As we tackled House of Leaves, it’s important to pay tribute to one of the best Romanian authors – Mircea Eliade – who spent decades researching and writing about the symbolism and the minute differences between the sacred and mundane. In his personal journal notes, he remarks:
“These thirty years, and more, that I’ve spent among exotic, barbaric, indomitable gods and goddesses, nourished on myths, obsessed by symbols, nursed and bewitched by so many images which have come down to me from those submerged worlds, today seem to me to be the stages of a long initiation. Each one of these divine figures, each of these myths or symbols, is connected to a danger that was confronted and overcome. How many times I was almost lost, gone astray in this labyrinth where I risked being killed… These were not only bits of knowledge acquired slowly and leisurely in books, but so many encounters, confrontations, and temptations. I realize perfectly well now all the dangers I skirted during this long quest, and, in the first place, the risk of forgetting that I had a goal… that I wanted to reach a “center”.”
The essential feature for Eliade is the theme of the camouflaging of the sacred into the profane, with various textual avatars and representations. The symbolic of the labyrinth is of major importance to Eliade’s writing. In fact, he considers that his life is placed, with all the successes and revelations, under the sign of the labyrinth, a sign that confers an organic character, coherence and integrative vocation to events that appear as neutral, random during a lifetime.
At the Gypsies was written in 1959 in Paris and published in 1963 in Novellas. It represents an allegory of death and passing on, the reality hiding a layer of supernatural and fantastic – like much of his works.