Universitatea “Transilvania”, Brașov, Facultatea de Litere. “Transylvania” University of Brașov, Faculty of Letters
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8 / 2013
Mihail Sebastian and the probable ambivalence
Two recent studies about Mihail Sebastian written by two important Romanian literary critics re-open the debate around several key topics: the relationship between the cultural assimilation of the Jews and right wing extremism, the limits of aestheticism (both as a way of life and as a critical method), the importance of biography, factual data for understanding artistic achievements, the status of fiction, among others. Although their interests seem different, Mihai Iovănel and Marta Petreu seem to share the assumption that the literary object no longer has something valuable to offer when faced with the overpowering clarity of the ideological understanding of literature. I beg to differ and subsequently I would like to show that neglecting the literary object could make one entirely miss an essential ideological dimension of the writer in question. In this particular case, the marginal ambivalent identity of the “stranger” shared by Sebastian with many other modern Jewish writers.
Keywords: marginality, ambivalence, aestheticism, ideology, fictionality.
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