Anghel Demetrescu was born 5 October 1847 in Alexandria, Teleorman County, Romania to Dumitru Simion (c1825-1894) and Chrysanta Velleanu (1827-1873) and died 18 July 1903 Karlovy Vary, Karlovy Vary District, Karlovy Vary Region, Czech Republic of unspecified causes. He married Maria Poppovici (c1850-1915) 1873 in Bucharest, Romania. He married Emma Gluck (c1865-1902) 1882 in Bucharest, Romania.

Anghel Demetriescu (October 5, 1847 - July 18, 1903) was a Romanian historian, writer and literary critic, who became a member of the Romanian Academy in 1902.

Childhood and studies

Anghel Demetriescu was born on October 5, 1847, in Alexandria, province of Teleorman, Romania, then under the Ottoman Empire. He was the son of Dumitru Simion, a dyer who owned a small dying studio in the city, and Chrysanta Velleanu, whose family was wealthier, her brother being a doctor who worked in Bucharest. It is speculated that he was unsatisfied with his family name and thereby changed it to Demetriescu. His given name was his godfather's name, a certain Anghel Dudrea of Alexandria. Not even his given name satisfied him, as he would often sign his name Ang. Demetriescu.

Being the third of nine children of a modest family, Demetriescu had a rough upbringing. He was nevertheless a brilliant student in primary school, to the extent that his parents were urged to encourage him to continue pursuing his studies. Consequently, they enrolled him at Școala Reală in Alexandria (which later became the secondary school Alexandru Dimitrie Ghica National College). Afterwards, he received a scholarship at Bucharest, first enrolling in the courses at Matei Basarab High School (now Matei Basarab National College), and then at Sf. Sava High School now Saint Sava National College.

Without passing the baccalaureate, Demetriescu continued his studies at the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest where he befriended Dimitrie August Laurian and Ștefan C. Michăilescu, forming a group that gained some notoriety in the college, where they were called "The Three". To sustain himself financially, Demetriescu worked as an educator at the Macedo-Romanian School, a position which he obtained with the help of Corneliu Diaconovici.

After completing his college courses, Demetriescu did not pass his licensing examination or the baccalaureate exam at the culmination of high school. As a result, some contemporaries considered him self-educated. V.D. Păun, one of his close friends and director and professor of Romanian language and literature at the Gheorghe Lazăr High School in Bucharest commented this in regards to Demetriescu:

"Demetriescu was not exactly what one would call self-educated, as some determined him to be and others understood him to be. It is true that he did not possess any academic titles, not even the baccalaureate. He became a professor in 1869, a time when simply graduating high school was still sufficient for competing for a chair at a secondary school or an university."

After finishing his studies at the University of Bucharest, Demetriescu began his didactic and publishing activity. However, in 1878, through a competition at the Ministry of Cults, he receives a scholarship for foreign studies of philology and leaves for Berlin to complete his literary and historical studies.

If his studies in Germany resulted in the refinement of his way of thinking and the elimination from his works of exaggerations that existed in his publications until then, they had less influence on his character. In general, he was not very pleased with education in Germany . In fact, Demetriescu was an eternal rebel. Whereas, at home, his tendency towards erudition and a thorough study had often contradicted the haste and superficiality, very widespread in Romania, his Latin spirit was now the element that rebelled against the silent order of German work. He later recalled an art history teacher who had spoken in class for a quarter about the folds of his Madonna's clothes.Raphael "without leaving in your soul a feature of light, as the last Cicero of Florence leaves you. " [1]

In Berlin, Anghel Demetriescu studied with some of the leaders of the time: Johannes Vahlen and Adolf Kirchhoff, specialists in ancient literature and philology, Theodor Mommsen and Ernst Curtius , specialists in ancient history and Heinrich von Treitsche specialist in the philosophy of history. He was working on a doctoral dissertation on Catullus, which he had to support with Professor Johannes Vahlen, the author of a recently published volume on the Roman poet. However, Anghel Demetriescu had a different opinion from Vahlen's about Catullus. On the other hand, in the spirit of German education, Vahlen did not admit to being contradicted and accepted only works that were structured on his ideas. Not wanting to give up, Anghel Demetriescu returned from Germany without defending his thesis. [1]

Family life

In 1873 , Anghel Demetriescu married Maria Poppovici, with whom he had a daughter, Cordelia. However, the marriage is not happy, Maria Poppovici suffering from a nervous disorder. Anghel Demetriescu divorced in 1882. He remarried in 1884 to Emma Gluck, the daughter of Dr. Teophil Gluck of Bucharest and the sister of Themistocles Gluck, who later became a surgeon and professor at the medical school in Berlin. From the second marriage Anghel Demetriescu had a son, Teophil Demetriescu who would become a famous pianist.

However, the second marriage affected the family life, his daughter Cordelia having a hard time getting along with her stepmother. In order to resolve the tensions, Anghel Demetriescu had to send his daughter to a pension in France and Germany . In 1896 , after finishing her studies, Cordelia became the lady in waiting of Queen Elisabeta of Romania. In 1905, after the death of Anghel Demetriescu, she married Professor Gheorghe Tașcă .

Professional life

Teaching activity

In 1869 he obtained the history and geography department at the lower course of the "Sfântul Sava" High School in Bucharest. Shortly afterwards, he was appointed director of the high school boarding school. This is the quality in which students had Take Ionescu, to whom he kept an admiration all his life and Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea, who later became a very close friend. [2]

Anghel Demetriescu continued his teaching activity at the "Sfântu Sava" High School until 1878, when he left for Berlin . After returning from Germany, he resumed his work as a teacher at the lower course of the same high school.

