Scholarly article on topic 'About Exile in a New Reception Grid'

About Exile in a New Reception Grid Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{Exile / writing / ExPatriots / Expatriates / Ex-patriots;}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Simona Antofi

Abstract The paper approaches from a critical perspective a controversial study, Patria de hârtie/ The Paper Country, on the phenomenon of exile and on its reflection in the writing of three categories of exiles – ExPatriots, Expatriates and Ex-patriots, identifying textual markers of the symbolic position in regards to the imaginary country of origin and that of adoption. The project – innovative and meritorious in itself – raises, however, a series of questions regarding analysis perspectives – with an emotionally charged metalanguage as well as with positive/ negative reception choices that pre-determine the research and which are, as much as the strong points of the study, the object of this paper.

Academic research paper on topic "About Exile in a New Reception Grid"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 137 (2014) 193 - 197


About exile in a new reception grid

Simona Antofia*

aDunarea de Jos University of Galati, Romania


The paper approaches from a critical perspective a controversial study, Patria de hartie/ The Paper Country, on the phenomenon of exile and on its reflection in the writing of three categories of exiles - ExPatriots, Expatriates and Ex-patriots, identifying textual markers of the symbolic position in regards to the imaginary country of origin and that of adoption. The project -innovative and meritorious in itself - raises, however, a series of questions regarding analysis perspectives - with an emotionally charged metalanguage as well as with positive/ negative reception choices that pre-determine the research and which are, as much as the strong points of the study, the object of this paper.

© 2014 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection andpeer-review under responsibility of the Sports, Education, Culture-Interdisciplinary Approaches in Scientific Research Conference.

Keywords: Exile, writing, ExPatriots, Expatriates, Ex-patriots;


With a controversial premise and an explicit polemic attitude which is debatable, Nicoleta Salcudeanu's study, Patria de hartie/ The Paper Country (Salcudeanu, 2003), was not as well received by the critics as it might have deserved. Brave even when she challenges classicized views on exile as phenomenon and Romanian literary exile, or when she analyses texts by authors who, they themselves, started controversies, the author supports her perspective with argumented vehemence and with analytical passion amplified by an explicit taste for polemic.

In Simona Vasilache's opinion, "prima parte a studiului incearca, fara pretenjia de a epuiza subiectul, sa dea contur surghiunului literar, ce are in spate umbra calatorului haituit de himere §i, deseori, durerea unui «divoit» moral de ceea ce a fost odata «patria». Este, atat cat i-o permite spajiul, o mica enciclopedie a starilor, nu o data contradictorii, mai totdeauna resimjite «pe coarda thanatica», pe care le provoaca instrainarea. Melancolia, analizata de Starobinski, §i acea veritabila boala, nostos-algos, descoperita de medicul Hofer in secolul XVII, sunt constante ale treptelor diferite din ceea ce Nicoleta Salcudeanu nume^te «exilul istoric»". [the first part of the study tries, without pretending to exhaust the topic, to delineate literary banishment, which is haunted by the shadow of the traveller chased by chimeras and, often, by the pain of a moral 'divorce' from what was once the 'homeland'. It is,

* Corresponding author: Simona Antofi. Tel.: +40-740-056-325 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Sports, Education, Culture-Interdisciplinary Approaches in Scientific

Research Conference.

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.275

as much as space allows it, a small encyclopaedia of states of mind, more than once contradictory, almost always felt 'in a thanatic vein', and resulting from estrangement. The melancholy, analysed by Starobinski, and that true ailment, nostos-algos, discovered by the medical doctor Hofer in the 17th century, are constants of the different stages in what Nicoleta Salcudeanu calls 'historical exile'.] (Vasilache, 2004)

Moreover, the endeavour seems worthy to her, since "a privi exilul romanesc ca pe o "arca a lui Noe", ce seamana bine cu cea din ^ara, pe care s-au salvat scrierile (cit mai) verticale moral valoroase estetic, este, dincolo de idealizarea inevitabila, o ipoteza corecta, astfel se justifica, probabil, analogia doricului, ionicului corinticului romanesc, pe care o face Nicoleta Salcudeanu cu cele trei tipologii ale „instraina^ilor" pe care le propune: expatrio^ii, expatria^ii §i, fara a exemplifica, in cazul lor, ex-patrio^ii, un teritoriu inca necolonizat." [to regard Romanian exile like a "Noah's ark", which resembles closely the one in the country, where the (most) morally vertical and aesthetically valuable writings were saved, is, beyond the inevitable idealization, a correct hypothesis, and it, thus, probably justifies the analogy of the Romanian Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, made by Nicoleta Salcudeanu with the three typologies of the "estranged" that she proposes: expatriots, expatriates and, without exemplifying in their case, ex-patriots, a yet un-colonized territory.] (Vasilache, 2004)

