Authors: Mircea Eliade

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Romanian historian and scholar

Author Works


Alchimia Asiatica, 1934

Oceanografie, 1934

Yoga: Essai sur les origines de la mystique indienne, 1936

Techniques du yoga, 1936

Cosmologie şi alchimie babilonianâ, 1937

Metallurgy, Magic, and Alchemy: Cahiers de Zalmoxis I, 1938

Salazar şi revolucia în Portugalia, 1942 (biography)

Los Rumanos: Breviario historico, 1943 (The Romanians: A Concise History, 1992)

Le Mythe de l’éternel retour, 1949 (The Myth of the Eternal Return, 1954)

Traité d’histoire des religions, 1949 (Patterns in Comparative Religion, 1958)

Le Chamanisme et les techniques archaïques de l’extase, 1951 (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1964)

Images et symboles: Essais sur le symbolisme magico-religieux, 1952 (Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, 1961)

Le Yoga: Immortalité et liberté, 1954 (Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 1958)

Forgerons et alchimistes, 1956 (The Forge and the Crucible, 1962)

Le Sacré et la profane, 1956 (also pb. as Das Heilige und das Profane: Vom Wesen des Religiosen, 1957; The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1959)

Mythes, rêves, et mystères, 1957 (Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries, 1960)

Birth and Rebirth: The Religious Meaning of Initiation in Human Culture, 1958 (also known as Rites and Symbols of Initiation)

Méphistophélès et l’Androgyne, 1962 (Mephistopheles and the Androgyne: Studies in Religious Myth and Symbol, 1965)

Patañjali et le Yoga, 1962 (Patañjali and Yoga, 1969)

Aspects du mythe, 1963 (Myth and Reality, 1963)

Amintiri: I. Mansarda, 1966 (Autobiography: Volume I, 1907-1937, Journey East, Journey West, 1981)

The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion, 1969

De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan: Études comparatives sur les religions et le folklore de la Dacie et l’Europe orientale, 1970 (Zalmoxis, the Vanishing God, 1972)

Australian Religions: An Introduction, 1973

Fragments d’un Journal, 1945-1969, 1973

Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions: Essays in Comparative Religions, 1976

Histoire des croyances et des idées religieuses, 1976-1983 (A History of Religious Ideas, 1978-1985; 3 volumes)

No Souvenirs: Journal, 1957-1969, 1977

Fragments d’un Journal, 1970-1978, 1981

Ordeal by Labyrinth: Conversations with Claude-Henri Rocquet, 1982

Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts, 1986

Autobiography: Volume II, 1937-1960, Exile’s Odyssey, 1988

Journal III, 1970-1978, 1989

Journal IV, 1979-1985, 1990

Long Fiction:

Isabel şi Apele Diavolului, 1930

Maitreyi, 1933 (also known as La Nuit bengali; Bengal Nights, 1993)

Intoarcerea din Rai, 1934

Lumina ce se stinge, 1934

Huliganii, 1935

Domnisoara Christina, 1936

Sarpele, 1937

Secretul Doctorului Honigberger, 1940 (Two Tales of the Occult, 1970)

Comentarii la legenda Mesterului Manole, 1943

Insula lui Euthanasius, 1943

Forêt interdite, 1955 (The Forbidden Forest, 1978)

Nuvele, 1963

Fantastic Tales, 1969 (with Mihai Niculescu)

Pe Strada Mântuleasa, 1970 (The Old Man and the Bureaucrats, 1979)

Tales of the Sacred and the Supernatural, 1981

Youth Without Youth, and Other Novellas, 1988


Iphigenia, pb. 1951

Edited Texts:

Scrieri literare, morale si politice de B. P. Hasdeu, 1937

The History of Religions: Essays in Methodology, 1959 (with Joseph M. Kitigawa)

What Is Religion? An Inquiry for Christian Theology, 1980 (with David Tracy)

The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1986 (16 volumes)


