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Mihail Sebastian Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Women (1933)Description / Buy at Amazon
For Two Thousand Years (1934)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Town with Acacia Trees (1935)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Accident (1940)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Mihail Sebastian Journals Books

Journal 1935-1944 (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon

Mihail Sebastian
Iosif Mendel Hechter was born October 18, 1907 in Braila to a Jewish family, and was a Romanian essayist, playwright, novelist, and journalist.

After he finished up his secondary studies, he went to study the law in Bucharest, however quickly got attracted to the literary life and all the exciting ideas of the new generation of Romanian intellectuals. This was epitomized by Criterion, a literary group which featured luminaries like Eugene Ionesco, Emil Cioran, and Mircea Eliade.

Since he was a Jew, he came to be regarded as an outsider within this group, even by his friends.

In the year 1934, he published “For Two Thousand Years”, a novel about what it meant to be a Jew in Romania, and asked Nae Ionescu, who was still friendly with Sebastian at the time, to write a preface for it. Ionescu agreed and generated a major uproar by including paragraphs that were both antisemitic and against the very nature of the book that they were introducing.

What hurt Sebastian the most wasn’t the idea the public would read about it, but the fact that it had been written at all. Even if it had been destroyed afterwards, the mere fact that it had been written still would have hurt Sebastian immensely.

Sebastian heightened the controversy by taking “the only intelligent revenge” and publishing the preface anyway. It prompted criticism from the Jewish community with one Jewish satirist calling Sebastian ‘Ionescu’s lap dog’.

As a response to all this criticism, he penned “How I Became a Hooligan”. It is an anthology of articles and essays that portrayed the manner in which “For Two Thousand Years” was received by the Romanian public as well as the country’s cultural establishment. In the book, he offers rebuttals to his critics by holding a mirror up to their prejudice, assailing and detailing claims of his left and right-wing detractors.

For a decade, he kept a journal that was later published in Bucharest in the year 1996 to rather considerable debate and in the United States as Journal, 1935-1944: The Fascist Years. The book keeps a record of all the increasing persecution that he endured and documents the disdain that former friends of his started to show him in Romania’s increasingly antisemitic sociopolitical landscape.

Sebastian was deeply disappointed when Mircea Eliade, a friend, supported the Iron Guard. Despite the ominous tone, the diary shows Sebastian’s unflagging self-irony and sense of humor.

Sebastian was a big lover of classical music, often going to concerts. He made many references to various classical composers and reviews of radio broadcast concerts in his Journal.

In Romanian literature, Sebastian was known primarily for his plays. These include “Breaking News”, “The Star Without a Name”, and “Holiday Games”.

He continued writing after he got thrown out of his house because of the new antisemitic laws and moved into a tenement slum.

He died May 29, 1945 at the age of 37 in Bucharest after being hit by a Soviet truck.

After he died, he was awarded the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in the year 2006. Sebastian’s novel “The Town with Acacia Trees” won an English PEN Award.

The Journal’s publication in seven countries helped launch an international revival of Sebastian’s work. His plays and novels are available in translation throughout all of Europe, and they have also been published in Hebrew, Chinese, Bengali, and Hindi.

His Journal gained a brand new audience in Western countries for its evocative and lyrical style as well as its brutal honesty of all its accounts.

In the year 2004, David Auburn, an American playwright wrote a one-man play based on Sebastian’s diary called “The Journals of Mihail Sebastian”. It starred Stephen Kunken as Sebastian.

“Women” is a novel that was released in the year 1933. Stefan Valeriu, a young guy from Romania that has just finished his medical studies in Paris, heads to the Alps for his vacation. Here, he quickly gets entangled with three very different women. We follow Stefan after he has gone back to Paris and he reflects on the women in his life. At times he plays the lover. Other times, he observes shrewdly from the periphery.

“For Two Thousand Years” is a novel that was released in the year 1934. This book revives ideological debates on the interwar period through the journal of one Romanian Jewish student that is caught in the middle between Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Despite the fact that he endures persistent threats just to attend some lectures, he still feels disconnected from all his Jewish peers and begins wondering if their activism is even going to be worth the cost. Spending days walking the streets and nights conversing and drinking with libertines, revolutionaries, and zealots.

He stays isolated, even from the women that he loves. From Paris to Bucharest, he is determined to make peace with himself in this increasingly hostile world.

This novel echoes Mihail’s own personal struggles during the rise of fascism, which ended his career and turned all of his colleagues and friends against him. Born out of the violence of relentless anti-Semitism, his self-derisive and searching work captures a rather defining time in history. It also lights the way for future generations.

“The Town with Acacia Trees” is a novel that was released in the year 1935. A group of friends at a convent school, who are bored with their painting lessons and religious instruction, spend their days dreaming about fashion, romance, and all the latest gramophone records. They each give up their visions about adventure and submit to their provincial life, as they marry for money and for status, just like their moms did before they did.

Jaundiced and plain Lucreia is the envy of her friends as Paul, who is a glamorous dandy, proposes to her. However, she hides a shocking secret that is going to destroy their marriage and leave them exposed to a scandal.

Only Adriana Dunea, the most talented and beautiful girl in the whole school, appears destined for any kind of happiness with Gelu, her childhood sweetheart. It all changes when, during a trip to Bucharest, she meets a famous composer called Cello Viorin.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Mihail Sebastian

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