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Eugène Ionesco

1909 Slatina, Rumänien
1994 Paris

The French author Eugène Ionesco was born in Slatina (Romania) on November 26, 1909. He is considered the most significant French dramatist of the post-war period. In 1922, his family went to Paris, where his father was to receive his doctorate. However, his father left France quickly thereafter and went back to Romania alone. Eugène Ionesco stayed with his younger sister and his mother in Paris. In 1925, he went back home to his father in Romania. But because he had no understanding for Ionesco’s literary interests, they soon had a falling out.
In 1929, Eugène Ionesco began to study French language and literature at the University of Bucharest. His first publication was in the journal "Zodiac" in 1930. The following year, his poetry collection "Elegies for Miniscule Beings" appeared. In 1934, he ended his studies and published his collection of essays, "Nu". From then on, Ionesco taught French at different schools, and through the Bucharest Institut Français, he received a doctoral stipend in 1938 for Paris. However, he never finished his dissertation. After the defeat of France in the Blitzkrieg (1940), Ionesco went back to Rumania briefly and in 1942/43 returned to France. Here he lived first in Marseille and then again in Paris. Ionesco worked in a company specializing in administrative publications.
In the year 1948-49, he wrote his first play, "La Cantarice chauve", first in Rumanian. The premiere took place the year after at the Théâtre des Noctambules in Paris. Later, the author became a French citizen. In the following years, numerous plays by Eugène Ionesco were premiered. The plays "La Cantatrice chauve" and "La Leçon" were from now on performed together at the Théâtre de la Huchette. In 1957, the short story and in the year thereafter the play "Rhinocéros" appeared. Here, Ionesco reacted with anxiety to General de Gaulle’s seizure of power. Since there was no theater in Paris for the play, which clearly seemed too political, it had its premiere in Düsseldorf in 1959. With it, Eugène Ionesco achieved his breakthrough. He received many prizes, for example in 1969 the medal from Monaco and the large national theater prize. In 1970, he was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and he received the Austrian Great Prize for European literature. In the following year, Eugène Ionesco was admitted into the Académie Français and in 1973 received the prize from Jerusalem for his entire oeuvre and in particular for his play "Rhinocéros".
His last play, "L’Homme aux valises", appeared in 1975. Thereafter he retired from public life. In 1991, his entire oeuvre was included under the title "Théâtre complet" in the prestigious "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade". Ionesco was the first living writer to receive this honor. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in 1992 by the University Sląskį in Katowicę, Poland.
Eugène Ionesco died in Paris on March 28, 1994.

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