Literature of Romania

Literature of Romania

Romanian literature is literature written by Romanian authors, although the term may also be used to refer to all literature written in the Romanian language.



The earliest surviving document in Romanian is Neacşu's Letter written in 1521, to the "jude" (judge and mayor) of Braşov, Hans Benkner.

Romanian culture was heavily influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which was brought to the country by the Slavs. Therefore the earliest translations of books into Romanian were from Slavonic religious texts of the 15th century. The Psalter of Şchei ("Psaltirea Şcheiană") of 1482 and the Voroneţ Codex ("Codicele Voroneţean") are religious texts that were written in Maramureş, probably with the help of the Hussite movement.

The first book printed in Romania was a Slavonic religious book in 1508. The first book printed in the Romanian language was a catechism of Deacon Coresi in 1559. Other translations from Greek and Slavonic books were printed later in the 16th century. Dosoftei, a Moldavian published in Poland in 1673, was the first Romanian metrical psalter, producing the earliest known poetry written in Romanian.

Early efforts of publishing the Bible in Romanian started with the 1582 printing in the small town of Orăştie of the so-called "Palia de la Orăştie" - a translation of the first books of the Old Testament - by Deacon Şerban (a son of the above-mentioned Deacon Coresi) and Marien Diacul (Marien the Scribe). "Palia" was translated from Latin by H.G.† Bishop Mihail Tordaş "et al." and the translation was checked for accuracy using Hungarian translations of the Bible.

The entire Bible was not published in Romanian until the end of the 17th century, when monks at the monastery of Snagov, near Bucharest, translated and printed "Biblia de la Bucureşti" - "The Bucharest Bible" in 1688 .

European humanism came to Moldavia in the 17th century via Poland with its great representative, Miron Costin, writing a chronicle on the history of Moldavia. Another humanist was Dimitrie Cantemir, who wrote histories of Romania and Moldavia.

Ottoman Decadence and Phanariotes

The 18th century in the Romanian lands was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, which decided not to allow Romanian rulers in Wallachia and Moldavia and ruled, instead, through Greek merchants of Istanbul, called phanariotes.

Thus, Greek culture influenced the developments of Romanian literature. For example, one of the greatest poets of this century was Alecu Văcărescu, who wrote love songs in the tradition of ancient Greek poet Anacreon. His father, Ienăchiţă, was a poet as well, but he also wrote the first Romanian grammar and his son, Iancu, was probably one of the greatest poets of his generation. A human comedy was developed in the anecdotes of Anton Pann, who tried to illustrate a bit of the Balkanic spirit and folklore which was brought by the Ottomans in the Romanian lands.

However, the next generation of Romanian writers headed toward European Illuminism for inspiration, among them Gheorghe Asachi, Ion Budai Deleanu and Dinicu Golescu.

National awakening

As the revolutionary ideas of nationalism spread in Europe, they were also used by the Romanians, who desired their own national state, but were living under foreign rule. Many Romanian writers of the time were also part of the national movement and participated in the revolutions of 1821 and 1848. The Origin of the Romanians began to be discussed and in Transylvania, a Latinist movement Şcoala Ardeleană emerged, producing philological studies about the Romanic origin of Romanian and opening Romanian language schools.

Romanians studied in France, Italy and Germany, and German philosophy and French culture were integrated into modern Romanian literature, lessening the influence of Ancient Greece and the Orient over time. In Wallachia an important figure of the time was Ion Heliade Rădulescu, who founded the first Romanian-language journal and the Philharmonic Society, which later created the National Theatre of Bucharest.

The most important writers of the second half of the century were Vasile Alecsandri and later Mihai Eminescu. Alecsandri was a prolific writer, contributing to Romanian literature with poetry, prose, several plays, and collections of Romanian folklore. Eminescu is considered by most critics to be the most important and influential Romanian poet. His lyric poetry had many of its roots in Romanian traditions, but was also influenced by German philosophy and Hindu traditions.

Titu Maiorescu's Junimea literary circle, founded in 1863 and frequented by many Romanian writers, played an important role in Romanian literature. Many outstanding Romanian writers, including Ion Luca Caragiale, who wrote some of the best Romanian comedies, Ion Creangă, who wrote traditional Romanian stories and Barbu Ştefănescu Delavrancea, published their works during this time.

Interbellum Literature

After achieving national unity in 1918, Romanian literature entered what can be called a golden age, characterized by the development of the Romanian novel. Traditional society and recent political events influenced works such as Liviu Rebreanu's "Răscoala" ("The Uprising"), which, published in 1932, was inspired by the 1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt, and "Pădurea Spânzuraţilor" ("The Forest of the Hanged"), published in 1922 and inspired by Romanian participation in World War I. The dawn of the modern novel can be seen in Hortensia Papadat Bengescu ("Concert din muzică de Bach"—"Bach Concert"), Camil Petrescu ("Ultima noapte de dragoste, întâia noapte de război"—"The Last Night of Love, the First Night of War"). George Călinescu is another complex personality of the Romanian literature: novelist, playwright, poet, literary critic and historian, essayist, journalist. He published authoritative monographs about Eminescu and Creangă, and a monumental (almost 1,000 pages in quarto) history of Romanian literature from its origin to the time of his writing (1941).

