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Panait Istrati


Panait Istrati was born in Brăila in 1884. His father was a Greek smuggler (whom he never met) and his mother a laundress. Afer school he worked as an apprentice to a tavern-keeper, where he learned Greek, then as a pastry cook, peddler and labourer on board ships. During this period he was both reading and writing prolifically. He was involved in a strike during1910. He contracted tuberculosis in 1916 and went to Leysin, in Switzerland to be cured. There he met Josué Jéhouda, who taught him French and introduced him to the novels of Romain Rolland. After his cure, he continued wandering around Europe, doing odd jobs, twice having unsuccessful marriages and attempting suicide in Nice in 1921.

He wrote to Romain Rolland and it was Rolland who helped him get his first work published and who wrote a preface to it. Rolland continued to support and encourage him. Like Rolland, he had left-wing views and he was a supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution. He travelled to the Soviet Union in 1927 and visited various parts of the country. Some of his travels were with Nikos Kazantzakis. After a visit to Greece, where he was asked to leave the country, he returned to the Soviet Union in 1928 but now became aware of some of the horrors of Stalinism and wrote a book about it. His Communist friends turned against him, particularly Henri Barbusse.

Istrati returned to Romania and then went back to Nice for further treatment of his tuberculosis. He went back to Bucharest where he died in a sanatorium in 1935, condemned by Communists and Fascists alike.

Other links

Panait Istrati
Panait Istrati
Panait Istrati (in French)
Istrati, le révolté du siècle (in French)


(Note that most of his books were first published in French and only published in Romanian later)

1924 Kyra Kyralina (Kyra, My Sister, later: Kyra Kyralina) (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1924 Oncle Anghel (Uncle Anghel, later: Balkan Tavern) (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1925 Les Haidoucs: I. Présentation de Haidoucs (The Bandits, later:The Haiduks ) (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1925 Trecut și viitor. Pagini autobiogafice (autobiography)
1926 Les Haidoucs: II. Domnitza de Snagov (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1926 Codine (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1927 Mikhail (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1927 La Famille Perlmutter (with Josué Jéhouda, novel)
1927 Isaac, le tresseur de fil de fer (novel)
1927 Le Refrain de la fosse (Nerantsoula) (The Bitter Orange Tree) (novel)
1928 Mes départs (pages autobiographiques)
1928 Les Chardons du Baragan (The Thistles of the Baragan) (novel)
1929 Confession pour vaincus. Après seize mois dans l’URSS (Russia Unveiled) (travel
1930 Le Pécheur d’éponges (pages autobiographiques) (The Sponge Diver) (autobiography)
1930 Pour avoir aimé la terre (autobiography)
1931 Tsatsa Minnka (novel)
1931 En Égypte (travel)
1933 La Maison Thuringer (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1933 Le Bureau du placement (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1934 Méditerranée. Lever du soleil (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
1935 Méditerranée. Coucher du soleil (Adrien Zograffi series) (novel)
2014 Dans les docks de Braïla (On the Docks in Braila)