Born in Bucharest, he was the son of the poet Andrei Naum (who had been drafted in World War I and died during the Battle of Mărăşeşti) and his wife Maria. In 1933, he began studying Philosophy at the University of Bucharest. In 1938, he left for France, where he continued his studies at the University of Paris. He took his PhD diploma with a thesis on the scholastic philosopher Pierre Abelard.
In 1936 (the year when he published his first book), Naum met Victor Brauner, who became his close friend and who later introduced him to André Breton and his Surrealist circle in Paris.
In 1941, he helped create the Bucharest group of Surrealists (which also included Gherasim Luca, Paul Păun, Dolfi Trost, and Virgil Teodorescu). Naum was drafted into Romanian Army during World War II and served on the Eastern Front after the invasion of the Soviet Union (see Romania during World War II). Marked by his wartime experience, he was discharged in 1944, after he had fallen ill.
In December 1947, the Surrealist group succumbed to the vicissitudes of postwar Soviet occupation and successful Communist takeover of Romania's government. He was prevented afterwards from publishing anything original (with the exception of his children's books), as Socialist realism had officially become Romania's cultural policy. Between 1950 and 1953, he taught Philosophy at the Agronomic Institute in Bucharest while working also as a translator. He translated works by Samuel Beckett, René Char, Denis Diderot, Alexandre Dumas, père, Julien Gracq, Victor Hugo, Franz Kafka, Gérard de Nerval, Jacques Prévert, Stendhal, and Jules Verne.
He resumed his literary career in 1968, in the wake of a relative cultural liberalization under Nicolae Ceauşescu's regime.
After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, he traveled abroad and gave public readings in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. In 1995, the German Academic Exchange Service appointed him scholar at the University of Berlin. Naum spent much of his final years at his retreat in Comana.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Gellu Naum', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 February 2008, 16:14 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gellu_Naum&oldid=192819746>
Eloge de Malombra
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