NO SOUVENIRS: Journal, 1957-1969 by Mircea Eliade

NO SOUVENIRS: Journal, 1957-1969

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Excerpts from a diary the premier contemporary historian of religions has kept throughout his life, covering the American period since his arrival at the University of Chicago. Their publication (the orginial French edition covered 1945-1969) represents a kind of career's-end mopping up, a chance to vent random ideas and observations. Readers familiar with Eliade's work (Patterns in Comparative Religion, The Sacred and the Profane, etc.) will find not only interesting asides on familiar themes but much uncharacteristic self-revelation. Eliade emerges as an extremely sensitive man of catholic interests and restless intelligence, as likely to read Goethe or Ionesco as aboriginal myths. He sees himself as a modern thinker--in company with men like Freud, Heidegger, Jung, Tillich--burdened with the special responsibility of promoting the understanding of myth and religion that would make a new, planetary humanism possible. At the same time he seems a very humble figure, haunted by spectres of loss and failure: nostalgic for his Rumanian youth; plagued by overdue and unwanted assignments; despairing that his important work will never get done; at once envious and dubious about the notoriety of lesser thinkers like his student Altizer. An inveterate fiction writer, he broods over his fate as an unappreciated artist, wondering why his major novel Foret Interdite goes virtually unread, while Finnegans Wake wins acclaim. On the debit side: almost nothing is said about his own religious faith, and obscure but important influences on him--like Papini and Tucci--are insufficiently identified. Hors d'oeuvres for Eliade connoisseurs.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row