Intending to pursue a university career, Anghel Demetriescu presented himself in 1881 at the competition for the department of ancient history at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Bucharest . However, he lost the contest in favor of Grigore Tocilescu. Anghel Demetriescu was extremely disappointed with this result and all his biographers (Nicolae Iorga, Nicolae Petrașcu, V.D. Păun) agree that this failure had a negative influence on his later evolution as a writer and as a scientist.

After the contest, Anghel Demetriescu publishes in the magazine România Libera a column entitled Știința de contrabandă in which he attacks Grigore Tocilescu. Resuming some important objections brought by Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu to Tocilescu's work Dacia before the Romans, he proves by parallel quotations the use by the author of various works of foreign researchers, without citing the respective sources, or even the use of simple German high school textbooks. The column had no consequences, and after the publication of the second part, he asked the newspaper to stop publishing the end of the paper, due to the quarrels he had with Tocilescu at the Central Library, where he was director. Anghel Demetriescu accuses Tocilescu of ordering the library staff to refuse to make available foreign books and magazines, from which Tocilescu was inspired for his works. This letter was also published in România Libera .

The dispute between the two historians did not continue. Demetriescu became a collaborator and political director of the Conservatorul newspaper, which supported Grigore Tocilescu. In a report from 1898, Anghel Demetriescu warmly praises and recommends Tocilescu's work on "Curtea de Argeș".

However, Anghel Demetriescu no longer pursues a university career and concentrates his efforts on his journalistic activity, keeping his position at the “Sfântul Sava” High School. In 1885 he was appointed teacher and director of the private high school "Sfântul Gheorghe", a position he held in parallel with the previous department. At the same time he was appointed professor of history at the theological seminary "Metropolitan Niphon" (which had been established in 1872).

Only in 1890 he requested the transfer from the lower course of the “Sfântul Sava” High School, to the upper one of the “Gheorghe Lazăr” High School , a request that is approved.

In 1891 - 1892 he worked as a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Bucharest, following the death of P. Cernătescu. [5] But at this time, Anghel Demetriescu was no longer interested in a university career and did not show up for the competition that was organized the following year for the position.

Although he did not pursue university degrees, his teaching activity is appreciated by contemporaries. In January 1891, Titu Maiorescu, Minister of Cults and Public Instruction, appointed him chairman of the commission for the competition for the German language department at the Normal High School in Bucharest, replacing C. Dumitrescu-Iași who had resigned.

In 1898 , Anghel Demetriescu retired from his state department at Gheorghe Lazăr High School. However, until the end of his life, he remained the director of the “Sfântul Gheorghe” High School, maintaining his chair at the “Metropolitan Nifon” seminar.


Anghel Demetriescu began his career as a writer, practically at the same time as his teaching activity. Starting with 1870, he published several articles in the Leaf of the Society for the Culture of the Romanian People in order to later contribute to the magazine Transacțiuri literare , which his friend Păun began publishing it in 1872 . His first critical work, published in Literary Transactions is a laudatory review of the play Constantin Brâncoveanu, a historical drama written in Romanian by the french poet Antonin Roques, French teacher in Bucharest. A. Roques was passionate about Romanian culture and had translated into French some poems by Vasile Alecsandri. The main criterion of Anghel Demetriescu in his value judgments was the respect for history. He mentions: "Every word of the ruler is a historical feature, next to which we could even note the page and the line of the opus that finds them." This "historicism" will be one of the basic features of Demetriescu's later works.

The third member of the group, Ștefan C. Michăilescu, also collaborated in the same magazine. At first, the magazine followed the Latinizing principles that DA Laurian had inherited from his father, academician August Treboniu Laurian, but in 1873, the entire team merged with the larger group of Contemporary Magazine. In 1876, Anghel Demetriescu became a member of its editorial board.

Anghel Demetriescu's publishing activity during this period is relatively minor, consisting mainly of reviews of books written by Romanian or foreign authors. In his study of Anghel Demetriescu, Octaviu Papadima reveals that these first articles reveal the features that would characterize his entire subsequent work: classicism, conservatism, erudition. [6] Nicolae Iorga considers him together with Dimitrie Aug. Laurian, Gheorghe Păucescu and a few others, among the best of the youth of Bucharest in the 1870s. [7]

At the same time, Anghel Demetriescu publishes didactic works. They translated two volumes of grammar for the ancient Greek language and wrote a volume of geography and, in collaboration with his friend Ștefan Michăilescu, a volume of zoology. These first works highlight the vast culture of Anghel Demetriescu, which could include very varied fields. However, it was his classical knowledge that attracted the attention of his contemporaries. In 1877, the Romanian Literary Society (transformed in 1879 into the Romanian Academy) entrusted him with the Latin translation of Dio Cassius's Roman History, a volume that appeared the following year.

After his return from Germany and his failure at the University of Bucharest, he limited his teaching interests to his departments of secondary education and focused his activity in three main directions: essays, conferences and journalism.

It starts with several cycles of conferences at the Romanian Athenaeum that were very well received by the public.

Thus, in 1883 he edited a number of four lectures by Titu Maiorescu , at the end of which he published a first study, an anticipation of portrait studies which is the most lasting part of his work. He then continued to edit various works, writing introductory studies, the most notable of which was The Discourses of Barbu Catargiu .

