Ion Luca Caragiale, one of the greatest Romanian writers, did not have a very easy life, even if he left us immortal works that enriched Romanian literature.
We have all read his works, seen them translated into plays at the theatre, studied him at school, but not many of us really know the writer’s life. I. L. Caragiale was born on February 1, 1852, in the village of Haimanale (which today bears his name), the first child of Luca Ștefan Caragiale and Ecaterina Chiriac Karaboas. According to some sources, his family was of Aromanian origin. His father, Luca (1812 – 1870), and his brothers, Costache and Iorgu, were born in Constantinople, the sons of Ștefan, a cook employed at the end of 1812 by Ioan Vodă Caragea in his retinue.
Two of Caragiale’s children died young
Caragiale had three children, namely Mateiu Caragiale, Luca Caragiale and Ecaterina Logadi.
On March 12, 1885, Mateiu was born, the natural son of Maria Constantinescu, a civil servant at the Regie, to Caragiale, who declared him at the civil status office. The relationship with Maria ended quickly, but the writer continued to take care of their son’s education and upbringing.
Mateiu is said to have hated his father, Caragiale. The father’s concern for the child in flowers did not impress Mateiu. The son has an aversion to his father, feeling he is a bastard and less loved than the other children in Caragiale’s new family with Alexandrina Burelly. As a teenager, say the playwright’s contemporaries, Matthew disliked his father, distanced himself from him and wanted to be the opposite of his father of humble origins, born in Haimanale.
Mateiu dreamed of an imagined nobility, as Cezar Petrescu pointed out in the magazine “Gândirea”, making him look ridiculous and frustrated by his status as a bastard and a man of humble origin. This obsession with nobility would also have arisen from his contact with his history and heraldry teacher and director of the College of Saint George, Anghel Demetriescu.
As a teenager, Mateiu discovered his passion for heraldry and genealogy. He searched for his ancestors whom he believed to be aristocrats.
In 1904 he began studying law in Berlin, which he abandoned. In 1921, his short story Remember appeared in the magazine Viața Românească. In 1916 he began work on the Craii de Curtea-Veche, which he completed in 1928. The book was published by Cartea Românească in 1929. That same year, on 1 May, he receives the prize of the Society of Romanian Writers (SSR).
In 1923, at the age of 38, Mateiu Caragiale married Marica Sion, one of the daughters of the poet G. Sion who was 63 years old, but this did not bother him. It was important to him that he had become a landowner and fulfilled his dream of becoming a nobleman. This dream was short-lived because in 1935, following a stroke, Matthew met his end.
As a reference, the National Bank of Romania has put into circulation, for the attention of collectors, a silver coin, with the denomination of 999‰, on the occasion of the “130th anniversary of the birth of Mateiu I. Caragiale”, starting on 2 November 2015. The coin is round, 37 mm in diameter, weighs 31.103 g and has a serrated edge. It was issued in a mintage of 250.
Later, On 7-8 January 1889 he married Alexandrina Burelly, daughter of the actor Gaetano Burelly. This marriage would first produce two daughters: Ioana (born 24 October 1889) and Agatha (born 10 November 1890), who died early of whooping cough or diphtheria (on 15 June and 24 March 1891 respectively).
On 3 July 1893 a son, Luca Ion, was born to her. He had a career as a translator and writer belonging to Symbolism, Parnassianism and Modernist literature. On 7 June 1921, at the age of 28, Luca died of complications from pneumonia.
The youngest daughter of the Caragiale family, Ecaterina Logadi Caragiale, was the only one to live a long life, living to be 90. She was known as a memoirist, having written down in a manuscript all her memories of the great playwright and her family.