Nicolae Iorga about B.P.Hasdeu: “Afore anything else, he was, nevertheless, a philologist… »
«Words from the Elders»
Being assigned the General Directory of the State Archives (1876), B.P.Hasdeu took upon himself the mission to classify and systematically publish the documents, respecting the form and background of each one.
In 1877 it was published in Bucharest the first volume of the «Words», with the title: “Paleographic-Linguistic Study”, with an appendix published in 1880. The second volume, «The Folklore Books of the Romanians in the 16th century, A Comparative Philology Study» was published in 1879, and the third volume, «The History of the Romanian Language, part I. linguistic principles», was published in 1881.
In 1880, three years after being selected among the members of the Romanian Academy, the high forum awarded «Words from the Elders» with the prize I. Heliade Radulescu.
«The most important monument of B.P. Hasdeu’s philological work», as asserted by Cicerone Poghirc, «is represented by his unsurpassed anthology of old Romanian texts, «Words from the Elders, Spoken Language between 1550 and 1600». The first volume includes documents reproduced in original Cyrillic characters, copied in Latin alphabet, commented from a linguistic and philological point of view. In the second volume, «The Folklore Books of the Romanians», Hasdeu edited the texts of some old Romanian folklore books («Textele mahacene», «The Legend of St. Sunday and of St. Friday», «The Legend of Avram, Virgin Mary’s Travel to Hell», «The Apocalypse of the Apostle Paul », the ballad «The Cuckoo and the Turtle Dove», «The Story of the Numbers» etc.) and initiated the studies of comparative popular literature in our country.
«Principles of Comparative Philology» - a course held by B.P.Hasdeu at the Faculty of Letters at the Bucharest University, between the years 1874 and 1875. The course was designed to be published in monthly brochures, which would form «at the end of every year, a volume of over 400 pages». B.P.Hasdeu succeeded in publishing only the first fascicles of this comprehensive project. The Archive of the Memorial Museum «B.P.Hasdeu» owns these fascicles published separately as a volume.
The historical work
“The Critical History of the Romanians” was initially published in fascicles, in the newspaper “Traian’s Column”, starting with September 13, 1871. The publishing of the first volume's fascicles took place until May 1873, and immediately afterwards the whole volume was published under the name «The Critical History of the Romanians», with the subtitles: «The Critical History of the Romanians from Both Dacias in the 14th Century» tome I, volume I: «The Land of Walachia in the 14th Century: The Territorial Extension. Nomenclature. Nature’s Influence. Human’s Reaction. The Danube Habitations. The Carpathian Habitations. Synthesis. The First Chapter from the Analytical History of the Creation of the Romanian States”. “In the present work,”, Hasdeu asserted, “we intended to reflect, under all its aspects, the life of the Romanian nation in the 14th century: the nature's action upon man and of man upon nature, the break between the man and the crowd, the persistence of blood, the spirituality of the time and so on”. The material is divided into seven books: “I. The Land and the People; II. The Throne and the Nobility; III. The Army; IV. The Cross; V. Economy and Law; VI. Language and Literature; VII. Conclusions”.
The monumentality of the book, whose first 100 copies soon ran short, amazed Hasdeu’s contemporaries, but also the future generations, through his extraordinary erudition, hard to comprehend and control, sometimes unfairly doubted by some, as Mircea Eliade remarked in his preface at the first critical edition of the scholar's «literary, moral and political writings» (1937). Eliade asserted that «he was one of the few Romanians of the 19th century», «who didn’t regard the world«unilaterally»- he didn’t consider it « exclusively material » or « exclusively spiritual».
After publishing the «Critical History » « Carol of Hohenzollern, king of Romania » signed in Bucharest, on February 3, 1874, the royal decree through which he awarded B.P.Hasdeu the golden medal for Arts and Sciences « as a sign of our appreciation towards his labors in the field of the national history ».
In 1878, «The Critical History» was translated into French by Frédéric Damé, the scholar’s friend.
« Ioan Voda cel Cumplit: his adventures, scepter, wars, death; his role in the world history and in the life of the Romanian people» was published in volume in 1865. The ruler’s figure became bright under the writer’s pen, who created his myth in a veritable «artistic prose, of the purest essence », as G. Calinescu remarked.
In the monograph of Ioan Voda, the history evoked by B.P.Hasdeu is but a pretext «for the patriotic encouragement of the contemporary spirit or to criticize the present», I. Oprisan asserted.