The short-sighted adolescent is a passionate reader who takes various cultural figures as models, trying to emulate both their lives or their works. The pupil protagonist is a poor student, who likes science and reads a lot of books, sometimes staying up all night to do so. At the age of 17, he decides to write a novel to demonstrate to his teachers that he is not as mediocre as his other classmates, and that he is prepared to give up everything he holds dear in order to do so. The novel is written in a number of notebooks - the 'diary' of the title - but our myopic hero ultimately fails 3 subjects and has to repeat the school year.
Set in the Romanian capital in the early 20th century, from the perspective of a schoolboy's diary of his daily life, - his teachers, his classmates' academic and amorous rivalries, his first sexual experiences - we are introduced to the themes of religion, self-knowledge, erotic sensibility, artistic creation and otherness, ideas which would preoccupy him until the end of his life. Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent was written by the young Mircea Eliade - one of Romania's greatest writers and intellectuals. The book can be viewed as an early 20th century Catcher in the Rye, and allows us an intimate view of the developing genius, whose literary output has been neglected in the English language for too long.
'It's hard to believe the Romanian academic was a teen when he wrote this clever novel.' --Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
'The power of Diary is that, while not being a novel unique to Romania, it can be read as metonymous of it . . . For all its boyish, slapdash sentiments, this is a refined piece of work.' --Times Literary Supplement