Working committees editorial staff of several newspapers, the first editor of the Nation between 1882 - 1888 and the Age of ( 1885 - 1903 ), but apart from essays published in supplements literary Sunday not signed editorial policy. [1]

Anghel Demetriescu's publishing activity includes mainly studies on contemporary writers and politicians and reviews and critiques of literary works.

Since 1885 he has been collaborating with Revista literară , initially with a study on Dimitrie Bolintineanu . Then followed other studies on Ion C. Brătianu and Mihail Kogălniceanu published in the Literary Age. Among these are more important articles about Titu Maiorescu , Mihai Eminescu, Take Ionescu, Alexandru Sihleanu, Ștefan C. Michăilescu and others. He established himself over time as an important literary critic, his value judgments being taken into account by his contemporaries.

Participation in the cultural life of Bucharest

In addition to his work as a publicist, Anghel Demetriescu was actively involved in coordinating the cultural life of Bucharest in the last decades of the nineteenth century. He worked with a lot of dedication to fulfill his tasks. On the other hand, he showed a rare modesty, trying not to stand out. In Demetriescu's conception, people had to be judged by the work they did, and this principle applied to their own activity. His modesty was not always understood by contemporaries, who often did not give him the credit he deserved. However, the fact that he was always receiving new assignments is proof that he was appreciated as a conscientious collaborator.

Romanian Athenaeum Committee

Following the success of his conferences at the Romanian Athenaeum, in 1884 he was elected a member of the committee of the Romanian Athenaeum led by Constantin Esarcu. Demetriescu kept this position until his death, dealing with the organization of conference cycles. At that time - and even after the First World War, conferences on cultural issues were a significant component of the activity of the Romanian Athenaeum. After that, the main conference room in Bucharest became the Dalles Hall.

National Theater Steering Committee

In 1888 , when Titu Maiorescu obtained the portfolio of Minister of Cults and Public Education in the new conservative government, at the proposal of Nicolae Petrașcu he appointed Ion Luca Caragiale director of the National Theater, with Anghel Demetriescu, Dimitrie Rosetti and Nicolae Petrașcu as members of the committee driving. As a detail, it can be mentioned that, in order to set the tone for the audience, Caragiale asked the members of the committee to attend the evening dressed in tailcoat. Anghel Demetriescu respected the note with a lot of religiosity and was very disappointed when, due to Caragiale's departure on his honeymoon, the rule was abandoned.

The first society of Romanian writers

In 1899 Bogdan Petriceicu-Hașdeu tried to constitute the first society of Romanian writers. The deed of incorporation, signed on January 30, 1899 , shows that the association had elected BP Hașdeu as president, C. Dumitrescu-Iași as vice-president, the members of the provisional committee being: Em. Porumbaru , Constantin Disescu , Ion Mincu , Theodor Speranția , Nicolae Petrașcu , Dimitrie Olănescu , Dr. CI Istrati , Virgil Arion , Take Ionescu , Nicolae Filipescu , Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea, George Ionescu-Gion, Nicolae Gane, HG Lecca , Zamfir Arbure , Al. Soutzu , Anghel Demetriescu, Alexandru Tzigara-Samurcaș , Dr. Alexandru Obreja , Ilarie Chendi , Barbu Păltineanu , Ștefan C. Ioan , C. Dimitriu-Târgoviște , N. Rădulescu-Niger and Constantin Rădulescu-Motru .

However, the action was poorly organized, the new association being formed as a minor annex of the "Press Society", which had also been founded by Hasdeu, in 1883 . The association did not carry out any activity. It was not until ten years later that the "Society of Romanian Writers" was established. [8]

Organization of village libraries

In 1898, Spiru Haret, then Minister of Public Education, took the initiative to organize a network of village libraries and commissioned Anghel Demetriescu to study the problem and prepare a specialized report. The report, highly documented and very detailed, formed the basis of the program that the ministry continued to carry out. The important contribution of Anghel Demetriescu in the creation of the village libraries was underlined by Emanoil Bucuța , who calls the report "a true birth certificate of the peasant libraries". [9]

Theory and literary criticism and art

Almost at the same time as his retirement, Anghel Demetriescu began to publish works of a larger scope than the reviews and presentations of writers and politicians. It is presumed that he intended to dedicate the last years of his life to synthesis works in which to present his vision.

Most of these studies were published in the journal Romanian Literature and Art . Among them can be mentioned:

The object of art in general. The poet. Dramatic poetry. Poetry: its relations with the other arts. Poetry and prose - the relationships between them. Sources of poetic inspiration. A vision of our past: Romanian Boerima. Talent and genius. How Homeric poems were formed. People of letters and statesmen. German theater in 1900. Some of his studies were published posthumously, and it is worth mentioning the works:

Shakespeare's women. The art of speaking. The poet and his time.

However, many of his works remained unfinished. Among the manuscripts left at a later stage can be cited:

Poetics manual - work conceived in 10 notebooks, of which the first two were lost. Notebook III is dated August 1884, which proves that Anghel Demetriescu had the intention, long before publishing his literary criticism studies to elaborate such works. History textbook - of which he managed to complete only three notebooks, dedicated to the Sources of history, Man as an anthropological subject and Types of prehistory. It seems that the work was very large and it is debatable that Demetriescu could have ever finished it. IC Brătianu - pages of contemporary history - work from which only 7 chapters are completed. These manuscripts are currently in the Library of the Romanian Academy, but are unlikely to ever be published.

