Virgil Gheorghiu on Communism, Capitalism and National Socialism
Virgil Gheorghiu, an important but controversial figure in Romanian exile literature, remains one of his country’s best-known writers today. Based on his works and their reception, but also on the existing secondary literature, this study examines his reflection on three important ideologies, namely communism, national socialism and capitalism, in order to highlight the specificities of Virgil Gheorghiu’s thought and to see what aspects of topicality and contemporary relevance can be found in it.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- 1. Analysis of the Context
- 2. Definition of the Problem
- 3. Aims
- 4. The State of the Research
- 5. Methodological Questions
- 6. Methodology and Procedures
- 7. Achievements and Limitations
- Chapter 1 Virgil Gheorghiu
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Biographic Profile
- 1.3 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Works
- 1.4 The Historical Context and Its Relevance for Virgil Gheorghiu’s Work
- 1.5 Conclusion
- Chapter 2 The Reflections of Virgil Gheorghiu on Communism
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2 Before 23rd of August 1944
- 2.3 After 23rd of August 1944
- 2.4 Conclusion
- Chapter 3 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Conception of National-Socialism
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Conception of National-Socialism before 23rd of August 1944
- 3.3 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Conception of National-Socialism after 23rd of August 1944
- 3.4 Conclusion
- Chapter 4 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Reflections on Capitalism
- 4.1 Introduction
- 4.2 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Reflections on Capitalism before 1955
- 4.3 Virgil Gheorghiu’s Reflections on Capitalism from 1955 to 1992
- 4.4 Conclusion
- Chapter 5 The Feasibility of Virgil Gheorghiu’s Political Reflections
- 5.1 Introduction
- 5.2 The Actuality of Virgil Gheorghiu’s Political Reflections
- 5.3 Conclusion
- General Conclusion
- A. Primary Sources
- B. Secondary Sources
- C. Articles
1. Analysis of the Context
An important, but at the same time controversial personality of Romanian literature who was in exile (Morariu 2017: 578–585; Morariu 2017a: 183–188), Virgil Gheorghiu remains, until today, one of the most notorious writers of his country. Translated into thirty-four languages (Gillyboeuf 2019: 8), screened with Anthony Quinn as the main character in 1968 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_cH0zvDGJ4, accessed on 12 March 2020), his masterpiece, The 25th Hour (Gheorghiu 1948; Gheorghiu 1991), denounces the horrors of both Nazism and Communism. It is a book with a very interesting story focused mostly on the dramatic history of the Romanian people during the Second World War.
Later, he continued to write books dedicated to his birth land (Gheorghiu 1954, 1960, 1965, 1990, 1993, 2010), valorising important aspects from its folklore or from history, but denouncing dictatorships and also the consumerism promoted by capitalist societies (Gheorghiu 1965), trying to attract attention to the potential dangers of each of them and suggesting solutions to the problems that they may create.
At the same time, somewhere in the second half of his life, in a moment of silence, when the “great storms” had passed and his value was again recognised, he offered beautiful autobiographic works (Gheorghiu 1999, 1999a, 2002, 2017, 2019b; cf. Cuzmici 2015: 285), biographies dedicated to personalities like Mohammed (Gheorghiu 2016), the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras (Gheorghiu 2009), Saint Ambrosius of Milan (Gheorghiu 2013) and Saint John Chrysostom (Gheorghiu 2008), and also theological works (Gheorghiu 2011) and an unpublished novel (Gheorghiu 2019). His works arouse the interest not only of the readers and literary critics, but also of his enemies and of the people who wanted to discredit him. Memories of people like Monica Lovinescu (Lovinescu 1999), Mircea Eliade (Eliade 1999), Virgil Ierunca (Ierunca 2000), Neagu Djuvara (Djuvara 2012) or Sanda Stolojan (Stolojan 1996), all of them important Romanian exiles living in France – where he too lived – offer interesting information about his life, the way he was seen or about how many people hated him.
