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Paul Goma

Paul Goma
Born (1935-10-02) October 2, 1935
Mana village, Kingdom of Romania
Occupation Writer and dissident
Nationality Romanian
Citizenship Romania (1935-1977)
Moldova (since 2013)
Period 1966 to present

Paul Goma (Romanian pronunciation: ; born October 2, 1935) is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person. After 2000, Goma has expressed opinions on World War II, the Holocaust in Romania and the Jews, claims which have led to widespread criticism for antisemitism.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Dissident in Romania 1.2
    • Goma's 1977 letters 1.3
    • Exile in France 1.4
    • Controversies 1.5
  • Literary contributions 2
  • Published works 3
  • Honours 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early life

Goma was born to a Romanian family in Mana village, Orhei County, which at that time was a part of the Kingdom of Romania, nowadays part of Republic of Moldova. His parents, Eufimie Goma (1909–1967) and Maria Goma (née Popescu; 1909–1974), were schoolteachers in Mana. His brother Petre was born in 1933, but died before his first birthday.

After the 1940 Soviet occupation of Bessarabia, Paul Goma's father was taken away by the Soviet authorities and deported to Siberia. In October 1943, Eufimie Goma was found by his family, as a prisoner of war, in "Camp No. 1 for Soviet Prisoners", in Slobozia, Ialomiţa County, Romania.

In March 1944, the Goma family took refuge in

  • (Romanian) Paul Goma's site with downloadable recent writings

External links

  • Dennis Deletant, Ceauşescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-1989, M.E. Sharpe, London, 1995, ISBN 1-56324-633-3.


  1. ^ a b Paul Goma, in (Romanian), Bio - Bibliografie, November 11, 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Deletant, p.236
  3. ^ a b c Deletant, p.239
  4. ^ a b Deletant, p.240
  5. ^ a b c d e f Deletant, p.241
  6. ^ Paul Goma, in (Romanian) Culoarea curcubeului ’77. Cod „Bǎrbosul”, Polirom, 2005. ISBN 973-681-833-0
  7. ^ Paul Goma, in (French) Le Tremblement des Hommes: peut-on vivre en Roumanie aujourd'hui?, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1979. ISBN 2-02-005101-X.
  8. ^ John Follain, Jackal: The Complete Story of the Legendary Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal, Arcade Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-55970-466-7. ISBN 978-1-55970-466-3.
  9. ^ "Rumanian Sting", in Time, September 13, 1982
  10. ^ Gabriel Andreescu, in (Romanian) "Goma şi tema antisemitismului", Ziua, February 17, 2005
  11. ^ "Combating Holocaust Deniers and Protecting Jewish Memory". Anti-Semitism in Romania: 2002 Report. The Romanian Jewish Community. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  12. ^ Paul Goma, in (Romanian) "A fi "Antisemit", November 11, 2005
  13. ^ Dan Culcer, in (Romanian) "Pledoarie pentru Goma", March 3, 2007
  14. ^ Paul Goma, in (Romanian) "Jurnal 2006", 2006, pages 48, 191, 201.
  15. ^ Paul Goma, in (Romanian), "Scrisoare către prietenii din Timişoara — şi din toată ţara", February 22, 2007
  16. ^ a b Paul Goma, in (Romanian), "Despre Vladimir Tismăneanu - şi nu numai - în 11 puncte", June 22, 2006
  17. ^ Tismăneanu, in (Romanian) , nr.849, June 200622Armand Gosu, "N-am avut de-a face cu Securitatea", in
  18. ^ Segel, Harold B. The Columbia Guide to the Literatures of Eastern Europe Since 1945, p. 189-90. Columbia University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-231-11404-4.
  19. ^ a b Segel, p. 190.