Responding mostly to the vulnerable aspects of architecture and metalanguage, Alex Goldi§ is categorical and he drastically criticizes the author's work: "singura ei carte de construct, Patria de hartie (2003), reflecta un aliaj straniu, semanand mai degraba a conflict, intre o pasareasca teoretica un limbaj publicistic suprasaturat de plasticitate. Astfel meat darea de seama asupra criticii de azi tot din fragmente publicistice se incheaga." [her only book of construction, The Paper Country (2003), reveals a strange alloy, resembling rather a conflict, between theoretical gibberish and a journalese oversaturated by plasticity. Thus, the report on the contemporary criticism is also composed by journalistic fragments.] (Goldi§, 2012) And, furthermore, - "critica ei e un adevarat recital de excentricitate. Nicoleta Salcudeanu se fere^te de bunulsim^ intr-atat, meat sacrifica aproape total valorile invecinate cu el: echilibrul, obiectivitatea, adecvarea, ba chiar justa valorizare." [her critique is a veritable recital of eccentricity. Nicoleta Salcudeanu avoids common sense to such an extent, that she sacrifices almost all values akin to it: balance, objectivity, adequacy, even correct evaluation.] (Goldi§, 2012)

The paper country or on the adventure of exile as writing

An already established formula with Romanian specialized research work on exile, the paper country is the title of a volume where the author, Nicoleta Salcudeanu, submits her own taxonomy meant to include, define and exemplify the writing instantiations of the exiles and of exile in the novels, memoirs, journals of important members of today's Romanian diaspora.

Always willing to (re)write a possible alternative history - that of the exilic space of Romanian origin - Nicoleta Salcudeanu engages in a free polemic, she attacks without hesitation, or, occasionally, she finds small mitigating circumstances for some exiles who, either permanently settled in their adopting country, or oscillating between the origin and the second degree space, are equally suspended between the two ideal(ized) representations of imaginary homelands.

It is the case of the novelists Vintila Horia, Dumitru Jepeneag, or of the theoretician and literary critic Sorin Alexandrescu, living in Amsterdam. It is mainly the case of the latter, author of a volume of studies with an identity-retrieving and homogenizing function on what should be named the Romanian cultural model. The author considers the cultural re-writing proposed by Sorin Alexandrescu meritorious in itself, but susceptible to an unacceptable parti-pris and, on the whole, inadequate for the present moment as well as frail in point of argumentation: "de aceea nedumere^te volumul lui Sorin Alexandrescu {Privind inapoi, modemitatea), ce se obstineaza in a reconstrui pe nisip edificiul unei altfel de modernita^i romane^ti, sprijinita pe coloane improprii, fapt ce compromite suple^ea zidariei speculative: Eliade Cioran, ayatolahi culturali, moderniza^i cu pre^ul impingerii conceptualita^ii cat de cat canonice in suburbia indistinctului, in vagul cel mai pernicios." [for this reason, Sorin Alexandrescu's volume (Looking back, modernity) puzzles, since it is obstinately set on reconstructing in the sand the edifice of another Romanian modernity, supported by inadequate columns, which compromises the gracefulness of the speculative masonry: Eliade and Cioran, cultural ayatollahs, modernized at the price of pushing the slightest canonical conceptualism towards the suburbs of the undistinctive, towards the most pernicious vagueness.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 23)

However, when it lucidly and objectively evaluates the semantic relevance and the reverberations of exile as phenomenon with concrete manifestations, Nicoleta Salcudeanu identifies (self)generating functions which transform the dilemmas, the anxieties or the freedom and advantages of exile into the problematization of a modus vivendi particularly fertile in terms of creativity - "Exilul poate fi un vector eficace al diferen^ei un perimetru in care tensiunile s-au sublimat. Folosindu-se de abilitatea sa autoreferen^iala proaspat achizi^ionata, de puterea de a se scruta pe sine cu ironie, acesta incearca o privire vindecata de ferfeni^ele peisajului lasat in urma. Tragicul starii de exil se repatriaza in ubicuitatea locuita ca spa^iu de descarcare a tensiunilor existen^ei mundane." [Exile can be an effective vector of difference and a perimeter where tensions were sublimated. Using its recently acquired self-referential capability, the ability of scrutinising itself with irony, it attempts a perspective clear of the scraps of the abandoned landscape. The tragic note of the exiled state is repatriated in the ubiquity inhabited as a space for discharging the tension of mundane living.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 63)

In what regards the Romanian literary exile, the taxonomy proposed by the author includes three dilemmatic-identity profiles of the writers: ExPatriots, Expatriates and Ex-patriots. The distinct graphic markers indicate significant differences which are, later, illustrated by a number of probative examples. The first category: "indiferent de motivul plecarii, de succesul receptarii peste man fori, protagoni^tii acestei categorii imparta^esc, fiecare in felul sau, acelea^i - sa le spun - blocaje sentimentale. In ciuda succesului real sau potential in afara ^arii, ei nu pot sa se desprinda mental de spa^iul originar." [regardless of the reason for departure, of the successful reception overseas, the protagonists of this category share, in their own way, the same - let's call them - emotional blocks. Despite the real or potential success abroad, they cannot mentally detach themselves from the space of origin.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 81-82). Writers representative for the first category are Paul Goma, Dumitru Jepeneag, Petru Dumitriu, Vintila Horia, Monica Lovinescu, Virgil Ierunca.

