titles, which sold over 100,000 copies.

In 1966, Mircea Eliade became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

. He also worked as editor-in-chief of Macmillan Publishers
Macmillan Publishers
Macmillan Publishers Ltd, also known as The Macmillan Group, is a privately held international publishing company owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. It has offices in 41 countries worldwide and operates in more than thirty others.-History:...

' Encyclopedia of Religion, and, in 1968, lectured in religious history at the University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Barbara
The University of California, Santa Barbara, commonly known as UCSB or UC Santa Barbara, is a public research university and one of the 10 general campuses of the University of California system. The main campus is located on a site in Goleta, California, from Santa Barbara and northwest of Los...

. It was also during that period that Mircea Eliade completed his voluminous and influential History of Religious Ideas, which grouped together the overviews of his main original interpretations of religious history. He occasionally traveled out of the United States, notably attending the Congress for the History of Religions in Marburg
Marburg
Marburg is a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, on the River Lahn. It is the main town of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district and its population, as of March 2010, was 79,911.- Founding and early history :...

 (1960) and visiting Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (1970).

Final years and death


Initially, Eliade was attacked with virulence by the Romanian Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

 press, chiefly by România Liberă
România Libera
România Liberă is one of the leading newspapers in Romania. Based in Bucharest, the Romanian-language daily has a paid daily circulation of 40,000....

—which described him as "the Iron Guard's ideologue, enemy of the working class
Enemy of the people
The term enemy of the people is a fluid designation of political or class opponents of the group using the term. The term implies that the "enemies" in question are acting against society as a whole. It is similar to the notion of "enemy of the state". The term originated in Roman times as ,...

, apologist of Salazar's dictatorship". However, the regime also made secretive attempts to enlist his and Cioran's support: Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian
Haig Acterian was a Romanian film and theater director, critic, dramatist, poet, journalist, and fascist political activist...

's widow, theater director Marietta Sadova, was sent to Paris in order to re-establish contacts with the two. Although the move was planned by Romanian officials, her encounters were to be used as evidence incriminating her at a February 1960 trial for treason (where Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

 and Dinu Pillat were the main defendants). Romania's secret police, the Securitate
Securitate
The Securitate was the secret police agency of Communist Romania. Previously, the Romanian secret police was called Siguranţa Statului. Founded on August 30, 1948, with help from the Soviet NKVD, the Securitate was abolished in December 1989, shortly after President Nicolae Ceaușescu was...

, also portrayed Eliade as a spy for the British Secret Intelligence Service
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

 and a former agent of the Gestapo.

He was slowly rehabilitated
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

 at home beginning in the early 1960s, under the rule of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej was the Communist leader of Romania from 1948 until his death in 1965.-Early life:Gheorghe was the son of a poor worker, Tănase Gheorghiu, and his wife Ana. Gheorghiu-Dej joined the Communist Party of Romania in 1930...

. In the 1970s, Eliade was approached by the Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 regime in several ways, in order to have him return. The move was prompted by the officially sanctioned nationalism and Romania's claim to independence from the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, as both phenomena came to see Eliade's prestige as an asset. An unprecedented event occurred with the interview that was granted by Mircea Eliade to poet Adrian Păunescu
Adrian Paunescu
Adrian Păunescu was a Romanian poet, journalist, and politician. Though criticised for praising dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Păunescu was called "Romania's most famous poet" in a Associated Press story, quoted by the New York Times.-Life:Born in Copăceni, Bălţi County, in what is now the Republic...

, during the latter's 1970 visit to Chicago; Eliade complimented both Păunescu's activism and his support for official tenets, expressing a belief that
the youth of Eastern Europe is clearly superior to that of Western Europe. [...] I am convinced that, within ten years, the young revolutionary generation shan't be behaving as does today the noisy minority of Western contesters
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

. [...] Eastern youth have seen the abolition of traditional institutions, have accepted it [...] and are not yet content with the structures enforced, but rather seek to improve them.


Păunescu's visit to Chicago was followed by those of the nationalist official writer Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu
Eugen Barbu was a Romanian modern novelist, short story writer, journalist, and correspondent member of the Romanian Academy. The latter position was vehemently criticized by those who contended that he plagiarized in his novel Incognito and for the anti-Semitic campaigns he initiated in the...

 and by Eliade's friend Constantin Noica (who had since been released from jail). At the time, Eliade contemplated returning to Romania, but was eventually persuaded by fellow Romanian intellectuals in exile (including Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed"...

's Virgil Ierunca
Virgil Ierunca
Virgil Ierunca was a Romanian literary critic, journalist and poet...

 and Monica Lovinescu
Monica Lovinescu
Monica Lovinescu was a Romanian essayist, short story writer, literary critic, translator, and journalist, noted for her activities as an opponent of the Romanian Communist regime. She published several works under the pseudonyms Monique Saint-Come and Claude Pascal. She is the daughter of...

) to reject Communist proposals. In 1977, he joined other exiled Romanian intellectuals in signing a telegram protesting the repressive measures newly enforced by the Ceauşescu regime. Writing in 2007, Romanian anthropologist Andrei Oişteanu
Andrei Oisteanu
Andrei Oişteanu is a Romanian historian of religions and mentalities, ethnologist, cultural anthropologist, literary critic and novelist. Specialized in the history of religions and mentalities, he is also noted for his investigation of rituals and magic and his work in Jewish studies and the...

 recounted how, around 1984, the Securitate unsuccessfully pressured to become an agent of influence
Agent of influence
An agent of influence is a person whose political actions and arguments are alleged to serve the interests of a foreign power, and to be directed or manipulated by the intelligence agency of that power...

 in Eliade's Chicagoan circle.

During his later years, Eliade's fascist past was progressively exposed publicly, the stress of which probably contributed to the decline of his health. By then, his writing career was hampered by severe arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

. The last academic honors bestowed upon him were the French Academy
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

's Bordin Prize (1977) and the title of Doctor Honoris Causa
Honorary degree
An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

, granted by the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

 (1985).

Mircea Eliade died at the Bernard Mitchell Hospital in April 1986. Eight days previously, he suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 while reading Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

's Exercises of Admiration, and had subsequently lost his speech function. Four months before, a fire had destroyed part of his office at the Meadville Lombard Theological School
Meadville Lombard Theological School
The Meadville Lombard Theological School, located in Chicago, is a Unitarian Universalist seminary.It is a result of a merger in the 1930s between a Unitarian and a Universalist institution...

 (an event which he had interpreted as an omen
Omen
An omen is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change...

). Eliade's Romanian disciple Ioan Petru Culianu, who recalled the scientific community's reaction to the news, described Eliade's death as "a mahaparanirvana", thus comparing it to the passing of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

. His body was cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 in Chicago, and the funeral ceremony was held on University grounds, at the Rockefeller Chapel
Rockefeller Chapel
Rockefeller Chapel is, by order, the tallest building on the campus of the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. It was meant by patron John D...

. It was attended by 1,200 people, and included a public reading of Eliade's text in which he recalled the epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

 of his childhood—the lecture was given by novelist Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

, Eliade's colleague at the University.

The general nature of religion


In his work on the history of religion, Eliade is most highly regarded for his writings on Shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 and what he called the eternal return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

—the implicit belief, supposedly present in religious thought in general, that religious behavior
Religious behaviour
The religions of the world consist of religious images and religious behaviour. The images of the religions from the past and of present day religions, like gods, ghosts and worshipped ancestors, concepts of guilt, dogmatic teachings and ideas of the hereafter, are generally quite well known...

 is not only an imitation of, but also a participation in, sacred events, and thus restores the mythical time of origins. Eliade's thinking was in part influenced by Rudolf Otto
Rudolf Otto
Rudolf Otto was an eminent German Lutheran theologian and scholar of comparative religion.-Life:Born in Peine near Hanover, Otto attended the Gymnasium Andreanum in Hildesheim and studied at the universities of Erlangen and Göttingen, where he wrote his dissertation on Martin Luther's...

, Gerardus van der Leeuw
Gerardus van der Leeuw
Gerardus van der Leeuw was a Dutch historian and philosopher of religion.He is best known for his work Religion in Essence and Manifestation: A Study in Phenomenology, an application of philosophical phenomenology to religion...

, Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

 and the writings of the Traditionalist School
Traditionalist School
The term Traditionalist School is used by Mark Sedgwick and other authors to denote a school of thought, also known as Integral Traditionalism or Perennialism to denote an esoteric movement developed by authors such as French metaphysician René Guénon, German-Swiss...

 (René Guénon
René Guénon
René Guénon , also known as Shaykh `Abd al-Wahid Yahya was a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, sacred science and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.In his writings, he...

 and Julius Evola
Julius Evola
Barone Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola also known as Julius Evola, was an Italian philosopher and esotericist...

). For instance, Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane partially builds on Otto's The Idea of the Holy to show how religion emerges from the experience of the sacred, and myths of time and nature.

Eliade is noted for his attempt to find broad, cross-cultural parallels and unities in religion, particularly in myths. Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger is an American Indologist and Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought...

, Eliade's colleague from 1978 until his death, notes that "Eliade argued boldly for universals where he might more safely have argued for widely prevalent patterns". His Treatise on the History of Religions was praised by French philologist Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil
Georges Dumézil was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society...

 for its coherence and ability to synthesize diverse and distinct mythologies.

Robert Ellwood describes Eliade's approach to religion as follows. Eliade approaches religion by imagining an ideally "religious" person, whom he calls homo religiosus in his writings. Eliade's theories basically describe how this homo religiosus would view the world. This does not mean that all religious practitioners actually think and act like homo religiosus. Instead, it means that religious behavior "says through its own language" that the world is as homo religiosus would see it, whether or not the real-life participants in religious behavior are aware of it. However, Ellwood notes that Eliade "tends to slide over that last qualification", implying that traditional societies actually thought like homo religiosus.

Sacred and profane



Eliade argues that religious thought in general rests on a sharp distinction between the Sacred and the profane; whether it takes the form of God, gods, or mythical Ancestors, the Sacred contains all "reality", or value, and other things acquire "reality" only to the extent that they participate in the sacred.

Eliade's understanding of religion centers on his concept of hierophany
Hierophany
The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

 (manifestation of the Sacred)—a concept that includes, but is not limited to, the older and more restrictive concept of theophany
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

 (manifestation of a god). From the perspective of religious thought, Eliade argues, hierophanies give structure and orientation to the world, establishing a sacred order. The "profane" space of nonreligious experience can only be divided up geometrically: it has no "qualitative differentiation and, hence, no orientation [is] given by virtue of its inherent structure". Thus, profane space gives man no pattern for his behavior. In contrast to profane space, the site of a hierophany has a sacred structure to which religious man conforms himself. A hierophany amounts to a "revelation of an absolute reality, opposed to the non-reality of the vast surrounding expanse". As an example of "sacred space
Hierotopy
Hierotopy is the creation of sacred spaces, which is viewed as a special form of human creativity, and a related academic field, which spans anthropology, art history and religious studies. The term was coined in 2001 by Russian art-historian and byzantinist Alexei Lidov...

" demanding a certain response from man, Eliade gives the story of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 halting before Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

's manifestation as a burning bush
Burning bush
The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus as being located on Mount Sinai; according to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name...

 (Exodus 3:5) and taking off his shoes.

Origin myths and sacred time


Eliade notes that, in traditional societies, myth represents the absolute truth about primordial time. According to the myths, this was the time when the Sacred first appeared, establishing the world's structure—myths claim to describe the primordial events that made society and the natural world be that which they are. Eliade argues that all myths are, in that sense, origin myths: "myth, then, is always an account of a creation".

Many traditional societies believe that the power of a thing lies in its origin. If origin is equivalent to power, then "it is the first manifestation of a thing that is significant and valid" (a thing's reality and value therefore lies only in its first appearance).

According to Eliade's theory, only the Sacred has value, only a thing's first appearance has value and, therefore, only the Sacred's first appearance has value. Myth describes the Sacred's first appearance; therefore, the mythical age is sacred time, the only time of value: "primitive man was interested only in the beginnings [...] to him it mattered little what had happened to himself, or to others like him, in more or less distant times". Eliade postulated this as the reason for the "nostalgia
Nostalgia
The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of , meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and , meaning "pain, ache"...

 for origins" that appears in many religions, the desire to return to a primordial Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

.

Eternal return and "Terror of history"



Eliade argues that traditional man attributes no value to the linear march of historical events: only the events of the mythical age have value. To give his own life value, traditional man performs myths and rituals. Because the Sacred's essence lies only in the mythical age, only in the Sacred's first appearance, any later appearance is actually the first appearance; by recounting or re-enacting mythical events, myths and rituals "re-actualize" those events. Eliade often uses the term "archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

s" to refer to the mythical models that established by the Sacred, although Eliade's use of the term should be distinguished from the use of the term in Jungian psychology.

Thus, argues Eliade, religious behavior does not only commemorate, but also participates in, sacred events:

In imitating the exemplary acts of a god or of a mythical hero, or simply by recounting their adventures, the man of an archaic society detaches himself from profane time and magically re-enters the Great Time, the sacred time.


Eliade called this concept the "eternal return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

" (distinguished from the philosophical concept of "eternal return"
Eternal return
Eternal return is a concept which posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. The concept initially inherent in Indian philosophy was later found in ancient Egypt, and was subsequently...

). Wendy Doniger noted that Eliade's theory of the eternal return "has become a truism in the study of religions".

Eliade attributes the well-known "cyclic" vision of time in ancient thought to belief in the eternal return. For instance, the New Year
New Year
The New Year is the day that marks the time of the beginning of a new calendar year, and is the day on which the year count of the specific calendar used is incremented. For many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner....

 ceremonies among the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

ns, the Egyptians
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, and other Near Eastern
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

 peoples re-enacted their cosmogonic
Cosmogony
Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any scientific theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία , from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γίνομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about"...

 myths. Therefore, by the logic of the eternal return, each New Year ceremony was the beginning of the world for these peoples. According to Eliade, these peoples felt a need to return to the Beginning at regular intervals, turning time into a circle.

Eliade argues that yearning to remain in the mythical age causes a "terror of history": traditional man desires to escape the linear succession of events (which, Eliade indicated, he viewed as empty of any inherent value or sacrality). Eliade suggests that the abandonment of mythical thought and the full acceptance of linear, historical time, with its "terror", is one of the reasons for modern man's anxieties. Traditional societies escape this anxiety to an extent, as they refuse to completely acknowledge historical time.

Coincidentia oppositorum


Eliade claims that many myths, rituals, and mystical experiences involve a "coincidence of opposites", or coincidentia oppositorum. In fact, he calls the coincidentia oppositorum "the mythical pattern". Many myths, Eliade notes, "present us with a twofold revelation":
they express on the one hand the diametrical opposition of two divine figures sprung from one and the same principle and destined, in many versions, to be reconciled at some illud tempus of eschatology, and on the other, the coincidentia oppositorum in the very nature of the divinity, which shows itself, by turns or even simultaneously, benevolent and terrible, creative and destructive, solar and serpentine, and so on (in other words, actual and potential).

Eliade argues that "Yahweh is both kind and wrathful; the God of the Christian mystics and theologians is terrible and gentle at once". He also thought that the Indian and Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 mystic tried to attain "a state of perfect indifference and neutrality" that resulted in a coincidence of opposites in which "pleasure and pain, desire and repulsion, cold and heat [...] are expunged from his awareness".