  • (Romanian) Camera de alǎturi, Bucharest, 1968.
  • (German) Ostinato, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1971. ISBN 3-518-06638-2
  • (German) Die Tür, 1972.
    • (French) Elles étaient quatre, Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 1974.
    • (Romanian) Uşa noastrǎ cea de toate zilele, Editura Cartea Româneascǎ, Bucharest, 1992.
  • (French) Gherla, Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 1976.
    • (Swedish) Gherla, 1978.
    • (Romanian) Gherla, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1990. ISBN 973-28-0169-7
  • (French) Dossier Paul Goma. L'écrivain face au socialisme du silence., Paris, 1977
  • (French) Dans le cercle, Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 1977. ISBN 2-07-029709-8
    • (Romanian) In cerc, 1995.
  • (French) Garde inverse, Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 1979.
    • (Romanian) Gardă inversă, Univers, 1997. ISBN 973-34-0409-8
  • (French) Le Tremblement des Hommes: peut-on vivre en Roumanie aujourd'hui?, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1979. ISBN 2-02-005101-X.
    • (Dutch) 1980.
    • (Romanian) Culorile curcubeului '77, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1990. ISBN 973-28-0174-3
    • (Romanian) Culoarea curcubeului ’77. Cod „Bǎrbosul”, Polirom, 2005. ISBN 973-681-833-0
  • (French) Les chiens de mort, ou, La passion selon Piteşti, Hachette, Paris, 1981. ISBN 2-01-008309-1
    • (Dutch) Het vierkante ei, Elsevier Manteau, Antwerp, 1983.
    • (German) Die rote Messe, Thule, Köln, 1984.
    • (Romanian) Patimile dupǎ Piteşti, 1990.
    • (Romanian) Patimile dupǎ Piteşti, Dacia, 1999. ISBN 973-35-0845-4
  • (French) Chassé-croise, Hachette, Paris, 1983.
    • (Romanian) Soldatul câinelui, Humanitas, Bucharest, 1991. ISBN 973-28-0235-9
  • (French) Le calidor, Albin Michel, 1987.
    • (Romanian) Din calidor, 1989.
    • (English) My Childhood at the Gate of Unrest, Readers International, July 1990. ISBN 0-930523-74-1
    • (Romanian) Din calidor: O copilǎrie basarabeanǎ, Polirom, 2004. ISBN 973-681-732-6
  • (French) L'art de la fugue, Julliard, 1990. ISBN 2-260-00635-3
    • (Romanian) Arta refugii, Editura Dacia, Cluj, 1991. ISBN 973-35-0225-1
    • (Romanian) Arta refugii, Editura Basarabian, Chişinau, 1995.
  • (Romanian) Sabina, 1991.
    • (French) Sabina, 1993.
    • (Romanian) Sabina, Universal Dalsi, Bucharest, 2005. ISBN 973-691-031-8
  • (French) Astra, 1992.
    • (Romanian) Astra, Editura Dacia, 1992.
  • (Romanian) Bonifacia, 1993.
  • (French) Bonifacia, Albin Michel 1998. ISBN 2-226-02589-8
    • (Romanian) Bonifacia, Anamarol, 2006. ISBN 973-8931-18-5
  • (Romanian) Adameva, Loreley, Iaşi, 1995. (not distributed)
  • (Romanian) Amnezia la români, Litera, 1995.
  • (Romanian) Scrisori întredeschise - singur impotriva lor, Multiprint "Familia", Oradea, 1995.
  • (Romanian) Justa Editura Nemira, Bucharest, 1995.
  • (Romanian) Jurnal pe sărite, Editura Nemira, Bucharest, 1997
  • (Romanian) Jurnal de cǎldura mare, Edutura Nemira, Bucharest, 1997
  • (Romanian) Altina - grǎdina scufundata, Editura Cartier, Chişinau, 1998.
  • (Romanian) Scrisuri. 1972-1998, Editura Nemira, Bucharest, 1999. ISBN 973-569-377-1
  • (Romanian) Roman intim, Editura Allfa, 1999. ISBN 973-9477-06-2
  • (Romanian) Jurnal de Noapte Lungă, Dacia, Bucharest, 2000.
  • (Romanian) Jurnal unui jurnal, Dacia, Cluj, 2000.
  • (Romanian) Jurnal de Apocrif, Dacia, Cluj, 2000.
  • (French) Profil bas, Des Syrtes, 2001. ISBN 2845450389
  • (Romanian) Săptămîna Roşie. 28 Iunie–3 Iulie 1940 sau Basarabia şi evreii, Museum, Chişinău, 2003. ISBN 978-9975-906-77-7
  • (Romanian) Jurnal, Criterion, Bucharest, 2004. ISBN 978-973-86850-8-6
  • (Romanian) Alfabecedar, Editura Victor Frunză, 2005.

