Mircea Eliade Vintila Horia - Essay

Vintila Horia

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mircea Eliade's novel Forêt Interdite [The Forbidden Forest], whose mythic signification is evident,… belongs to the current inspired by the depth psychology of Jung. Eliade's book can be defined as the meditation of a man upon the thousand-year history of his people, with all the risks and calamities that this implies. (p. 390)

I find it logical to relate [his] "prohibited forest," the symbol of a definitive realization in the beyond, in what Eliade himself called in another novel "the celestial marriage," to the Jungian "Mandala." If in effect we conceive the human drama, in general, as the search for equilibrium, according to a process of individualization, it is evident that "to dream in the forest" means that one has arrived at interior equilibrium, at a final phase in a process of psychological healing. And healing here means salvation, in the most spiritual sense possible. "Santé" and "salut," in French, imply the same finality. And it seems important to me to indicate, at the end of these notes concerning Eliade's novel, that the "prohibited forest," the collective myth of Romanian history, the image of a general salvation …, represents here a perfect psychic ideal, the visible form of a goal reached in the inner self of the two personages in the novel.

These aspects of Eliade's novel place it in a privileged position with respect to the writing of contemporary novels because it has been worked out according to a plan of the visible-invisible, historical, psychological, and metaphysical which few novelists have yet been able to achieve. There is in it a germ of the human totality which rejects and annihilates any partiality or partisanship, signs of the contemporary mediocrity of those who cannot maintain the complex and honest mentality of a philosopher of religions. From this point of view, and because he is who he is, Mircea Eliade is a novelist of the future. (pp. 394-95)

Vintila Horia, "The Forest As Mandala: Notes Concerning a Novel by Mircea Eliade," in Myths and Symbols: Studies in Honor of Mircea Eliade, edited by Joseph M. Kitagawa and Charles H. Long (reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press; © 1969 by The University of Chicago), University of Chicago Press, 1969, pp. 387-95.