According to Eliade, the coincidentia oppositorum’s appeal lies in "man's deep dissatisfaction with his actual situation, with what is called the human condition". In many mythologies, the end of the mythical age involves a "fall", a fundamental "ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 change in the structure of the World". Because the coincidentia oppositorum is a contradiction, it represents a denial of the world's current logical structure, a reversal of the "fall".

Also, traditional man's dissatisfaction with the post-mythical age expresses itself as a feeling of being "torn and separate". In many mythologies, the lost mythical age was a Paradise, "a paradoxical state in which the contraries exist side by side without conflict, and the multiplications form aspects of a mysterious Unity". The coincidentia oppositorum expresses a wish to recover the lost unity of the mythical Paradise, for it presents a reconciliation of opposites and the unification of diversity:
On the level of pre-systematic thought, the mystery of totality embodies man's endeavor to reach a perspective in which the contraries are abolished, the Spirit of Evil reveals itself as a stimulant of Good, and Demons appear as the night aspect of the Gods.

Exceptions to the general nature



Eliade acknowledges that not all religious behavior has all the attributes described in his theory of sacred time and the eternal return. The Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 traditions embrace linear, historical time as sacred or capable of sanctification, while some Eastern traditions largely reject the notion of sacred time, seeking escape from the cycles of time
Wheel of time
The Wheel of time or wheel of history is a concept found in several religious traditions and philosophies, notably religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism and Buddhism, which regard time as cyclical and consisting of repeating ages...

.

Because they contain rituals, Judaism and Christianity necessarily—Eliade argues—retain a sense of cyclic time:
by the very fact that it is a religion, Christianity had to keep at least one mythical aspect—liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 Time, that is, the periodic rediscovery of the illud tempus of the beginnings [and] an imitation of the Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 as exemplary pattern.


However, Judaism and Christianity do not see time as a circle endlessly turning on itself; nor do they see such a cycle as desirable, as a way to participate in the Sacred. Instead, these religions embrace the concept of linear history progressing toward the Messianic Age
Messianic Age
Messianic Age is a theological term referring to a future time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty. Many religions believe that there will be such an age; some refer to it as the "Kingdom of God" or the "World to Come".- Terminology: "messianic" and...

 or the Last Judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

, thus initiating the idea of "progress" (humans are to work for a Paradise in the future). However, Eliade's understanding of Judaeo-Christian eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 can also be understood as cyclical in that the "end of time" is a return to God: "The final catastrophe will put an end to history, hence will restore man to eternity and beatitude".

The pre-Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, which made a notable "contribution to the religious formation of the West", also has a linear sense of time. According to Eliade, the Hebrews had a linear sense of time before being influenced by Zoroastrianism. In fact, Eliade identifies the Hebrews, not the Zoroastrians, as the first culture to truly "valorize" historical time, the first to see all major historical events as episodes in a continuous divine revelation. However, Eliade argues, Judaism elaborated its mythology of linear time by adding elements borrowed from Zoroastrianism—including ethical dualism, a savior figure, the future resurrection of the body, and the idea of cosmic progress toward "the final triumph of Good".

The Dharmic religions of the East generally retain a cyclic view of time—for instance, the Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 doctrine of kalpas. According to Eliade, most religions that accept the cyclic view of time also embrace it: they see it as a way to return to the sacred time. However, in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, and some forms of Hinduism, the Sacred lies outside the flux of the material world (called maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

, or "illusion"), and one can only reach it by escaping from the cycles of time. Because the Sacred lies outside cyclic time, which conditions humans, people can only reach the Sacred by escaping the human condition
Human condition
The human condition encompasses the experiences of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context. It can be described as the irreducible part of humanity that is inherent and not connected to gender, race, class, etc. — a search for purpose, sense of curiosity, the inevitability of...

. According to Eliade, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

 techniques aim at escaping the limitations of the body, allowing the soul (atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

) to rise above maya and reach the Sacred (nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

, moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

). Imagery of "freedom", and of death to one's old body and rebirth with a new body, occur frequently in Yogic texts, representing escape from the bondage of the temporal human condition. Eliade discusses these themes in detail in Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.

Symbolism of the Center




A recurrent theme in Eliade's myth analysis is the axis mundi
Axis mundi
The axis mundi , in religion or mythology, is the world center and/or the connection between heaven and Earth. As the celestial pole and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet...

, the Center of the World. According to Eliade, the Cosmic Center is a necessary corollary to the division of reality into the Sacred and the profane. The Sacred contains all value, and the world gains purpose and meaning only through hierophanies:
In the homogeneous and infinite expanse, in which no point of reference is possible and hence no orientation is established, the hierophany
Hierophany
The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

 reveals an absolute fixed point, a center.


Because profane space gives man no orientation for his life, the Sacred must manifest itself in a hierophany, thereby establishing a sacred site around which man can orient himself. The site of a hierophany establishes a "fixed point, a center". This Center abolishes the "homogeneity and relativity of profane space", for it becomes "the central axis for all future orientation".

A manifestation of the Sacred in profane space is, by definition, an example of something breaking through from one plane of existence to another. Therefore, the initial hierophany that establishes the Center must be a point at which there is contact between different planes—this, Eliade argues, explains the frequent mythical imagery of a Cosmic Tree
World tree
The world tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, particularly Indo-European religions, Siberian religions, and Native American religions. The world tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the earth, and, through its...

 or Pillar joining Heaven, Earth, and the underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

.

Eliade noted that, when traditional societies found a new territory, they often perform consecrating rituals that reenact the hierophany that established the Center and founded the world. In addition, the designs of traditional buildings, especially temples, usually imitate the mythical image of the axis mundi joining the different cosmic levels. For instance, the Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

ian ziggurat
Ziggurat
Ziggurats were massive structures built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding stories or levels.Notable ziggurats include the Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah, Iraq; the Ziggurat of Aqar Quf near...

s were built to resemble cosmic mountains passing through the heavenly spheres, and the rock of the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 was supposed to reach deep into the tehom
Tehom
Tehom , literally the Deep or Abyss , refers to the Great Deep of the primordial waters of creation in the Bible. Tehom is a cognate of the Akkadian word tamtu and Ugaritic t-h-m which have similar meaning...

, or primordial waters.

According to the logic of the eternal return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

, the site of each such symbolic Center will actually be the Center of the World:
It may be said, in general, that the majority of the sacred and ritual trees that we meet with in the history of religions are only replicas, imperfect copies of this exemplary archetype, the Cosmic Tree. Thus, all these sacred trees are thought of as situated at the Centre of the World, and all the ritual trees or posts [...] are, as it were, magically projected into the Centre of the World.

According to Eliade's interpretation, religious man apparently feels the need to live not only near, but at, the mythical Center as much as possible, given that the Center is the point of communication with the Sacred.

Thus, Eliade argues, many traditional societies share common outlines in their mythical geographies
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

. In the middle of the known world is the sacred Center, "a place that is sacred above all"; this Center anchors the established order. Around the sacred Center lies the known world, the realm of established order; and beyond the known world is a chaotic and dangerous realm, "peopled by ghosts, demons, [and] 'foreigners' (who are [identified with] demons and the souls of the dead)". According to Eliade, traditional societies place their known world at the Center because (from their perspective) their known world is the realm that obeys a recognizable order, and it therefore must be the realm in which the Sacred manifests itself; the regions beyond the known world, which seem strange and foreign, must lie far from the Center, outside the order established by the Sacred.

The High God



According to some "evolutionistic" theories of religion, especially that of Edward Burnett Tylor
Edward Burnett Tylor
Sir Edward Burnett Tylor , was an English anthropologist.Tylor is representative of cultural evolutionism. In his works Primitive Culture and Anthropology, he defined the context of the scientific study of anthropology, based on the evolutionary theories of Charles Lyell...

, cultures naturally progress from animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 and polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 to monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

. According to this view, more advanced cultures should be more monotheistic, and more primitive cultures should be more polytheistic. However, many of the most "primitive", pre-agricultural societies believe in a supreme sky-god
Sky father
The sky father or heavenly father is a recurring theme in mythology all over the world. The sky father is the complement of the earth mother and appears in some creation myths, many of which are Indo-European or ancient Near Eastern. Other cultures have quite different myths; Egyptian mythology...

. Thus, according to Eliade, post-19th-century scholars have rejected Tylor's theory of evolution from animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

. Based on the discovery of supreme sky-gods among "primitives", Eliade suspects that the earliest humans worshiped a heavenly Supreme Being. In Patterns in Comparative Religion, he writes, "The most popular prayer in the world is addressed to 'Our Father who art in heaven.' It is possible that man's earliest prayers were addressed to the same heavenly father."

However, Eliade disagrees with Wilhelm Schmidt, who thought the earliest form of religion was a strict monotheism. Eliade dismisses this theory of "primordial monotheism" (Urmonotheismus) as "rigid" and unworkable. "At most," he writes, "this schema [Schmidt's theory] renders an account of human [religious] evolution since the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 era". If an Urmonotheismus did exist, Eliade adds, it probably differed in many ways from the conceptions of God in many modern monotheistic faiths: for instance, the primordial High God could manifest himself as an animal without losing his status as a celestial Supreme Being.

According to Eliade, heavenly Supreme Beings are actually less common in more advanced cultures. Eliade speculates that the discovery of agriculture brought a host of fertility gods and goddesses into the forefront, causing the celestial Supreme Being to fade away and eventually vanish from many ancient religions. Even in primitive hunter-gatherer societies, the High God is a vague, distant figure, dwelling high above the world. Often he has no cult
Cult (religious practice)
In traditional usage, the cult of a religion, quite apart from its sacred writings , its theology or myths, or the personal faith of its believers, is the totality of external religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is the definition of impiety. Cult in this primary sense is...

 and receives prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 only as a last resort, when all else has failed. Eliade calls the distant High God a deus otiosus
Deus otiosus
Deus otiosus or "idle god" is a theological concept used to describe a creator god who largely retires from the world and is no longer involved in its daily operation, a central tenet of Deism....

("idle god").

In belief systems that involve a deus otiosus, the distant High God is believed to have been closer to humans during the mythical age. After finishing his works of creation, the High God "forsook the earth and withdrew into the highest heaven". This is an example of the Sacred's distance from "profane" life, life lived after the mythical age: by escaping from the profane condition through religious behavior, figures such as the shaman return to the conditions of the mythical age, which include nearness to the High God ("by his flight or ascension, the shaman [...] meets the God of Heaven face to face and speaks directly to him, as man sometimes did in illo tempore"). The shamanistic behaviors surrounding the High God are a particularly clear example of the eternal return.

Overview



Eliade's scholarly work includes a well-known study of shamanism, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, a survey of shamanistic practices in different areas. His Myths, Dreams and Mysteries also addresses shamanism in some detail.

In Shamanism, Eliade argues for a restrictive use of the word shaman: it should not apply to just any magician or medicine man
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

, as that would make the term redundant; at the same time, he argues against restricting the term to the practitioners of the sacred of Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 (it is from one of the titles for this function, namely, šamán, considered by Eliade to be of Tungusic
Tungusic languages
The Tungusic languages form a language family spoken in Eastern Siberia and Manchuria by Tungusic peoples. Many Tungusic languages are endangered, and the long-term future of the family is uncertain...

 origin, that the term itself was introduced into Western languages). Eliade defines a shaman as follows:
he is believed to cure, like all doctors, and to perform miracles of the fakir
Fakir
The fakir or faqir ; ) Derived from faqr is a Muslim Sufi ascetic in Middle East and South Asia. The Faqirs were wandering Dervishes teaching Islam and living on alms....

 type, like all magicians [...] But beyond this, he is a psychopomp
Psychopomp
Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage...

, and he may also be a priest, mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, and poet.


If we define shamanism this way, Eliade claims, we find that the term covers a collection of phenomena that share a common and unique "structure" and "history". (When thus defined, shamanism tends to occur in its purest forms in hunting
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 and pastoral
Herding
Herding is the act of bringing individual animals together into a group , maintaining the group and moving the group from place to place—or any combination of those. While the layperson uses the term "herding", most individuals involved in the process term it mustering, "working stock" or...

 societies like those of Siberia and Central Asia, which revere a celestial High God "on the way to becoming a deus otiosus". Eliade takes the shamanism of those regions as his most representative example.)

In his examinations of shamanism, Eliade emphasizes the shaman's attribute of regaining man's condition before the "Fall" out of sacred time: "The most representative mystical experience of the archaic societies, that of shamanism, betrays the Nostalgia for Paradise, the desire to recover the state of freedom and beatitude before 'the Fall'." This concern—which, by itself, is the concern of almost all religious behavior, according to Eliade—manifests itself in specific ways in shamanism.

Death, resurrection and secondary functions


According to Eliade, one of the most common shamanistic themes is the shaman's supposed death and resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

. This occurs in particular during his initiation
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

. Often, the procedure is supposed to be performed by spirits who dismember the shaman and strip the flesh from his bones, then put him back together and revive him. In more than one way, this death and resurrection represents the shaman's elevation above human nature.

First, the shaman dies so that he can rise above human nature on a quite literal level. After he has been dismembered by the initiatory spirits, they often replace his old organs with new, magical ones (the shaman dies to his profane self so that he can rise again as a new, sanctified, being). Second, by being reduced to his bones, the shaman experiences rebirth on a more symbolic level: in many hunting and herding societies, the bone represents the source of life, so reduction to a skeleton "is equivalent to re-entering the womb of this primordial life, that is, to a complete renewal, a mystical rebirth". Eliade considers this return to the source of life essentially equivalent to the eternal return.

Third, the shamanistic phenomenon of repeated death and resurrection also represents a transfiguration in other ways. The shaman dies not once but many times: having died during initiation and risen again with new powers, the shaman can send his spirit out of his body on errands; thus, his whole career consists of repeated deaths and resurrections. The shaman's new ability to die and return to life shows that he is no longer bound by the laws of profane time, particularly the law of death: "the ability to 'die' and come to life again [...] denotes that [the shaman] has surpassed the human condition".

Having risen above the human condition, the shaman is not bound by the flow of history. Therefore, he enjoys the conditions of the mythical age. In many myths, humans can speak with animals; and, after their initiations, many shamans claim to be able to communicate with animals. According to Eliade, this is one manifestation of the shaman's return to "the illud tempus described to us by the paradisiac myths".

The shaman can descend to the underworld or ascend to heaven, often by climbing the World Tree
World tree
The world tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, particularly Indo-European religions, Siberian religions, and Native American religions. The world tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the earth, and, through its...

, the cosmic pillar, the sacred ladder, or some other form of the axis mundi
Axis mundi
The axis mundi , in religion or mythology, is the world center and/or the connection between heaven and Earth. As the celestial pole and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet...

. Often, the shaman will ascend to heaven to speak with the High God. Because the gods (particularly the High God, according to Eliade's deus otiosus concept) were closer to humans during the mythical age, the shaman's easy communication with the High God represents an abolition of history and a return to the mythical age.

Because of his ability to communicate with the gods and descend to the land of the dead, the shaman frequently functions as a psychopomp
Psychopomp
Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage...

 and a medicine man
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

.

