The Scintillating Life of Iulia Hasdeu - Constantin Manolache
The Scintillating Life of Iulia Hasdeu presents the life and literary works of the Romanian child genius of the 19th century. Iulia Hasdeu was the daughter of Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, one of the greatest literary and political figures in modern Romanian history. She started reading at two years old and she wrote her first historical study at the age of six. At eight years old she was fluent in French, German, and English. She graduated from the Bucharest Conservatory at eleven with excellent accomplishments in piano and canto, after which she left for Paris and started studying at Sévigné College. She was the first Romanian woman to be accepted at Sorbonne University. During her short life, before she was ultimately taken by an incurable illness, Iulia wrote countless poems, short stories, and plays. Her drawings and her letters also survived the passing of time, allowing us a glimpse into her tragic childhood and adolescence, her emotions, and her most intimate thoughts. The Scintillating Life of Iulia Hasdeu is a premiere for international readers. Aside from being a biography, it contains English translations for many of her works and letters.
My review: This is a translation from Romanian of a book that was banned in its native country during communism. Iulia was the daughter of a great Romanian journalist and scholar, Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu and was known to be a literary genius. The book is her first biography and quite a few followed it, but it gives such a realistic glimpse into her life as a child and as a teenager studying in Paris. One cannot help feeling emotional when reading about her struggles and about the way she passed, only 2 months shy of her 19th birthday. The pages contain many translations of her poetry and letters to and from her father and friends. It's a precious vestige of the name that too many people in Romania have forgotten.
The volume itself is a work of art worthy of her name. The jacket has a soft satin-like texture, that almost feels like cloth. The title is raised and shiny, same as the spine. There are many full-page color photographs included as well as beautiful endpaper featuring an oil-painting of Iulia while she lay dying.
Publisher: Center for Romanian Studies (October 25, 2022)
Hardcover: 386 pages