Anghel Demetriescu politician

Although he was not interested in politics, Anghel Demetriescu had been appointed around 1895 director of the library of the Chamber of Deputies. A few years later, on April 23, 1899, the Conservative Party was called to power, led by Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino . Having many friends in the camp of the new prime minister, Anghel Demetriescu joins him, although there were frictions between Gheorghe Cantacuzino and Titu Maiorescu for whom Demetriescu had a cult. Candidate from the Conservative Party, he was elected deputy of the Third College of Teleorman on May 29, 1899 .

He was a quiet deputy, and did not even speak to discuss the law of education where he would have much to say. However, it seems that he intervened many times to support the interests of the constituency from which he was elected and gaining the recognition of voters. [10]

However, he was involved in other political activities. Thus, in 1900 the two conservative newspapers Timpul and Constitutional merged and formed a new newspaper Conservatorul . Anghel Demetriescu is appointed together with Iacob Negruzzi to the political direction of the newspaper. However, he writes few political articles, most of which were written during this period, debating issues of art and science.

Last years of life

In the meeting of April 6, 1902, Anghel Demetriescu was elected a corresponding member of the Romanian Academy . [11] His appointment is celebrated at the home of Anghel Demetriescu, on which occasion Delavrancea, with his usual exuberance, revolts, considering it an injustice that Anghel, "a mountain of science, was only a correspondent" .

In the same year, his wife Emma died. His wife's death greatly affected him and he later led a more secluded life. He continued to work and participate in important cultural events. It is noteworthy the speech that Anghel Demetriescu gave in the autumn of 1902 to celebrate the appointment of Take Ionescu , who had been his student, as a teacher and director of the "School of State Sciences".

The following year he left during the summer school holidays for his annual cure in Karlsbad (today Karlovy Vary). He fell ill with pneumonia and died in three days on July 18, 1903 , from poor medical care. [12] His body was brought to Bucharest and buried at Bellu Cemetery.

The characteristic features of Anghel Demetriescu 's work

Cult history

There are two personalities who contributed to the formation of Anghel Demetriescu's conception.

As a politician, Anghel Demetriescu admired first of all Lord Thomas B. Macaulay , whose speeches he translated from English and published with a wide preface. He also gave several cycles of lectures at the Romanian Athenaeum on Macaulay's work. He admired the way in which Macaulay managed to combine a coherent political vision, with impeccable reasoning, a solid culture and an exceptional oratorical talent. These were the qualities he considered essential to a politician and which he sought in discussing contemporary political figures.

As a historian, Demetriescu was strongly influenced by Hyppolite Taine , especially in L'Introduction à l'étude de l'Histoire expérimentale in which he argued that historical events would be determined by laws equivalent to those in the natural sciences, which gives history the exact science status. According to the Mysteries, any historical fact would depend on three conditions: the environment (geography, climate), race (the physical condition of man and his place in biological evolution) and the moment (the degree of intellectual advancement of man). Taine's positivism and rationalism matched Anghel Demetriescu's spirit of order and gave him a principle of symmetrical and hierarchical ordering of the world, which he also applied in his writings on art and literature.

Although in his writings he dealt with issues of aesthetics and literary criticism, Anghel Demetriescu was, as a mentality, a historian. He considers that for a man there can be no greater reward than the glory bestowed on him not by his contemporaries, but by history, posterity.

"No matter how great the man with his name and deeds of a lifetime, he gets lost in the immensity of the light path of history. For Anghel Demetriescu, history is the only human-worthy perspective. She is, as for the ancients, his supreme and just right ” . Octav Papadima - Anghel Demetriescu - introductory study to the volume Works

For Demetriescu, man is only one step in history, which is only the betterment of humanity. Art and politics intertwine in a common effort to show the greatness of man. Combining them, Demetriescu dreams of a harmonious and whole human type. Among the Romanian politicians, the one who comes closest to this ideal is Barbu Catargiu .

The desire for glory is for Demetriescu an essential criterion for differentiating the characters of politicians. Thus, in the parallel he draws between CA Rosetti and IC Brătianu , he describes them as follows: “As inflexible as Rosetti was in his principles and beliefs, so was Brătianu. This difference comes from the fact that Rosetti was thirsty for glory, while Brătianu was thirsty for power " .


An excellent connoisseur of both Latin and ancient Greek and of classical writers, classical culture is for Anghel Demetriescu an organic reality, an integral part of his conception of the world. As O. Papadima points out, classical culture is for him a substance from which you feed continuously, naturally. He frequently quotes from classics, not only from Horace, Tacitus and Cicero, but also from lesser-known writers such as Cornificius; Rhetorica ad Herrenium was one of his favorite works.

Classic images abound. Thus, Mihail Kogălniceanu is a " Pisistrat who becomes Pericles when needed". Hence the classic cult of models and the tendency to turn almost any debate of aesthetic principles into rules and advice. It must be borne in mind, however, that in the last decades of the nineteenth century, classical culture was much more widespread and such analogies were easier to understand than it is today.


For Anghel Demetriescu, the world is order , a harmony between the hierarchies of matter and those of spirit, which converge with time towards perfection. In thought, this order is materialized by reason.