Early contributions


In addition to his political essays, the young Mircea Eliade authored others, philosophical in content. Connected with the ideology of Trăirism, they were often prophetic in tone, and saw Eliade being hailed as a herald by various representatives of his generation. When Eliade was 21 years old and publishing his Itinerar spiritual, literary critic Şerban Cioculescu
Şerban Cioculescu
Şerban Cioculescu was a Romanian literary critic, literary historian and columnist, who held teaching positions in Romanian literature at the University of Iaşi and the University of Bucharest, as well as membership of the Romanian Academy and chairmanship of its Library...

 described him as "the column leader of the spiritually mystical and Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 youth." Cioculescu discussed his "impressive erudition", but argued that it was "occasionally plethoric, poetically inebriating itself through abuse". Cioculescu's colleague Perpessicius
Perpessicius
Perpessicius was a Romanian literary historian and critic, poet, essayist and fiction writer. One of the prominent literary chroniclers of the Romanian interwar, he stood apart in his generation for having thrown his support behind the modernist and avant-garde currents of Romanian literature...

 saw the young author and his generation as marked by "the specter of war", a notion he connected to various essays of the 1920s and 30s in which Eliade threatened the world with the verdict that a new conflict was looming (while asking that young people be allowed to manifest their will and fully experience freedom before perishing).

One of Eliade's noted contributions in this respect was the 1932 Soliloquii ("Soliloquies"), which explored existential philosophy
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

. George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

 who saw in it "an echo of Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

's lectures", traced a parallel with the essays of another of Ionescu's disciples, Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

, while noting that Cioran's were "of a more exulted tone and written in the aphoristic
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

 form of Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was a critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel...

". Călinescu recorded Eliade's rejection of objectivity
Objectivity (philosophy)
Objectivity is a central philosophical concept which has been variously defined by sources. A proposition is generally considered to be objectively true when its truth conditions are met and are "mind-independent"—that is, not met by the judgment of a conscious entity or subject.- Objectivism...

, citing the author's stated indifference towards any "naïveté" or "contradictions" that the reader could possibly reproach him, as well as his dismissive thoughts of "theoretical data" and mainstream philosophy in general (Eliade saw the latter as "inert, infertile and pathogenic"). Eliade thus argued, "a sincere brain is unassailable, for it denies itself to any relationship with outside truths."

The young writer was however careful to clarify that the existence he took into consideration was not the life of "instincts and personal idiosyncrasies
Idiosyncrasy
An idiosyncrasy is an unusual feature of a person . The term is often used to express eccentricity or peculiarity. A synonym may be .-Etymology:...

", which he believed determined the lives of many humans, but that of a distinct set comprising "personalities". He described "personalities" as characterized by both "purpose" and "a much more complicated and dangerous alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

". This differentiation, George Călinescu believed, echoed Ionescu's metaphor of man, seen as "the only animal who can fail at living", and the duck, who "shall remain a duck no matter what it does". According to Eliade, the purpose of personalities is infinity: "consciously and gloriously bringing [existence] to waste, into as many skies as possible, continuously fulfilling and polishing oneself, seeking ascent and not circumference."

In Eliade's view, two roads await man in this process. One is glory, determined by either work or procreation, and the other the asceticism
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 of religion or magic—both, Călinescu believed, where aimed at reaching the absolute
Absolute (philosophy)
The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

, even in those cases where Eliade described the latter as an "abyssal experience" into which man may take the plunge. The critic pointed out that the addition of "a magical solution" to the options taken into consideration seemed to be Eliade's own original contributions to his mentor's philosophy, and proposed that it may have owed inspiration to Julius Evola
Julius Evola
Barone Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola also known as Julius Evola, was an Italian philosopher and esotericist...

 and his disciples. He also recorded that Eliade applied this concept to human creation, and specifically to artistic creation, citing him describing the latter as "a magical joy, the victorious break of the iron circle" (a reflection of imitatio dei
Imitatio dei
Imitatio dei is a religious concept by which man finds virtue by attempting to imitate God. It is found in several world religions. In some branches of Christianity, however, it plays a key role.-Christianity:...

, having salvation for its ultimate goal).

Anti-reductionism and the "transconscious"


By profession, Eliade was a historian of religion. However, his scholarly works draw heavily on philosophical and psychological terminology. In addition, they contain a number of philosophical arguments about religion. In particular, Eliade often implies the existence of a universal psychological or spiritual "essence" behind all religious phenomena. Because of these arguments, some have accused Eliade of over-generalization and "essentialism
Essentialism
In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described...

", or even of promoting a theological agenda under the guise of historical scholarship. However, others argue that Eliade is better understood as a scholar who is willing to openly discuss sacred experience and its consequences.

In studying religion, Eliade rejects certain "reductionist
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

" approaches. Eliade thinks a religious phenomenon cannot be reduced to a product of culture and history. He insists that, although religion involves "the social man, the economic man, and so forth", nonetheless "all these conditioning factors together do not, of themselves, add up to the life of the spirit".

Using this anti-reductionist position, Eliade argues against those who accuse him of overgeneralizing, of looking for universals
Universal (metaphysics)
In metaphysics, a universal is what particular things have in common, namely characteristics or qualities. In other words, universals are repeatable or recurrent entities that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things. For example, suppose there are two chairs in a room, each of...

 at the expense of particular
Particular
In philosophy, particulars are concrete entities existing in space and time as opposed to abstractions. There are, however, theories of abstract particulars or tropes. For example, Socrates is a particular...

s. Eliade admits that every religious phenomenon is shaped by the particular culture and history that produced it:
When the Son of God incarnated and became the Christ, he had to speak Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

; he could only conduct himself as a Hebrew of his times [...] His religious message, however universal it might be, was conditioned by the past and present history of the Hebrew people. If the Son of God had been born in India, his spoken language would have had to conform itself to the structure of the Indian languages
Languages of India
The languages of India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-European languages—Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages...

.


However, Eliade argues against those he calls "historicist
Historicism
Historicism is a mode of thinking that assigns a central and basic significance to a specific context, such as historical period, geographical place and local culture. As such it is in contrast to individualist theories of knowledges such as empiricism and rationalism, which neglect the role of...

 or existentialist
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 philosophers" who do not recognize "man in general" behind particular men produced by particular situations (Eliade cites Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 as the likely forerunner of this kind of "historicism"). He adds that human consciousness transcends (is not reducible to) its historical and cultural conditioning, and even suggests the possibility of a "transconscious". By this, Eliade does not necessarily mean anything supernatural or mystical: within the "transconscious", he places religious motifs, symbols, images, and nostalgias that are supposedly universal and whose causes therefore cannot be reduced to historical and cultural conditioning.

Platonism and "primitive ontology"


According to Eliade, traditional man feels that things "acquire their reality, their identity, only to the extent of their participation in a transcendent reality". To traditional man, the profane world is "meaningless", and a thing rises out of the profane world only by conforming to an ideal, mythical model.

Eliade describes this view of reality as a fundamental part of "primitive ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

" (the study of "existence" or "reality"). Here he sees a similarity with the philosophy of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, who believed that physical phenomena are pale and transient imitations of eternal models or "Forms" (see Theory of forms
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

). He argued:
Plato could be regarded as the outstanding philosopher of 'primitive mentality,' that is, as the thinker who succeeded in giving philosophic currency and validity to the modes of life and behavior of archaic humanity.


Eliade thinks the Platonic
Platonic realism
Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals or abstract objects after the Greek philosopher Plato , a student of Socrates. As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is confusingly also called...

 Theory of forms is "primitive ontology" persisting in Greek philosophy
Greek philosophy
Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire...

. He claims that Platonism is the "most fully elaborated" version of this primitive ontology.

In The Structure of Religious Knowing: Encountering the Sacred in Eliade and Lonergan, John Daniel Dadosky argues that, by making this statement, Eliade was acknowledging "indebtedness to Greek philosophy in general, and to Plato's theory of forms specifically, for his own theory of archetypes and repetition". However, Dadosky also states that "one should be cautious when trying to assess Eliade's indebtedness to Plato". Dadosky quotes Robert Segal, a professor of religion, who draws a distinction between Platonism and Eliade's "primitive ontology": for Eliade, the ideal models are patterns that a person or object may or may not imitate; for Plato, there is a Form for everything, and everything imitates a Form by the very fact that it exists.

Existentialism and secularism


Behind the diverse cultural forms of different religions, Eliade proposes a universal: traditional man, he claims, "always believes that there is an absolute reality, the sacred, which transcends this world but manifests itself in this world, thereby sanctifying it and making it real". Furthermore, traditional man's behavior gains purpose and meaning through the Sacred: "By imitating divine behavior, man puts and keeps himself close to the gods—that is, in the real and the significant."

According to Eliade, "modern nonreligious man assumes a new existential situation". For traditional man, historical events gain significance by imitating sacred, transcendent events. In contrast, nonreligious man lacks sacred models for how history or human behavior should be, so he must decide on his own how history should proceed—he "regards himself solely as the subject and agent of history, and refuses all appeal to transcendence". From the standpoint of religious thought, the world has an objective purpose established by mythical events, to which man should conform himself: "Myth teaches [religious man] the primordial 'stories' that have constituted him existentially." From the standpoint of secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

 thought, any purpose must be invented and imposed on the world by man. Because of this new "existential situation", Eliade argues, the Sacred becomes the primary obstacle to nonreligious man's "freedom". In viewing himself as the proper maker of history, nonreligious man resists all notions of an externally (for instance, divinely) imposed order or model he must obey: modern man "makes himself, and he only makes himself completely in proportion as he desacralizes himself and the world. [...] He will not truly be free until he has killed the last god".

Religious survivals in the secular world


Eliade says that secular man cannot escape his bondage to religious thought. By its very nature, secularism depends on religion for its sense of identity: by resisting sacred models, by insisting that man make history on his own, secular man identifies himself only through opposition to religious thought: "He [secular man] recognizes himself in proportion as he 'frees' and 'purifies' himself from the 'superstition
Superstition
Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any process in the physical world linking the two events....

s' of his ancestors." Furthermore, modern man "still retains a large stock of camouflaged myths and degenerated rituals". For example, modern social events still have similarities to traditional initiation rituals, and modern novels feature mythical motifs and themes. Finally, secular man still participates in something like the eternal return: by reading modern literature, "modern man succeeds in obtaining an 'escape from time' comparable to the 'emergence from time' effected by myths".

Eliade sees traces of religious thought even in secular academia. He thinks modern scientists are motivated by the religious desire to return to the sacred time of origins:
One could say that the anxious search for the origins of Life and Mind; the fascination in the 'mysteries of Nature'; the urge to penetrate and decipher the inner structure of Matter—all these longings and drives denote a sort of nostalgia for the primordial, for the original universal matrix. Matter, Substance, represents the absolute origin, the beginning of all things.

Eliade believes the rise of materialism in the 19th century forced the religious nostalgia for "origins" to express itself in science. He mentions his own field of History of Religions as one of the fields that was obsessed with origins during the 19th century:
The new discipline of History of Religions developed rapidly in this cultural context. And, of course, it followed a like pattern: the positivistic
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 approach to the facts and the search for origins, for the very beginning of religion.

All Western historiography was during that time obsessed with the quest of origins. [...] This search for the origins of human institutions and cultural creations prolongs and completes the naturalist's quest for the origin of species, the biologist's dream of grasping the origin of life, the geologist's and the astronomer's endeavor to understand the origin of the Earth and the Universe. From a psychological point of view, one can decipher here the same nostalgia for the 'primordial' and the 'original'.


In some of his writings, Eliade describes modern political ideologies as secularized mythology. According to Eliade, Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 "takes up and carries on one of the great eschatological myths of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean world, namely: the redemptive part to be played by the Just (the 'elect', the 'anointed', the 'innocent', the 'missioners', in our own days the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

), whose sufferings are invoked to change the ontological status of the world." Eliade sees the widespread myth of the Golden Age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

, "which, according to a number of traditions, lies at the beginning and the end of History", as the "precedent" for Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's vision of a classless society
Classless society
Classless society refers to a society in which no one is born into a social class. Such distinctions of wealth, income, education, culture, or social network might arise and would only be determined by individual experience and achievement in such a society.Since these distinctions are difficult to...

. Finally, he sees Marx's belief in the final triumph of the good (the proletariat) over the evil (the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

) as "a truly messianic Judaeo-Christian ideology". Despite Marx's hostility toward religion, Eliade implies, his ideology works within a conceptual framework inherited from religious mythology.

Likewise, Eliade notes that Nazism involved a pseudo-pagan mysticism based on ancient Germanic religion
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

. He suggests that the differences between the Nazis' pseudo-Germanic mythology and Marx's pseudo-Judaeo-Christian mythology explain their differing success:
In comparison with the vigorous optimism of the communist myth, the mythology propagated by the national socialists seems particularly inept; and this is not only because of the limitations of the racial myth (how could one imagine that the rest of Europe would voluntarily accept submission to the master-race?), but above all because of the fundamental pessimism of the Germanic mythology. [...] For the eschaton prophesied and expected by the ancient Germans was the ragnarok
Ragnarök
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures , the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water...

--that is, a catastrophic end of the world.

Modern man and the "Terror of history"


According to Eliade, modern man displays "traces" of "mythological behavior" because he intensely needs sacred time and the eternal return. Despite modern man's claims to be nonreligious, he ultimately cannot find value in the linear progression of historical events; even modern man feels the "Terror of history": "Here too [...] there is always the struggle against Time, the hope to be freed from the weight of 'dead Time,' of the Time that crushes and kills."

According to Eliade, this "terror of history" becomes especially acute when violent and threatening historical events confront modern man—the mere fact that a terrible event has happened, that it is part of history, is of little comfort to those who suffer from it. Eliade asks rhetorically how modern man can "tolerate the catastrophes and horrors of history—from collective deportations and massacres to atomic bombings
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

—if beyond them he can glimpse no sign, no transhistorical meaning".

Eliade indicates that, if repetitions of mythical events provided sacred value and meaning for history in the eyes of ancient man, modern man has denied the Sacred and must therefore invent value and purpose on his own. Without the Sacred to confer an absolute, objective value upon historical events, modern man is left with "a relativistic
Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

 or nihilistic
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

 view of history" and a resulting "spiritual aridity". In chapter 4 ("The Terror of History") of The Myth of the Eternal Return and chapter 9 ("Religious Symbolism and the Modern Man's Anxiety") of Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, Eliade argues at length that the rejection of religious thought is a primary cause of modern man's anxieties.

Inter-cultural dialogue and a "new humanism"


Eliade argues that modern man may escape the "Terror of history" by learning from traditional cultures. For example, Eliade thinks Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 has advice for modern Westerners. According to many branches of Hinduism, the world of historical time is illusory, and the only absolute reality is the immortal soul or atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

within man. According to Eliade, Hindus thus escape the terror of history by refusing to see historical time as the true reality.

Eliade notes that a Western
Western philosophy
Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western or Occidental world, as distinct from Eastern or Oriental philosophies and the varieties of indigenous philosophies....

 or Continental
Continental philosophy
Continental philosophy, in contemporary usage, refers to a set of traditions of 19th and 20th century philosophy from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and...

 philosopher might feel suspicious toward this Hindu view of history:
One can easily guess what a European historical and existentialist
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 philosopher might reply [...] You ask me, he would say, to 'die to History'; but man is not, and he cannot be anything else but History, for his very essence is temporality. You are asking me, then, to give up my authentic existence and to take refuge in an abstraction, in pure Being, in the atman: I am to sacrifice my dignity as a creator of History in order to live an a-historic, inauthentic existence, empty of all human content. Well, I prefer to put up with my anxiety: at least, it cannot deprive me of a certain heroic grandeur, that of becoming conscious of, and accepting, the human condition.