Published works

In its totality, Goma's literary work comprises a "persuasive and grimly fascinating exposure of totalitarian inhumanity"[19] from which, in his own case, even foreign exile was no guarantee of safe haven. In such later novels as Bonifacia and My Childhood at the Gate of Unrest, the biographical element dominates as he focuses on his childhood and adolescence in Bessarabia. Several sets of diaries, all published in Romania in 1997 and 1998, shed light on Goma's later life and career: Alte Jurnale ("Other Journals"), which covers his stay in the United States in autumn 1978 but concentrates primarily on 1994-96; Jurnal I: Jurnal pe sărite ("Journal I: By Leaps and Bounds", 1997); Jurnal II: Jurnal de căldură mare ("Journal II: Journal of Great Heat", 1997), covering June and July 1989; Jurnal III: Jurnal de noapte lungă ("Journal of the Long Night", 1997), covering September to December 1993; and Jurnalul unui jurnal 1997 ("The Journal of a Journal, 1997"), focusing just on that year.[19]

Goma's literary debut came in 1966 with a short story published in the review Luceafǎrul with which he collaborated as well as with Gazeta literarǎ, Viaţa românească and Ateneu. In 1968 he published his first volume of stories, Camera de alături ("The Room Next Door"). After Ostinato and its West German publication in 1971 came Uşa ("Die Tür" or "The Door") in 1972, also in Germany. After his forced emigration in 1977 and until his books could again be published in Romania after the 1989 revolution, all his books appeared in France and in French. (His novel Gherla had in fact been published in 1976 first in French by Gallimard of Paris before he left Romania.) There followed such novels as Dans le cercle ("Within the Circle", 1977); Garde inverse ("Reverse Guard", 1979); Le Tremblement des Hommes ("The Trembling of People", 1979); Chassée-croisé ("Intersection", 1983); Les Chiens de la mort ("The Dogs of Death", 1981), which details his prison experiences in Piteşti in the 1950s; and Bonifacia (1986). The autobiographical Le Calidor appeared in French in 1987 and was subsequently published in Romanian as Din Calidor: O copilărie basarabeană ("In Calidor: A Bessarabian Childhood", 1989, 1990; translated as My Childhood at the Gate of Unrest) in the Romanian émigré journal Dialog, edited by Ion Solacolu.[18]

Literary contributions

On April 5, 2006 he was invited to become a member of the Tismăneanu Commission,[16] a body charged with researching the crimes of the communist dictatorship in Romania. Nine days later he was dismissed by the Commission's president, Vladimir Tismăneanu, who explained the exclusion based on Goma's questioning the moral and scientific credibility of the president of the Commission, and disclosing of their private correspondence.[16][17]

Some of Goma's post-2005 articles and essays have been criticized for their strong antisemitic nature.[10][11] Goma rejects these criticisms[12] and claims that he has filed libel lawsuits against his accusers.[13] He asserts that his wife is Jewish and states that similar arguments were used against him by the Securitate in the 1980s.[14] On January 30, 2007, Goma was awarded the "Citizen of Honor" distinction by the Municipal Council of Timişoara. In February 2007, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania and the Israeli Embassy protested against the distinction, arguing that Paul Goma is the author of multiple antisemitic articles.[15]


Although Goma's numerous works (both fiction and non-fiction) were translated worldwide, his books, except the first one, were published in Romania only after the 1989 Revolution. He now lives in Paris as a stateless political refugee, his Romanian citizenship having been revoked after 1978 by the communist government. He turned down an offer of citizenship from the French Republic, extended simultaneously to him and to the Czech writer Milan Kundera. In September 2006, a petition in favor of restoring his Romanian citizenship did not result in any progress on the issue.

In 1982, the Securitate planned to assassinate Goma. Matei Haiducu, the secret agent sent by the Securitate to carry out the plan, turned to French counter-intelligence (DST). With the help of the DST, Haiducu simulated an attempt on Goma's life, by poisoning his drink at a restaurant; the drink was then spilled by a French agent, pretending to be a "clumsy guest".[9]

On 3 February 1981, Paul Goma and Nicolae Penescu (former Interior Minister) received parcels in their post. Penescu opened his parcel to find a book and when he lifted its cover an explosion wounded him. Goma, who had received two death threats since his arrival in France, called the police. Both packages had been sent on instructions by Carlos the Jackal.[8]

In 1979, Paul Goma was active in the creation of the Free Workers' Syndicate.