Logical reasoning is based on two style structures, which Anghel Demetriescu obsessively uses in his writings: parallel and antithesis. The parallel is a logical consequence of order - since there is order, there will be countless similarities that are highlighted by highlighting the parallels. The antithesis results from the balance of the world, which requires that each thesis have an antithesis. But the overuse of the antithesis in his writings has exactly the opposite effect, leading to surprising critical mistakes. Demetriescu is able to exalt the work of a writer so that, on the next page, with almost the same arguments presented in the antithesis, he can completely destroy the same work. This contradiction made his friend VD Păun characterize him as temperamental, not lucid. [2]

If reason commands, it is virtue that keeps this order intact. By reason, man becomes a creator, by virtue, he becomes a character. Reason imposes an evolution from step to step, not by leaps and bounds.

The effort towards order forces Anghel Demetriescu to precisely delimit the fields of different arts and genres in his works, imposing extremely severe prohibitions on exceeding the limits. Even in stylistic analyzes he is just as severe in imposing an orderly presentation. Thus, in an article, he states:

"The artist - novelist, epic poet or even playwright - must describe to us the exterior of his persons, then gradually introduce us to the complexity and secrets of his character." [13]

In Demetriescu's opinion, Honoré de Balzac "makes unforgivable mistakes" in this regard.


Anghel Demetriescu is probably the most erudite of the Romanian writers, perhaps with the exception of Dimitrie Cantemir . He was fluent in ancient Greek and Latin and was fluent in German, French and English, being able to read both Italian and Spanish. He had used this knowledge to read an extremely large number of works, which he cites in his writings. He also had an extraordinary memory that allowed him to retain the ideas of the works he had researched and to be able to use them when he needed to. In many of his works even bibliographic references are written from memory, sometimes the data or even the titles are not accurate, but the ideas are always rendered correctly.

However, this erudition was limited to European literature. Anghel Demetriescu considered European culture superior to all others, and although in the nineteenth century they had developed in current Western European countries exploring other cultures, especially those in Asia, he never showed interest in such explorations. Thus in all his works there are numerous references to Romanian and Western writers quite obscure, quotations from works from other continents are almost completely missing and generally ignores Eastern European cultures, such as Russian and Polish.

However, the way in which Anghel Demetriescu capitalizes on his erudition has led to certain excesses. He does not admit a lack of documentation of writers dealing with historical subjects, this reflecting a superficiality of the authors. According to Demetriescu, the erroneous descriptions are totally inadmissible, which do not contribute to an explanation of the action but create an image on the one hand inaccurate and on the other hand useless.

Thus, although he admires Vasile Alecsandri, in his analysis of the drama Ovidiu, Demetriescu accuses him of lack of erudition. He considers the use of the plural fora cuppedinis instead of the singular forum cuppedinis inexcusable because it is known that in Rome there was only one market for the sale of delicacies. [14] Also in the description of the market, Alecsandri mentions that Naramze from Chios and lemons from Messina were sold. Anghel Demetriescu protests by explaining that in their work Das Leben der Griechen und Römer , E. Guhl and W. Koner show that oranges and lemons were not known in Italy even during the time of Plinius.

Anghel Demetriescu is even more severe with Mihai Eminescu. The most frequently cited negative example is Letter III , where he is irritated by the poet's vision of a patriarchal, peasant country. He appreciates that the soil "with a sledgehammer" is presented as "a messenger from the Zulu kings."not as a messenger of a ruler of Wallachia. The presentation of Mircea cel Bătrân as an old man is an anachronism; in fact, Mircea was between 40 and 45 years old and was at least 2 years younger than Baiazid. Baiazid's attribution of the words that he will give to the horse oats from St. Peter's porch is, according to Anghel Demetriescu, absurd. They could not have been uttered before the conquest of Constantinople and are in fact a phrase of Mehmed II. After describing Mircea as simple "by word of mouth", Eminescu makes him utter scholarly phrases about Darius of Hystaspe, at a time when no one in Wallachia knew about such a thing. It is true that Demetriescu finds some excuse for Eminescu, showing that, in Luiziada, Vasco da Gamais presented telling an African tribal chief about Odysseus and Aeneas. Obviously, in these assessments, Demetriescu's judgment is the judgment of a historian and not of a writer.

Also in the evaluation of the past, Demetriescu has great reservations about the way in which Eminescu appreciates the writers of the past generations in the poetry of Epigonii. Poets like Pralea, Dimitrie Țichindeal or the “pharmacy boy” Daniil Scavinski and others of those quoted by Eminescu are mediocre people who can in no way pass as worthy examples to follow. The erroneous presentation of history inevitably calls into question the theses defended by the poet. Compared to these mediocrities, the creation of the new generation of writers cannot highlight the regression that constitutes the thesis of poetry.

In fact, when it comes to historical issues, Anghel Demetriescu appreciates Eminescu. Regarding the poet's language, he writes: "With him our poetry received a more intensive and varied life" and "What makes the beauty of Eminescu's work is its language composed of truly original images. " Regarding Eminescu's versification, Anghel Demetriescu states: "He came out of the vengeance of old-fashioned forms, shattered those outdated, almost primitive patterns, found bold combinations and approaches of sounds and gave the Romanian ear unexpected acoustic pleasures" in any case ".