However, Eliade argues that the Hindu approach to history does not necessarily lead to a rejection of history. On the contrary, in Hinduism historical human existence is not the "absurdity" that many Continental philosophers see it as. According to Hinduism, history is a divine creation, and one may live contentedly within it as long as one maintains a certain degree of detachment from it: "One is devoured by Time, by History, not because one lives in them, but because one thinks them real and, in consequence, one forgets or undervalues eternity."

Furthermore, Eliade argues that Westerners can learn from non-Western cultures to see something besides absurdity in suffering and death. Traditional cultures see suffering and death as a rite of passage
Rite of passage
A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures....

. In fact, their initiation
Initiation
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 rituals often involve a symbolic death and resurrection, or symbolic ordeals followed by relief. Thus, Eliade argues, modern man can learn to see his historical ordeals, even death, as necessary initiations into the next stage of one's existence.

Eliade even suggests that traditional thought offers relief from the vague anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 caused by "our obscure presentiment of the end of the world, or more exactly of the end of our world, our own civilization". Many traditional cultures have myths about the end of their world or civilization; however, these myths do not succeed "in paralysing either Life or Culture". These traditional cultures emphasize cyclic time and, therefore, the inevitable rise of a new world or civilization on the ruins of the old. Thus, they feel comforted even in contemplating the end times.

Eliade argues that a Western spiritual rebirth can happen within the framework of Western spiritual traditions. However, he says, to start this rebirth, Westerners may need to be stimulated by ideas from non-Western cultures. In his Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, Eliade claims that a "genuine encounter" between cultures "might well constitute the point of departure for a new humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

, upon a world scale".

Christianity and the "salvation" of History


Mircea Eliade sees the Abrahamic religions as a turning point between the ancient, cyclic view of time and the modern, linear view of time, noting that, in their case, sacred events are not limited to a far-off primordial age, but continue throughout history: "time is no longer [only] the circular Time of the Eternal Return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

; it has become linear and irreversible Time". He thus sees in Christianity the ultimate example of a religion embracing linear, historical time. When God is born as a man, into the stream of history, "all history becomes a theophany
Theophany
Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

". According to Eliade, "Christianity strives to save history". In Christianity, the Sacred enters a human being (Christ) to save humans, but it also enters history to "save" history and turn otherwise ordinary, historical events into something "capable of transmitting a trans-historical message".

From Eliade's perspective, Christianity's "trans-historical message" may be the most important help that modern man could have in confronting the terror of history. In his book Mito ("Myth"), Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 researcher Furio Jesi argues that Eliade denies man the position of a true protagonist in history: for Eliade, true human experience lies not in intellectually "making history", but in man's experiences of joy and grief. Thus, from Eliade's perspective, the Christ story becomes the perfect myth for modern man. In Christianity, God willingly entered historical time by being born as Christ, and accepted the suffering that followed. By identifying with Christ, modern man can learn to confront painful historical events. Ultimately, according to Jesi, Eliade sees Christianity as the only religion that can save man from the "Terror of history".

In Eliade's view, traditional man sees time as an endless repetition of mythical archetypes. In contrast, modern man has abandoned mythical archetypes and entered linear, historical time—in this context, unlike many other religions, Christianity attributes value to historical time. Thus, Eliade concludes, "Christianity incontestably proves to be the religion of 'fallen man'", of modern man who has lost "the paradise of archetypes and repetition".

"Modern gnosticism", Romanticism and Eliade's nostalgia


In analyzing the similarities between the "mythologists" Eliade, Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

 and Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

, Robert Ellwood concluded that the three modern mythologists, all of whom believed that myths reveal "timeless truth", fulfilled the role "gnostics
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

" had in antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

. The diverse religious movements covered by the term "gnosticism" share the basic doctrines that the surrounding world is fundamentally evil or inhospitable, that we are trapped in the world through no fault of our own, and that we can be saved from the world only through secret knowledge (gnosis
Gnosis
Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

). Ellwood claimed that the three mythologists were "modern gnostics through and through", remarking,
Whether in Augustan Rome
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 or modern Europe, democracy all too easily gave way to totalitarianism
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

, technology was as readily used for battle as for comfort, and immense wealth lay alongside abysmal poverty. [...] Gnostics past and present sought answers not in the course of outward human events, but in knowledge of the world's beginning, of what lies above and beyond the world, and of the secret places of the human soul. To all this the mythologists spoke, and they acquired large and loyal followings.


According to Ellwood, the mythologists believed in gnosticism's basic doctrines (even if in a secularized form). Ellwood also believes that Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, which stimulated the modern study of mythology, strongly influenced the mythologists. Because Romantics stress that emotion and imagination have the same dignity as reason, Ellwood argues, they tend to think political truth "is known less by rational considerations than by its capacity to fire the passions" and, therefore, that political truth is "very apt to be found [...] in the distant past".

As modern gnostics, Ellwood argues, the three mythologists felt alienated from the surrounding modern world. As scholars, they knew of primordial societies that had operated differently than the modern world. And as people influenced by Romanticism, they saw myths as a saving gnosis that offered "avenues of eternal return to simpler primordial ages when the values that rule the world were forged".

In addition, Ellwood identifies Eliade's personal sense of nostalgia as a source for his interest in, or even his theories about, traditional societies. He cites Eliade himself claiming to desire an "eternal return" like that by which traditional man returns to the mythical paradise: "My essential preoccupation is precisely the means of escaping History, of saving myself through symbol, myth, rite, archetypes".

In Ellwood's view, Eliade's nostalgia was only enhanced by his exile from Romania: "In later years Eliade felt about his own Romanian past as did primal folk about mythic time. He was drawn back to it, yet he knew he could not live there, and that all was not well with it." He suggests that this nostalgia, along with Eliade's sense that "exile is among the profoundest metaphors for all human life", influenced Eliade's theories. Ellwood sees evidence of this in Eliade's concept of the "Terror of history" from which modern man is no longer shielded. In this concept, Ellwood sees an "element of nostalgia" for earlier times "when the sacred was strong and the terror of history had barely raised its head".

Overgeneralization


Eliade cites a wide variety of myths and rituals to support his theories. However, he has been accused of making over-generalizations: many scholars think he lacks sufficient evidence to put forth his ideas as universal, or even general, principles of religious thought. According to one scholar, "Eliade may have been the most popular and influential contemporary historian of religion", but "many, if not most, specialists in anthropology, sociology, and even history of religions have either ignored or quickly dismissed" Eliade's works.

The classicist G. S. Kirk
Geoffrey Kirk
Geoffrey Stephen Kirk DSC, FBA was a British classical scholar, known for his books on Ancient Greek literature and mythology.-Life:...

 criticizes Eliade's insistence that Australian Aborigines
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aborigines , also called Aboriginal Australians, from the latin ab originem , are people who are indigenous to most of the Australian continentthat is, to mainland Australia and the island of Tasmania...

 and ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

ns had concepts of "being", "non-being", "real", and "becoming", although they lacked words for them. Kirk also believes that Eliade overextends his theories: for example, Eliade claims that the modern myth of the "noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

" results from the religious tendency to idealize the primordial, mythical age. According to Kirk, "such extravagances, together with a marked repetitiousness, have made Eliade unpopular with many anthropologists and sociologists". In Kirk's view, Eliade derived his theory of eternal return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

 from the functions of Australian Aboriginal mythology
Australian Aboriginal mythology
Australian Aboriginal myths are the stories traditionally performed by Aboriginal peoples within each of the language groups across Australia....

 and then proceeded to apply the theory to other mythologies to which it did not apply. For example, Kirk argues that the eternal return does not accurately describe the functions of Native American
Native American mythology
Native American mythology is the body of traditional narratives associated with Native American religion from a mythographical perspective. Native American belief systems include many sacred narratives. Such spiritual stories are deeply based in Nature and are rich with the symbolism of seasons,...

 or Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

. Kirk concludes, "Eliade's idea is a valuable perception about certain myths, not a guide to the proper understanding of all of them".

Even Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger is an American Indologist and Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought...

, Eliade's successor at the University of Chicago, claims (in an introduction to Eliade's own Shamanism) that the eternal return does not apply to all myths and rituals, although it may apply to many of them. However, although Doniger agrees that Eliade made over-generalizations, she notes that his willingness to "argue boldly for universals" allowed him to see patterns "that spanned the entire globe and the whole of human history". Whether they were true or not, she argues, Eliade's theories are still useful "as starting points for the comparative study of religion". She also argues that Eliade's theories have been able to accommodate "new data to which Eliade did not have access".

Lack of empirical support


Several researchers have criticized Eliade's work as having no empirical
Empirical method
The empirical method is generally taken to mean the approach of using a collection of data to base a theory or derive a conclusion in science...

 support. Thus, he is said to have "failed to provide an adequate methodology for the history of religions and to establish this discipline as an empirical science", though the same critics admit that "the history of religions should not aim at being an empirical science anyway". Specifically, his claim that the sacred is a structure of human consciousness is distrusted as not being empirically provable: "no one has yet turned up the basic category sacred". Also, there has been mention of his tendency to ignore the social aspects of religion. Anthropologist Alice Kehoe is highly critical of Eliade's work on Shamanism, namely because he was not an anthropologist but a historian. She contends that Eliade never did any field work or contacted any indigenous groups that practiced Shamanism, and that his work was synthesized from various sources without being supported by direct field research.

In contrast, Professor Kees W. Bolle of the University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 argues that "Professor Eliade's approach, in all his works, is empirical": Bolle sets Eliade apart for what he sees as Eliade's particularly close "attention to the various particular motifs" of different myths. French researcher Daniel Dubuisson places doubt on Eliade's scholarship and its scientific character, citing the Romanian academic's alleged refusal to accept the treatment of religions in their historical and cultural context, and proposing that Eliade's notion of hierophany
Hierophany
The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

refers to the actual existence of a supernatural level.

Ronald Inden
Ronald Inden
Ronald Inden is an American Indologist, and professor emeritus in the Departments of History and of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and is a major scholar in South Asian and post-colonial studies...

, a historian of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and University of Chicago professor, criticized Mircea Eliade, alongside other intellectual figures (Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 and Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

 among them), for an encouraging a "romantic view" of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. He argued that their approach to the subject relied mainly on an Orientalist
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

 approach, and made Hinduism seem like "a private realm of the imagination and the religious which modern, Western man lacks but needs."

Far right and nationalist influences


Although his scholarly work was never subordinated to his early political beliefs, the school of thought he was associated with in interwar Romania, namely Trăirism, as well as the works of Julius Evola
Julius Evola
Barone Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola also known as Julius Evola, was an Italian philosopher and esotericist...

 he continued to draw inspiration from, have thematic links to fascism. Writer and academic Marcel Tolcea has argued that, through Evola's particular interpretation of Guénon's works, Eliade kept a traceable connection with far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 ideologies in his academic contributions. Daniel Dubuisson singled out Eliade's concept of homo religiosus as a reflection of fascist elitism
Elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

, and argued that the Romanian scholar's views of Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, which depicted Hebrews as the enemies of an ancient cosmic religion, were ultimately the preservation of an antisemitic discourse.

A piece authored in 1930 saw Eliade defining Julius Evola as a great thinker and offering praise to the controversial intellectuals Oswald Spengler
Oswald Spengler
Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler was a German historian and philosopher whose interests also included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West , published in 1918, which puts forth a cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilizations...

, Arthur de Gobineau
Arthur de Gobineau
Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau was a French aristocrat, novelist and man of letters who became famous for developing the theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races...

, Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Houston Stewart Chamberlain was a British-born German author of books on political philosophy, natural science and the German composer Richard Wagner. He later became a German citizen. Chamberlain married Wagner's daughter, Eva, some years after Wagner's death...

 and the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 ideologue Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

. Evola, who continued to defend the core principles of mystical fascism, once protested to Eliade about the latter's failure to cite him and Guénon. Eliade replied that his works were written for a contemporary public, and not to initiates of esoteric circles. After the 1960s, he, together with Evola, Louis Rougier
Louis Rougier
Louis Auguste Paul Rougier was a French philosopher. Rougier made many important contributions to epistemology, philosophy of science, political philosophy and the history of Christianity.-Biography:Rougier was born in Lyon...

, and other intellectuals, offered support to Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist
Alain de Benoist is a French academic, philosopher, a founder of the Nouvelle Droite and head of the French think tank GRECE. Benoist is a critic of liberalism, free markets and egalitarianism.-Biography:...

's controversial Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne
Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne
The Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne , also known by its French acronym GRECE is an ethnonationalist think-tank, founded in 1968 by the journalist and writer Alain de Benoist.GRECE distinguishes itself from other traditionalist conservative organizations in...

, part of the Nouvelle Droite
Nouvelle Droite
Nouvelle Droite is a school of political thought founded largely on the works of Alain de Benoist and GRECE .-Etymology and history:...

intellectual trend.

Notably, Eliade was also preoccupied with the cult of Zalmoxis
Zalmoxis
Zalmoxis , is a divinity of the Getae, mentioned by Herodotus in his Histories IV, 93-96...

 and its supposed monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

. This, like his conclusion that Romanization
Romanization (cultural)
Romanization or latinization indicate different historical processes, such as acculturation, integration and assimilation of newly incorporated and peripheral populations by the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire...

 had been superficial inside Roman Dacia
Roman Dacia
The Roman province of Dacia on the Balkans included the modern Romanian regions of Transylvania, Banat and Oltenia, and temporarily Muntenia and southern Moldova, but not the nearby regions of Moesia...

, was a view celebrated by contemporary partisans of Protochronist
Protochronism
Protochronism is a Romanian term describing the tendency to ascribe, largely relying on questionable data and subjective interpretations, an idealised past to the country as a whole...

 nationalism. According to historian Sorin Antohi
Sorin Antohi
-Biography:Antohi was born in Târgu Ocna. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Iaşi and a DEA from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He taught history at the University of Michigan, at the University of Bucharest and at the Central-European...

, Eliade may have actually encouraged Protochronists such as Edgar Papu to carry out research which resulted in the claim that medieval Romanians had anticipated the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

In his study of Eliade, Jung, and Campbell, Ellwood also discusses the connection between academic theories and controversial political involvements, noting that all three mythologists have been accused of reactionary
Reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

 political positions. Ellwood notes the obvious parallel between the conservatism
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 of myth, which speaks of a primordial golden age, and the conservatism of far right politics. However, Ellwood argues that the explanation is more complex than that. Wherever their political sympathies may have sometimes been, he claims, the three mythologists were often "apolitical if not antipolitical, scorning any this-worldly salvation". Moreover, the connection between mythology and politics differs for each of the mythologists in question: in Eliade's case, Ellwood believes, a strong sense of nostalgia ("for childhood, for historical times past, for cosmic religion, for paradise"), influenced not only the scholar's academic interests, but also his political views.

