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YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH AND OTHER NOVELLAS by Mircea Eliade

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH AND OTHER NOVELLAS

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Pub Date: July 30th, 1988
Publisher: Ohio State Univ. Press

Three novellas from an influential religion scholar, whose wide-ranging interests are reflected in this ambitious but uneven collection. A Romanian ÉmigrÉ, and a luminary at the University of Chicago until his death in 1986, Eliade spent the greater part of his professional life immersed in religious phenomenology and the history of the sacred. Given his range of expertise, and his meager fiction output prior to this collection, it's not surprising that Eliade's three novellas suffer mainly from a surfeit of ideas weakly borne along by undeveloped narratives. At its worst, Eliade's work bogs down in dead-weight dialogue and plodding exposition, as in Nineteen Roses when a scholar is beset by a young man claiming to be an illegitimate son--but the meeting simply fuels infinite digression revolving around reinterpretations of classical myth. Of more interest is Youth Without Youth, a promising but flawed piece about a man on his way to commit suicide on Easter who's struck by lightning. In the end, however, this collection is justified by The Cape, an ingenious, quirky tale with surreal elements about an underground movement printing apocryphal versions of a humdrum totalitarian newspaper. Of interest to Eliade's nonfiction readers, but not likely to provoke a reevaluation of Eliade's periodic literary enthusiasms.