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608 VOINESCU, Alice Steriadi (1885–1961) Romanian intellectual; significantly contributed to efforts to rethink women’s status in interwar Romania; known primarily for her published Jurnal (Diary). A remarkable intellectual, Alice Steriadi Voinescu came to the attention of the Romanian reading public with the publication of her private diary in 1997, in a post-1989 climate of heightened interest in personal testimonies. Covering the years from 1929 through 1961 (the year of her death), Voinescu’s diary attracted attention primarily for its documentation of the communist takeover and the subsequent destruction of the interwar intellectual elite. Her critical attitude towards the communist regime ensured that Voinescu enjoyed a certain standing as a valuable and credible witness of these events. Given this focus, Alice Voinescu’s commitment to the amelioration of women’s intellectual, social and economic status in interwar Romania has been neglected, even though it was central to her life and work. This makes it all the more important to draw attention to her sustained concerns with young women’s access to education, the desirability of women’s engagement in public life, work opportunities for women as a means of securing economic independence, women’s status in the family and the moral and social dimensions of prostitution. Alice Voinescu (born Steriadi) was born on 10 February 1885 in Turnu-Severin, to an upper middle-class family. She had two sisters, Valérie and Marietta. In the tradition of the nineteenth-century Romanian educated elite, Alice received an essentially Western European education from her parents: Massinca Poenaru (the granddaughter of a famous Romanian educational reformer, Petrache Poenaru) and Sterie Steriadi (a lawyer with a doctorate in Law from Paris). Having graduated from the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy in Bucharest in 1908, Alice Steriadi continued her studies in Marburg, where she audited Hermann Cohen’s courses in the spring of 1911. Later in 1913, upon defending her thesis, L’Interprétation de la doctrine de Kant par l’Ecole de Marburg – Etude sur l’idéalisme crique (The interpretation of Kant's doctrine by the Marburg school. A study in critical idealism), she was awarded a magna cum laude Ph.D. degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne. France, and Paris in particular, never ceased to epitomize intellectual life and spiri- 609 tuality for Voinescu. From 1928 through 1939, she traveled yearly to France to participate in a series of meetings at the Pontigny Abbey, organized by Paul Desjardins with the express aim of bringing together an international community of intellectuals concerned over the future of Europe in the wake of World War I. There, she met personalities such as André Malraux, Roger Martin du Gard, Paul Langevin, François Mauriac, Charles du Bos, Jaques Rivière and André Gide, whom she considered an inspiring intellectual model. Her marriage to Stelian Voinescu in 1915 lasted until his death in 1940 and was a recurrent source of reflection in her diary. The tensions in her marriage—stemming primarily from her husband’s infidelities, her efforts at accommodating prevailing understandings of femininity and intellectuality and regrets over their childlessness— moved Voinescu to reflect at length on male self-centeredness and self-importance, as well as ‘womanly virtues’ such as selflessness in marriage. She came to lay great importance upon mutual understanding and loyalty in relationships between men and women, often assuming that, in marriage, men and women had complementary roles consistent with their gender-specific psychology and biology. At the same time, her and other women’s experiences of marriage exposed the relative autonomy of men from family life and women’s dependence on it as their primary source of identity as wives and mothers. Since there was no precedent for aspiring women professors at the University of Bucharest, especially not in philosophy, Alice Voinescu’s desire to serve her country had to follow a different route. In 1922, she became a professor of drama history at the Conservatorul Regal de Muzică şi Arta Dramatică (Royal College of Music and Dramatic Arts) in Bucharest, where she taught until 1948, the year of her forced retirement by the communist regime. During this period, she published a series of works: Montaigne, omul şi opera (Montaigne, life and work, 1936); Aspecte din teatrul contemporan (Aspects of contemporary theater, 1941) and a monograph on Eschil (Aeschylus, 1946). She also taught at the Şcoala superioară de asistenţă socială (School of Social Work), reflecting on her experience in a brochure entitled Contribution dans la Psychologie dans l’Assistance Sociale...


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