Because Eliade stayed out of politics during his later life, Ellwood tries to extract an implicit political philosophy from Eliade's scholarly works. Ellwood argues that the later Eliade's nostalgia for ancient traditions did not make him a political reactionary, even a quiet one. He concludes that the later Eliade was, in fact, a "radical modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

". According to Ellwood,
Those who see Eliade's fascination with the primordial as merely reactionary in the ordinary political or religious sense of the word do not understand the mature Eliade in a sufficiently radical way. [...] Tradition was not for him exactly Burkean
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 'prescription' or sacred trust to be kept alive generation after generation, for Eliade was fully aware that tradition, like men and nations, lives only by changing and even occultation. The tack is not to try fruitlessly to keep it unchanging, but to discover where it is hiding.


According to Eliade, religious elements survive in secular culture, but in new, "camouflaged" forms. Thus, Ellwood believes that the later Eliade probably thought modern man should preserve elements of the past, but should not try to restore their original form through reactionary politics. He suspects that Eliade would have favored "a minimal rather than a maximalist state" that would allow personal spiritual transformation without enforcing it.

Many scholars have accused Eliade of "essentialism
Essentialism
In philosophy, essentialism is the view that, for any specific kind of entity, there is a set of characteristics or properties all of which any entity of that kind must possess. Therefore all things can be precisely defined or described...

", a type of over-generalization in which one incorrectly attributes a common "essence" to a whole group—in this case, all "religious" or "traditional" societies. Furthermore, some see a connection between Eliade's essentialism with regard to religion and fascist essentialism with regard to races and nations. To Ellwood, this connection "seems rather tortured, in the end amounting to little more than an ad hominem argument which attempts to tar Eliade's entire [scholarly] work with the ill-repute all decent people feel for storm troopers
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 and the Iron Guard". However, Ellwood admits that common tendencies in "mythological thinking" may have caused Eliade, as well as Jung and Campbell, to view certain groups in an "essentialist" way, and that this may explain their purported antisemitism: "A tendency to think in generic terms of peoples, races, religions, or parties, which as we shall see is undoubtedly the profoundest flaw in mythological thinking, including that of such modern mythologists as our three, can connect with nascent anti-Semitism, or the connection can be the other way."

Generic traits


Many of Mircea Eliade's literary works, in particular his earliest ones, are noted for their eroticism
Eroticism
Eroticism is generally understood to refer to a state of sexual arousal or anticipation of such – an insistent sexual impulse, desire, or pattern of thoughts, as well as a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love...

 and their focus on subjective experience. Modernist in style, they have drawn comparisons to the contemporary writings of Mihail Sebastian
Mihail Sebastian
-Life:Sebastian was born to a Jewish family in Brăila. After finishing his secondary studies, Sebastian went on to study law in Bucharest, but was soon attracted to the literary life and the exciting ideas of the new generation of Romanian intellectuals, as epitomized by the literary group...

, I. Valerian, and Ion Biberi. Alongside Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

 and Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.-Early life:...

, his literary passions included Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

 and Miguel de Unamuno
Miguel de Unamuno
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher.-Biography:...

, as well as André Gide
André Gide
André Paul Guillaume Gide was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947. Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialism between the two World Wars.Known for his fiction as well as his autobiographical works, Gide...

. Eliade also read with interest the prose of Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915.-Biography:...

, Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

, and the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 thinkers Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 and Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

. As a youth, he read the works of Romanian authors such as Liviu Rebreanu
Liviu Rebreanu
Liviu Rebreanu was a Romanian novelist, playwright, short story writer, and journalist.- Life :Born in Târlișua , Transylvania, then part of Austria-Hungary, he was the second of thirteen children born to Vasile Rebreanu, a schoolteacher, and Ludovica Diuganu, descendants of peasants...

 and Panait Istrati
Panait Istrati
Panait Istrati was a Romanian writer of French and Romanian expression, nicknamed The Maxim Gorky of the Balkans. Istrati was first noted for the depiction of one homosexual character in his work.-Early life:...

; initially, he was also interested in Ionel Teodoreanu
Ionel Teodoreanu
Ionel Teodoreanu was a Romanian novelist and lawyer. He is mostly remembered for his books on the themes of childhood and adolescence.-Biography:...

's prose works, but later rejected them and criticized their author.

Investigating the works' main characteristics, George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

 stressed that Eliade owed much of his style to the direct influence of French author André Gide, concluding that, alongside Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu
Camil Petrescu was a Romanian playwright, novelist, philosopher and poet. He marked the end of the traditional novel era and laid the foundation of the modern novel era.- Life :...

 and a few others, Eliade was among Gide's leading disciples in Romanian literature
Literature of Romania
Romanian literature is literature written by Romanian authors, although the term may also be used to refer to all literature written in the Romanian language.Eugène Ionesco is one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd....

. He commented that, like Gide, Eliade believed that the artist "does not take a stand, but experiences good and evil while setting himself free from both, maintaining an intact curiosity." A specific aspect of this focus on experience is sexual experimentation—Călinescu notes that Eliade's fiction works tend to depict a male figure "possessing all practicable women in [a given] family". He also considered that, as a rule, Eliade depicts woman as "a basic means for a sexual experience and repudiated with harsh egotism
Egotism
Egotism is "characterized by an exaggerated estimate of one's intellect, ability, importance, appearance, wit, or other valued personal characteristics" – the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself....

."

For Călinescu, such a perspective on life culminated in "banality", leaving authors gripped by the "cult of the self" and "a contempt for literature". Polemically, Călinescu proposed that Mircea Eliade's supposed focus on "aggressive youth" and served to instill his interwar
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 Romanian writers with the idea that they had a common destiny as a generation apart. He also commented that, when set in Romania, Mircea Eliade's stories lacked the "perception of immediate reality", and, analyzing the non-traditional names the writer tended to ascribe to his Romanian characters, that they did not depict "specificity". Additionally, in Călinescu's view, Eliade's stories were often "sensationalist
Sensationalism
Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers...

 compositions of the illustrated magazine kind." Mircea Eliade's assessment of his own pre-1940 literary contributions oscillated between expressions of pride and the bitter verdict that they were written for "an audience of little ladies and high school students".

A secondary but unifying feature present in most of Eliade's stories is their setting, a magical and part-fictional Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. In part, they also serve to illustrate or allude to Eliade's own research in the field of religion, as well as to the concepts he introduced. Thus, commentators such as Matei Călinescu
Matei Calinescu
Matei Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic and professor of comparative literature at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana....

 and Carmen Muşat have also argued that a main characteristic of Eliade's fantasy
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

 prose is a substitution between the supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 and the mundane: in this interpretation, Eliade turns the daily world into an incomprehensible place, while the intrusive supernatural aspect promises to offer the sense of life. The notion was in turn linked to Eliade's own thoughts on transcendence
Transcendence (philosophy)
In philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey the basic ground concept from the word's literal meaning , of climbing or going beyond, albeit with varying connotations in its different historical and cultural stages...

, and in particular his idea that, once "camouflaged" in life or history, miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s become "unrecognizable".

Oriental themed novels


One of Eliade's earliest fiction writings, the controversial first-person narrative
First-person narrative
First-person point of view is a narrative mode where a story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves. First-person narrative may be singular, plural or multiple as well as being an authoritative, reliable or deceptive "voice" and represents point of view in the...

 Isabel şi apele diavolului, focused on the figure of a young and brilliant academic, whose self-declared fear is that of "being common". The hero's experience is recorded in "notebooks", which are compiled to form the actual narrative, and which serve to record his unusual, mostly sexual, experiences in British India—the narrator describes himself as dominated by "a devilish indifference" towards "all things having to do with art or metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

", focusing instead on eroticism. The guest of a pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

, the scholar ponders sexual adventures with his host's wife, servant girl, and finally with his daughter Isabel. Persuading the pastor's adolescent son to run away from home, becoming the sexual initiator of a twelve-year-old girl and the lover of a much older woman, the character also attempts to seduce Isabel. Although she falls in love, the young woman does not give in to his pressures, but eventually allows herself to be abused and impregnated by another character, letting the object of her affection know that she had thought of him all along.

One of Eliade's best-known works, the novel Maitreyi, dwells on Eliade's own experience, comprising camouflaged details of his relationships with Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta
Surendranath Dasgupta was a scholar of Sanskrit and philosophy.-Family and Education:Dasgupta was born in Kushtia, Bengal . His ancestral home was in the village Goila in Barisal District. He studied in Ripon College Calcutta and graduated with honours in Sanskrit. Later, he received his Masters...

 and Dasgupta's daughter Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi was a Bengali-born Indian poetess and novelist, the daughter of philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta and protegée of poet Rabindranath Tagore. She was the basis for the main character in Romanian-born writer Mircea Eliade's 1933 novel Bengal Nights...

. The main character, Allan, is an Englishman
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 who visits the Indian engineer Narendra Sen and courts his daughter, herself known as Maitreyi. The narrative is again built on "notebooks" to which Allan adds his comments. This technique Călinescu describes as "boring", and its result "cynical".

Allan himself stands alongside Eliade's male characters, whose focus is on action, sensation and experience—his chaste contacts with Maitreyi are encouraged by Sen, who hopes for a marriage which is nonetheless abhorred by his would-be European son-in-law. Instead, Allan is fascinated to discover Maitreyi's Oriental version of Platonic love
Platonic love
Platonic love is a chaste and strong type of love that is non-sexual.-Amor Platonicus:The term amor platonicus was coined as early as the 15th century by the Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino. Platonic love in this original sense of the term is examined in Plato's dialogue the Symposium, which has...

, marked by spiritual attachment more than by physical contact. However, their affair soon after turns physical, and she decides to attach herself to Allan as one would to a husband, in what is an informal and intimate wedding ceremony (which sees her vowing her love and invoking an earth goddess
Chthonic
Chthonic designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in relation to Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land or the land as territory...

 as the seal of union). Upon discovering this, Narendra Sen becomes enraged, rejecting their guest and keeping Maitreyi in confinement. As a result, his daughter decides to have intercourse with a lowly stranger, becoming pregnant in the hope that her parents would consequently allow her to marry her lover. However, the story also casts doubt on her earlier actions, reflecting rumors that Maitreyi was not a virgin at the time she and Allan first met, which also seems to expose her father as a hypocrite.

George Călinescu objected to the narrative, arguing that both the physical affair and the father's rage seemed artificial, while commenting that Eliade placing doubt on his Indian characters' honesty had turned the plot into a piece of "ethnological
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

 humor". Noting that the work developed on a classical theme of miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

, which recalled the prose of François-René de Chateaubriand
François-René de Chateaubriand
François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature.-Early life and exile:...

 and Pierre Loti
Pierre Loti
Pierre Loti was a French novelist and naval officer.-Biography:Loti's education began in his birthplace, Rochefort, Charente-Maritime. At the age of seventeen he entered the naval school in Brest and studied at Le Borda. He gradually rose in his profession, attaining the rank of captain in 1906...

, the critic proposed that its main merit was in introducing the exotic novel
Exoticism
Exoticism is a trend in art and design, influenced by some ethnic groups or civilizations since the late 19th-century. In music exoticism is a genre in which the rhythms, melodies, or instrumentation are designed to evoke the atmosphere of far-off lands or ancient times Exoticism (from 'exotic')...

 to local literature.

Mircea Eliade's other early works include Şantier ("Building Site"), a part-novel, part-diary account of his Indian sojourn. George Călinescu objected to its "monotony", and, noting that it featured a set of "intelligent observations", criticized the "banality of its ideological conversations." Şantier was also noted for its portrayal of drug addiction and intoxication with opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

, both of which could have referred to Eliade's actual travel experience.

Portraits of a generation


In his earliest novel, titled Novel of the Nearsighted Adolescent and written in the first person, Eliade depicts his experience through high school. It is proof of the influence exercised on him by the literature of Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini
Giovanni Papini was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.-Early life:...

, and in particular by Papini's story Un uomo finito. Each of its chapters reads like an independent novella
Novella
A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

, and, in all, the work experiments with the limits traced between novel and diary. Literary critic Eugen Simion called it "the most valuable" among Eliade's earliest literary attempts, but noted that, being "ambitious", the book had failed to achieve "an aesthetically satisfactory format". According to Simion, the innovative intent of the Novel... was provided by its technique, by its goal of providing authenticity in depicting experiences, and by its insight into adolescent psychology
Adolescent psychology
-Adolescence:Adolescence, the transitional stage of development between childhood and adulthood, represents the period of time during which a person experiences a variety of biological changes and encounters a number of emotional issues. The ages which are considered to be part of adolescence vary...

. The novel notably shows its narrator practicing self-flagellation
Flagellation
Flagellation or flogging is the act of methodically beating or whipping the human body. Specialised implements for it include rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails and the sjambok...

.

Eliade's 1934 novel Întoarcerea din rai ("Return from Paradise") centers on Pavel Anicet, a young man who seeks knowledge through what Călinescu defined as "sexual excess". His search leaves him with a reduced sensitivity: right after being confronted with his father's death, Anicet breaks out in tears only after sitting through an entire dinner. The other characters, standing for Eliade's generation, all seek knowledge through violence or retreat from the world—nonetheless, unlike Anicet, they ultimately fail at imposing rigors upon themselves. Pavel himself eventually abandons his belief in sex as a means for enlightenment, and commits suicide in hopes of reaching the level of primordial unity. The solution, George Călinescu noted, mirrored the strange murder in Gide's Lafcadio's Adventures. Eliade himself indicated that the book dealt with the "loss of the beatitude, illusions, and optimism that had dominated the first twenty years of 'Greater Romania
Greater Romania
The Greater Romania generally refers to the territory of Romania in the years between the First World War and the Second World War, the largest geographical extent of Romania up to that time and its largest peacetime extent ever ; more precisely, it refers to the territory of the Kingdom of...

'." Robert Ellwood connected the work to Eliade's recurring sense of loss in respect to the "atmosphere of euphoria and faith" of his adolescence. Călinescu criticizes Întoarcerea din rai, describing its dialog sequences as "awkward", its narrative as "void", and its artistic interest as "non-existent", proposing that the reader could however find it relevant as the "document of a mentality".

The lengthy novel Huliganii ("The Hooligans") is intended as the fresco of a family, and, through it, that of an entire generation. The book's main protagonist, Petru Anicet, is a composer who places value in experiments; other characters include Dragu, who considers "a hooligan's experience" as "the only fertile debut into life", and the totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 Alexandru Pleşa, who is on the search for "the heroic life" by enlisting youth in "perfect regiments, equally intoxicated by a collective myth." Călinescu thought that the young male characters all owed inspiration to Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

's Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov is the fictional protagonist of Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoyevsky. The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic"...

 (see Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was first published in the literary journal The Russian Messenger in twelve monthly installments during 1866. It was later published in a single volume. This is the second of Dostoyevsky's full-length novels following his...

). Anicet, who partly shares Pleşa's vision for a collective experiment, is also prone to sexual adventures, and seduces the women of the Lecca family (who have hired him as a piano teacher). Romanian-born novelist Norman Manea
Norman Manea
Norman Manea is a Jewish Romanian writer and author of short fiction, novels, and essays about the Holocaust, daily life in a communist state, and exile. He is a Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer in residence at Bard College...

 called Anicet's experiment: "the paraded defiance of bourgeois conventions, in which venereal disease and lubricity dwell together." In one episode of the book, Anicet convinces Anişoara Lecca to gratuitously steal from her parents—an outrage which leads her mother to moral decay and, eventually, to suicide. George Călinescu criticized the book for inconsistencies and "excesses in Dostoyevskianism", but noted that the Lecca family portrayal was "suggestive", and that the dramatic scenes were written with "a remarkable poetic calm."

