cover image Journal I, 1945-1955

Journal I, 1945-1955

Mircea Eliade. University of Chicago Press, $32 (227pp) ISBN 978-0-226-20416-1

In 1945, after his first wife's death and the Soviet invasion of his native Romania, the 38-year-old Eliade found himself in Paris, destitute and uprooted. Translated from his notebooks and never published before in any language, this installment of his journals records a life lived at maximum intensity. The eminent historian of religion, who died in 1986, shuttles easily between myths, folklore, yoga, tantric art, surrealism, Faulkner and existentialism. He probes the shaman's ``experiential knowledge of death'' and interprets the New Year, exemplified by Christmas or Japanese customs, as a rebirth ritual. He meets Carl Jung, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Andre Breton. He perceives ``a dizzying third dimension'' in Van Gogh's paintings. Incandescent, intellectually rich, this journal rewards the reader on every page. (Nov.)