Mircea Eliade (AY-lee-ahd) achieved worldwide recognition for his pioneering studies in comparative religion and the history of religion. In addition, he was a gifted writer of fiction. To a rare degree, scholarship and imaginative literature were interwoven throughout his life. Eliade was born in the first decade of the twentieth century and initially educated in the turbulent era of World War I. From the war’s aftermath emerged a greatly enlarged Romania, incorporating from the demolished Austro-Hungarian Empire the old Roman province of Dacia, with its capital at Bucharest. Eliade began his university studies in the equally fervent 1920’s, amid overtones of resurgent nationalism. From the University of Bucharest, he received a master’s degree in 1928. He was awarded his doctorate in 1932, after graduate study in the more exotic environment of the University of Calcutta.{$I[AN]9810001175}{$I[A]Eliade, Mircea}{$I[geo]ROMANIA;Eliade, Mircea}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Eliade, Mircea}{$I[tim]1907;Eliade, Mircea}

Though principally an author, he had associate status with the faculty of letters at the University of Bucharest until the outbreak of World War II. In 1937 he edited Scrieri literare, morale si politice de B. P. Hasdeu (literary, moral, and political writings by B. P. Hasdeu). He was sent as cultural attaché with the Romanian legation of King Carol II to London (1940-1941) and then to Lisbon, Portugal, for the Ion Antonescu regime, where he remained until the Soviet occupation of his homeland terminated his status. In 1942 he wrote Salazar şi revoluţia în Portugalia (Salazar and the revolution in Portugal), a book about a leader whose brand of neutral national socialism he admired. In 1943 he wrote a brief history of the Romanians, whom he identified as the Latins of the East. At the end of the war, he became a displaced scholar at the Sorbonne and, in 1950, president of the Centre Roumain de Recherches, Paris, a post he held until 1955. He was also lecturing intermittently at Ascona in Switzerland, where the Eranos project was focused and from which came an annual yearbook. The psychological priorities of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung made their special impact upon his understanding of the function of myth and symbol in the human personality.

The sudden and unexpected death, in August of 1955, of the leading mind in the history of religions and its methodological theory, Joachim Wach, left a major gap in the theological faculty of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. The scheduled appearance of Mircea Eliade as Haskell Lecturer and Visiting Professor for 1956-1957 opened the prospects of his succeeding Wach. By 1958 Eliade was not only a major professor but also chairman of the history of religions department, with additional ties to the University of Chicago’s broader Committee on Social Thought. In 1965 he was named the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor. At the University of Chicago, Eliade came in contact with the eminent Protestant systematic theologian and scholar of the interrelationship of Christianity and culture, Paul Tillich. A distinctive impact worked out in joint seminar was made by each upon the other’s later writings and thoughts. Unlike Tillich, who with many of his age had fled the Nazi regime in Germany, Eliade had championed causes of national rather than religious socialism in the interwar years. Thus Eliade always viewed “comparative religion” from an original Romanian nationalistic perspective. The impact of Eliade upon students of religion, theology, and their respective histories hinged to some degree upon the time-lag factor, wherein it depended on how quickly his thoughts could be communicated by successive translators into European and Asiatic languages.

There is no doubt that Eliade perceived in the events of his youth–insightfully evaluated but personally veiled in Huliganii (the hooligans)–the “terror of history,” a notion that became central to his discussion of religion at the level of “the myth of the eternal return.” In autobiographical remarks, he noted several occasions on which he had to escape from what he described as the prison of study to find a freedom which literary expression only in his native Romanian could provide. Study of Sanskrit grammar and Samkhya philosophy was interrupted for Isabel şi Apele Diavolului (Isabel and the Devil’s sea), Shamanism, and The Forbidden Forest.

