Ion Luca Caragiale – The Greatest Romanian Playwright


On 30th January 1852, playwright Ion Luca Caragiale was born in Haimanale village, Prahova county (today’s I. L. Caragiale village, Dâmboviţa county). His father was Luca Caragiali, lawyer and clerk at Mărgineni Monastery, and his mother was Ecaterina Karaboa, who descended from a Greek family of merchants. His first years found him in a monastery school from Ploieşti, where he continued his studies at “Şcoala Domnească” (here, he taught Romanian literature with his beloved teacher, Basil Drăgoşescu). Moved to Bucharest, he finished highschool and started to attend several acting courses. Fascinated by the world of theater, he worked as copier and theater prompter in Bucharest, as copier at Prahova High Court, and again as a theater prompter in Iaşi. His writing debut was in 1873 at “Ghimpele” publication. Editor at “Ghimpele” or, at much more relevant, “Timpul” and “Convorbiri literare”, he gained the critics’ respect after “O noapte furtunoasă” (Stormy Night) had been put on Bucharest National Theater stage, in 1879. He continued to write low comedies, drama, translations and feuilletons, but his success consisted in his theater comedies and short novels as “O scrisoare pierdută” (A Lost Letter), “Domnul Goe” (Mister Goe), “Vizită” (The Visit) and many more. Also journalist, poet and political commentator, Caragiale became general manager of all Romanian theaters in 1888, but his initiatives were criticized by the press and by important figures of cultural elite. Earlier, he met Maria Constantinescu, who will give birth to Caragiale’s first son: Mateiu, but the playwright married Alexandrina Burelly in 1889. She gave birth to many children, but only two survived: Luca and Ecaterina.

Criticism of his operas and his political views culminated in 1901, when he was accused of plagiarism. Caragiale auto-exilated himself and, after wandering in Europe with his family, he established in Berlin. Following the Romanian Peasants’ Revolt in 1907 and his patriotic essay about the events in his country, he improved connections with his co-nationals, and, in response, they became more clement and admiring. After his 60th birthday, he died suddenly in June 1912. With his political views, subtle irony and parody of Romanian urban life altogether in his works, Caragiale became the greatest Romanian playwriter.

Ion Luca Caragiale’s memorial house is located in Ploieşti town, Prahova county. Also known as “Casa Dobrescu”, it can be found on 1 Kutuzov Street and visited all week, except Mondays.
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