At the same time, the positive or negative evocations and mentions from the pages of the diverse books and articles where he is mentioned (for example, Crohmălniceanu 1974; Cubleşan 2016; D’Esneval 2003; Drăgoi 2009; Hadam 1996; Preda 1993; Dorobanţu, Kretz 2011: 111–117; Morariu 2016: 263–271; ←7 | 8→Gillyboeuf 2019; Morariu, Josan 2016: 83–88; Ţurcanu 2009: 515–530) come to prove his value and the actuality of his work.
2. Definition of the Problem
Noticing all the aforementioned aspects and their relevance for the understanding of both, the author’s life and work, and also the context where he lived, we will try here, based on his works, their reception, but also based on the secondary literature existent (like, articles published in different journals, monographs, anthologies and histories of literature, theological books, historical or philosophical investigations and so on), to present his reflections on the three important ideologies, namely, Communism, National-Socialism and Capitalism, to underline the particularities of the thinking of Virgil Gheorghiu, and to see which are the aspects of actuality that can be found there.
In order to offer to the reader a holistic approach and to avoid rendering a truncated vision, which omits certain essential aspects and shows lack of objectivity, we will also correlate them with the context in which he wrote and with the biographical aspects that have influenced his way of thinking and acting. The context will be therefore well emphasised, together with his biography and in relationship with it, and his ideas will be compared (Dell’Asta, Foa 2019: 36–45; Sheth 2019: 589–597; Patnaik 1997: 459–461; Levy 2017: 483–510; McKenzie, Withley, Weich 2002: 280–283; Zeidman, Kondziella 2012: 729–746; Bernhard 2017: 206–227), when necessary, with other important thinkers of the time, who wrote in a similar way (like, for example, Solženicyn 2008; Camus 2008). We will also try to see if he was influenced by their ideas or if he managed to influence others too, and will compare it with the ones who had totally opposed conceptions in comparison with him, in order to place his life and ideas in the larger context of the literature of the time and to see how he came in contact with other thinkers of the time and their ideas. Also stylistic aspects, used by the writer in the construction of his discourse and influences from American or German space, will be emphasised when necessary, because sometimes in his works we find elements of construction similar to the ones of contemporary writers like the young American Nathan Hill (Hill 2019) or the already famous Heinrich Böll (Böll 2009), a fact that shows that they at least had the same sources of inspiration.←8 | 9→
Intended as an analysis of documents and of conceptions that reveal Virgil Gheorghiu’s understanding of the aforementioned three important ideologies that have changed people’s life in the twentieth century, some of them still in use today, our research will be a qualitative one. Similar to a case study referring to the conception of a notorious author who was not, at least in this area, investigated by the contemporary research, will show how, using literature and stories from daily life, the Romanian writer in exile in France succeeded in denouncing the crimes of two important dictatorship forms that were important in the second half of the twentieth century in European space and also in developing an original critique, with elements that are still existing, regarding Capitalism.
The three ideologies will be presented in one chapter each. We will also insert small thematic unities that will contain the landmarks of his life, work, ideas and their posthumous reception. We will try to present the main aspects that can be found in each of his important works containing information from the political and social space and to identify, where possible, the prophetic elements that can be found in his books. At the same time, we will also try to see how his personal experiences have determined the Romanian writer who, starting from 1963, also became the Orthodox parish priest of the community of his compatriots from “Jean de Beauvais” street in Paris (Gillyboeuf 2009: 12), and changed some of his ideas or his conceptions regarding the aforementioned topics. When possible, we will emphasise the way his relationships with Bucharest political or religious authorities shifted his thought and how, using his family and through other methods, the Securitate of Romanian state tried to influence him to change his mind regarding the way the country was governed from 1945 until 1989.
