“The Oath of Târgoviște”, the school that defied Stalinist dogmatism


Its founding members, who will gradually be joined by others, from Tudor Țopa to Alexandru George and Petru Creția, swore (and kept their word) not to publish anything during the years of Stalinist dogmatism, withdrawing into – a private and underground literary activity, with Benedictine edited manuscripts under his own direction.

There were also rebel creators in Romania who did not want and could not be broken by the socialist order neither by force nor by luring around the “cultural hammer”. Less was written and spoken about these politically unaligned threads, including after the transition to communism with a human face trumpeted by Ion Iliescu in 1990 – an occasion to pay tribute to them here. The first portrait caught in the frame by the critic and literary historian Paul Cernat is that of professor Radu Petrescu: “A graduate of Letters in Bucharest, with a (identification) thesis on Bacovia submitted only in 1970 and published posthumously, in 1999, he had in his prose G. Călinescu one of his great literary models. After graduation, he is a teacher at Petriș and Prundu Bârgăului, Bistrita-Năsăud, where he uses literature as an alternative technique for surviving in anonymity and experimentally cultivates the artistic inclinations of young students (he will do it until the end of his life, through collaborations with like-minded teachers like Dorel Zaica)”.

Debut retro

Further, on the bright path opened by Paul Cernat: “Returned to Bucharest, Radu Petrescu works as a Statistics clerk, laboratory technician and bibliographer at the Horticultural Research Institute in Otopeni. In the Stalinist underground he tries to breathe through the tubes of pure art. If resistance through culture had a meaning, Radu Petrescu illustrated it in the most proper sense, through a radical asceticism in and through art. It came to light in the years of the post-Stalinist thaw, in the supplement “Povestea vorbei” by Miron Radu Paraschivescu, and made its editorial debut at the age of 43 with the retro narrative “Matei Iliescu”, a modern sublimation of the sentimental provincial novel, via “Adela” and “Enigma Otiliei” (through an editorial trick, the hyper-refined tome will appear in the popular “romance novel” collection…)”.

The fine mesh of art

“The prose in “Didactica nova” and “In Ephesus” experiment in a (too) rarefied area of ​​prose with an intellectual atmosphere, like “One age” – appreciates professor Paul Cernat. What we see is a completely unusual meta-novel, including the ingenious way in which the characters build their narrator on the fly. “Suicide from the Botanical Garden”, prose with an Urmuzian title and format, is a strange game with literature. Expert painting commentator (his daughter, Ruxandra, married to plastic artist Ion Grigorescu, will follow him, becoming an art critic, and his wife, Adela, is a painter), familiar to our great artists of the era, from Th. Pallady at Horia Bernea and Paul Gherasim, Radu Petrescu lived both in the atmosphere of classical or Renaissance art and in that of modern art and literature, up to Joyce (exceptionally familiar with Finnegans Wake) and Nouveau Roman”. He was a great reader and a classy essayist.

Aesthetic purification

Among the last coordinates: “In “Reading Meteorology” (1982) Petrescu develops seductive speculative theories about the genealogy of European prose, with roots either in the Bible or in the Homeric poems. Radu was, in fact, a modern Platonist, who saw in art a metaphysical “Idea”, in opposition to a daily life stained by populist propaganda. An atypical masterpiece of the genre, the immense “Journal” kept from 1944 until the last day was selectively published during the communist regime (the didactic exile journal “Ocheanul turnoi”, 1977, the creative journal “Părul Berenicai”, 1981, “The Third Dimension “, 1984), the “aesthetic” purification of the everyday making many commentators see in him a sterile escapist”.

The mentor had come

And yet: “Only after 1989, when the previously unpublishable rest will gradually come to light, it will be possible to see that purist aestheticism camouflaged an anti-communist radicalism sometimes pushed to the point of absurdity (Radu Petrescu even execrates Russian literature, as a form of the occupier’s literature). Increasingly sick at heart, he lived and wrote against a degraded time, space and environment in which he felt exiled and which finally defeated him. In recent years, the diary records an immense accumulation of literary frustrations and existential toxins, which ended up destroying it”. Paul Cernat’s conclusion: “Venerated mentor of the early eighties, this classic of postmodernism, Alexandrian product of the great European humanist tradition, was probably the most elevated and purest artist among our post-war prose writers.”

