Las biografías de Carmen Sylva, la reina escritora de Rumanía

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In the late 90’s and the first decade of this new century, Romanian publishing houses have increased remarkably the amount of volumes dedicated to the Romanian Royal Family, including many biographies about the four kings and four queens that have reigned until World War II, with the purpose of reaching a wider readers’ target than ever.This paper analyses the biographies that many French, English and especially Romanian writers have published about Carmen Sylva, the first queen of Romania. Princess Elisabeta, born in Neuwied in 1843, got married in 1869 with Prince Carol, who became the first king of Romania in 1881. The young princess was a very good writer and she used to read European literature and to translate unknown pieces from Romanian to German and French language. She also used to write her own diaries and autobiographies about her public and private experiences, such as Les penséesd’unereineand and Mein Penatenwinkel, both published during her life. In order to separate her literary activity from the public role of princess and queen of Romania, she adopted an artistic name, taken from the Latin language, which reminded a poem (Carmen) and the forest, the typical landscape of her birthplace (Sylva). She has always been considered as one of the most interesting personalities of the European nobility during the last century, because of her character and her eccentricity as well as for her literary skills. Carmen Sylva sponsored musicians, poets and artists such as the musician George Enescu, the French writer Pierre Loti, and the great Romanian authors Mihai Eminescu and Vasile Alecsandri. On the one hand, her first biographers provided an image of the Romanian queen as an amateur writer, whose principal aim was to be reminded as a poet and a novelist, and focused their attention on her rough private life. On the other hand, most of the contemporary biographies about the life of Carmen Sylva adopt a different stance and underline the importance that she had as a cultural link between opposite worlds, due to the undeniable cultural sponsorship that she carried out during her stay in Romania. Historians such as Gabriel Badea-Păun or critics such as Silvia Irina Zimmermann provide a new look on the queen’s life and works, and make clearer how and why Carmen Sylva became one of the most popular members of the Romanian Royal Family.


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