At the University of Chicago, Eliade’s critics believed that he was misleading a whole generation of students of religion by a methodology which obtained its comparative data from “zigzagging over the globe and through the known history” of humankind, without regard for the greater importance of unique and subtle differences. Some went so far as to call him the “antihistorian of religions.” His final magnum opus, A History of Religious Ideas, shows a level of systematization which mitigates some of the criticism leveled against him over the years and demonstrates, with its heavy emphasis upon annotated bibliography, the degree to which Eliade had a wide-ranging familiarity with all the important aspects of his vast subject–worldwide and from the Stone Age to the Enlightenment. Had he lived to complete a projected fourth volume, he would have added the living primal religions to the atheism with which he characterized much of contemporary civilized religiousness. Clearly, Eliade found in a very widespread audience the responsive chord at the level of a religiousness nostalgically recalled but permanently lost to the “terror of history” within the present modern world.

Near the end of his life, Eliade was nearly blind and suffered greatly from arthritis in the hands, which made writing difficult. His wife, Georgette Christinel Cottescu, whom he had married on January 9, 1950, played a major role in his work by reading to him. On the occasion of the establishment of the Eliade Chair in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago in 1985, she was honored equally with him by its name.

BibliographyAllen, Douglas. Myth and Religion in Mircea Eliade. New York: Garland, 1998. Introduction to Eliade’s perspectives on myth, religion, and history. Includes bibliographical references and index.Allen, Douglas, and Dennis Doeing. Mircea Eliade: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1980. One of the best guides to Eliade’s life and work.Cave, David. Mircea Eliade’s Vision for a New Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Book-length study discusses humanism in the twentieth century. Includes bibliography and index.Eliade, Mircea. Autobiography. Vol. 1, Journey East, Journey West, 1907-1937. Translated by Mac Linscott Ricketts. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981.Eliade, Mircea. Autobiography. Vol. 2, Exile’s Odyssey, 1937-1960. Translated by Mac Linscott Ricketts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. While unrevealing in some respects, these volumes are indispensable, allowing the reader to gain Eliade’s own perspective on his life.Girardot, Norman J., and Mac Linscott Ricketts, eds. Imagination and Meaning: The Scholarly and Literary Worlds of Mircea Eliade. New York: Seabury Press, 1982. A collection of excellent essays; includes selections from otherwise untranslated works by Eliade as well as essays on his work.Kitagawa, Joseph M., and Charles H. Long. Myths and Symbols: Studies in Honor of Mircea Eliade. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Two of Eliade’s colleagues at the University of Chicago edited this festschrift, which contains an excellent variety of essays. This volume also includes an extensive bibliography, though it is now dated.Olson, Carl. The Theology and Philosophy of Eliade: A Search for the Centre. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Book-length study includes bibliographical references and index.Rennie, Bryan, ed. The International Eliade. Albany: State University of New York, 2007. A diverse collection of writings about the life and works of Mircea Eliade, ranging from criticism to praise. Useful to those interested in religious studies and philosophy.Rennie, Bryan S. Reconsidering Eliade: Making Sense of Religion. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. Examines Eliade and the study and teaching of religion and history.Ricketts, Mac Linscott. Mircea Eliade: The Romanian Roots, 1907-1945. 2 vols. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1988. Ricketts, who is Eliade’s principal translator into English, has also produced this indispensable study.Strenski, Ivan. Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth Century History: Cassirer, Eliade, Lévi-Strauss, and Malinowski. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1987. Chapters 4 and 5 seek to identify the underlying elements in Eliade’s “theory of myth,” by which one can grasp the interpretive viewpoint Eliade brought to his analysis of religions and religious experience. Strenski’s perspective is critical, and his bibliography is comprehensive.Strenski, Ivan. “Love and Anarchy in Romania: A Critical Review of Mircea Eliade’s Autobiography, Volume One, 1907-1937.” Religion 12 (1982): 391-403. While called a review article, this is a meticulous analysis of Eliade’s intellectual development, especially as it contributed to his becoming the major figure within the discipline of the history of religions.
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