Universitatea „Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu, Facultatea de Litere și Arte; Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Faculty of Letters and Arts
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The Relative Autonomy of Literature:
Romanian Literary Criticism and Theory Before World War II
This article discusses Galin Tihanov’s understanding of regimes of relevance and their connection to the birth of modern literary theory and argues that Romanian pre-communist literary theory has failed to work with literature as an autonomous domain. Romania’s most preeminent literary critic of the 19th century, Titu Maiorescu, although trying to create a theoretical framework against which poetry could be analyzed, to put it in Tihanov’s words “for some presumed discursive uniqueness,” also saw the relevance of Romanian poetry abroad as a byproduct of its national character – so within a socio-political role. Eugen Lovinescu used the autonomy of literature in order to discriminate against both rural literature and the avant-gardes, failing to accept the autonomy of the literary per se. Baghiu claims that literary theory’s intrinsic connection at birth to the foreign and world literature should never be neglected, and that the cultures of relative literary autonomy most often are the ones in which transnational contacts are undermined in order for the national to prevail. Thus, the birth of literary theory can never be a truly national affair.
Keywords: regimes of relevance, literary autonomy, Galin Tihanov, literary theory, Romanian literary criticism.
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