The novel Nuntă în cer depicts the correspondence between two male friends, an artist and a common man, who complain to each other about their failures in love: the former complains about a lover who wanted his children when he did not, while the other recalls being abandoned by a woman who, despite his intentions, did not want to become pregnant by him. Eliade lets the reader understand that they are in fact talking about the same woman.

Fantasy literature


Mircea Eliade's earliest works, most of which were published at later stages, belong to the fantasy
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

 genre. One of the first such literary exercises to be printed, the 1921 Cum am găsit piatra filosofală, showed its adolescent author's interest in themes that he was to explore throughout his career, in particular esotericism
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

 and alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

. Written in the first person, it depicts an experiment which, for a moment, seems to be the discovery of the philosophers' stone. These early writings also include two sketches for novels: Minunata călătorie a celor cinci cărăbuşi in ţara furnicilor roşii ("The Wonderful Journey of the Five Beetles into the Land of the Red Ants") and Memoriile unui soldat de plumb ("The Memoirs of a Lead Soldier"). In the former, a company of beetle spies is sent among the red ants—their travel offers a setting for satirical
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 commentary. Eliade himself explained that Memoriile unui soldat de plumb was an ambitious project, designed as a fresco to include the birth of the Universe, abiogenesis
Abiogenesis
Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the study of how biological life arises from inorganic matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose...

, human evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

, and the entire world history.

Eliade's fantasy novel Domnişoara Christina, was, on its own, the topic of a scandal. The novel deals with the fate of an eccentric family, the Moscus, who are haunted by the ghost of a murdered young woman, known as Christina. The apparition shares characteristics with vampire
Vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

s and with strigoi
Strigoi
In Romanian mythology, strigoi are the troubled souls of the dead rising from the grave. Some strigoi can be living people with certain magical properties. Some of the properties of the strigoi include: the ability to transform into an animal, invisibility, and the propensity to drain the vitality...

: she is believed to be drinking the blood of cattle and that of a young family member. The young man Egor becomes the object of Christina's desire, and is shown to have intercourse with her. Noting that the plot and setting reminded one of horror fiction
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

 works by the German author Hanns Heinz Ewers
Hanns Heinz Ewers
Hanns Heinz Ewers was a German actor, poet, philosopher, and writer of short stories and novels. While he wrote on a wide range of subjects, he is now known mainly for his works of horror, particularly his trilogy of novels about the adventures of Frank Braun, a character modeled on himself...

, and defending Domnişoara Christina in front of harsher criticism, Călinescu nonetheless argued that the "international environment" in which it took place was "upsetting". He also depicted the plot as focused on "major impurity", summarizing the story's references to necrophilia
Necrophilia
Necrophilia, also called thanatophilia or necrolagnia, is the sexual attraction to corpses,It is classified as a paraphilia by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The word is artificially derived from the ancient Greek words: νεκρός and φιλία...

, menstrual
Menstruation
Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining . It occurs on a regular basis in sexually reproductive-age females of certain mammal species. This article focuses on human menstruation.-Overview:...

 fetish
Sexual fetishism
Sexual fetishism, or erotic fetishism, is the sexual arousal a person receives from a physical object, or from a specific situation. The object or situation of interest is called the fetish, the person a fetishist who has a fetish for that object/situation. Sexual fetishism may be regarded, e.g...

 and ephebophilia
Ephebophilia
Ephebophilia is the sexual preference of adults for mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19. The term was originally used in the late 19th to mid 20th century, and has been more recently revisited by Ray Blanchard. It is one of a number of sexual preferences across age groups subsumed...

.

Eliade's short story Şarpele ("The Snake") was described by George Călinescu as "hermetic
Hermeticism
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

". While on a trip to the forest, several persons witness a feat of magic performed by the male character Andronic, who summons a snake from the bottom of a river and places it on an island. At the end of the story, Andronic and the female character Dorina are found on the island, naked and locked in a sensual embrace. Călinescu saw the piece as an allusion to Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

, to the Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, and to Babylonian mythology, while linking the snake to the Greek mythological
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 figure and major serpent symbol
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

 Ophion
Ophion
In some versions of Greek mythology, Ophion , also called Ophioneus ruled the world with Eurynome before the two of them were cast down by Cronus and Rhea.-Sources:...

. He was however dissatisfied with this introduction of iconic images, describing it as "languishing".

The short story Un om mare ("A Big Man"), which Eliade authored during his stay in Portugal, shows a common person, the engineer Cucoanes, who grows steadily and uncontrollably, reaching immense proportions and ultimately disappearing into the wilderness of the Bucegi Mountains
Bucegi Mountains
The Bucegi Mountains are located in central Romania, south of the city Braşov. They are part of the Southern Carpathians group of the Carpathian Mountains....

. Eliade himself referenced the story and Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's experiments in the same section of his private notes, a matter which allowed Matei Călinescu
Matei Calinescu
Matei Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic and professor of comparative literature at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana....

 to propose that Un om mare was a direct product of its author's experience with drugs. The same commentator, who deemed Un om mare "perhaps Eliade's most memorable short story", connected it with the uriaş
Urias
Uriaş is the common Romanian-language designation of giants, who are prominent figures in Romanian folklore. There are several varieties of uriaşi, who share most of their traits but have different names from one historical region of Romania to another...

i
characters present in Romanian folklore.

Other writings


Eliade's reinterpreted the Greek mythological figure Iphigeneia
Iphigeneia
Iphigenia is a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology. In Attic accounts, her name means "strong-born", "born to strength", or "she who causes the birth of strong offspring."-Post-Homeric Greek myth:...

 in his eponymous 1941 play. Here, the maiden falls in love with Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

, and accepts to be sacrificed on the pyre
Pyre
A pyre , also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite...

 as a means to ensure both her lover's happiness (as predicted by an oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

) and her father Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

's victory in the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. Discussing the association Iphigenia's character makes between love and death, Romanian theater critic Radu Albala noted that it was a possible echo of Meşterul Manole
Mesterul Manole
In Romanian mythology, Meșterul Manole was the chief architect of the Curtea de Argeș Monastery in Wallachia...

legend, in which a builder of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery
Curtea de Arges Cathedral
The Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș is a church in Curtea de Argeș, Romania, located in the grounds of a monastery. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas....

 has to sacrifice his wife in exchange for permission to complete work. In contrast with early renditions of the myth by authors such as Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

 and Jean Racine
Jean Racine
Jean Racine , baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine , was a French dramatist, one of the "Big Three" of 17th-century France , and one of the most important literary figures in the Western tradition...

, Eliade's version ends with the sacrifice being carried out in full.

In addition to his fiction, the exiled Eliade authored several volumes of memoirs and diaries and travel writings. They were published sporadically, and covered various stages of his life. One of the earliest such pieces was India, grouping accounts of the travels he made through the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. Writing for the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 journal La Vanguardia
La Vanguardia
La Vanguardia is Catalonia's leading daily newspaper as well as the fourth best-selling in Spain. It has its headquarters in Barcelona, Catalonia's largest city....

, commentator Sergio Vila-Sanjuán described the first volume of Eliade's Autobiography (covering the years 1907 to 1937) as "a great book", while noting that the other main volume was "more conventional and insincere." In Vila-Sanjuán's view, the texts reveal Mircea Eliade himself as "a Dostoyevskyian character", as well as "an accomplished person, a Goethian
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 figure".

A work that drew particular interest was his Jurnal portughez ("Portuguese Diary"), completed during his stay in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 and published only after its author's death. A portion of it dealing with his stay in Romania is believed to have been lost. The travels to Spain, partly recorded in Jurnal portughez, also led to a separate volume, Jurnal cordobez ("Cordoban Diary"), which Eliade compiled from various independent notebooks. Jurnal portughez shows Eliade coping with clinical depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 and political crisis, and has been described by Andrei Oişteanu
Andrei Oisteanu
Andrei Oişteanu is a Romanian historian of religions and mentalities, ethnologist, cultural anthropologist, literary critic and novelist. Specialized in the history of religions and mentalities, he is also noted for his investigation of rituals and magic and his work in Jewish studies and the...

 as "an overwhelming [read], through the immense suffering it exhales." Literary historian Paul Cernat argued that part of the volume is "a masterpiece of its time", while concluding that some 700 pages were passable for the "among others" section of Eliade's bibliography
Bibliography of Mircea Eliade
-Scholarly works:* The Comparative History of Yoga Techniques, 1933* Oceanografie, 1934* Alchimia Asiatică, 1934* Yoga: Essai sur les origines de la mystique indienne, 1936* Cosmologie şi alchimie babiloniană, 1937* Fragmentarium, 1939...

. Noting that the book featured parts where Eliade spoke of himself in eulogistic terms, notably comparing himself favorably to Goethe and Romania's national poet Mihai Eminescu
Mihai Eminescu
Mihai Eminescu was a Romantic poet, novelist and journalist, often regarded as the most famous and influential Romanian poet. Eminescu was an active member of the Junimea literary society and he worked as an editor for the newspaper Timpul , the official newspaper of the Conservative Party...

, Cernat accused the writer of "egolatry", and deduced that Eliade was "ready to step over dead bodies for the sake of his spiritual 'mission' ". The same passages led philosopher and journalist Cătălin Avramescu to argue that Eliade's behavior was evidence of "megalomania
Megalomania
Megalomania is a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. 'Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs'...

".

Eliade also wrote various essays of literary criticism. In his youth, alongside his study on Julius Evola
Julius Evola
Barone Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola also known as Julius Evola, was an Italian philosopher and esotericist...

, he published essays which introduced the Romanian public to representatives of modern Spanish literature
Spanish literature
Spanish literature generally refers to literature written in the Spanish language within the territory that presently constitutes the state of Spain...

 and philosophy, among them Adolfo Bonilla San Martín, Miguel de Unamuno
Miguel de Unamuno
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher.-Biography:...

, José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism.-Biography:José Ortega y Gasset was...

, Eugeni d'Ors
Eugeni d'Ors
Eugeni d’Ors i Rovira was a Catalan Spanish writer, essayist, journalist, philosopher and art critic...

, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez
Vicente Blasco Ibáñez
Vicente Blasco Ibáñez was a Spanish realist novelist writing in Spanish, a screenwriter and occasional film director....

 and Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo was a Spanish scholar, historian and literary critic. Even though his main interest was the History of ideas, and Hispanic philology in general, he also cultivated poetry, translation and philosophy.He was born at Santander where he showed that he was an infant prodigy...

. He also wrote an essay on the works of James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

, connecting it with his own theories on the eternal return
Eternal return (Eliade)
The "Eternal return" is, according to the theories of religious historian Mircea Eliade, a belief, expressed in religious behavior, in the ability to return to the mythical age, to become contemporary with the events described in one's myths...

 ("[Joyce's literature is] saturated with nostalgia for the myth of the eternal repetition"), and deeming Joyce himself an anti-historicist
Historicism
Historicism is a mode of thinking that assigns a central and basic significance to a specific context, such as historical period, geographical place and local culture. As such it is in contrast to individualist theories of knowledges such as empiricism and rationalism, which neglect the role of...

 "archaic" figure among the modernists. In the 1930s, Eliade edited the collected works of Romanian historian Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu
Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu
Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu was a Romanian writer and philologist, who pioneered many branches of Romanian philology and history. Hasdeu is considered to have been able to understand 26 languages .-Life:...

.

Early statements


The early years in Eliade's public career show him to have been highly tolerant of Jews in general, and of the Jewish minority in Romania
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

 in particular. His early condemnation of Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 antisemitic policies was accompanied by his caution and moderation in regard to Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

's various anti-Jewish attacks.

Late in the 1930s, Mihail Sebastian was marginalized by Romania's antisemitic policies, and came to reflect on his Romanian friend's association with the far right. The subsequent ideological break between him and Eliade has been compared by writer Gabriela Adameşteanu
Gabriela Adamesteanu
Gabriela Adameșteanu is a Romanian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and translator. The author of the celebrated novels The Equal Way of Every Day and Wasted Morning , she is also known as an activist in support of civil society and member of the Group for Social Dialogue , as...

 with that between Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

 and Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

. In his Journal, published long after his 1945 death, Sebastian claimed that Eliade's actions during the 1930s show him to be an antisemite. According to Sebastian, Eliade had been friendly to him until the start of his political commitments, after which he severed all ties. Before their friendship came apart, however, Sebastian claimed that he took notes on their conversations (which he later published) during which Eliade was supposed to have expressed antisemitic views. According to Sebastian, Eliade said in 1939:

The Poles' resistance
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 in Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 is a Jewish resistance. Only yids are capable of the blackmail of putting women and children in the front line, to take advantage of the Germans
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

' sense of scruple. The Germans have no interest in the destruction of Romania. Only a pro-German government can save us.... What is happening on the frontier with Bukovina is a scandal, because new waves of Jews are flooding into the country. Rather than a Romania again invaded by kikes, it would be better to have a German protectorate.


The friendship between Eliade and Sebastian drastically declined during the war: the latter writer, fearing for his security during the pro-Nazi Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 regime (see Romania during World War II
Romania during World War II
Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron...

), hoped that Eliade, by then a diplomat, could intervene in his favor; however, upon his brief return to Romania, Eliade did not see or approach Sebastian.

Later, Mircea Eliade expressed his regret at not having had the chance to redeem his friendship with Sebastian before the latter was killed in a car accident. Paul Cernat notes that Eliade's statement includes an admission that he "counted on [Sebastian's] support, in order to get back into Romanian life and culture", and proposes that Eliade may have expected his friend to vouch for him in front of hostile authorities. Some of Sebastian's late recordings in his diary show that their author was reflecting with nostalgia on his relationship with Eliade, and that he deplored the outcome.

Eliade provided two distinct explanations for not having met with Sebastian: one was related to his claim of being followed around by the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

, and the other, expressed in his diaries, was that the shame of representing a regime that humiliated Jews had made him avoid facing his former friend. Another take on the matter was advanced in 1972 by the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i magazine Toladot, who claimed that, as an official representative, Eliade was aware of Antonescu's agreement to implement the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 in Romania and of how this could affect Sebastian (see Holocaust in Romania). In addition, rumors were sparked that Sebastian and Nina Mareş had a physical relationship, one which could have contributed to the clash between the two literary figures.

Beyond his involvement with a movement known for its antisemitism, Eliade did not usually comment on Jewish issues. However, an article titled Piloţii orbi ("The Blind Pilots"), contributed to the journal Vremea in 1936, showed that he supported at least some Iron Guard accusations against the Jewish community:

Since the war [that is, World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

], Jews have occupied the villages of Maramureş and Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

, and gained the absolute majority in the towns and cities in Bessarabia
Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

. [...] It would be absurd to expect Jews to resign themselves in order to become a minority with certain rights and very many duties—after they have tasted the honey of power and conquered as many command positions as they have. Jews are currently fighting with all forces to maintain their positions, expecting a future offensive—and, as far as I am concerned, I understand their fight and admire their vitality, tenacity, genius.


One year later, a text, accompanied by his picture, was featured as answer to an inquiry by the Iron Guard's Buna Vestire about the reasons he had for supporting the movement. A short section of it summarizes an anti-Jewish attitude:

Can the Romanian nation end its life in the saddest decay witnessed by history, undermined by misery and syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, conquered by Jews and torn to pieces by foreigners, demoralized, betrayed, sold for a few million lei
Romanian leu
The leu is the currency of Romania. It is subdivided into 100 bani . The name of the currency means "lion". On 1 July 2005, Romania underwent a currency reform, switching from the previous leu to a new leu . 1 RON is equal to 10,000 ROL...

