Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Petre Tutea

The following article was posted by mihaibuzea on A good read!
Who was this man and what he did he do to become a legend for Romanians, even before his death in 1991? What were his teachings, of what value were them, as he was dubbed “Romanian Socrates”? And what is left behind him now, almost twenty years after?
I am sorry to say: Petre Tutea was a very unhappy man; he did nothing except of suffering in communist prisons; his teachings are worthless; his nickname reflects only that he wrote nothing; after his death, all that stands is a legend. His legend. Whose limits are the same with the limits of Romanian language: no one ever heard of him beyond Romania.
Let us see this man more thoroughly: an orphan because of the First World War, he was raised by the Army; sent to studies he proved himself, concluding his studies with two PhDs. A Marxist in his youth, he steered to the right wing and become a steady supporter of Iron Guard (even if he never enlisted). He worked for the Government during the war and was put in jail after it, without a trial and without even an accusation (just called “people’s enemy”, a practice very common in that time). He served 13 years in different prisons and camps, enduring tortures, “re-education” and brain-washing. Released in 1964, he lived a secluded life because of constant surveillance from political police, who confiscated or destroyed all the works he wrote. He never published a book, and more, none of his manuscripts survived.
After the Revolution (1989) he emerged like a star in intellectual’s life of that time Romania. Almost any person who meant (or thought he or she meant) somebody in culture sought a dialogue with him; any cultural magazine solicited him an interview; he used to be seek by students, teachers, priests, writers and politicians. After his death, those who were close to him became important persons (they had been touched by angel’s wing, heya?).
Why? What was so special with this old, defeated man? It may appear a simple question. I’m afraid the answer is not. Nevertheless, I’ll try.
First: he was last of them. “They” were a group of Romanian-speaking intellectuals known as “Criterion Association”, which is regarded as one of the most impressive examples of intellectual cohesion in inter-wars Romania. Some of them became famous worldwide: Eugen Ionescu, Emil Cioran. Some of them died before they could give their measure: Mihail Sebastian, Haig Acterian, Radu Gyr. Some of them compromised with the communist regime: Petru Comarnescu, Petre Pandrea. After the Association broke, most of them came under the influence of professor Nae Ionescu and suffered all their live because of it, one way or another: Mircea Eliade, Constantin Noica.
But the most influenced by Nae Ionescu’s ideas (orthodoxism, anti-Semitism, anti-atheism, anti-communism and a kind of “butlerian anti-technology beliefs”), and the only one who survived in Romania, was Petre Tutea. So, he was a kind of relic from a glorious time, that time when Romanian intellectuals experienced their own “revolution” – Iron Guard and its mystical credo: Romanians are the Chosen People.
Funny, isn’t it?
Second: during the communist era, the vast majority of Romanian intellectuals compromised or collaborated with the regime, so that, when it collapsed, public figures (intellectual or not) shared ahuge feeling of guilt. (Julien Benda described something similar in French, in his book “La Trahison des Clercs”). One of the easiest ways to get rid of this embarrassing feeling was showing-off religiosity, specifically Orthodox beliefs: most Romanians are orthodox, and most educated Romanians consider the interbellum period as the climax of Romanian culture.
In that atmosphere, Petre Tutea appeared as a perfect solution: he came from interbellum; his stance was fiercely orthodox; he lacked politically ambitions (in Romania, politics are seen as “filthy”).
Why is now almost forgotten? Basically because he wrote nothing; moreover, in today Romania, his teachings are useless or even awkward: there is something special with Romanian Orthodox Church among all Christian churches; Anti-Semitism is good; Communism is bad.
How do these opinions fit in Europe in 2009, I wonder…?!

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