Universitatea „Transilvania“ Braşov, Facultatea de Litere “Transilvania” University Braşov, Faculty of Letters
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12 / 2011
Crooked mirrors, right reflection.
Experimental prose of the 1980s in Central and East Europe
Starting from an outline of Adorno’s aesthetic theory stating that every work of art is defined by a dual condition, seeking both autonomy and mimesis, I investigate the experimental prose and novel in the East European, mostly Romanian, communist 1980s arguing that the so-called ‘evasionistic’ (for their abandon of narrativity, plot and traditional realism) were actually pioneering a new literary representation of reality, one that would not maintain the ideological facade and hide the totalitarian mutilation of everyday life. This perpetuation of a negative aesthetics in prose was taken as an echo of French textualism and nouveau roman but the differences in historical and political conditioning are crucial. The tradition of realism was renounced and its contemporary inheritors implicitly denounced for the sake of representing the truth of the un-essence and estrangement.
The epistemological relevance of this experimental prose is still largely neglected and two polar traits are to be traced here: first, a hyper-rational, analytical investigation of material, social world and natural language as opposed to the irrationality of the political system, and secondly, a ‘secular mysticism’ (Robert Musil’s term) that is seeking for life deep beneath the historical rubble.
Keywords: experimental prose, Central and Eastern Europe, Theodor Adorno’s aesthetic theory, “secular mysticism”, negative aesthetics.
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