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Norman Manea

Aesthetics as East Ethics

Claudiu Turcuș

The book offers the very first critical biography on Norman Manea, a widely respected writer and multiple Nobel Prize Nominee. It follows two main objectives: an aesthetic interpretation of his literature and a contextualization of his ethical discourse. Manea's aesthetics is seen also as an Eastern European ethics, significant for the writer’s status while living and working under the Communist censorship in a totalitarian state and in the global context of World literature.

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Sometimes, revisions are euphoric. Having become entrenched as a genre in Romanian culture after the 1920s, when Eugen Lovinescu grounded his theories about the synchronization of the Romanian and the Western European cultural canons on the notion that aesthetic values undergo mutations, revisions continued to dominate the Romanian cultural landscape for an entire decade after the cataclysmic Revolution of 1989. However, while Eugen Lovinescu, author of The History of Modern Romanian Civilization [Istoria civilizației române moderne, 1924] conceived of revision as a renewal of the critical spirit or as an attempt to reassess the validity of aesthetic judgments, the Romanian postcommunist transition to democracy has often prompted manifestations of politically oriented cultural revisionism. Naturally, the disappearance of a unique center of influence generated a struggle for the redistribution of power, the agendas of various cultural movements relying heavily on revision as a strategy of moral-axiological replenishment. After 1989, there were two key revisionist goals: ethical radicalism (in reconsidering canonical writers who had made a complicitous pact with the communist power) and aesthetic recuperation (of writers who had been marginalized under communism). Thus, while the collaboration of some writers with the communist dictatorial regime justified the need for an ethical recontextualization of postwar Romanian literature, the revaluation – in particular by the representatives of the 1980s generation – of certain postwar literary phenomena (like the Târgoviște School, Oneirism, or Textualism, driven into eclipse or suppressed by the socialist regime), appeared to justify a project of postcommunist aesthetic...

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