MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People
Pana´t Istrati (1884-1935)
Born in Romania to a poor family (his father was a smuggler killed when Istrati was an infant and his mother a washerwoman) he set off on his own at age 12. His life of ill health, vagabondage, and frustrated literary dreams led him to a suicide attempt in 1921. He was saved, and an unsent letter to Romain Rolland was found on his person. Rolland was notified and became Istrati’s literary mentor and godfather. His novels Kyra Kyralina, Uncle Anghel, and others in the series The Tales of Adrien Zograffi made him a literary star.
A man of the left, he was close to the Communist Party and in 1927 he set off for the USSR, hoping to settle there. He spent sixteen months and came back bitter and disenchanted. His book about his travels Vers l'Autre Flamme (Towards the Other Flame) and his defense of Victor Serge’s father-in-law Roussakov, victim of a campaign of slander and harassment, led to his being himself victim of a campaign of attacks and slander on the part of the PCF.
Ill and disgusted, he returned to Romania, where he wrote for The Roumanist Crusade, was accused of anti-Semitism and fascism by his enemies in France, and died of tuberculosis at age 51.