Obviously, such appreciations have bothered Eminescu's admirers for a long time. Thus, George Călinescu, who had made Eminescu an idol and could not accept any distortion of the poet's absolute perfection, is so outraged that he states emphatically that "Anghel Demetriescu's judgment is the judgment of a fool" , [15] a statement that raises the question if, in his blind admiration for Eminescu, George Călinescu was still able to judge, since he had not found a rational way to explain Eminescu's apparent admiration for certain writers whose works were devoid of real value.

However, in his erudition Anghel Demetriescu was not pedantic. He admits deviations from history, considering that phrases such as "If you don't want me, I want you" "must be reproduced, not because they are historical, but because they portray Lăpușneanu's thirst for power" . What upsets him is the distortion of historical truth, and in the case of Costache Negruzzi 's short story the ruler's personality is correctly portrayed, while in the Third Letter the narrative creates a wrong image of the character of the two sovereigns.

However, Demetriescu reveals historical inaccuracies in various works of universal literature, including the tragedies of Egmont by Goethe , - showing that the love story in the play is wrong, since in reality Count Egmont was married and had 6 children, - The Virgin of Orleans from Friedrich Schiller - where Joan of Arc escapes and dies in a battle instead of being burned at the stake, and more.

However, it is difficult to accept the overwhelming importance that Demetriescu gives to the historical argument, without taking into account the literary considerations. Thus, discussing a poem by Alexandru Depărățeanu :

„Bella Cleopatra puts And today with Cesar In the crazy orgies Pearls in a glass” Alexandru Depărățeanu - Nihil novi sub sole

he does not seem impressed by the dubious quality of the lyrics but is irritated by the historical inaccuracy, showing that, according to Pliny's writings, the pearl worth 10 million sesterces was drunk at a feast with Marc Antonius and not with Caesar.


In applying the principles he followed, Anghel Demetriescu sometimes encountered contradictions that must have been painful to him. One such contradiction was that between simplicity and erudition, a work with thorough documentation tending to be less linear. Thus he believes that works as Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo or Salammbô of Gustave Flaubert are busy with all the talent of their authors as "novelists are lost in research antiquarian and archaeologist who adds nothing to the beauty or veritatem picture . ” [16] However, he appreciates the correctness of Flaubert's descriptions.

Both in his literary studies, discussing the characters of Caragiale or the heroes of Shakespeare's tragedies, and in the numerous studies-portraits, in which he presented his contemporaries, Demetriescu seeks to highlight a dominant character. In Take Ionescu 's portrait , the dominant feature is speed, in Alexandru Sihleanu - lack of health, in Mihai Eminescu - pride, in Nicolae Fleva - ambition, in Ștefan Michăilescu - lack of will. And here appears Anghel Demetriescu's effort to find an order in the behavior of the characters. It was difficult for him to accept that, in the real world, people are complex and often have contradictory features.


Anghel Demetriescu was part of the generation of intellectuals who began their careers during the period when Romania had conquered its independence. While previous generations had focused their efforts on uniting and creating an independent state with a Western structure, the new generation appreciated these efforts but considered that they had a special role to play in consolidating these achievements and developing national values ​​so that they to be able to stand next to those of other European countries. To achieve this goal, it was important not to copy Western models but to take the experience of the West, interweaving it with original national contributions, so as to create its own national identity.

Demetriescu was very aware of this role of his generation. In his descriptions of politicians, whether it was about those of past generations, such as Barbu Catargiu , or contemporaries, such as Ion C. Brătianu or Take Ionescu, the main criterion on the basis of which he judged them was the extent to which they understood their role in the history of their country and the extent to which they contributed to the role of their own generation. In Demetriescu's works, much less importance is given to internal controversies, to the divergences between the orientations of the different political parties, which he considered subordinate. The main conflict was not between internal political orientations, but between the tendency to consider the West superior, hence the need to copy it, and the tendency to believe that national values ​​can contribute equally to national progress.

"Our Democrats break the Romanian tradition and imagine that there will remain a Romanian patriotism. They constantly repeat that foreigners value more than Romanians and imagine that Romanians will love Romania. For sixty years we have loved France, for twenty years we have begun to praise Germany immeasurably, to the detriment of our morality and dignity. Everyone puts their ideal out of Romania. We think we are liberals and nationals when we speak ill of our past. ” [17]

Obviously, Demetriescu also rejected the opposite tendency to exaggerate the national role and the exacerbation of the Daco-Roman heritage that would substantiate the theory of absolute superiority of the Romanian people, a nationalist tendency that had begun to appear towards the end of the 19th century.

Anghel Demetriescu and his contemporaries

Anghel Demetriescu valued his friends and needed their company. A complete list of Demetriescu's friends is probably difficult to make. However, the closest must be mentioned:

  • Dimitrie August Laurian , his college colleague, who had completed his studies in Germany and had become a specialist in classical philology;
  • Constantin Dimitrescu-Iași , professor of philosophy at the University of Bucharest and socialist politician
  • V.D. Păun , director and teacher of Romanian at Gheorghe Lazăr High School
  • Ștefan Hepites physicist and meteorologist
  • C.I. Istrati , doctor
  • Ion Luca Caragiale
  • Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea
  • Alexandru Vlahuță
  • Alexandru Odobescu [18]

Being one of the oldest members of the group, he usually hosted the meetings of this group, especially after settling in the house he built on King Carol I Boulevard in Bucharest in 1895 the meeting place of the group of friends. it was the house of Anghel Demetriescu. Rare were the days when he didn't have a discussion with one of these friends. An occasion that was not missed by any of them, however, was the day of November 8, the Holy Archangels, when he celebrated his name day and had an open house.

