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100 lei 2013 - Junimea Literary Society in Iași - 150 Years since Establishment
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21 mm diameter, 6.452 g, 90% gold, reeded edge
Obverse: ROMANIA, face value 100 LEI, year 2013, coat of arms of Romania, a fragment from the collective portrait made in 1883, with photos of almost all Junimea members
Reverse: portrait and name of the founder of Junimea - Titu Maiorescu, represented along with objects related to literary activities: books, quill and inkwell; circular inscription "SOCIETATEA LITERARA JUNIMEA - 150 ANI" meaning "JUNIMEA LITERARY SOCIETY - 150 YEARS"

Issuing date: 21st of October 2013

Mintage: 250 coins

About the Establishment of the Junimea [Youth] Literary Society in Iași

The origin of "Junimea" grows dim in the night of time. Iacob Negruzzi testifies in his "Recollections from Junimea" [1] that thus were always the speeches opened at the yearly banquets celebrating the establishment of the society. According to Negruzzi, "Junimea" was established in the first half of 1864 by a few young fellows in Iași, passionate about literature, arts and sciences. The five founders are Titu Maiorescu (1840-1917), Iacob Negruzzi (1842-1932), Vasile Pogor (1833-1906), Petre P. Carp (1837-1919) and Theodor Rosetti (1837-1923). The latter is also the one who came up with the name of the society.

A very often accepted date, however, for the establishment of Junimea, is 1863. This is categorically denied by Iacob Negruzzi, who points that in that specific year the founders have never been simultaneously in Iași: himself he has returned from studies on the 25th of October 1863, while Maiorescu had left for Berlin a day earlier, not to returned until the 4th of January 1864. Year 1863 is nonetheless accepted (and also acceptable) because Junimea was a society without statute, where external form was not prized; therefore, the public prelections held by Maiorescu in 1863 can be seen as exploits de facto belonging to the society to be.

Although all were very young, the initiators of Junimea held important positions. All had diplomas obtained abroad. In the spring of 1864 Titu Maiorescu was a philosophy professor and rector to the University of Iași, Iacob Negruzzi - professor of commercial law at the University and Vasile Pogor and Theodor Rosetti (the latter being brother of Elena Cuza and as such brother in law with the head of the state, Alexandru Ioan Cuza) - magistrates at the highest appellate court in Iași.

About the Gatherings of Junimea

The gatherings of Junimea were held every Friday ("vineri", as day of Venus = Venera, Roman goddess of love, Friday was a priori considered a day favourable to arts), one week at the home of Maiorescu and the next at Pogor's. The Pogor house exists also in the present, being host to the Vasile Pogor Museum, part of the Romanian Literature Museum in Iași. The house where Maiorescu dwelt belonged to the buildings of the Three Hierarchs Monastery, which are long gone now. Later on the gatherings were moved to Saturdays.

The motto of Junimea was "Entre qui veut, reste qui peut" (Enter whoever wants, stays whoever is able, French). In fact it was not that simple. In principle, one had to be invited by an elder member in order to be able to attend the gatherings of the Society. And one had to return in order to be considered "junimist". In the "Junimea's Dictionary" Iacob Negruzzi presents short biographies for about 100 members, out of which some did not write anything, others participated just to a few gatherings. Negruzzi also recollected that all notable persons in Iași have attended the gatherings of Junimea.

The "Junimists" who barely participated to the discussions, but waited on the other hand impatiently for the coffees and cake, were nick-named "caracudă" [small fish]. As we can see, today's biscuit-ers and ladyfinger-ers have illustrious antecedents and a tradition of at least one century and a half.

Junimist Activities

Junimea's prelectures - public classes on various themes - started in 1864 under the aegis of this Society and kept on taking place over to 1881. These events were very much to the taste of the public in Iași and have enormously contributed to the increase of Junimea's prestige.

In 1865 the society took up the undertaking of the orthography. By that time the Romanian Academy had not yet been established, the Romanian language being written differently in the historical provinces. The ethymological writing was in fashion, upheld by Transylvanian Romanians. The relatively simple orthographic system proposed by Titu Maiorescu in brochure "Despre scrierea limbei române" (Iași, 1866) [About the Writing of Romanian Language] was at first adopted by the members of the society and then by various Romanian papers from Romania and from outside the Romanian state, standing for a firs big success of Junimea's.

Although innerly the society did not profess any politics, the Junimists often involved in various political activities. After the deposition of Cuza (Pogor having been among the conspirators, and as such having become prefect of the Iași county for a smaller period), the Junimists acted against the Moldavian separatists and for the bringing to throne of prince Carol (Charles).

In 1866 the Society bought a printing press and established even a book store, called "Librăria Societății Junimea" [Junimea Society's Book Store]. Presently "Junimea" is one of the largest book stores in Iași, enjoying a location close to the original one and a long tradition.

The Junimists wanted that the first book issued from their printing press to be an anthology of Romanian poetry, comprising good original poems, that would have been considered as models. For the first time in Romania the question was spoken as to how the value of a literary work should be judged, thus literary criticism having been introduced. Subsequently to the discussions few poems were found to satisfy the criteria. As a result Titu Maiorescu drew up and published the study "Despre poezia română" [On Romanian Poetry] (also known as "O cercetare critică asupra poeziei române de la 1867" - A Critical Research on Romanian Poetry at 1867), which aroused numerous polemics at the time.

