What You'll Learn:
Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) was a Romanian historian of religion, a philosopher, and a novelist. His research led him all over the world, including to British-occupied India, Italy, and the United States, where he held a professorship at the University of Chicago. In addition to his native Romanian, he mastered French, Italian, German, and English, and he learned to read Persian, Sanskrit, and Hebrew. Eliade is most remembered for his significant contributions to the study of religion.
In The Sacred and the Profane (originally published in 1957), he explores how religious man (Homo religiosus) experiences the sacred, and how these experiences form the starting point of religions. He also describes how the non-religious tend to experience life in the profane mode of operating. Eliade emphasizes throughout his work that a totally profane existence is impossible, and that even the modern, industrialized Westerner—who is mostly terrified and suspicious of the sacred—still preserves aspects of religious observance without even realizing it.