BANUS, MARIA (1914–1999), Romanian poet. Born in Bucharest, Banus' first poems were published in 1928. She gained fame with her first collection of verse, Tara fetelor ("The Maidens' Land," 1937), a lyrical description of the awakening sensuality of adolescence. Maria Banus came to be regarded as Romania's outstanding poet on feminine themes. Despite her early detachment from Judaism, she adopted a more positive attitude toward Jewish life in the shtetl as a result of her experiences during the Holocaust. Bucurie ("Joy," 1949) includes some important poems about Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. After World War ii, Banus regarded the Communist Party as the savior of mankind. Social and humanitarian themes dominate her Torentul ("The Torrent," 1959) and Magnet ("The Lodestone," 1962), in which the poet denounces war and calls on mothers everywhere to join in the effort to secure lasting peace. In the "liberalization" period, she went back to writing personal poems, but as an aged woman. Her collections of verse include Fiilor mei ("To my Sons," 1949); Versuri alese ("Selected Poems," 1953); Despre pamant ("About the Earth," 1954); and Se arata lumea ("The World Shows Up," 1956). She also wrote two social dramas, Ziua cea mare ("The Great Day," 1951) and Indragostitii ("The Lovers," 1954), and published translations of Goethe, Pushkin, Rilke, and Shakespeare. Many of her poems have been translated into English, Russian, and Chinese, and some of them into Hebrew. She published Din poezia de dragoste a lumii ("Love Poetry in World Literature," 1965), including poems by Hebrew and Yiddish poets. In 1978 she published parts of her World War ii journal, Sub camuflaj ("Under Camouflage"), which caused controversy because of its descriptions of her erotic experiences and her attitude to her Jewish identity. Although she identified with Jewish suffering, she preferred to be a Romanian, identifying with the Romanian language and culture.
G. Calinescu, Istoria literaturii romane (1941), 847, 925; C. Baltazar, Scriitor si om (1946), 15–27; G. Calinescu, in Contemporanul (March 6, 1959); P. Georgescu, in: Viata romaneasca (Oct. 1964), 125–27; add. bibliography: A. Mirodan, Dictionar neconventional, 1 (1986), 99–112; A.B. Yoffe, Bisdot Zarim (1996), 218–21.
[Dora Litani-Littman /
Lucian-Zeev Herscovici (2nd ed.)]