- Category : 1884-births
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Masks 2
Romanian writer of French and Romanian expression, nicknamed The Maxim Gorky of the Balkans. Istrati was first noted for the depiction of one homosexual character in his work.
His first attempts at writing date from around 1907 when he started sending pieces to the socialist periodicals in Romania. In 1910, he was involved in organizing a strike action in Brăila. He went to Bucharest, Istanbul, Cairo, Naples, Paris (1913–1914), and Switzerland (where he settled for a while, trying to cure his tuberculosis). Istrati's travels were marked by two successive unhappy marriages, a brief return to Romania in 1915 when he tried to earn his living as a hog farmer, and long periods of vagabondage.
While in the sanatorium, Istrati met Russian Jewish-Swiss Zionist writer Josué Jéhouda, who became his friend and French language tutor. Living in misery, ill and depressed, he attempted suicide in 1921 on his way to Nice, but his life was rescued in time. Shortly before the attempt, he had written to Romain Rolland, the French writer he admired most and with whom he had long tried to get in touch. Rolland received the letter through the Police and immediately replied. In 1923 Istrati's story Kyra Kyralina (or Chira Chiralina) was published with a preface by Rolland. It became the first in his Adrien Zograffi literary cycle. Rolland was fascinated with Istrati's adventurous life, urging him to write more and publishing parts of his work in Clarté, the magazine that he and Henri Barbusse owned. The next major work by Istrati was the novel Codine.
Istrati shared the leftist ideals of Rolland, and, as much as his mentor, placed his hopes in the Bolshevik vision. In 1927 he visited the Soviet Union on the anniversary of the October Revolution and wrote Stalin a congratulatory letter that remained unanswered. Thereafter, he suffered a crisis of conscience mainly due to being branded a "Trotskyist" or even a "Fascist" by his former communist friends, the most violent of which proved to be Henri Barbusse.
He died in Bucharest on 16 April 1935.