Anghel Demetriescu saw in friendship a deep spiritual connection that was primarily an opportunity to exchange ideas, not a simple social connection. For Demetriescu friendship is the feeling described by Marcus Pacuvius in tragedy Dulorestes - quoted by Cicero in Amity - is the friendship Marquis of Posa in Don Carlos tragedy of Schiller or that of Basanio Antonio in The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare . Even if such analogies seem to present his friendships as a literary exercise, Anghel Demetriescu was very dedicated to his friends and, in turn, they appreciated him and often asked his advice.

An example in this regard is that of Alexandru Odobescu , who at the age of 60 falls in love with Hortensia Racoviță, a 30-year-old geography teacher he met through Anghel Demetriescu. Alexandru Odobescu commits suicide as a result of Hortensia's mother's refusal to consent to his marriage, writing, on the night of November 8-9, 1895, two letters, one to his family and one to Anghel Demetriescu, considered the only close friend to whom he could explain his desperate act. .

"Think, please, and tell everyone that I was not mad, but that, with my heart over sensitive, I fell prey to the lightness and vulgarity of the senses of a heartless, unconscious being, devoid of even that penetration of mind which- but it would have made her an inspiring fairy of my very few intellectual faculties . It was the true grave of my intelligence, of my illusions, even of my life. ” [18]

Demetriescu sought to help his friends whenever possible. I.L. Caragiale, who was in a permanent crisis of money, was hired in 1885 as a substitute professor at the College "St. Gheorghe ”where he was director. He also took direct care of Mateiu Caragiale 's education, which he enrolled at the College "St. Gheorghe ”from 1889 to 1903, from the first primary class to the baccalaureate. During the period when IL Caragiale had started his regular trips to Berlin, he let his son live with Demetriescu, for a period of 3 years. Mateiu Caragiale, who did not get along very well with his father, states that he found more understanding with Anghel Demetriescu. In his memoirs, he speaks of Demetriescu with much affection and refers to him by calling him "My excellent director and master of history . " In fact, Demetriescu's lessons developed Mateiu Caragiale's taste for heraldry research, which he later dealt with.

Posthumous mentions

Despite all his work, posterity remembered him little. Although Nicolae Iorga, Nicolae Petrașcu , Ovidiu Papadima and a few others wrote works about him, Anghel Demetriescu was gradually forgotten. In 1937, under the care of Gheorghe Tașcă , the King Carol II Foundation for Literature and Art published a volume of his works in the collection Forgotten Romanian Writers . [3]

After the communist regime came to power, following a decree in May 1945, lists of publications banned by a team of Communist Party officials, led by Iosif Ardeleanu and Al. I. Ștefănescu. The list continued to expand, eventually leading to the publication of a volume with a list of banned books until May 1, 1948, which included 500 pages, including previous lists, complete with an astonishing number of author names or titles. books. In this list, which included a number of 8779 titles, all the works of Anghel Demetriescu appear. [19]

Always relying on an extensive bibliography, Anghel Demetriescu has amassed a vast library of history and literature comprising tens of thousands of volumes. The library was inherited and kept by his daughter, Cordelia Tașcă. In 1950, after the arrest of Gheoghe Tașcă, his family was evacuated from the house and all the confiscated goods. Anghel Demetriescu's voluminous library was thrown directly on the windows of the house in trucks and taken to the capital's landfill. In addition to books, various unpublished manuscripts by Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea and Alexandru Vlahuță were kept in the library, as well as some of the published volumes on which the writers had made corrections for later reprints. It is an illustration of the care they took to preserve the cultural values ​​of the country, people like Constantin I. Parhon , at that time head of state, or Traian Săvulescu , president of the Academy of the Romanian Socialist Republic; neither of them even made a timid attempt to keep this national heritage at the Academy or a library instead of decomposing it with household waste. [20]


  • The first elements of ellena grammar - Translation by Ang. Demetriescu, Bucharest, 1872
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Brâncoveanu - drama by A. Roques, - Literary Transactions, 1872
  • Versions and themes on the elements of ellena grammar - Translation by Ang. Demetriescu, Bucharest, 187**3
  • Anghel Demetriescu - The New Book of Wisdom by A. Roques - Revista Contimporană, 1873
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Determinism in history. The theory of H. Th. Buckle - Contemporary Magazine, 1973,
  • Ang. Demetriescu - Elements of geography - Bucharest, 1873
  • Anghel Demetriescu - The study of history in Romanian - article by G. Panu - Revista Contimporană, 1875
  • Ștefan Michăilescu and Ang. Demetriescu - Conversations on natural history. Part I. Zoology , Bucharest, 1876*.
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Mr. Taine - Contemporary Magazine, 187*6
  • Anghel Demetriescu - A few words on the French Revolution and the alleged Louis XVII - Contemporary Magazine, 1876
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Alexandru Z. Sihleanu - Revista Contimporană, 1876
  • Dione Cassiu (Coceianu) - The Roman History of the Nero Penis by Alexandru Severu - Translation by Angelu Demetriescu, Bucharest 1878
  • Anghel Demetriescu - The Science of Smuggling - Free Romania, 1881.
  • Titu Maiorescu - Four conferences - Abstracts by Mihai C. Brăneanu. With an appendix by Angel Demetriescu, 188*3
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Dimitrie Bolintineanu - Revista Literară, 1885
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Dimitrie Bolintineanu - Literary Anal, 1885
  • Barbu Katargiu - Discourses - Collected and accompanied by a historical note of the Katargiu family and a biography of the author by Ang. Demetriescu, 1886
  • Anghel Demetriescu - „Ovidiu” by V. Alecsandri - Epoca, 1888
  • Lord Macaulay - Speeches - Translated from the English and annotated by Ang. Demetriescu, 1895
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Mihail Kogălnicean u - Literary Age 1896
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Ion C. Brătianu - Literary Age 1896
  • Anghel Demetriescu - The object of art in general - Romanian literature and art 1897
  • Anghel Demetriescu - The Poet - Romanian Literature and Art 1897
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Political speeches of Mr. Take Ionescu - Romanian literature and art 1902
  • Anghel Demetriescu - Mihail Eminescu - Romanian Literature and Art 1903