4. The State of the Research
In order to understand his way of thinking and the way his ideas were received, we will not only investigate his ideas, but also his correspondence with important personalities like Mircea Eliade (Eliade 1999, 1999a, 1999b), the biographies dedicated to him (Cubleşan 2011, 2016; D’Esneval 2003; Gillyboeuf 2019; Drăgoi 2009; Hadam 1996) or the references that can be found in some of the notorious exile voices in France (Djuvara 2012; Ierunca 2000; Lovinescu 1999; Stolojan 1996, but not exclusively). The critiques of his works as also the reviews dedicated to them will constitute important bibliographical sources of this research too, together with author’s testimonies (Gheorghiu 1999, 1999a, 2002, 2010).←9 | 10→
For a deeper understanding of the life and ideas of Father Virgil Gheorghiu, the author of these books has also researched on his life and activity. From the archives of the former Romanian Securitate, he extracted information about how Gheorghiu was perceived by the Romanian authorities and about the way they even intercepted his correspondence with his family who remained in Romanian space, synthesised the notes found in his exile works, biographies and all the other printed sources (see, Morariu 2016: 263–271, 2016a: 63–73, 2016b: 712–721, 2017: 578–585, 2017a: 183–188, 2017b: 373–381, 2017c: 11–14, 2018: 252–257; Morariu, Josan 2016: 83–88; Morariu 2018: 72–76), and reviewed the Romanian translation of his books (Morariu 2016c: 4, 2016d: 12, 2018a: 15–16). At the same time, he distinguished between the different voices, the reasons that determined a certain attitude, and even between Gheorghiu’s writings, their content and the period when they were written.
Therefore, there is a certain difference between the memories of war written by the Romanian scientist when he took part in the campaign for the release of Bessarabia, the fights in Crimea or the one with the submarine to Sevastopol (Gheorghiu 1992, 2008a), and the unfinished novel published posthumously that also contains well-documented critiques of Communism (Gheorghiu 2019). Differences can be found also among the works where he speaks directly about different situations, illustrating the abuse of the ideologies by using practical examples, and ones that contain allusions or metaphorical formulations, like Chiralesa (Gheorghiu 2018). All these aspects will be taken into account in this research, where we will try to realise a critical analysis of the documents and bring attention to an important perspective coming from the Romanian side and emphasise its aspects of actuality, but also to present, if found, the errors of perception or of understanding of the investigated author, underlining at the same time the way the context influenced him or his writings.
5. Methodological Questions
After seeing all these aspects regarding the state of research and the relevance of the author and his work, we consider it appropriate to enounce our research questions. The main one will surely be: What are Virgil Gheorghiu’s reflections regarding the three important ideologies, namely, Communism, National-Socialism and Capitalism? Of course, secondary questions will certainly rise like, for example, how relevant are his reflections today, or how did the context where he lived or the context of his birth country influence his way of thinking ←10 | 11→or his writings? We will try to answer all these questions using the methodological tools requested by such a research and the aforementioned literature in a critical way.
6. Methodology and Procedures
The present research, whose aim is to see how Virgil Gheorghiu saw and understood Communism, National-Socialism and Capitalism, and which are the common points of each of them and the differences between them according to his conception, will be a case study, a qualitative investigation of an author, marked by the critics of his thinking and by the presentation of the aspects of actuality that can be found there. As a technique of research, we will primarily analyse the documents, in this case his writings (from more than forty books that he wrote, about thirty will constitute our primary sources), but we will also use, when needed, elements of analytic-deductive, narrative or even inductive method.
Due to the fact that the research aims to investigate some literary works from the point of view of political doctrines, the study will be, from its beginning, an interdisciplinary one. We will use the tools necessary to understand their literary value, to define the study and place it in the bigger context of the writings of this category published in the same period. At the same time, the philological analysis will not represent the main purpose of this demarche. Therefore, we will use elements of politics, history, political philosophy or theology in the process of investigation, not only in an attempt to present the writings of Gheorghiu, their message, and his reflections on Communism, National-Socialism and Capitalism in situ, but also their impact on the context and on the Occidental and Oriental society and the way they contributed to the change of perception of public opinion regarding the Romanian situation and the abuse of the three ideologies in political life and through their actions.
