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Dobrogeanu-Gherea, Constantin


DOBROGEANU-GHEREA, CONSTANTIN (originally Solomon Katz ; 1855–1920), Romanian literary critic and Socialist theoretician. Born in Slavianka, Ukraine, Katz became involved in revolutionary politics as a student at Kharkov University. His subsequent political career was colorful and adventurous. Pursued by the czarist police, he crossed into Romania in 1875, but three years later the Russian authorities found him masquerading as an American citizen, and he was kidnapped and taken back to Russia. After a year's imprisonment, Katz succeeded in making his way back to Romania, where he changed his name to Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea. He obtained the restaurant concession at the Ploieşti railway station, and the place became an asylum for writers and Romanian and Russian refugee socialists. As a literary theorist and critic, he succeeded in introducing into Romania a new perception of art as opposed to "art for art's sake." He insistedthat art was a product of society and reflected the outlook of different social groups and classes. The articles he began publishing in various periodicals in 1885 were collected in his Studii critice (3 vols., 1890–97; 2 vols., 1925–27), to which a fourth volume was subsequently added. The work became the main guide to the materialist viewpoint in Romanian literature. As a political writer, Dobrogeanu-Gherea was the great popularizer of Marxist socialism in Romania. Outstanding among his political works are his Concepţia materialistǎ a istoriei ("The Materialist Concept of History," 1892), Ce vor socialiştii romni ("What do the Romanian Socialists Want," 1886; 1946), Anarhism şi socialism (1894), and Socialismul n România. In his social study Neoiobǎgia ("The New Serfdom," 1910), he declared that even a bourgeois revolution had still to take place in Romania. In 1941, at the height of Antonescu's dictatorship, the Bucharest authorities exhumed Dobrogeanu-Gherea's remains and induced the Jewish community to rebury them in the Jewish cemetery. After World War ii the new communist regime criticized his ideas, seeing in him a typical representative of the social democratic camp, and declared him guilty of "grave ideological errors."


G. Cǎlinescu, Istoria literaturii române… (1941), 484–8; F. Aderca, Viaţa şi opera lui Dobrogeanu-Gherea (1948); I. Peltz, Cum i-am cunoscut (1964), 145–56. add. bibliography: M. Iorgulescu (ed.), C. Dobrogeanu-Gherea interpretat de… (1975); Z. Ornea, Viaţa lui C. Dobrogeanu-Gherea (1982); M. Shafir, "Romania's Marx and the National Question: Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea," in: History of Political Thought, vol. 5, 11 (1984).

[Dora Litani-Littman]

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