Roger’s Rules

Who was Monica Lovinescu?

The brief answer is: Monica Lovinescu was a Romanian journalist and critic who, from her perch in Paris, was fierce and effective critic of the Romanian Communist Party from the late 1940s on. Lovinescu died on April 20, aged 85. Wikipedia has the inevitable biographical summary here, but the piece you really need to read is on the excellent web site of Radio Free Liberty. Entitled “Why Does Monica Lovinescu Matter?”, the essay, by Vladimir Tismaneanu, is a must-read for anyone interested in freedom’s triumph over Communist tyranny. “Monica Lovinescu matters,” Tismaneanu writes,

because she was one of the most important voices of the Eastern and Central European antitotalitarian thought. Her passing away is a major loss for all the friends of an open society. My personal indebtedness to her — like that of many Romanian intellectuals — is immense. As a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania (which I chaired), Lovinescu participated, even during the most painful moments of physical suffering, in the condemnation of communist totalitarianism. Her solidarity was unswerving, both morally and intellectually.

Lovinescu’s crucial impact on Romania’s culture is inextricably linked to her major role as a cultural commentator for Radio Free Europe (RFE). There is no exaggeration in saying that no other RFE broadcast was more execrated, abhorred, and feared by Ceausescu and the communist nomenklatura than those undertaken by Lovinescu and her husband, Virgil Ierunca.

For decades, Lovinescu fought against terrorist collectivisms, the regimentation of the mind, and moral capitulation. Her patriotism was enlightened and generous. Thanks to her, Romanian intellectuals were able to internalize the great messages from the writings of Camus, Arendt, Kolakowski, Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Koestler, Cioran, Milosz, Revel, Aron, and the list is fatally too short. A spirit totally dedicated to modernity, open to the crucial polemics of the 20th century, Lovinescu wrote poignant essays on the what American critic Lionel Trilling called “the bloody crossroads, where literature and politics meet.”

Read the whole thing here.