Cristina A. Bejan, Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania: The Criterion Association – Palgrave, 2019 and discussion at New Books Network with Steven Seegel
In 1930s Bucharest, some of the country’s most brilliant young intellectuals converged to form the Criterion Association. Bound by friendship and the dream of a new, modern Romania, their members included historian Mircea Eliade, critic Petru Comarnescu, Jewish playwright Mihail Sebastian and a host of other philosophers and artists. Together, they built a vibrant cultural scene that flourished for a few short years, before fascism and scandal splintered their ranks. Cristina A. Bejan asks how the far-right Iron Guard came to eclipse the appeal of liberalism for so many of Romania’s intellectual elite, drawing on diaries, memoirs and other writings to examine the collision of culture and extremism in the interwar years. The first English-language study of Criterion and the most thorough to date in any language, this book grapples with the complexities of Romanian intellectual life in the moments before collapse.