Hailed as one of the most important portrayals of the dark years of Nazism, this powerful chronicle by the Romanian Jewish writer Mihail Sebastian aroused a furious response in Eastern Europe when it was first published. A profound and powerful literary achievement, it offers a lucid and finely shaded analysis of erotic and social life, a Jew’s diary, a reader’s notebook, a music-lover’s journal. Above all, it is an account of the “rhinocerization” of major Romanian intellectuals whom Sebastian counted among his friends, including Mircea Eliade and E.M. Cioran, writers and thinkers who were mesmerized by the Nazi-fascist delirium of Europe’s “reactionary revolution.” In poignant, unforgettable sequences, Sebastian follows the grinding progression of the “machinery” of brutalization and traces the historical context in which it developed. Despite the pressure of hatred and horror in the “huge anti-Semitic factory” that was Romania in the years of World War II, his writing maintains the grace of its perceptive and luminous intelligence. The legacy of a journalist, novelist, and playwright, Sebastian’s Journal stands as one of the most important human and literary documents of the climate that preceded the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.
Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Mihail Sebastian was born in 1907 to a middle-class Jewish family in the Danube port of Braila; he died in an automobile accident in the spring of 1945. During the period between the wars, he was well known for his lyrical and ironic plays and for urbane psychological novels tinged with melancholy, as well as for his extraordinary literary essays.