^ a b Corneliu Diaconovich - Enciclopedia română, Sibiu, 1898, Vol. II, pp. 125 ^ a b c Păun, VD - Chronica literară: Anghel Demetriescu - Secolul An. V. Nr. 1233, pp. 1-2. ^ a b c N. Petrașcu - Anghel Demetriescu - p.26 ^ Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea - Anghel Demetriescu - Life. An I, No.48, pp.1-2 ^ National Will Vol. XX (1903), Nr. 5490, pp. 3 ^ Octaviu Papadima - Anghel Demetriescu - Presentation in the volume Works by Anghel Demetriescu, Bucharest, 1937 ^ Nicolae Iorga - A teacher: Dimitrie A. Laurian. In People Who Were , Vol. I. p.124 ^ • Romanian Library • History of Romanian writers' societies • I. Initiators ^ Emanoil Bucuța - Village Library - pp. 35-49 ^ Timpul An I (1900), Nr. 3, p.1 ^ Annals of the Romanian Academy, Vol. 26 (1903-1904), Administrative part, page 70 ^ Conservatorul , An III (1903), Nr. 163, 165, 167 and 179 ^ Anghel Demetriescu - The sources of poetic inspiration. p.52 ^ Anghel Demetriescu - Ovidiu de V. Alecsandri - Epoca, 1888 ^ George Călinescu - History of Romanian Literature p.257 ^ Anghel Demetriescu - Poetry and prose. The relationships between them ^ Anghel Demetriescu - The Romanian Enlightenment p.14 ^ a b Florentin Popescu - "I was not crazy, but I fell prey ..." ^ ^ People of Moldavia: Gheorghe Tașca - Abe Books - ISBN 10: 1158073291


  • October 5, 1847 - Anghel Demetriescu is born in Alexandria, Teleorman.
  • 1869 - He graduated from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest and was appointed professor of history and geography at the High School "St. Sava ”from Bucharest,
  • 1878 - 1881 He goes to Berlin to study.
  • 1881 - He appears at the competition of university professor of history at the University of Bucharest, a competition that Grigore Tocilescu wins.
  • 1882- 1888 - He works as the first editor of the newspaper Națiunea! .
  • 1884 - He is elected a member of the Romanian Athenaeum Committee, led by Constantin Esarcu.
  • 1885 - He is appointed director and history teacher at the "Sfântul Gheorghe" Private High School in Bucharest.
  • 1885-1903 - Works as first editor of the newspaper Epoca .
  • 1888 - Appointed a member of the Steering Committee of the National Theater.
  • 1890 - He is appointed history teacher at the upper course of the "Gheorghe Lazăr" High School in Bucharest.
  • 1891 - 1892 - He works as a professor at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy in Bucharest. However, it does not require completion.
  • 1895 - Appointed director of the Library of the Chamber of Deputies.
  • 1898 - Retires from the state department at the "Gheorghe Lazăr" High School, maintaining only the position at the "Sfântul Gheorghe" High School.
  • 1898 - From the assignment of Spiru Haret, he studies the organization of village libraries.
  • 1899 - Teleorman is elected to the Chamber of Deputies.
  • 1900 - Appointed political director of the Conservatory newspaper .
  • April 6, 1902 - He is appointed a corresponding member of the Romanian Academy.
  • 1902 - His wife, Emma, ​​dies.
  • July 18, 1903 - Anghel Demetriescu dies in Karlsbad.

External links

Members of the Romanian Academy from 1866 to the present - D


Offspring of Anghel Demetrescu and Maria Poppovici (c1850-1915)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Cordelia Demetriescu (1874-1971) 26 April 1874 Bucharest, Romania 1971 Bucharest, Romania Gheorghe Tașcă (1875-1951)

Offspring of Anghel Demetrescu and Emma Gluck (c1865-1902)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Teophil Demetriescu (1891-1958) 12 April 1891 Bucharest, Romania 16 October 1958 Bucharest, Romania NN
Olga NN (c1910-c1990)
Sonia Bruhns (1913-1996)


Offspring of Dumitru Simion (c1825-1894) and Chrysanta Velleanu (1827-1873)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Anghel Demetriescu (1847-1903) 5 October 1847 Alexandria, Teleorman County, Romania 18 July 1903 Karlovy Vary, Karlovy Vary District, Karlovy Vary Region, Czech Republic Maria Poppovici (c1850-1915)
Emma Gluck (c1865-1902)

Footnotes (including sources)


  1. ^ a b Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Petrașcu
  2. ^ Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea – Anghel Demetriescu – Viața. An I, Nr.48, pp.1-2