Magazine "Convorbiri literare" [Literary Conversations]

In January 1867 the society decided to issue an own magazine. Iacob Negruzzi was the one who proposed the accepted title, "Convorbiri literare", and was "anointed" editor in chief ["căftănit" as the Junimists put it, meaning clad with a "caftan" - a fur coat for investiture, according to a Turkish custom], function which he assumed alone for more that 25 years. At the beginning the magazine appeared biweekly. After a few years the issues became monthly. A new series of this magazine appears at Iași starting with 1996.

Even from the first year of apparition the Conversations have enjoyed the participation of poet Vasile Alecsandri, the most important Romanian poet of the time, who there published there a fair share of his poems. The poet from Mircești participated to several banquets of Junimea's (where, evidently, has complained that the youngsters do not know to drink as of yore) and also read of his creations in several gatherings of the Society. As a token of appreciation and respect Alecsandri was receiving, in the group pictures of Junimea the poet was placed centrally, his photograph being also larger than the others'.

Banquets of Junimea

Once a year Junimea used to organize a banquet, heralded by merry invitations, to which each participant was bringing a funny writing. To the banquet of 1878 Maiorescu came from Bucharest accompanied by several guests, among whom Ion Luca Caragiale also, reading on the occasion the "O noapte furtunoasă" play.

Mihai Eminescu at Junimea

In 1870 Mihai Eminescu became collaborator to Convorbiri literare, having published here poems "Venere și madonă", "Epigonii", and fairy tale "Făt-Frumos din lacrimă" as well. In 1874, having consented to the invitation of Iacob Negruzzi, Mihai Eminescu settled in Iași, where he got a position of librarian at the University. Eminescu is the one who introduced Ion Creangă to Junimea (according to Negruzzi, at the first attendance of the later, he came along with Eminescu directly from the Bolta-Rece tavern, where the two had indulgingly imbibed old Cotnari wine).

Junimea at Bucharest

Titu Maiorescu was the first important Junimist who moved to Bucharest - the capital city, event which took place in 1874. The gatherings which were taking place at Maiorescu's moved then to the house of Iacob Negruzzi. The office of "official lector" to the society, held by Maiorescu, was taken over by Eminescu. In 1884 Iacob Negruzzi moved to the University of Bucharest (where he took up the chair of commercial and international law), taking with him also the Junimea's magazine. Maiorescu organized subsequently at Bucharest, together with Negruzzi, literary gatherings on the model of those held in Iași. As Negruzzi pointed out in his recollections, the unique atmosphere of the Iașian gatherings could not be reproduced in country's capital, being lost forever.

Junimea Today

Before 1989 at Pogor House there were still gatherings of Junimea, wan copies of those in the society's times of glory. Presently at Iași a cultural society is acting under the name of Junimea '90 and organizes the cenacle Junimea nouă [New Junimea].

A Few Junimists Careers

Many of the Junimea's members were prominent politicians.

Petre P. Carp was president of the Council of Ministers (prime minister), and minister of Foreign Affairs. Several times he was elected deputy and senator and also acted as diplomat.

Theodor Rosetti was also minister and president of the Council of Ministers (prime minister). Between 1890 and 1895 he also took up the position of governor to the National Bank.

Vasile Pogor was also minister (in 1870, for about one month). Several times he was mayor of the city of Iași.

Nicu Gane (1838-1916) was a magistrate, prefect, member of the Academy and, toppling the others, one of the most prominent mayors of Iași - reason for which his bust was place in front of the city hall, next to the one of Pogor. He was deputy and senator, minister also for a short time.

Iacob Negruzzi was academician and several times got elected as president of this high institution.

General Mihail Cristodulo Cerchez (1839-1885) was member of Junimea since as early as 1865. He stood out during the Independence War of 1877-1878. Osman Pasha, after the failed attempt at breaking the leaguer of Plevna, surrendered to Cerchez (only colonel at the time).

About Titu Maiorescu

Titu Liviu Maiorescu was born at Craiova, to the family of a teacher of Transylvanian origin. This explains the name of the great Roman historian Titus Livius (59 î.e.n. - 17 e.n.), author of the impressive Ab urbe condita (From the Founding of the City), name he received at baptism. He studied at Vienna, then law, linguistics and philosophy in Germany (in states Prussia and Hesse) and at Paris.

Titu Maiorescu led the Ministry of Worship and Public Instruction, Ministery of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice and also the entire government, as he became in 1913 president of the Council of Ministers. During his mandate at the head of the government, the Kingdom of Romania participated to the Second Balkan War. It was then that Romania acquired the city of Silistra and then afterwards the Cadrilater [Quadrilater], territories later organized as counties Durostor and Caliacra. Because of this action Titu Maiorescu was declared as imperialist by the communists, next to him the entire Junimea being harshly criticized as a reactionary society.


1. Negruzzi I., Scrieri alese. vol. 2, Editura Știința, Chișinău, 1992.

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