An important realist writer was Mihail Sadoveanu, who wrote mainly novels which took place at various times in the history of Moldova. But probably the most important writers were Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga and Mircea Eliade. Tudor Arghezi revolutioned Romanian poetry 50 years after Eminescu, creating new pillars for the modern Romanian poem. Lucian Blaga, one of the country's most important artistic personalities, developed through his writings a complex philosophic system, still not perfectly understood even today. Mircea Eliade is today considered the greatest historian in the field of religions. His novels reveal a mystical, pre-Christian symbolism paving the way for contemporary Romanian art.

Born in Romania, Tristan Tzara, a French poet and essayist, is one of the founders of Dada, a nihilistic revolutionary movement in the arts, and may have been responsible for its name (Romanian for "Yes yes"). Later he abandoned nihilism for Surrealism and Marxism. For the first time in its history, Romanian culture was fully connected to Western culture, while Dadaism is the first Romanian artistic and literary movement to become international. Dadaism and Surrealism are fundamental parts of the avant-garde, the most revolutionary form of modernism. The Romanian "avant garde" is very well represented by Ion Minulescu, Urmuz, Perpessicius, Tristan Tzara, Grigore Cugler, Geo Bogza, Barbu Fundoianu, Gellu Naum, Ilarie Voronca, and Ion Vinea.

* Tudor Arghezi
* George Bacovia
* Lucian Blaga
* Mircea Eliade
* Ion Barbu
* Vasile Voiculescu
* Max Blecher

Communist Era

Marin Preda is often considered the most important post-WWII Romanian novelist. His novel "Moromeţii" ("The Moromete Family") describes the life and difficulties of an ordinary peasant family in pre-war Romania and later during the advent of Communism in Romania. His most important book remains "Cel mai iubit dintre pământeni" ("The Most Beloved of Earthlings"), a cruel description of communist society. Some of the most important poets are Nichita Stanescu, Marin Sorescu, and Ana Blandiana.

*Nichita Stănescu
*Ştefan Augustin Doinaş
*Marin Sorescu

Outside Romania, Eugène Ionesco and Emil Cioran represented the national spirit at the highest level. Eugène Ionesco is one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict in a tangible way the solitude of humans and the insignificance of one's existence, while Cioran was a brilliant writer and philosopher.

Contemporary literature

Some Romanian contemporary writers:

* Gabriela Adameşteanu
* Ştefan Agopian
* Nicolae Breban
* Mircea Cărtărescu
* Traian T. Coşovei
* Gheorghe Crăciun
* Alexandru Ecovoiu
* Radu Pavel Gheo
* Florin Iaru
* Ion Bogdan Lefter
* Dan C. Mihǎilescu
* Ion Mureşan
* Mircea Nedelciu
* Dora Pavel
* Simona Popescu
* Sorin Preda
* Cecilia Ştefănescu
* Dan Sociu
* Ion Stratan
* Cristian Teodorescu
* Dumitru Ţepeneag

Fine examples include

*"Amintiri din copilărie" ("Memories from Childhood") (1875-1883) by Ion Creangă.
*The poetry of Mihai Eminescu
*The comedies of Ion Luca Caragiale
*"Moara cu noroc" ("The Mill of Luck") (1881) by Ioan Slavici
*"Ion" ("Ion") (1920) by Liviu Rebreanu
*"Craii de Curtea-Veche" (1929) by Mateiu Caragiale
*"Fraţii Jderi" ("The Brothers Jder") (1935 -1942) by Mihail Sadoveanu
*"Ultima noapte de dragoste, întâia noapte de război" ("The Last Night of Love, the First Night of War") (1930) by Camil Petrescu
*"Patul lui Procust" ("Procrustes' Bed") (1933) by Camil Petrescu
*"Moromeţii" (vol. I - 1955; vol. II - 1967) by Marin Preda
*The poetry of Tudor Arghezi
*The poetry of Lucian Blaga
*The poetry of Nichita Stănescu
*The essays of Emil Cioran
*The early (pre-WWII) novels and short stories of Mircea Eliade, as well as some later literary works originally written in Romanian
*The poetry and the plays of Marin Sorescu

ee also

*List of Romanian writers
*List of Romanian novelists


* George Călinescu, "Istoria literaturii române de la origini până în prezent" ("The History of Romanian Literature from its origins till present day"), 1941
* Nicolae Iorga, "Istoria literaturii româneşti" ("The History of Romanian Literature"), 1929

External links

* [ Romanian poetry]
* [ Romanian literature]
* [ Website of the Romanian Museum of Literature]

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