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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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Chapter I. Happenings in Ruined Reality

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1. The Long Side of Initiation (Night on the Long Side, 1969)

Although it was an inconsistent collection in terms of aesthetic achievement, Night on the Long Side (1969), Norman Manea’s first volume of short stories, was generously prefaced by Miron Radu Paraschivescu30 and sparked several positive or balanced appraisals, but it also received a bitterly disparaging review.

With some evaluative caution, noting “a debut that ranks above average,” Valeriu Cristea contended that without schematizing its characters, “Norman Manea’s dense, analytical prose, captures their slightest mutations, while constantly exploring a social space” (Cristea, “Noaptea” 11).31 The reviewer did identify, however, the weak spot of the novellas, which resided in their “subtle but abusive psychologism,” combined with the hyper-intellectualized analysis of some obscure states. The conclusion was that “the future of this young prose writer will largely depend on the outcome of his battle with style” (11).

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