Costache, the Moldavian “School of Târgoviște”

Paul Cernat also made some comments about his sworn brother Costache Olăreanu (July 1, 1929, Huși – September 23, 2000, Iași), the Moldovan “School of Târgoviște”: “Like his colleagues Radu Petrescu and Mircea Horia Simionescu, he postponed his editorial debut until the disappearance of realist-socialist rigors. He will make the difference to them as a “miniaturist” (he didn’t write novels or larger constructions) and as a savory storyteller, with a good-natured humor and refined sophistication, on a confessional-metaliterary background and with undisputed imaginative verve. The “retro-parody” side of postmodernism owes a lot to him. His first book (“View from the balcony”) appeared in 1970, followed eight years later by “Parallel Confessions” (1978).

“Apprentice to the classics”

In addition: “Costache Olăreanu’s flag-book remains “Ucenic la classici” (1979), full of meta-memorialistic flavors and haunted by the shadow of George Călinescu, the literary master of the School in question. It is closely followed by “Fiction and infantry” – published by Military Publishing House, as well as Mircea Horia Simionescu’s “Siege of the common place” – whose title confused many uninitiated. Other pre-December titles, as well, even if otherwise charming: “False travel party manual” (in tandem with MH Simionescu, reply to Bogzian’s reportage “175 minutes at Mizil”), “Paper Airplane”, “The Melancholy Quintet” », «With the cards on the grass», «Love with words and trees», strengthen his image and status”.

“A Superior-Smiling Opera”

In conclusion: “After the Revolution, Costache Olăreanu held numerous positions in the cultural administration and wrote for several newspapers, maintaining the same attached image of a distinguished, open and tolerant gentleman in a Manichean polarized world. The last works – «Poetry and autobiography», «Old and sentimental notebooks», «The wolf and the receipt», «Letter about the islands», «Merci pour les prevrigii» – show him in the same literary form as before, although his health was still more fragile. He died, newly septuagenarian, in Iași, leaving behind a superior-smiling work, full of refined flavors”.

Games converted into friendship

Mircea Horia Simionescu (third brother-in-law) was born on January 23, 1928, in Târgovişte, in a family descended from the Brătiensi branch of Argeşe (paternal grandmother, daughter of Ion Brătianu) and from that branch, from Bucharest, of the Căciuleşti, with extended ramifications in the bourgeoisie supplying illustrious names in medicine, army, finance, law. The father, Stelian, “good in rank” (captain) throughout the entire childhood of the prose writer, died at the age of 41 (unfortunate literary fruitful consequences); the mother, Irina, a telegraphist – a liberal pedagogue scandalizing family, friends and the opinion of the fair -, can be held responsible for the originality of the education discreetly personified to encourage the strange poetic talent of her first born. Mircea Horia Simionescu converted the games and plays, extended until adolescence, into an exalted intellectual friendship with the notable young people Radu Petrescu, Costache Olăreanu, Petru Creţia, recognized, after their late publication, in the 70s of the century past, as a group of prose writers resistant to the imperatives and guidelines of the Stalinist regime.

“Trouble-fête of post-war literature”

Mircea Horia Simionescu, due to his highly original writings – spiritually close to Caragiale, Kafka, Cortázar, Borges, Italo Calvino, Urmuz -, is considered by the critic Mircea Zaciu to be a “trouble-fête of post-war literature”. The notes of Mircea Horia Simionescu’s epic laboratory were structured in the four-volume cycle “The Well-Tempered Genius” (1969, 1970, 1980, 1983), an epic of the errors of the century, an enormous joke of the drifting seasons. Later, centripetal, other writings aimed at certifying naked reality as fiction are attached to them. Mircea Horia Simionescu passed away on May 18, 2011.

95 years have passed on August 31, 2022 since the birth of the prose writer Radu Petrescu

“If resistance through culture had a meaning, Radu Petrescu illustrated it in the most proper sense, through a radical asceticism in and through art”, Paul Cernat, literary critic

“Radu Petrescu was, in fact, a modern Platonist, who saw in art a metaphysical “Idea”, in opposition to a daily life stained by populist propaganda”, Paul Cernat, literary critic

“Like his colleagues Radu Petrescu and Mircea Horia Simionescu, Costache Olăreanu postponed his publishing debut until the disappearance of realist-socialist rigors”, Paul Cernat, literary critic

Mircea Horia Simionescu, due to his highly original writings – spiritually close to Caragiale, Kafka, Cortázar -, is considered by Mircea Zaciu to be a “trouble-fête” of post-war literature.


Source: Jurnalul by jurnalul.ro.

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