Dumitru Radu Popescu: A Romanian Literary Luminary

Dumitru Radu Popescu (Romanian pronunciation: [duˈmitru ˈradu poˈpesku]), a prolific Romanian writer, poet, dramatist, essayist, and short story author, left an indelible mark on the world of literature. His diverse body of work, characterized by elements of “magical realism,” has drawn comparisons to the renowned Italian author Italo Calvino.

Early Life and Education

Born on August 19, 1935, in the picturesque village of Păușa, situated in Nojorid, Bihor County, Dumitru Radu Popescu embarked on a literary journey that would captivate readers around the world. He initiated his academic pursuits at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj but chose to chart a different path before completing his medical studies.

Subsequently, he pursued a course of study at Babeș-Bolyai University, where he delved into the Faculty of Philology. This educational shift marked the beginning of his profound connection with language, literature, and the art of storytelling.

Literary Career

Dumitru Radu Popescu’s literary odyssey took flight as a reporter for the esteemed literary magazine Steaua [ro], a role he fulfilled with distinction from 1956 to 1969. His insightful contributions to the world of literature soon garnered recognition, positioning him as a prominent voice within the Romanian literary landscape.

In 1969, he assumed the role of editor for Tribuna [ro] magazine, where he continued to shape the literary scene until 1982. His editorial stewardship played a pivotal role in fostering the growth and diversity of literary expression.

From 1982, Dumitru Radu Popescu held the prestigious position of editor-in-chief at Contemporanul, further solidifying his influence on the literary domain. Notably, since 2006, he served as the General Manager of the Romanian Academy’s publishing house, contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and culture.

Awards and Recognitions

Dumitru Radu Popescu’s literary prowess earned him accolades and honors from esteemed institutions. He received the esteemed Prize of the Romanian Writers’ Union on five occasions, demonstrating the profound impact of his works within the literary community (in 1964, 1969, 1974, 1977, and 1980). His literary contributions were further celebrated with the Prize of the Romanian Academy in 1970.

Political and Literary Intersection

Intriguingly, alongside his literary endeavors, Dumitru Radu Popescu ventured into the realm of politics. Beginning in 1968, he served as a substitute member of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. His dedication to public service culminated in his election to the Great National Assembly in 1975. From 1979 to 1989, he held the esteemed position of a full member of the committee.

Controversy and Critique

In 1983, Dumitru Radu Popescu’s literary work became the center of a passionate dispute between the Romanian review, România Literară, and the Russian publication, Literaturnaya Gazeta. The contentious issue revolved around Popescu’s book, which explored the somber realities of life after the war. The Russian critics found the book’s portrayal too dark and were vocal in their critique.

A Fond Farewell

On January 2, 2023, the literary world bid farewell to Dumitru Radu Popescu. His passing, at the age of 87, marked the end of an era in Romanian literature. His legacy, however, endures through his thought-provoking writings, which continue to inspire readers and writers alike. Dumitru Radu Popescu’s contributions to both literature and politics serve as a testament to his enduring influence and multifaceted life.