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Eugen Lovinescus Istoria civilizaiei romne moderne (1924-1926) proposed the idea of synchronism as both a desideratum and a historical

law governing the meaning of Romanian modernization. One of the most salient strategies of nationalist Romanian cultural theorists, particularly in the 1980s but also earlier, involved precisely this issue, and led to the development of a whole theory of Romanian protochronism which argued the temporal priority of Romanian achievements vis--vis the West (Verdery 1991: 167-214; published (synchronically!) in Romania, in Zub, ed. 1991: 187-230). A number of historians of Romanian culture have settled on the period 1770-1830 as a fundamental turning point in the history of mentalities and indeed in terms of every facet of cultural change in Romania (e.g. Duu 1976; D. Barbu 1991; Forrest 1992). Here, however, I begin the story as early as 1700, because I think the so-called Phanariot period and its impact on Romanian society needs to be understood as a whole, and because I have found writers claiming to be working for the benefit of the Romanian nation already in the first half of the eighteenth century. 1900 is a considerably more arbitrary date, and does not, I admit, appear to correspond particularly neatly to a specific moment of structural change either in politics or literature. A number of minor but significant factors converge, however, to set my rather open ending at this date, above and beyond the need to keep down the volume of material under study. By taking the story beyond 1878 and Romanian independence, we can see how (or rather, if) a literary culture changes before and after statehood is achieved. The period 1878-1900 saw the first establishment of an acknowledged canon of

INTRODUCTION

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Romanian writers, with the accompanying for mal consecration and contestation. A number of the major nineteenth-century writers died around that date (Alexandrescu, Bolliac, Creang, Eminescu, Alecsandri, Koglniceanu, Odobescu, Ghica). From a sociological point of view, too, institutions like national schooling and a free press but also fiction and theatre had taken definite shape by 1900 and would thereafter expand dramatically (cf. Boia 1985). Politically, the monarchy and electoral and party systems had been established. In terms of nationalisms concrete aims, a major shift occurred in 1891 with the establishment of the Romanian Cultural League which gave a completely different importance to the Transylvanian question within the cultural politics of Old Kingdom Romania (Curticpeanu 1973). On the other hand, many of the central themes concerning Romanian national identity, that preoccupied the post-1900 writers - examples include the peasant, modernity vs. tradition, the Jewish question - had been established in the previous period, as had the major literary genres. Accordingly, I will treat my endpoint as a provisional resting-place from which it is possible to look both backwards at the newly constructed forms, and forwards to their further implementation and the consequences thereof. A study taking developments up to the First World War would be fascinating, but requires a new and systematic gathering of material that lies outside the scope of this work.