Romania Literature – From the 18th to the 19th Century

By | December 23, 2021

With the activity of Antim in Muntenia and Cantemir in Moldavia a cycle of Romanian history and literature ends: starting from 1711-16, in fact, the Turks imposed the regency of Greek-Phanariot princes on Moldavia and Wallachia. Their domination determined the decline of the Slavic culture and the establishment of the Greek one. The concomitance of this innovation with the affirmation of Romanian as the official language of the State and of the Church prefigured an era of transition for Romanian literature. During the 18th century. in fact, there was a rapid secularization of literature, thanks to the importation from the West, through neo-Greek, of innovative cultural elements. Alongside the significant transformations that took place in the two principalities, outside their borders a current of thought was taking shape whose historical-linguistic theories played a decisive role in the process of modernization of Romanian culture. For Romania 2009, please check hyperrestaurant.com.

● In Transylvania in the second half of the 18th century. was born the Latin School, a movement of ideas with a pronounced Enlightenment character, the aim of which was to demonstrate the Latinity of the Romanian people and their language. On the basis of Latin ideology, a true school of historical-philological studies was formed thanks to which grammars and dictionaries were developed and the phonetic-orthographic principles that governed the transition from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet were enunciated on an etymological basis. Among the main representatives of the Latin school, whose scientific work also assumed a literary importance: S. Micu-Klein, G. Șincai, P. Maior and I. Budai-Deleanu.

● At the end of the 18th century, therefore, Romanian culture seems to be traversed by two fundamental lines of renewal. On the one hand, Transylvania is linked to the moderate Austrian Enlightenment and pursues, through Latinism, a linguistic and cultural re-Romanization; on the other hand, Moldavia and Wallachia abandon medieval schemes when the most radical European political and cultural ideologies, in particular French and Italian, are imposed on them through neo-Greek. Consequence on the literary level was the appearance in Moldo-Wallachia of an original poem, albeit not infrequently in a manner and influenced by neoanacreontic models. The first attempts at artistic creation are therefore to be sought in poetry, the expression of a nascent profane literature of delight understood in the modern sense. The most important works in verse of this period belong to the poets Ienăchiță, Alecu and Nicolae Văcărescu.

● At the beginning of the 19th century, Latin ideology also penetrated Wallachia and Moldavia. In Bucharest, the Transylvanian G. Lazăr founded the first Romanian school (1818), headed by I. Heliade Rădulescu in 1823. In his work, he elaborates an original romantic vision that is accompanied by romantic motifs, such as the creation of a unitary linguistic norm, an essential element to achieve the unification of the Romanian nation. Multifaceted intellectual, Heliade Rădulescu founded Lazăr founded the first Romanian school (1818), headed by I. Heliade Rădulescu in 1823. In his work, he elaborates an original romantic vision that is accompanied by romantic motifs, such as the creation of a unitary linguistic norm, an essential element to achieve the unification of the Romanian nation. Multifaceted intellectual, Heliade Rădulescu founded Lazăr founded the first Romanian school (1818), headed by I. Heliade Rădulescu in 1823. In his work, he elaborates an original romantic vision that is accompanied by romantic motifs, such as the creation of a unitary linguistic norm, an essential element to achieve the unification of the Romanian nation. Multifaceted intellectual, Heliade Rădulescu founded the newspaper Curierul românesc (“The Romanian courier”, 1829) and the literary magazine Curierul de ambe sexe (“The courier for both sexes”, 1836), first examples of periodical printing in Romanian. In Moldova, a similar effort of cultural dissemination will be made by the poet G. Asachi, founder of the magazine Albina românească («The Romanian bee») and initiator of the Romanian language theater.

● Against this background the first literary manifestations attributable to Romanticism were inserted, which, as in the West, did not have a rupture character, given the absence of a consolidated classical tradition to oppose. In Romania Romanticism was first received as a cultural and political movement that founded its ideology on the defense of the nation principle, on the recovery of history, on the rediscovery and enhancement of ethnic traditions. From here a generation was formed that combined literary activity and strong political commitment, pursuing the birth of a unitary state. Another element that, while deriving from romantic aesthetics, assumed particular importance in the Romanian context was the importance accorded to folklore, as a custodian of authentic national traditions and a witness to the ‘ethnic spirit’. Official organs of the romantic instances were the magazines Dacia literară(1840), Propășirea (“Progress”, 1844) and România literară (1855), among others: G. Alexandrescu. G. Negruzzi, N. Bălcescu, I. Ghica, M. Kogălniceanu, V. Alecsandri, D. Bolintineanu, A. Russo.

● In the second half of the century, with the union of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, the changed national political context was matched by a change in cultural needs. In literature, the renewal was entrusted to the work of the critic T. Maiorescu, who, in 1863, founded the Junimea literary circle in Iași(“Youth”). His program was based on the idea that the true work of art should be freed from any commitment linked to historical-social contingencies. Unlike the previous generation, therefore, and in opposition to it, the Junimists evaluated the literary work according to strictly aesthetic criteria and not for the degree of commitment. Furthermore, Junimist criticism freed Romanian literature from epigonism especially towards French literature, orienting literary aesthetics towards the German cultural area. The beginnings of the major writers, poets and critics of the second half of the nineteenth century are linked to the activity of the literary cenacle: I. Negruzzi, AD Xenopol, I. Slavici. Furthermore, they published in Convorbiri literare (1867), official organ of Junimea, M. Eminescu, I. Creangă, IL Caragiale, whose works testify how Romanian literature had now reached maturity both in poetry and in prose and theater.

● Contemporary to Junimea’s activity was the work of A. Macedonsky, who, through the magazine Literatorul (1880), introduced symbolism in Romania However, the Romanian literary environment, still linked to romantic styles and dominated by the figure of Eminescu, was not ready for the reception of poetic models that were too modern and therefore extraneous to its canons. The symbolism was imposed only in the first decades of the twentieth century with the work of O. Densusianu, founder of the magazine Viața nouă(1905), G. Bacovia and I. Minulescu.

Romania Literature - From the 18th to the 19th Century