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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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Part One: Aesthetics

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45 Chapter I. Happenings in Ruined Reality 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,” Vale- riu Cristea contended that without schematizing its characters, “Norman Manea’s dense, analytical prose, captures their slightest mutations, while constantly explor- ing 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 psycholo- gism,” 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)� Nicolae Baltag cast an appreciative glance at Manea’s work, but noticed that it was marred by a “visionary” lack: “The book can be read with obvious, yet weari- some pleasure� […] You can easily recognize not only situations and settings, but also a rhythm, a tone and a psychology that are, by definition, contemporary� By this, the writer stays true, in his art, to the present� When he acquires a firmer grasp of the laws of perspective, his connection to the future could actually become a reality” (“Cronica” 4)� While the narratives of childhood...

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