Exile in France

On November 20, 1977, Paul Goma and his family left Romania and went into exile in France.[6][7]

An international appeal for his release was launched, among the signatories being Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur Miller and Edward Albee.[5] Goma was released on 6 May 1977, four days before the anniversary of 100 years of independence, celebrations which Ceaușescu didn't want overshadowed by Goma's arrest.[5]

Goma was arrested and excluded from the Writers' Union of Romania.[5] Following his arrest, he was attacked in the Romanian media: in a Săptămîna article, Eugen Barbu called him "a nullity", in Luceafărul, Nicolae Dragoş said he was "rousing reactionary elements" and in Contemporanul, Vasile Băran, not mentioning Goma, claimed that "individuals calling themselves writers and journalists sully with the dirtiest of dirt our noble profession".[5]

Called by Cornel Burtică, the Secretary for Propaganda of the Central Committee, on March 12, Goma got the promise of being allowed to publish again, but he refused as he said that he wants not to be followed by the Securitate.[5] A week later, a former boxer, Horst Stumpf, broke into Goma's flat and attacked him; the attacks repeated the following days. As he was barricading himself with some friends in his apartment, he gave an interview to French TV station Antenne 2.[5]

In March, he wrote an even tougher admonitory letter to Ceaușescu, urging him not to break the bond between the people and him, a bond that was created after Ceaușescu condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia and attacked the Securitate whom Goma said that they are "traitors and enemies of Romania, who produce nothing and prevent those who produce from producing more".[4] In the meantime, Goma gained the support of two intellectuals: psychiatrist Ion Vianu and literary critic Ion Negoiţescu; in all, he had 75 signatures.[4]

On 17 February 1977, Ceaușescu made a speech in which he attacked the "traitors of the country", referring to the two letters Goma wrote.[3] The following day, a police cordon was in front of his building, not allowing non-residents, to prevent people from signing Goma's letter. The authorities tried to convince Goma to emigrate, but he refused. As the police cordon got more relaxed, several more people signed the letter and they were arrested on exiting Goma's apartment.[3]

In 1977, Paul Goma wrote a public letter expressing solidarity with the CSCE) in which he called for respect for human rights in Romania.[3]

Goma's 1977 letters

During the summer of 1972, he was allowed to visit France, where he wrote Gherla, a novel based on his experiences in the Gherla Prison. This book was also denied publication in Romania and it was published in France in 1976.[2]

Several months later, Goma attempted to publish a novel, Ostinato (based on his experiences with the secret police), but it was not allowed by the censors, after one of them claimed to recognize one character as Elena Ceaușescu.[2] Nevertheless, he published the novel in translation in West Germany in 1971, as a result of which, Paul Goma was excluded from the Communist Party.[2] Paul Goma refused to give up his Party membership by his own will.

At the end of August 1968, Paul Goma became a member of the Romanian Communist Party, in an act of solidarity with the Romanian position during the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Romania did not take part, indeed condemning the invasion).[2]

As a former political prisoner, he was not allowed to resume his studies and he had to work as a manual labourer until 1965, when a decree allowed former prisoners to study at the University.[2] In September 1965, he was re-admitted as a first-year student at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest. In the fall of 1967, under pressure from the Securitate, he was forced to give up his studies at the University. On August 7, 1968, Paul Goma married Ana Maria Năvodaru. Their son Filip-Ieronim was born in 1975.

[1]) until 1963.Bărăgan Plain prisons, and then put under house arrest in Lăteşti (a village in the Gherla and Jilava He served his sentence [2] In 1954 he was admitted to the Faculty of Letters of the

In May 1952, Goma, while a student in 10th grade, was detained for eight days by the Securitate for speaking out in the classroom about Romanian anti-communist partisans and for keeping a coded personal journal. In September–October of the same year he was barred from all the schools in Romania. After some unsuccessful attempts at re-admission he was finally allowed to attend Negru Vodă high school in Făgăraş.

Dissident in Romania

("Reverse Guard"). Gardă inversă ("Dog's Soldier"), and Soldatul câinelui ("The Art of Refuge", a wordplay on the Romanian words for "refuge" and "taking flight"), Arta refugii Later on, Paul Goma would describe his family's refugee saga in the novels [1]

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