Today we’re excited to share with you selections from the groundbreaking Romanian masterpiece The Journal of Joy by Nicolae Steinhardt, one of the most revered dissident names in Romanian literature and philosophy. Born from a Jewish father and a Romanian mother, Nicolae Steinhardt (July 12, 1912 – March 29, 1989) was a Romanian writer, Orthodox hermit and father confessor. He was subject to anti-semitic discrimination during the fascist governments of World War II Romania and, after the war, he was persecuted and imprisoned by the communist regime. He was sentenced to 13 years of forced labor at Jilava Prison for “the crime of conspiracy against the social order.” In prison, on March 15th, 1960, he converted to Christianity under the direction of Mina Dobzeu, a Bessarabian hieromonk. In 1980, Steinhardt became a monk and lived in the Rohia Monastery working as a librarian until his death in March 1989, without getting the chance to see his country free of communism. The Journal of Joy, his best known and most celebrated work, was confiscated by the Securitate (the Romanian secret police) in 1972, restituted in 1975, and confiscated again in 1984. In the end, Steinhardt edited several versions, one of which was broadcast in a series of episodes via Radio Free Europe. Due to political reasons, most of Steinhardt’s work has been published post-mortem in its uncensored version after the communist regime collapse in 1989.
—Claudia Serea and Loren Kleinman