Galaction, Gala°

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GALACTION, GALA ° (literary pen name of the priest Grigore Pişculescu; 1879–1961), Romanian novelist and writer. Galaction was one of Romania's outstanding literary figures, and his humanitarian outlook made him a great friend of the Jews. Jewish types abound in his novels and stories, and their high moral character is contrasted with their bitter struggle for survival. He attributed this survival to a divine miracle. In two novels, Roxana (1930) and Papucii lui Mahmud ("Muhammad's Slippers," 1932), he makes a plea for understanding between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. As a result of his friendship with Jewish intellectuals Galaction used to deliver lectures to Jewish organizations, and he also wrote articles on Jewish festivals and religious lore for Romanian-Jewish periodicals.

An admirer of Theodor Herzl, whom he considered a successor to the biblical prophets, Galaction wrote many pro-Zionist essays which were collected in Sionismul la prieteni ("Zionism among Friends," in Herzl, 1929). A visit to Palestine (1926) inspired a series of articles in Adam (1929) and the novel Scrisori cǎtre Simforoza: In pǎmântul fǎgǎduinţei ("Letters to Simforoza: In the Promised Land," 1930). Galaction exerted a notable influence by his literary translation of the Bible (1938; in collaboration with Vasile Radu). His translations of the Song of Songs and the Book of Psalms are particularly remarkable. It is significant that, even at the height of World War ii, Galaction courageously maintained his close ties with the Jewish community of Romania, and when the Jews were forced to clear the streets of snow, he insisted on joining them.


G. Cǎlinescu, Istoria literaturii române… (1941), 601–3; T. Vianu, Arta prozatorilor români (1941), 257–63; M. Sevastos, Aminitiri de la "Viaţa Româneascǎ" (1957), 117–20; F. Aderca, Mǎrturia unei generaţii (1967), 85–94; T. Vârgolici, Gala Galaction (1967). add. bibliography: G. Voicu, in: Contribuţia scriitorilor evrei la literatura română (2001).

[Dora Litani-Littman]