?


According to the literary critic Z. Ornea, in the 1980s Eliade denied authorship of the text. He explained the use of his signature, his picture, and the picture's caption, as having been applied by the magazine's editor, Mihail Polihroniade, to a piece the latter had written after having failed to obtain Eliade's contribution; he also claimed that, given his respect for Polihroniade, he had not wished to publicize this matter previously.

Polemics and exile


Dumitru G. Danielopol, a fellow diplomat present in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 during Eliade's stay in the city, later stated that the latter had identified himself as "a guiding light of [the Iron Guard] movement" and victim of Carol II
Carol II of Romania
Carol II reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until 6 September 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria...

's repression. In October 1940, as the National Legionary State
National Legionary State
The National Legionary State was the Romanian government from September 6, 1940 to January 23, 1941. It was a single-party regime dictatorship dominated by the overtly fascist Iron Guard in uneasy conjunction with the head of government and Conducător Ion Antonescu, the leader of the Romanian...

 came into existence, the British Foreign Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed Mircea Eliade, alongside other five Romanians, due to his Iron Guard connections and suspicions that he was prepared to spy in favor of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. According to various sources, while in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the diplomat was also preparing to disseminate propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 in favor of the Iron Guard. In Jurnal portughez, Eliade defines himself as "a Legionary", and speaks of his own "Legionary climax" as a stage he had gone through during the early 1940s.

The depolitisation of Eliade after the start of his diplomatic career was also mistrusted by his former close friend Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd...

, who indicated that, upon the close of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Eliade's personal beliefs as communicated to his friends amounted to "all is over now that Communism has won". This forms part of Ionesco's severe and succinct review of the careers of Legionary-inspired intellectuals, many of them his friends and former friends, in a letter he sent to Tudor Vianu
Tudor Vianu
Tudor Vianu was a Romanian literary critic, art critic, poet, philosopher, academic, and translator. Known for his left-wing and anti-fascist convictions, he had a major role on the reception and development of Modernism in Romanian literature and art...

. In 1946, Ionesco indicated to Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu
Petru Comarnescu was a Romanian literary and art critic and translator.Born in Iași into a family that was related to the metropolitan bishop Veniamin Costache, he studied at the University of Bucharest law , philosophy and philology before going in 1931 on a two-year scholarship to the United...

 that he did not want to see either Eliade or Cioran, and that he considered the two of them "Legionaries for ever"—adding "we are hyena
Hyena
Hyenas or Hyaenas are the animals of the family Hyaenidae of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora , and one of the smallest in the mammalia...

s to one another".

Eliade's former friend, the communist Belu Zilber, who was attending the Paris Conference
Paris Peace Treaties, 1947
The Paris Peace Conference resulted in the Paris Peace Treaties signed on February 10, 1947. The victorious wartime Allied powers negotiated the details of treaties with Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland .The...

 in 1946, refused to see Eliade, arguing that, as an Iron Guard affiliate, the latter had "denounced left-wingers", and contrasting him with Cioran ("They are both Legionaries, but [Cioran] is honest"). Three years later, Eliade's political activities were brought into discussion as he was getting ready to publish a translation of his Techniques du Yoga with the left-leaning Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 company Giulio Einaudi Editore—the denunciation was probably orchestrated by Romanian officials.

In August 1954, when Horia Sima
Horia Sima
Horia Sima was a Romanian fascist politician. After 1938, he was the second and last leader of the fascist and antisemitic para-military movement known as the Iron Guard.-In Romania:...

, who led the Iron Guard during its exile, was rejected by a faction inside the movement, Mircea Eliade's name was included on a list of persons who supported the latter—although this may have happened without his consent. According to exiled dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 and novelist Dumitru Ţepeneag
Dumitru Tepeneag
Dumitru Ţepeneag is a contemporary Romanian novelist, essayist, short story writer and translator, who currently resides in France...

, around that date, Eliade expressed his sympathy for Iron Guard members in general, whom he viewed as "courageous". However, according to Robert Ellwood, the Eliade he met in the 1960s was entirely apolitical, remained aloof from "the passionate politics of that era in the United States", and "[r]eportedly [...] never read newspapers" (an assessment shared by Sorin Alexandrescu). Eliade's student Ioan Petru Culianu noted that journalists had come to refer to the Romanian scholar as "the great recluse". Despite Eliade's withdrawal from radical politics, Ellwood indicates, he still remained concerned with Romania's welfare. He saw himself and other exiled Romanian intellectuals as members of a circle who worked to "maintain the culture of a free Romania and, above all, to publish texts that had become unpublishable in Romania itself".

Beginning in 1969, Eliade's past became the subject of public debate in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. At the time, historian Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem
Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

 asked Eliade to explain his attitudes, which the latter did using vague terms. As a result of this exchange, Scholem declared his dissatisfaction, and argued that Israel could not extend a welcome to the Romanian academic. During the final years of Mircea Eliade's life, his disciple Culianu exposed and publicly criticized his 1930s pro-Iron Guard activities; relations between the two soured as a result. Eliade's other Romanian disciple, Andrei Oişteanu
Andrei Oisteanu
Andrei Oişteanu is a Romanian historian of religions and mentalities, ethnologist, cultural anthropologist, literary critic and novelist. Specialized in the history of religions and mentalities, he is also noted for his investigation of rituals and magic and his work in Jewish studies and the...

, noted that, in the years following Eliade's death, conversations with various people who had known the scholar had made Culianu less certain of his earlier stances, and had led him to declare: "Mr. Eliade was never antisemitic, a member of the Iron Guard, or pro-Nazi. But, in any case, I am led to believe that he was closer to the Iron Guard than I would have liked to believe."

At an early stage of his polemic with Culianu, Mircea Eliade complained in writing that "it is not possible to write an objective history" of the Iron Guard and its leader Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was a Romanian politician of the far right, the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard or The Legion of the Archangel Michael , an ultra-nationalist and violently antisemitic organization active throughout most of the interwar period...

. Arguing that people "would only accept apologetics [...] or executions", he contended: "After Buchenwald
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

 and Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

, even honest people cannot afford being objective".

Posterity


Alongside the arguments introduced by Daniel Dubuisson, criticism of Mircea Eliade's political involvement with antisemitism and fascism came from Adriana Berger, Leon Volovici, Alexandra Lagniel-Lavastine, Florin Ţurcanu and others, who have attempted to trace Eliade's antisemitism throughout his work and through his associations with contemporary antisemites, such as the Italian fascist occultist Julius Evola
Julius Evola
Barone Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola also known as Julius Evola, was an Italian philosopher and esotericist...

. Volovici, for example, is critical of Eliade not only because of his support for the Iron Guard, but also for spreading antisemitism and anti-Masonry
Anti-Masonry
Anti-Masonry is defined as "avowed opposition to Freemasonry". However, there is no homogeneous anti-Masonic movement...

 in 1930s Romania. In 1991, exiled novelist Norman Manea
Norman Manea
Norman Manea is a Jewish Romanian writer and author of short fiction, novels, and essays about the Holocaust, daily life in a communist state, and exile. He is a Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer in residence at Bard College...

 published an essay firmly condemning Eliade's attachment to the Iron Guard.

Other scholars, like Bryan S. Rennie, have claimed that there is, to date, no evidence of Eliade's membership, active services rendered, or of any real involvement with any fascist or totalitarian movements or membership organizations, nor that there is any evidence of his continued support for nationalist ideals after their inherently violent nature was revealed. They further assert that there is no imprint of overt political beliefs in Eliade's scholarship, and also claim that Eliade's critics are following political agendas. Romanian scholar Mircea Handoca, editor of Eliade's writings, argues that the controversy surrounding Eliade was encouraged by a group of exiled writers, of whom Manea was a main representative, and believes that Eliade's association with the Guard was a conjectural one, determined by the young author's Christian values and conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 stance, as well as by his belief that a Legionary Romania could mirror Portugal's Estado Novo. Handoca opined that Eliade changed his stance after discovering that the Legionaries had turned violent, and argued that there was no evidence of Eliade's actual affiliation with the Iron Guard as a political movement. Additionally, Joaquín Garrigós, who translated Eliade's works into Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, claimed that none of Eliade's texts he ever encountered show him to be an antisemite. Mircea Eliade's nephew and commentator Sorin Alexandrescu himself proposed that Eliade's politics were essentially conservative and patriotic
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

, in part motivated by a fear of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 which he shared with many other young intellectuals. Based on Mircea Eliade's admiration for Gandhi, various other authors assess that Eliade remained committed to nonviolence
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

.

Robert Ellwood also places Eliade's involvement with the Iron Guard in relation to scholar's conservatism, and connects this aspect of Eliade's life with both his nostalgia and his study of primal societies. According to Ellwood, the part of Eliade that felt attracted to the "freedom of new beginnings suggested by primal myths" is the same part that felt attracted to the Guard, with its almost mythological notion of a new beginning through a "national resurrection". On a more basic level, Ellwood describes Eliade as a "instinctively spiritual" person who saw the Iron Guard as a spiritual movement. In Ellwood's view, Eliade was aware that the "golden age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

" of antiquity was no longer accessible to secular man, that it could be recalled but not re-established. Thus, a "more accessible" object for nostalgia was a "secondary silver age within the last few hundred years"—the Kingdom of Romania
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

's 19th century cultural renaissance. To the young Eliade, the Iron Guard seemed like a path for returning to the silver age of Romania's glory, being a movement "dedicated to the cultural and national renewal of the Romanian people by appeal to their spiritual roots". Ellwood describes the young Eliade as someone "capable of being fired up by mythological archetypes and with no awareness of the evil that was to be unleashed".

Because of Eliade's withdrawal from politics, and also because the later Eliade's religiosity was very personal and idiosyncratic, Ellwood believes the later Eliade probably would have rejected the "corporate sacred" of the Iron Guard. According to Ellwood, the later Eliade had the same desire for a Romanian "resurrection" that had motivated the early Eliade to support the Iron Guard, but he now channeled it apolitically through his efforts to "maintain the culture of a free Romania" abroad. In one of his writings, Eliade says, "Against the terror of History there are only two possibilities of defense: action or contemplation." According to Ellwood, the young Eliade took the former option, trying to reform the world through action, whereas the older Eliade tried to resist the terror of history intellectually.

Eliade's own version of events, presenting his involvement in far right politics as marginal, was judged to contain several inaccuracies and unverifiable claims. For instance, Eliade depicted his arrest as having been solely caused by his friendship with Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

. On another occasion, answering Gershom Scholem's query, he is known to have explicitly denied ever having contributed to Buna Vestire. According to Sorin Antohi
Sorin Antohi
-Biography:Antohi was born in Târgu Ocna. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Iaşi and a DEA from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He taught history at the University of Michigan, at the University of Bucharest and at the Central-European...

, "Eliade died without ever clearly expressing regret for his Iron Guard sympathies". Z. Ornea noted that, in a short section of his Autobiography where he discusses the Einaudi incident, Eliade speaks of "my imprudent acts and errors committed in youth", as "a series of malentendus that would follow me all my life." Ornea commented that this was the only instance where the Romanian academic spoke of his political involvement with a dose of self-criticism, and contrasted the statement with Eliade's usual refusal to discuss his stances "pertinently". Reviewing the arguments brought in support of Eliade, Sergio Vila-Sanjuán concluded: "Nevertheless, Eliade's pro-Legionary columns endure in the newspaper libraries, he never showed his regret for this connection [with the Iron Guard] and always, right up to his final writings, he invoked the figure of his teacher Nae Ionescu."

In his Felix Culpa, Manea directly accused Eliade of having embellished his memoirs in order to minimize an embarrassing past. A secondary debate surrounding Eliade's alleged unwillingness to dissociate with the Guard took place after Jurnalul portughez saw print. Sorin Alexandrescu expressed a belief that notes in the diary show Eliade's "break with his far right past". Cătălin Avramescu defined this conclusion as "whitewashing", and, answering to Alexandrescu's claim that his uncle's support for the Guard was always superficial, argued that Jurnal portughez and other writings of the time showed Eliade's disenchantment with the Legionaries' Christian stance in tandem with his growing sympathy for Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 and its pagan messages. Paul Cernat, who stressed that it was the only one of Eliade's autobiographical works not to have been reworked by its author, concluded that the book documented Eliade's own efforts to "camouflage" his political sympathies without rejecting them altogether.

Oişteanu argued that, in old age, Eliade moved away from his earlier stances and even came to sympathize with the non-Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 Left and the hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 youth movement. He noted that Eliade initially felt apprehensive about the consequences of hippie activism, but that the interests they shared, as well as their advocacy of communalism
Communalism
Communalism is a term with three distinct meanings according to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary'.'These include "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation". "the principles and practice of communal ownership"...

 and free love
Free love
The term free love has been used to describe a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social bondage. The Free Love movement’s initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery...

 had made him argue that hippies were "a quasi-religious movement" that was "rediscovering the sacrality of Life". Andrei Oişteanu, who proposed that Eliade's critics were divided into a "maximalist" and a "minimalist" camp (trying to, respectively, enhance or shadow the impact Legionary ideas had on Eliade), argued in favor of moderation, and indicated that Eliade's fascism needed to be correlated to the political choices of his generation.

Political symbolism in Eliade's fiction


Various critics have traced links between Eliade's fiction works and his political views, or Romanian politics in general. Early on, George Călinescu
George Calinescu
George Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic, historian, novelist, academician and journalist, and a writer of classicist and humanist tendencies...

 argued that the totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 model outlined in Huliganii was: "An allusion to certain bygone political movements [...], sublimated in the ever so abstruse philosophy of death as a path to knowledge." By contrast, Întoarcerea din rai partly focuses on a failed communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 rebellion, which enlists the participation of its main characters.

Iphigenia 's story of self-sacrifice, turned voluntary in Eliade's version, was taken by various commentators, beginning with Mihail Sebastian
Mihail Sebastian
-Life:Sebastian was born to a Jewish family in Brăila. After finishing his secondary studies, Sebastian went on to study law in Bucharest, but was soon attracted to the literary life and the exciting ideas of the new generation of Romanian intellectuals, as epitomized by the literary group...

, as a favorable allusion to the Iron Guard's beliefs on commitment and death, as well as to the bloody outcome of the 1941 Legionary Rebellion
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

. Ten years after its premiere, the play was reprinted by Legionary refugees in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

: on the occasion, the text was reviewed for publishing by Eliade himself. Reading Iphigenia was what partly sparked Culianu's investigation of his mentor's early political affiliations.

A special debate was sparked by Un om mare. Culianu viewed it as a direct reference to Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu was a Romanian politician of the far right, the founder and charismatic leader of the Iron Guard or The Legion of the Archangel Michael , an ultra-nationalist and violently antisemitic organization active throughout most of the interwar period...

 and his rise in popularity, an interpretation partly based on the similarity between, on one hand, two monikers ascribed to the Legionary leader (by, respectively, his adversaries and his followers), and, on the other, the main character's name (Cucoanes). Matei Călinescu
Matei Calinescu
Matei Călinescu was a Romanian literary critic and professor of comparative literature at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana....

 did not reject Culianu's version, but argued that, on its own, the piece was beyond political interpretations. Commenting on this dialog, literary historian and essayist Mircea Iorgulescu objected to the original verdict, indicating his belief that there was no historical evidence to substantiate Culianu's point of view.

