Historia Universitatis Iassiensis 6, 343–392

Lăcrămioara CHIHAIA | Corina Leon-Sombart şi Garabet Ibrăileanu. Confidenţe epistolare

Abstract. This paper aims to portray the life of Corina Leon-Sombart (1873-1970), daughter of the rector of the University of Iasi and the second wife of the well-known German sociologist Werner Sombart. Searching the archival documents treasured in the Central University Library of Iasi we found letters and postcards addressed by Corina to professor Garabet Ibrăileanu, the founder of the Viaţa românească [Romanian life] journal, that had never appeared in print. The letters are especially witty and interesting, as they give us a glimpse into Corina Sombart’s innermost thoughts and feelings, featuring wise meditations on different topics such as literature, political and economic life, family and friends. Corina Sombart’s correspondence is important not only because of what it reveals about her own life and work, but also because it gives a unique insight into literary networks of the period. Among the contemporary writers that she valued stand out Panait Istrati, Ionel Teodoreanu, Lucia Mantu, Anatole France and Thomas Mann. The letters offer a remarkable record of the experience Corina was to turn as a wife and as a mother: that of a young Romanian woman entering the Sombarts, experiencing the new social, cultural and political possibilities opening up in Germany during the twenties. Corina’s letters speak us powerfully and seductively, having a way of revealing as much about the subject matter as they do about the author and the recipient. They offer slivers of the live, love and longings of the author living in a foreign country. In the twenties and the thirties the Sombart house in Grunewald along with Corina’s salon was the center of a circle of discussion partners and friends like Carl Schmitt, Jens Jessen, Karl August Emge, count Hermann von Keyserling, Sergiu Celibidache, the ambassadors Pierre de Margerie, Vittorio Cerruti and many other important people. The subjects of discussion included theatre, literature, history and politics, as Nicolaus Sombart refers in the most acclaimed volume of memoirs, Youth in Berlin. Being in close proximity to some of the high profile people who gathered in her salon, Corina Sombart witnessed the most important historical events of the last century.