CULTURE: LITERATURE: THE ARCHAIC PHASE
According to ezinereligion, the first written testimony in the Romanian language dates back to 1521: it is Neacsu’s letter. The same rich oral popular production (lyrical songs, epic songs, ballads inspired by ancient myths, such as L’agnellina or Mastro Manole, songs connected to ritual uses, Christmas carols, colinde or cântece de steauă, star songs or like the iertăciuni, pardons of marriage and death), certainly very old, was established only late (V. Alecsandri 1821-1890, Poesie Popolare, 1852-53). The most archaic phase of Romanian literary history takes the name of “cultural Slavonism” and lasts until the century. XVII. The political-military relations with the Southern Slavs and the creation of a Romanian-Bulgarian empire determined the accession of Romanians to Orthodox Christianity, attracting them to the area of Slavic-Byzantine culture. In this phase the literature is mainly religious: the canonical and apocryphal texts, translated in the monasteries. However, there is no lack of universal chronicles, fictional novels, edifying stories (the novel of Alexander, History of Troy, Barlaam and Giosafat etc.), the same ones that had passed from Byzantium to the West. On Romanian soil, the first documents of national historiography are written in Slavic (The chronicle of Stephen the Great, Annals of Bistrita, the chronicles of Macario, Eftimio, Azario); the language is Church Slavonic, the official language of the Church and of the chancellery, like Latin in the West. Alongside these compilations is a monument of exceptional literary level attributed to Prince Neagoe Basarab (1512-21), The teachings of Prince Neagoe to his son Theodosius, a true ethical-religious encyclopedia, written in Slavonian and later translated into Romanian and Greek. The impetus for the introduction of the national language in literary use and worship comes from the Reformation which advocates the use of the language of the people in place of Latin. Thus we are witnessing an intense translation from Slavonic into Romanian of books used for worship (Psalter and parts of the New Testament). Coresi (16th century) made a decisive contribution to the affirmation of Romanian as a literary language. By laying the foundations of the literary language, it prepares the instrument for notable achievements. Among these, the Romanian Teaching Book (1643) by Varlaam (ca. 1590-1657), the translation into verse of the Psalter (1673) by DB Dosoftei (1624-1694) and the Sermons of I. Antim (1716), the latter true creator of the homiletical style. The Bucharest Bible (1688) represents the culmination of this activity. In the secular field, the historiographical genre was the first to use the new expressive instrument: Grigore Ureche (1590-1647) and Miron Costin (1633-1691) in Moldavia, Constantin Cantacuzino (ca. 1650-1716) and Radu Popescu (d. 1729)) in Muntenia, Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723) and Ion Neculce (ca. 1672-1745) are true creators of style. The transition period, which marks the detachment from the feudal age, represents a complicated process, which takes place on a cultural and literary level between the end of the century. XVIII and the last years of the government of Alessandro Cuza (1859-66).
CULTURE: LITERATURE: THE INFLUENCE OF THE WEST
From the cultural point of view, this phase marks the loosening of relations with the area of the Danube SE and the progressive approach to Western literature and thought. The meeting of Romanian culture with French (Voltaire, Montesquieu), German (Wolff, Baumeister) and also Italian (Filangieri, Beccaria) Enlightenment is decisive in this sense. In fact, the criticism of the privileges of divine right provokes, as an internal reaction, in Transylvania, the vindication of the violated civil and political rights, extending, in the name of the common Latin origin attested by the language, also to the other provinces. The historical and philological activity of the Transylvanian writers S. Micu (1745-1806), Gh. Sincai (1754-1816), P. Maior (1761-1821) aims entirely for this purpose. The era of the Enlightenment in Transylvania has its most mature artistic expression in I. Budai-Deleanu (ca. 1760-1820). In the principalities, the Văcărescu (Alecu, ca. 1769-1800; Iancu, 1792-1863; Ienache, ca. 1740-1797; Nicolae, ca. 1784-1825) and C. Conachi (1778-1849), in whose traces of oriental mentality persist alongside ferments of renewing criticism. The process of modernization, to which “Hellenism” which characterizes the Phanariot era indirectly contributes, continues in the age of the Risorgimento and coincides with the affirmation of Romanticism. In a crescendo that goes from V. Cârlova (1809-1831) to D. Bolintineanu (1819-1872), from G. Alexandrescu (ca. 1810-1885) to C. Bolliac (1813-1881) Romanian poetry is enriched with new themes and perfected on the formal level, while the prose realizes with N. Filimon (1819-1865) the first authentic social novel in the modern sense (1863). Between 1840 and 1860 there was a clear differentiation of genres on a formal level; in terms of content, the struggle between indigenous tradition and imitation of foreign literatures culminates in an effort of original synthesis, represented by the work of V. Alecsandri. On the threshold of 1860, thanks to the clarification criticism of TL Maiorescu (1840-1917) Romanian literature makes a real qualitative leap. A glorious triad, M. Eminescu (1850-1889), I. Creanga (1837-1889), IL Caragiale (1852-1912), represents respectively the apex of opera, prose and theater. However, Dacia literară’s program is prolonged, adapting to the new political-social situation: socialist with C. Dobrogeanu-Gherea (1855-1920) and Sanielevici (1875-ca. 1951), poporanist with G. Th. Ibrăileanu (1871-1936)), seminator with N. Iorga (1871-1940), this program coincides with the affirmation of indigenous values, opposing cosmopolitanism and therefore innovation. The realism of the peasant world, reflected in the moralistic vision of I. Slavici (1848-1925) or in the romantic one of B. Delavrancea (1858-1918), is no less part of this current than the great fresco dedicated by D Zamfirescu (1858-1922) to the evolution and decline of a large family of landowners. A lively adherence to the rural environment and its problems, to the beauty of patriarchal traditions inspires the poetry of A. Vlahută (1858-1919), of G. Cosbuc (1866-1918), of SO Iosif (1875-1913), while the one of O. Goga (1881-1938) vibrates with irredentist ideals. However, the modern sensibility already imposes itself in the work of A. Macedonski (1854-1920). Critically supported since 1905 by O. Densusianu (1873-1938), modernism imposed itself in the post-war period with such a desire to break as to assume the anarchic forms of the avant-garde: futurism, surrealism, dadaism have in Urmuz (1883-1923), I. Vinea (1895-1964), Tristan Tzara (1896- 1963), Sasa Pana (1902-1981), I. Voronca (1903-1956) of the promoters at the European level. However, even in the context of modernist experiences, an instinct for the defense of the autochthonous, understood as a “specific national character”, remains. It affirms itself in Gândirea (Thought) and with an original accent, as the tradition is enriched by the religious element (orthodoxism). Among the interpreters of this current, to which they adhere to different degrees and with free originality, we should mention N. Crainic (1889-1972) and L. Blaga (1895-1961), I. Pillat (1891-1945) and V. Voiculescu (1884-1964). But by now the definition within such different personality currents is becoming more and more difficult.