Gellu Naum

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Gellu Naum, was a Romanian poet, novelist and children’s writer. He is also known as the founder of the Romanian Surrealist group. His most well known novel, Zenobia, 1985, was written with his wife, Lyggia Naum as the main inspiration and lead character.

Born in Bucharest, as a young adult he left for Paris to study, taking his PhD diploma at the University of Paris and writing his thesis on the philosopher Pierre Abelard. In 1936, he met Victor Brauner who introduced him to Andre Breton and the Surrealist circle in Paris. In 1941, Naum went on to help create a group known as the Bucharest group of surrealists, with Gherasim Luca, Paul Paun, Dolfi Trost, among others.

As WWII broke out, Naum was drafted into the Romanian army and the Surrealists group was overcome by the fall out of the Soviet take over of Romania in 1947. As Socialist Realism became official cultural policy in Romania, Naum could only publish children’s books, but he never stopped writing Surrealist poems, such as the 1958 poem composed of several parts Heraclitus (published in the 1968 volume Athanor) or the esoteric manuscript The Way of the Snake, written in 1948–1949 and published after his death, in 2002. In later life he worked as a translator for Samuel Beckett amongst others, and resumed his literary career in 1968.

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