EROS, MAGIC, AND THE MURDER OF PROFESSOR CULIANU by Ted Anton

EROS, MAGIC, AND THE MURDER OF PROFESSOR CULIANU

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Blood in the ivory tower: a real-life thriller about postCold War espionage, an unsolved murder, and the occult. Professor Ioan Culianu of the University of Chicago died in a ``Mob-style assassination'' in May 1991. Although the crime remains unsolved, Anton (English/DePaul Univ.) blames Culianu's brutal and humiliating murder in a bathroom stall on Romania's secret police, the Securitate. The Romanian-born Culianu was a scholar of international renown, whose outspoken criticism of the Communist and post-revolutionary regimes in Romania endeared him to some and made enemies of others. Yet, while its argument turns on political issues, the book's canvas is far broader, like Culianu's own work in the history of religion and myth. Anton's is a gripping and sophisticated investigation. It undertakes a complex analysis of Culianu's life and death and the multiple layers of connections between the two. For Culianu was not a dull and cloistered professor, but a colorful, ambitious young man in whom some saw the ``consummate academic hustler.'' Aside from his vast scholarly publications, he wrote fiction and political commentary, and hoped to publish fantasy fiction. At the heart of Anton's study lies Culianu's scholarly interests in myth, magic, the occult, and otherworldly journeys. A crucial part of his identity was his role as hand-picked successor to the distinguished scholar of myths, Romanian-born Mircea Eliade, whose involvement with the preWW II fascist Iron Guard placed Culianu at the center of a stormy dispute akin to the one aroused by Paul de Man's Nazi journalism. But Culianu also created a myth of himself as the omniscient opposition, and the Securitate took the bait. Was it ambitious posturing? Was it passionate ideology? Anton unfolds his tale by letting this extraordinary personality speak for himself. Murder, passion, and politics as the fascinating true story of one Romanian-born academic's postmodern rise and fall.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8101-1396-1
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1996




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