Urmuz, pen-name of Demetru Dem. Demetrescu-Buzău (March 17, 1883, Curtea de Argeş — November 23, 1923, Bucharest), Romanian writer of absurdist and avant-garde prose. Urmuz’s work has been claimed as a forerunner of Dada, and of Surrealism as well, and shows again the sharp sense of the vitality of the avant-garde amongst Romanian practitioners.

In his early youth, he dreamed of becoming a composer, he read science fiction and travel literature. During his years at the Gheorghe Lazăr High School, he became friends with George Ciprian (who later wrote an affectionate memoir on Urmuz, in which he recorded some of his writings as he had memorized them) and Vasile Voiculescu. He studied law and after he obtained his degree, he became a judge in the Argeş and Tulcea Counties, as well as in Târgovişte. He took part in the Romanian military intervention in Bulgaria, during the Second Balkan War (1913), and afterwards became a court clerk at the High Court of Cassation and Justice in Bucharest.

He began writing only to entertain his brothers and sisters, by mimicking the clichés of contemporary prose. His texts were noticed by Tudor Arghezi, who was also the one to name him Urmuz, and he was published in 1922, in two consecutive issues of the Cugetul românesc magazine - with his Pâlnia şi Stamate ("The Funnel and Stamate"), a short "anti-prose" which has the ironic subtitle "a novel in four-parts". It relied on a series of sophisticated puns using the double meanings of some Romanian language words.

He committed suicide the following year, without giving any reason for his gesture. Apparently, he had intended to die originally, "without any cause". Except, prthaps, anxiety.

Urmuz by Marcel Janco

His writings earned a posthumous glory and had an important influence over subsequent Romanian avantgarde literature. Saşa Pană printed a collection of his works in 1930, and Geo Bogza published a magazine named after him. Eugène Ionesco continued exploring the literature of the absurd, considering Urmuz one of the forerunners of the "tragedy of the language". Urmuz was closer to the spirit of Dada (although apparently he never heard of it), through his taste for the random creation of mechanic characters rather than a Surrealist opposition to lucidity. His work is, thus, an exploration of everyday, but nonetheless grotesque occurrences, having their limits explored through characteristic buffoonery.