European Year for Innovation and Creativity

Knock, knock/ Who is it?/ It's Romanian literature




In Paulis I found a Dostoievsky’s book translated into Romanian. I found it inside a wardrobe, in that part in which the objects can not be seen unless you stare and count until ten. Neither I don’t know why I counted until ten nor I didn’t have any clue about who was its owner, but the fact was that a Volumul 2 of Opere în 11 Volume, Editura pentru Literatura Universala , Bucuresti, with the date of 1966, contradicted my previous idea about the censorship in communist dictatorship. According to Tamara Gare (no, I don’t know who she is, but her text about Dostoievsky in the conclusion of the book is in some sense fair, considering the ideological circumstances), the universalism of the russian writer saves him from being told as reactionary, burgeois or nihilist, adjectives that are satanic for a communist regime. So, my first idea for this article was asking to some Romanian people about what it can be read and what not in the communist period.

The first person I asked was to an acquaintance, Alex Hohn (2 of july, 1989 in Arad). He is living in Covasint since the last year and his passion for the books was encouraged by his father, professor in the university and by his mother, who worked in a library. I explained him my surprise after seeing an edition of Dostoievsky, so old, so surviving. Was it not supposed to be forbidden almost everything in the communism? Was not Dostoievsky considered a reactionary writer that hates all the conceptions of revolution (Notes from Underground and The Demons are the books in which that can be better noticed)? Alex explains to me that the books which describe better the reality were the forbidden ones, but  the others could be found. For instance, if you have contacts with a person in a specific position, as her mother.

Speaking with him, I could see that he has a concept of freedom born and bread in the post 89 period, so maybe some subtle differences can be found in persons that have lived under the communist period. So I decided not asking him about his idea about the books in the communism and asking him only about his idea on Romanian literature. The conversation went with the flow and he told me some names. I obtained this general idea:

-The grandparents (“pioneers of the novels”, called them Alex) were: Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin and Ion Neculce. In around two centuries (1590, when Ureche was born – 1745, when died Costin) did their job: writing some chronicles that, as an exercice of style, were useful to fix the romanian as modern language. Ureche started a chronicle, Letopiseţul Ţării Moldovei (The Chronicles of the land of Moldavia), covering the period from 1359 to 1594, and then Costin continued it, as well as Costin did it until 1743. That transgenerational continuity has something of holy.

-The parents: Mihai Eminescu, Ion Creanga, Ioan Slavici and Ion Luca Caragiale. They are so well known, so omnipresent, so read and re read in the school, that maybe no ones read it after the highschool. I'm always careful about the promoted writers, these ones that are so confortable for the Estate that are edited over and over again, without any specific idea about why, just because they are founding fathers or some mystical sentence like that. Anyway, in the article about Ion Creanga (the one I prefer about them), I'll try to extend my opinion.

-The vanguardists. In this field, we include George Bacovia (traiasca his poem Cuptor!), Tristan Tzara (remember Dadaism and the Journal Simbol, 1912) and, as full stop, Eugène Ionesco.

-The commercial twins: Mircea Eliade and Emil Cioran. Ex friends of fascism, polemics, brilliants, overestimated, they are the most well known Romanian writers abroad and some people consider them the parents of the modern romanian literature, in the sense that always must be mentioned, for supporting or rejecting them. In the article about romanian literature and minorities, we'll speak about our friend Cioran.

-The best writer nowadays: Mircea Cartarescu. Alex explained to me that he is not a bestseller, but he is the most important writer. As far as I know, he is really experimental and some times he remembers me a Joyce that has lost the control, or a Joyce more responsible. Anyway, our last article we'll be dedicated to him.

When I finished talking to Alex I realized that I didn't have any idea about Romanian literature, so I started reading. Internet is a little God that provides hands, but not brain, so I called ny phone a romanian friend that lives in Gandia, my village. I'll call him Andrei, because he is very shy and I'm not allowed to say his real name.  He knows my interests and, according to his researchs, background and lectures, he sent me an e-mail with six writers that can symbolized the contemporary romanian literature and the way it is tied to the history of the country:

1) Ion Creanga or why the peasant tradition is so present in Romanian literature.

2) Eugen Lovinescu or the origins of modernism in Romanian literature.

3) Mihail Sebastian or the minorities in the Romanian literature.

4) Pericle Martinescu or the dissidence of literature under the Romanian communism.

5) Alexandru Vona or the problem of being a maudit in Romanian literature.

6) Mircea Cartarescu or the novelty posteverything.

Following that scheme proposed by my romanian friend in Spain, I will dedicate one article to each one. So, the next week, Ion Creanga (the real Ion Creanga, not a zombie one) waits for us. Then, I wait for you.