The Ion Luca Paradox: the mystery of Caragiale’s birth date

I love you as the sclave loves…. light and the blind…. liberty!” – Rică Venturiano, a very confused citizen (character from a famous play of I.L.Caragiale, “O Scrisoare Pierdută” [“A Lost Letter”])

Yesterday, 30 January 2012, Google celebrated 160 years from the birth of Ion Luca Caragiale, a famous romanian playwright best known for his satirical humor. 

The problem is that Wikipedia, champion of knowledge, had let us totally perplex by providind 4 different dates of birth for Ion Luca Caragiale, two by old style (the Julian Calendar), and other two by new style (the Gregorian Calendar). At that interval of time (1800 – 1900), there was a difference of 12 correction days between the two calendars. 

So, the four dates of birth are 18 January (O.S.), 30 January (N.S.), 1 February (O.S.), 13 February (N.S.). But which is correct? Searching deeper into the problem, I found that: 

Caragialeog Şerban Ciolescu gives Caragiale’s birth date as “in the night of 29 to 30 January” or “in the dawn of 30 January”, but according to the baptising certificate discovered in the 70s in the state records, Caragiale’s birth date is given as “the first day of February”. 

So, this is the explanation! Which source should we trust? As you can see, even if an analysis of both sources was made by Constantin-Popescu Cadem in the “Manuscript” magazine, his conclusion wasn’t generally adopted. After all, which source to choose? And how? As romanians say, “ala bala portocala”.   

The confusion had spread across the entire Wikipedia: in Romanian, the birth date given was 1/13 Februarie 1852; In English, 1/13 February 1852; in Italian, 30 gennaio 1852; in German, 1/13 Februar 1852; in French, 1 Février 1852; in Spanish, 30 de enero de 1852, in Polish, 30 stycznia 1852; in Portugal, 1 de fevereiro de 1852; In Hungarian, 1852. január 30; in Turkish, 13 Şubat 1852; in Czech, 30. ledna 1852….. 

So, in general, the Wikipedias across Europe gave different dates.

But still, when was Caragiale born?

This, you won’t know neither now, neither in 100 years, neither in a thousand….”, tells us the moustached hatter with pience-nez on his nose (Caragiale). 

My proposal? CELEBRATE CARAGIALE ON ALL THESE 4 DATES! Or at least on the two new style dates…..


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