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Peltz, Isac

(1899–1980), writer, playwright, and journalist. Isac Peltz was born in Bucharest, to a family of impoverished craft workers. Beyond attending heder, it is unlikely that he received formal schooling. At age 16, Peltz single-handedly edited a review titled Indrumarea (Guidance). One year later, he published a pamphlet, Menirea literaturii (The Purpose of Literature), pleading for writers’ moral and social commitment. In 1916, he took his first job, at the editorial office of a newspaper.

Immediately following World War I, Peltz worked for several influential periodicals, including Chemarea (The Calling), Facla (The Torch), Adevărul (The Truth), and Dimineața (The Morning). From 1920 until 1940, he edited many newspapers and journals, including Caiete lunare (Monthly Notebooks, in 1929) and Zodiac (from 1930 to 1932). Peltz also contributed literary pieces to periodicals, and then published a volume of poetry, followed by short stories and plays. His first novel, Viața cu haz şi fără a numitului Stan (The Merry and Not So Merry Life of a Man Named Stan), was published in 1929. A highly prolific writer, beginning in 1932 he published one or two novels each year.

The antisemitic discriminatory legislation in force in Romania between 1940 and 1944 prevented Peltz from signing his published works, but he made a comeback in the press immediately after the war, when he served as an editor for the newspapers Drapelul (The Flag) and Era nouă (The New Age). He resumed publishing regularly in a variety of newspapers and journals, ranging from the daily România liberă (Free Romania) to a periodical issued by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, Pentru patrie (For the Country) and the Revista cultului mozaic din R.P.R. (Periodical of the Mosaic Religion in the Romanian People’s Republic).

Whereas Peltz’s first prose works demonstrated his interest in surrealism and modernist discourse, his personal voice was expressed clearly in the novels Calea Văcăreşti (Văcăreşti Road; 1933) and especially so in Foc în Hanul cu tei (Fire in the Inn with Lindens; 1934). Both books deal with the world of poor Jewish neighborhoods in Bucharest—an environment well known to the author—and reveal his empathy toward characters condemned to an unceasing struggle for survival; his characters are neurotic individuals, prisoners of a repetitive mechanism with no chance to escape. Situated between the temptation of ethnographic description and, at the opposite pole, naturalism, with an obvious attraction to the grotesque, the stories concentrate on petty bourgeois characters driven by the obsession to earn a fortune by any means.

The novel Max şi lumea lui (Max and His World; 1957) follows patterns imposed by official ideology. The book is strongly critical of the former bourgeois society, including Jewish capitalism, and reveals an obvious degeneration of Peltz’s prose. Israel însîngerat (Bloody Israel; 1946) combines fiction with direct memories of the persecutions and pogroms to which the Jewish population had been subjected during the extreme right dictatorial regimes in Romania.

Suggested Reading

Ovid S. Crohmălniceanu, “I. Peltz,” in Literatura română între cele două războaie mondiale, vol. 1, pp. 344–345 (Bucharest, 1972); Zigu Ornea, “Centenar I. Peltz,” România literară 6 (1999): 9; Valeriu Râpeanu, “I. Peltz,” in Scriitori dintre cele două războaie mondiale, pp. 217–237 (Bucharest, 1986).



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea