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Emil Dorian (1891–1956)

Autor(a) de Quality of Witness: A Romanian Diary, 1937-1944

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Obras por Emil Dorian


Conhecimento Comum

Nome legal
Lustig, Emil
Outros nomes
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento
Local de nascimento
Bucharest, Romania
Local de falecimento
Bucharest, Romania
Locais de residência
Bucharest, Romania
Medical School of Bucharest
Holocaust survivor
journalist (mostrar todos 8)
medical writer

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Emil Dorian was the pen name of Emil Lustig, born to a Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania. His parents were Herman Lustig, a German language teacher, and his wife Ernestina. He began writing at an early age, and by the time he graduated from high school in 1910, he was already a published poet. He attended medical school at the University of Bucharest and was sent to serve as a physician at the front in World War I, even though Jews were not yet granted Romanian citizenship. The experience later formed the basis for his novel Conversations with My Horse (1928), a dark satire on war. Soon after the end of the war, he married Paula Fränkel, with whom he had two daughters. He spent two years in France for medical specialization training. He then worked as a doctor in Bucharest, and published numerous books on popular medicine. He also became a journalist, poet, novelist, essayist, and translator, mostly of German and Yiddish works. His first book of poetry was the collection Cântece pentru Lelioara (1923). In the mid-1930s, he developed a particular interest in Yiddish poetry, translating and collecting more than 400 poems; these were ready for publication in 1944 but were not published until 1996. His novels focused on the social and ideological conflicts of the interwar years, particularly as they affected the Jewish population. Dr. Dorian also kept a diary from 1937 onwards, recounting his struggles as a writer, the rise in far-right extremism, and the hardships experienced by the Jewish community. In World War II, the Antonescu regime officially banned his works. He avoided deportation and death in the Holocaust and later became involved in Jewish community life. He served as secretary general of the Jewish Community of Bucharest, and then as director of the documentary library and archives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania. His diary was first translated into English and published in 1982 as Quality of Witness: A Romanian Diary, 1937–1944, edited by his daughter Marguerite Dorian. A partial Romanian version appeared in 1996 as Jurnal din vremur de prigoanăea, 1937–1944.



One might compare this diary to Victor Klemperer’s. Both diarists were intelligent, educated, cultured middle-aged Jewish men living under the Nazi terror. Both of them kept detailed diaries throughout the war, and survived the Holocaust.

However, there are significant differences. Klemperer was married to an Aryan woman and a nominal convert to Christianity, though he seemed to have no religion at all, and he didn't really have much to do with Jewish life. Dorian on the other hand was very involved with the Romanian-Jewish culture, literature in particular. Klemperer focused much more on his private life in his diary than Dorian did; Dorian usually wrote about the war or the Yiddish translations he was doing.

This book is quite interesting from a historical standpoint. Dorian is a keen and discerning observer of the events around him and it's intriguing to see just how much he knew about the persecution of the Jews in Europe. He knew, for instance, about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He knew that poison gas was being used to kill Jews in large numbers, though he significantly underestimated the death rate. Dorian also was a novelist and poet with obvious literary talent. I include a sample of quotes from his diary:

"I stopped in front of a florist's window. Behind me, the screeching and throbbing boulevard vanished. Gone, too, were the voices of newspaper vendors selling their daily poisoned flowers. Facing me, behind the glass curtain, a fairyland. Shining, plump carnations, with the pink voluptuousness of women about to reach maturity, poised for the first step of a sprightly dance; shamelessly lascivious gladioli; virginal branches of white lilac; roses lost in pure meditation, undecided between the metaphysical white and the unreal yellow of a sky after the rain." (page 17)

"The [park] is all decked out. Nothing new. The same bushes in bloom in the same spots, the same babies, like flowers, drinking the spring out of their bottles. The magnolias have shed their petals...the peacocks cry out their desolation." (page 28)

"The fatigue I've gathered year after year and stored inside now heaves a muted cry of helplessness. Nothing but fatigue, rounding my shoulders, heavier than ever on this late autumn day with a useless sun, a world of unforgiving disasters. So many struggles and tragedies, so much sorrow and egotism in this dark, in this rotting century of hate." (page 127)

"The garden has wrapped itself in autumn haze. An unusual autumn, lacking that thrill of vegetal warmth when the sap is still alive and runs up the trees, drunk on solar gold. It is the sorrowful climax of a summer's drought. Never before was I so struck by the cancerous emaciation in a garden. The leaves started turning yellow in July and began falling, like a dance of prematurely withered bodies." (page 226)

Another Romanian Jewish writer, Mihail Sebastian, kept a diary during this same time period.
… (mais)
meggyweg | May 9, 2010 |



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