Alongside Eliade's main works, his attempted novel of youth, Minunata călătorie a celor cinci cărăbuşi in ţara furnicilor roşii, which depicts a population of red ants living in a totalitarian society and forming bands to harass the beetles, was seen as a potential allusion to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and to communism. Despite Eliade's ultimate reception in Communist Romania
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

, this writing could not be published during the period, after censors
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 singled out fragments which they saw as especially problematic.

Tributes


An endowed chair in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 Divinity School was named after Eliade in recognition of his wide contribution to the research on this subject; the current (and first incumbent) holder of this chair is Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger
Wendy Doniger is an American Indologist and Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought...

.

To evaluate the legacy of Eliade and Joachim Wach
Joachim Wach
Joachim Ernst Adolphe Felix Wach was a German religious scholar from Chemnitz, Kingdom of Saxony, who emphasised a distinction between the history of religion and the philosophy of religion....

 within the discipline of the history of religions, the University of Chicago chose 2006 (the intermediate year between the 50th anniversary of Wach's death and the 100th anniversary of Eliade's birth), to hold a two-day conference in order to reflect upon their academic contributions and their political lives in their social and historical contexts, as well as the relationship between their works and their lives.

In 1990, after the Romanian Revolution
Romanian Revolution of 1989
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a series of riots and clashes in December 1989. These were part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several Warsaw Pact countries...

, Eliade was elected posthumously to the Romanian Academy
Romanian Academy
The Romanian Academy is a cultural forum founded in Bucharest, Romania, in 1866. It covers the scientific, artistic and literary domains. The academy has 181 acting members who are elected for life....

. In Romania, Mircea Eliade's legacy in the field of the history of religions is mirrored by the journal Archaeus (founded 1997, and affiliated with the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

 Faculty of History). The 6th European Association for the Study of Religion and International Association for the History of Religions Special Conference on Religious History of Europe and Asia took place from September 20 to September 23, 2006, in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

. An important section of the Congress was dedicated to the memory of Mircea Eliade, whose legacy in the field of history of religions was scrutinized by various scholars, some of whom were his direct students at the University of Chicago.

As Antohi noted, Eliade, Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

 and Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica
Constantin Noica was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to...

 "represent in Romanian culture
Culture of Romania
Romania has a unique culture, which is the product of its geography and of its distinct historical evolution. Like Romanians themselves, it is defined as the meeting point of three regions: Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans, but cannot be truly included in any of them...

 ultimate expressions of excellence, [Eliade and Cioran] being regarded as proof that Romania's interwar
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 culture (and, by extension, Romanian culture as a whole) was able to reach the ultimate levels of depth, sophistication and creativity." A Romanian Television 1
TVR 1
TVR1 is the main channel of the Romanian public broadcaster TVR.The most important show of the channel is Jurnalul TVR, whose motto is Jurnalul aşa cum ar trebui sǎ fie! , but on 28 March 2009 was replaced by Telejurnal...

 poll carried out in 2006 nominated Mircea Eliade as the 7th Greatest Romanian in history; his case was argued by the writer Dragoş Bucurenci (see 100 greatest Romanians). His name was given to a boulevard in the northern Bucharest area of Primăverii, to a street in Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

, and to high schools in Bucharest, Sighişoara
Sighisoara
Sighişoara is a city and municipality on the Târnava Mare River in Mureş County, Romania. Located in the historic region Transylvania, Sighişoara has a population of 27,706 ....

, and Reşiţa
Resita
' is a city in western Romania and the capital of Caraş-Severin County, in the Banat region. Its 2004 population was 83,985.- Etymology :The name of Reşiţa, might comes from the Latin recitia, meaning "cold spring", as the great historian Nicolae Iorga once suggested, presuming that the Romans...

. The Eliades' house on Melodiei Street was torn down during the communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

, and an apartment block was raised in its place; his second residence, on Dacia Boulevard, features a memorial plaque in his honor.

Eliade's image in contemporary culture also has political implications. Historian Irina Livezeanu
Irina Livezeanu
Irina Livezeanu is a Romanian-born American historian. Her research interests include Eastern Europe, Eastern European Jewry, the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, and modern nationalism. Several of her publications deal with the history of Romania, Moldova, and Bessarabia. Since 1996, she is Associate...

 proposed that the respect he enjoys in Romania is matched by that of other "nationalist thinkers and politicians" who "have reentered the contemporary scene largely as heroes of a pre- and anticommunist past", including Nae Ionescu and Cioran, but also Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

 and Nichifor Crainic
Nichifor Crainic
Nichifor Crainic was a Romanian writer, editor, philosopher, poet and theologian famed for his traditionalist and antisemitic activities...

. In parallel, according to Oişteanu (who relied his assessment on Eliade's own personal notes), Eliade's interest in the American hippie community was reciprocated by members of the latter, some of whom reportedly viewed Eliade as "a guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

".

Eliade has also been hailed as an inspiration by German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 representatives of the Neue Rechte
Neue Rechte
The Neue Rechte is a German political movement, founded in opposition to the "New Left" generation of the 1960s. Ideologically, they are linked to the ideologues of the Weimar Conservative Revolution, which included such people as Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Oswald Spengler and Ernst von Salomon...

, claiming legacy from the Conservative Revolutionary movement
Conservative Revolutionary movement
The Conservative Revolutionary movement was a German national conservative movement, prominent in the years following the First World War. The Conservative Revolutionary school of thought advocated a "new" conservatism and nationalism that was specifically German, or Prussian in particular...

 (among them is the controversial magazine Junge Freiheit
Junge Freiheit
The Junge Freiheit is a German weekly newspaper for politics and culture, that describes itself as liberal-conservative...

and the essayist Karlheinz Weißmann). In 2007, Florin Ţurcanu's biographical volume on Eliade was issued in a German translation by the Antaios publishing house, which is mouthpiece for the Neue Rechte. The edition was not reviewed by the mainstream German press. Other sections of the European far right
Far right
Far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the qualitative or quantitative position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. Far-right politics may involve anti-immigration and anti-integration stances towards groups that are...

 also claim Eliade as an inspiration, and consider his contacts with the Iron Guard to be a merit—among their representatives are the Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 neofascist
Neo-Fascism
Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. The term neo-fascist may apply to groups that express a specific admiration for Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism or any other fascist leader/state...

 Claudio Mutti and Romanian groups who trace their origin to the Legionary Movement.

Portrayals, filmography and dramatizations


Early on, Mircea Eliade's novels were the subject of satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

: before the two of them became friends, Nicolae Steinhardt
Nicolae Steinhardt
Nicolae Steinhardt was a Romanian writer, Orthodox hermit and father confessor.-Early life:...

, using the pen name Antisthius, authored and published parodies
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of them. Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi
Maitreyi Devi was a Bengali-born Indian poetess and novelist, the daughter of philosopher Surendranath Dasgupta and protegée of poet Rabindranath Tagore. She was the basis for the main character in Romanian-born writer Mircea Eliade's 1933 novel Bengal Nights...

, who strongly objected to Eliade's account of their encounter and relationship, wrote her own novel as a reply to his Maitreyi; written in Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

, it was titled Na Hanyate
Na Hanyate
Na Hanyate, or It Does Not Die, is a novel written in 1974 by Maitreyi Devi, an Indian poet and novelist who was the protegée of the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore...

(translated into English as "It Does Not Die"). Several authors, including Ioan Petru Culianu, have drawn a parallel between Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco
Eugène Ionesco was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd...

's Absurdist
Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

 play of 1959, Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros (play)
Rhinoceros is a play by Eugène Ionesco, written in 1959. The play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd...

, which depicts the population of a small town falling victim to a mass metamorphosis, and the impact fascism had on Ionesco's closest friends (Eliade included).

In 2000, Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

 published his controversial Ravelstein
Ravelstein
Ravelstein is Saul Bellow's final novel.Published in 2000, when Bellow was eighty-five years old, it received widespread critical acclaim. It tells the tale of a friendship between two university professors and the complications that animate their erotic and intellectual attachments in the face of...

novel. Having for its setting the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, it had among its characters Radu Grielescu, who was identified by several critics as Eliade. The latter's portrayal, accomplished through statements made by the eponymous character, is polemical: Grielescu, who is identified as a disciple of Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu
Nae Ionescu was a Romanian philosopher, logician, mathematician, professor, and journalist. Near the end of his career, he became known for his antisemitism and devotion to far right politics, in the years leading up to World War II.-Life:...

, took part in the Bucharest Pogrom
Legionnaires' Rebellion and Bucharest Pogrom
The Legionnaires' rebellion and the Bucharest pogrom occurred in Bucharest, Romania, between 21 and 23 January 1941.As the privileges of the Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted...

, and is in Chicago as a refugee scholar, searching for the friendship of a Jewish colleague as a means to rehabilitate himself. In 2005, the Romanian literary critic and translator Antoaneta Ralian, who was an acquaintance of Bellow's, argued that much of the negative portrayal was owed to a personal choice Bellow made (after having divorced from Alexandra Bagdasar, his Romanian wife and Eliade disciple). She also mentioned that, during a 1979 interview, Bellow had expressed admiration for Eliade.

The 1988 film The Bengali Night
The Bengali Night
The Bengali Night is a 1988 semi-autobiographical film based upon the Mircea Eliade 1933 Romanian novel, Bengal Nights, directed by Nicolas Klotz and starring Hugh Grant and the Indian actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Shabana Azmi.-Plot summary:...

, directed by Nicolas Klotz and based upon the French translation of Maitreyi, stars British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 actor Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant
Hugh John Mungo Grant is an English actor and film producer. He has received a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA, and an Honorary César. His films have earned more than $2.4 billion from 25 theatrical releases worldwide. Grant achieved international stardom after appearing in Richard Curtis's...

 as Allan, the European character based on Eliade, while Supriya Pathak
Supriya Pathak
Supriya Pathak Kapur is an Indian actress hailing from a long line of performers. She is famous for her role in the Indian sitcoms Khichdi and Idhar Udhar.-Family:...

 is Gayatri, a character based on Maitreyi Devi (who had refused to be mentioned by name). The film, considered "pornographic
Pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

" by Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 activists, was only shown once in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. In addition to The Bengali Night, films based on, or referring to, his works, include: Mircea Eliade et la redécouverte du Sacré (1987), part of the television series Architecture et Géographie sacrée, by Paul Barbă Neagră
Paul Barba Neagra
Paul Barbă Neagră or Barbăneagră was a Romanian film director and essayist who, starting in 1957, has directed short and medium-length documentaries on topics related to culture and the arts...

; Domnişoara Christina (1996), by Viorel Sergovici; Eu Adam
Eu Adam
Eu Adam was a 1996 Romanian film directed by Romanian director Dan Piţa, based on short stories by Mircea Eliade....

(1996), by Dan Piţa
Dan Pita
-Career:Piţa has directed several award-winning films since 1970, including the 1985 hit Pas în doi, which won an Honourable Mention at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival...

; Youth Without Youth (2007), by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

.

Eliade's Iphigenia was again included in theater programs during the late years of the Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 regime: in January 1982, a new version, directed by Ion Cojar
Ion Cojar
Ion Cojar was a Romanian theatre director and method acting professor at UNATC. He is the pioneer of the Romanian method acting school.-See also:* Ion Cojar * Stanislavski's system* Method acting...

, premiered at the National Theater Bucharest, starring Mircea Albulescu
Mircea Albulescu
Mircea Albulescu is a Romanian actor, university professor , journalist, poet, writer of prose, member of the Writers' Union of Romania . He was born as Iorgu Constantin V. Albulescu, in Bucharest, on October 4, 1934...

, Tania Filip and Adrian Pintea
Adrian Pintea
Adrian Virgil Pintea was a Romanian actor.-Career:Pintea graduated from the Theatrical and Cinematographical Arts Institute in Romania . He appeared in the 2005 Romanian film Femeia visurilor directed by Dan Piţa. Pintea made his last appearance in Francis Ford Coppola's 2007 film Youth Without...

 in some of the main roles. Dramatizations based on his work include La Ţigănci, which has been the basis for two theater adaptations: Cazul Gavrilescu ("The Gavrilescu Case"), directed by Gelu Colceag and hosted by the Nottara Theater, and an eponymous play by director Alexandru Hausvater, first staged by the Odeon Theater in 2003 (starring, among others, Adriana Trandafir, Florin Zamfirescu, and Carmen Tănase
Carmen Tanase
Carmen Tanase is a Romanian actress. After graduating The Drama and Film Institute from Bucharest, in 1984, she joined the company of "Vasile Alecsandri" National Theatre in Iaşi and then moved back to the capital city of Romania. Since 1990, she is a member of the Odeon Theatre company from...

). In March 2007, on Eliade's 100th birthday, the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company
Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company
The Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company , informally referred to as Radio Romania , is the public radio broadcaster in Romania. It operates four national radio channels, and, under the Radio România Regional umbrella, eleven regional radio stations. The four national radio channels are: Radio...

 hosted the Mircea Eliade Week, during which radio drama
Radio drama
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story...

 adaptations of several works were broadcast. In September of that year, director and dramatist Cezarina Udrescu staged a multimedia
Multimedia
Multimedia is media and content that uses a combination of different content forms. The term can be used as a noun or as an adjective describing a medium as having multiple content forms. The term is used in contrast to media which use only rudimentary computer display such as text-only, or...

 performance based on a number of works Mircea Eliade wrote during his stay in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

; titled Apocalipsa după Mircea Eliade ("The Apocalypse According to Mircea Eliade"), and shown as part of a Romanian Radio cultural campaign, it starred Ion Caramitru
Ion Caramitru
Ion Caramitru is a Romanian stage and film actor, stage director, as well as a political figure. He was Minister of Culture between 1996 and 2000, in the Romanian Democratic Convention cabinets of Victor Ciorbea, Gavril Dejeu, Radu Vasile, Alexandru Athanasiu, and Mugur Isărescu.-Early life and...

, Oana Pellea and Răzvan Vasilescu
Răzvan Vasilescu
Răzvan Vasilescu is a Romanian actor. He has appeared in 40 films and television shows since 1979. He starred in The Oak, which was screened out of competition at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.-Selected filmography:...

. Domnişoara Christina has been the subject of two opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s: the first, carrying the same Romanian title, was authored by Romanian composer Şerban Nichifor
Serban Nichifor
Şerban Nichifor is an internationally prominent Romanian musician. He is Professor at the National University of Music, Bucharest ; Member of UCMR , SABAM , ECPMN ; Vice-president of the ROMANIA-BELGIUM Association; Cellist of the Duo INTERMEDIA and co-director of the NUOVA MUSICA...

 and premiered in 1981 at the Romanian Radio; the second, titled La señorita Cristina, was written by Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 composer Luis de Pablo
Luís de Pablo
Luis de Pablo is a Spanish composer.He was born in Bilbao, living in Madrid from age six and starting to compose aged 12. Although he received composition lessons from Maurice Ohana and Max Deutsch, he was essentially an autodidact in composition...

 and premiered in 2000 at the Teatro Real
Teatro Real
The Teatro Real or simply El Real , is a major opera house located in Madrid, Spain.-History:...

 in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

.

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