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Aron Pumnul

PUMNUL, ARON (1818-1866) Professor, cultural figure, and publicist, he was born in Transylvania in a Romanian peasant family and educated in Blaj (where he studied with George Barit and Simion Barnutiu), the Piarist lyceum in Cluj, and St. Barbara's Seminary in Vienna. He returned in 1846 to teach philosophy at Blaj and to help Timotei Cipariu edit Organul Luminarei.

With the outbreak of the revolution of 1848, Pumnul became a leader of the Romanian movement in the Blaj area. He and Cipariu produced a newspaper called Invatatorul poporului, in which he published an influential series on the life of the nation andthe significance of its language. He was the author of the initial call for a national assembly at Blaj on April 18/30, which in turn led to the great meeting on the Field of Liberty in May. He was elected by the assembly to the Romanian permanent national committee, headquartered in Sibiu, and was one of the committee's secretaries. Pumnul soon fouond himself on a "wanted" list. His house in Blaj was sacked and burned (including his books and papers) and he, himself, was arrested by the Magyar authorities. While being transported to Fagaras, he managed to escape across the border to Muntenia, where he soon became a participant in the Romanian revolution there. He served the provisional government as a propaganda commissar. Following the collapse of the Muntenian revolution, he once more barely escape, this time to Iasi and then to Bucovina, where he was warmly recieved by Eudoxiu Hurmuzachi. He became a collaborator with the Hurmuzachi-sponsored pan-Romanian journal Bucovina at the end of 1848, handling the editing of the Romanian parts of the publication.

After 1848, Pumnul remained the rest of his life in Bucovina. He became in early 1849, by competion, the first professor of Romanian literature and language at the German lyceum in Cernauti, one concrete gain of 1848. His pedagogical skill was widely praised, while his efforts to further the Romanian national cause and education made him a cult figure among Romanian youth, including Romania's soon-to-be national poet, Mihai Eminescu, who came specifically to Cernauti to study with him. Pumnul's contributions to Romanian culture included linguistics (where he promoted the changeover from the use of the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin, but also pursued a fortunately failed campaign to eliminate neologisms through the creation of artificial latinate words), and literature (he compiled the first anthology of Romanian literature, in six volumes, between 1862 and 1865; collecting the writings of over a hundred Romanian authors from all of the Romanian lands proved something of a revelation). As with A. T. Laurian and Timotei Cipariu, he was a man of encyclopedic learning who believed in the power of education to promote national regeneration and in the centrality of the language question (Pumnul wrote: "The People are the body of the nation, while language is its spirit.") Like Laurian and Cipariu, his life and ideas had a formative influence on Romanian national cultural development in the 19th century, and like them, his primary (and somewhat bizzare) scholarly ideas became almost completely obsolete before the end of the century. They and Pumnul remain, however, symbols of national ideology and national renaissance, significant contributors to the Romanian 1848, before, during, and after the event.
Paul E. Michelson


I. G. Sbiera, Aron Pumnul: Voci asupra vietii si insemnatatii lui Cernauti , 1889.

C. Loghin, "Aron PumnulóMihai Eminescu," in Eminescu si Bucovina Cernauti, 1943, . 483-582.

D. Macrea, "Aron Pumnul," in his Contributii la istoria lingvisticii si filologiei romanesti Bucuresti, 1978, 74-96.

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