It was Romain Rolland, the Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature (1915) who discovered Panait Istrati as a writer; the French intellectual considered him a genuine “Balkan Gorki”, noting his storytelling talent from their first interaction. Born in Braila in 1884, Istrati had left this cosmopolitan hometown while still young, being willing to find new friends and life experiences. During his trips in the Middle East, Switzerland, France and the USSR, the French-Romanian writer tried to find those able to educate and raise the young generation facing modest living prospects. For him, the mission of the writer was to inspire change in the society. His efforts were successfully accomplished through books published in thousands of copies, in over 25 foreign languages. Panait Istrati was close to well-known European personalities such as Romain Rolland, Nikos Kazantzakis, Victor Serge, Mihail Sadoveanu and many others. His sincere and impetuous opinions stirred debates and tough media campaigns for several years.
Starting from his life and works, there are many questions to think about at present. We can think of, for instance, the way his works reflect the exotic Mediterranean space or how political influences, respectively hybrid aspects inspired by the Romanian folklore shaped his writing. How did then Istrati look upon the friend, was this a close and a moral support against adversities? As the authors search for answers, the first bilingual volume (French and English) addresses both those working in humanities as well as the wider audience, including students. The last chapter transgresses the area of literary analysis and research, covering various biographical events transposed in a script.
The stories of this writer acclaimed in both France and Romania can thus pursue their journey back from text to life. You can join us to follow Istrati in this study where new elements emerge, leaving, nonetheless, space for reflection to those passionate about truth and ideals.