Matei Calinescu

Matei Calinescu (1934–2009), born and educated in Romania, was one of the leading intellectuals of his generation. His novel The Life and Opinions of Zacharias Lichter (published in Romanian in 1969) acquired cult status among generations of young people despite attempts by Romanian authorities to expunge Calinescu’s name and works from cultural memory. He emigrated to America in 1973 and established himself in his new homeland as a literary scholar, publishing his two major works, Five Faces of Modernity (1977; ultimately translated into eight languages) and Rereading (1993), and teaching in the Comparative Literature Department at Indiana University. After the collapse of Ceauşescu’s national-Communist dictatorship in 1989, Calinescu was welcomed once more in his home country. In a poll of literary critics conducted there in 2001, The Life and Opinions of Zacharias Lichter was ranked among the top ten Romanian prose works of the twentieth century. A sixteen-volume edition of his selected literary and scholarly works is currently in progress.