tranzit.ro/Cluj in partnership with UBB Cluj-Napoca on 16th November, 18:00, organized a lecture and discussion within the project "Philosophy in Late Socialist Europe: Theoretical Practices in the Face of Polycrisis" on the Romanian novel in late communism and early capitalism with the title "Communist Anticommunism: the Realist Novel in Late Communist Romania and the Transition to Capitalist Realism".
The guests of this edition were Ștefan Baghiu and Mihai Iovănel. The meeting was held in Romanian and was moderated by Alex Cistelecan.
Abstract of the lecture:
“In this presentation we formulate a double thesis, which is both provocative and paradoxical. First, we argue that the ideology of anti-communism, which was dominant in Romania in the 1990s, after the fall of communism in December 1989, was in fact largely constructed before the fall of communism. And not only outside Romania, although obviously the main body of anti-communist theory was built in the West, but even inside communist Romania. In other words, we argue that anti-communism was, at least in part, a theoretical creation of communism. This is paradoxical especially if we consider the general bibliography - even the most anti-communist studies do not offer such a framework for interpreting the Romanian literary scene. Even the most recent studies, while very insightful in explaining how the "novel of communist Romania" failed to make it, forget that some of the most important novels of late communism were, in fact, anti-Stalinist and, in large tones, anti-communist. Second, we argue that the process of decolonisation from the Soviet Union that Romania initiated in the 1960s under Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and deepened under Nicolae Ceausescu played an ambiguous role in the construction of communist anti-communism.
This is the context in which the novels we discuss in our presentation appear: Delirul (1975) and Cel mai iubit dintre pământeni (1980) by Marin Preda and Pumnul și palma by Dumitru Popescu (3 vols., 1980-82). These novels critically addressed the issue of colonial interference between Russia and Romania. Both novels were bestsellers in communist Romania, were written by people of high literary and political status and aroused both critical echoes in Moscow and defensive positions in Bucharest. As for the post-communist period, although scholars such as Adriana Stan have shown how the new realities of the transitional period - from state socialism to 'savage' capitalism and neoliberal policies - were portrayed in Romanian fiction mainly through autofiction, the political novel of the period created mostly allegorical representations of the communist period. This allegorical political representation of communist society was replaced in post-communism by the autofictional political representation of post-communist society. Authors such as Adrian Schiop and Lavinia Braniște portrayed the failure of the "transition to nowhere" by moving their autobiographical characters to the peripheries of urban capitalism.”
Ștefan Baghiu and Mihai Iovănel
This work was funded by the project "Philosophy in Late Socialist Europe: Theoretical Practices in the Face of Polycrisis" financed by the European Union - NextgenerationEU and the Government of Romania, within the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Romania, contract no. 760044//23.05.2023, code PNRR-C9-I8-CF104/15.11.2022, through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitisation, within Component 9, Investment I8.
The main partner of tranzit.ro is ERSTE Stiftung.
Ştefan Baghiu / firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Cistelecan / email@example.com