Mircea Eliade’s 1924 diary/journal/novel

ShortsightedcoverSorin Alexandrescu at Guernica:

Mircea Eliade wrote his first book, Romanul adolescentului miop (1924) (literally, The Novel of the Short-Sighted Adolescent), when he was seventeen years old. He described it not as a novel – as the Romanian title would suggest – but as the literary account of a failed attempt to write a novel. And yet, the word “novel” is used in the original title (the English edition has opted for ‘Diary’, thereby emphasizing its incipient nature, and encouraging comparisons to other well-known diarists such as Holden Caufield and Adrian Mole). The last sentence of the book coincides with the first one: “As I was all alone I decided to begin writing The Novel of the Short-Sighted Adolescent this very day”, providing the already read text with a circular and paradoxical structure that is simultaneously finite and in the process of being finalized, organized and chaotic. Similarly, the narrator is both a character and his interpreter. The short-sighted adolescent is not someone who does not see well – on the contrary, he is a keen observer of people – but someone who is afraid of being seen as an ugly, indecisive, good-for-nothing young man particularly because he is short-sighted. While the other boys in his classroom are machos– as we would call them nowadays –, constantly boasting about their success with women, the short-sighted adolescent is an introverted non-macho who is, however, ironic and surprisingly inscrutable.

The author feels at home in this knot of contradictions. As he frequently mentions, the process he employs is that of transcribing excerpts from the journal started by him a few years before – a fact which is biographically accurate. Eliade regularly kept a journal while he was in Romania and in India, but he left it in the care of some friends when he went to London in 1940, hoping to recover it upon his return.

more here.