7. Achievements and Limitations
Like any other scientific demarche, ours too will have achievements and limitations of the investigation. We hope that the main achievement will be the analysis of his thinking and the understanding of his defining arguments and the emphasis of the aspects of actuality.
The research will follow the diachronic evolution of Father Gheorghiu’s publications and will also try to see if there is an evolution or a metamorphosis of his thought during the time or if they changed under influences like the Romanian ←11 | 12→Securitate’s pressures (due to the fact that his parents and brothers remained in the country after 23rd of August 1944). Therefore, each one of the three main chapters dedicated to one ideology and his reflections on its content will be, in its turn, segmented into smaller thematic unities, dedicated to the works where information regarding it can be found. For example, the one dedicated to Communism will investigate works like his masterpiece, The 25th Hour (Gheorghiu 1948), and also The Second Chance (Gheorghiu 1954, 1993), The Cravache (1960), From the 25th Hour to the Hour of Eternity (Gheorghiu 1965), The House from Petrodava (Gheorghiu 2010a), The Sacrifice of the Danube (Gheorghiu 1957), The Spy (1967), God Receives Only on Sunday (Gheorghiu 1990), The Unknowns from Heidelberg (Gheorghiu 2015), The Immortals from Agapia (Gheorghiu 1998), the unfinished novel Dracula in Carpathian Mountains (Gheorghiu 2019) or his memoirs (Gheorghiu 1999a, 2002). The one dedicated to National-Socialism will use the aforementioned most important work, his memoirs, but also works like The Leather Cloth (Gheorghiu 1967), his notes from the war (Gheorghiu 1993a, 2008a), the notes regarding his childhood (Gheorghiu 1999), his novel with religious content titled Condotiera (2011) or Chiralesa (Gheorghiu 2018), or The Sacrifice of the Danube (Gheorghiu 1957, 2020), while the analysis dedicated to Capitalism and its outcomes or his forms in spaces like the American one, will start from The 25th Hour (Gheorghiu 1991), pass through his memoirs, the novel in which the central aspect of the action takes place in Latin America (Gheorghiu 1967), the one about Heidelberg (Gheorghiu 2015), the ones dedicated to the Second World War and its end (Gheorghiu 1954, 1960, 1965) or the one especially dedicated to the Americans and their understanding of the world (Gheorghiu 2013a), written in the eight decade of the twentieth century – The Spy (Gheorghiu 1971), The Suspect (Gheorghiu 2020a) or The Great Exterminator (Gheorghiu 2008b). Where we consider it necessary, we will insert different thematic small unities in order to offer a clear structure and help a rushing reader to get easy access to the information regarding the topic that he or she may be interested in.
The reception of his ideas in different ages by the philologists and literary critics in different ages, historical contexts and under different influences (like, Crohmălniceanu 1974; Preda 1993), or by people sharing different political or ideological opinions will be also part of the present investigation.
The dimension of novelty of this investigation will therefore consist on one side of the fact that the research brings into attention an author who, despite his fame in the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century when he denounced communist abuses and the horrors of Nazi regime, is not highlighted enough by the contemporary research, being unfairly condemned to be neglected ←12 | 13→by posterity due to the conflict he had with Monica Lovinescu and to the actions of her husband, Virgil Ierunca, but also the fact that it offers an evaluation of his work through the lengths of the political doctrine and historical research of his ideas and work, underlining the aspects of actuality that can be found there. At the same time, by correlating his ideas with those of the other contemporary writers or with those of the theoreticians of the three aforementioned ideologies, the research will place it in the context of the age when it was written and bring it into the debate in a holistic context.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2022 (April)
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 260 pp.