Under the sign of acculturation, the Expatriates "afla^i in stadiul etic, sunt cei disponibili - tot fara ironie - sub patronajul unui Mitica autohton cu §taif, sa intoarca spatele identita^ii «tari», sa-§i joace cu larghe^e u^uratatea fiin^ei, dand frau liber reconfigurarii rescrierii identitare." [in the ethical stage, are the ones willing - still without irony - under the patronage of a prim autochthonous Mitica, to turn their back on "strong" identity, to freely play the lightness of being, giving free rein to the reconfiguration and re-writing of identity.] (Salcudeanu, Nicoleta: 2003, 82) For example - Norman Manea, Petru Popescu, Alexandra Cioranescu, BujorNedelcovici.

Finally, the Ex-patriots are a rather ethereal category, openly characterized by the author as "plute^te in incertul diafan bini^or frivol al stadiului estetic. (...) Prefer s-o pastrez in virtual poate pentru ca imi pare, deocamdata, necolonizata." [floating in the airy and quite frivolous incertitude of the aesthetic state. (...) I prefer to keep it virtual, perhaps also because it seems, for the time being, un-colonized.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 83). In this case, the focus is transculturation.

The analysis proper of exilic writing settles, then, on the rhetorical-stylistic coordinates (ab)used by Nicoleta Salcudeanu. On the one side, there are Paul Goma, Monica Lovinescu, Virgil Ierunca. On the other side, Dumitru Jepeneag, Petru Dumitriu and Vintila Horia. Namely, the ExPatriots.

Protected from Nicoleta Salcudeanu's taste for polemics, Paul Goma is, in her opinion, the author of a writing formula representative for the contemporary European literature, where the post-totalitarian East must find its place. In the words of the author, "aici se pare ca intalnirea dintre situa^ia dezradacinarii fuzioneaza cu experien^a comunista devine o noua formula livresca, pe back-ground-u\ unei noi sensibilita^i a timpului; a§ putea-o considera, dar n-o fac, (...), o forma literara „postmoderna" specifica „lagarului" comunist estic, §ansa noastra de originalitate innoire alternative, acum cand modelele occidentale par a se fi liberalizat." [it seems that here the encounter between the uprooted state merges with the communist experience and it becomes a new erudite formula, on the background of a new sensibility of the time; I could consider it, but I will not, (...) a "postmodern" literary form specific to the Eastern communist "camp", our chance at originality and alternative renewal, now, when the Western models seem to have been liberalized.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 90) (cf. Crihana, 2013)

The analysis of Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca's writings pays homage from the start: "divorful de propriile voca^ii i-a indepartat de realizarea individuals, dar i-a desavar^it in chemarea misionara." [the divorce from their own vocations prevented their individual affirmation, but it perfected them in their missionary calling.] (Salcudeanu, 2003, pp. 177). Preoccupied to show how the two writers and leaders of opinion - admired by some, criticised by others - sacrifice their own creative calling for an alternative canon of Romanian literature, entitled, as we know, East-ethic, the author identifies Virgil Ierunca's programmatic revolutionary aestheticism and Monica Lovinescu's refined taste, correlated with the essayistic elevation, as markers of a writing subordinated to the self-

assigned noble and risky mission at Radio Free Europe. However, it fails to identify solid arguments in favour of an ethic reconsideration of Romanian literature. After all, with the risk of reviving a truism, it must be clearly stated that literary canon can only be grounded on aesthetics. There have been numerous discussions on the aesthetic-ethic relation and, without a doubt, there will be many more. However, categorical sentences such as this - "dupä o via^a de privire la distan^a, Monica Lovinescu poate pretinde, pe bunä dreptate, cä a construit, dintr-un exil saudoso devastator, canonul etic al literaturii romane" [after a lifetime of watching from afar, Monica Lovinescu can claim, and rightly so, to have constructed, from a devastatingly nostalgic exile, the ethic canon of Romanian literature.] (Sälcudeanu, 2003, pp. 187) must be evaluated according to the only accepted criterion: that of aesthetic value.

Guilty of not contaminating his literary discourse with the (also) ethic extra-textual insertions, the novelist Dumitru Jepeneag is glimpsed, in Nicoleta Sälcudeanu's opinion, through the orifices of Romanian or memorial writing with all the facets of his individuality suspended between two identity markers: "toatä efervescen^a inovativä, toate cäutärile formale vin, esen^ialmente, din precarä fixare. Avantajul bastarditä^ii lui Jepeneag e cä, in postura de miel care suge de la douä oi, prin contactul nemijlocit cu literatura francezä, tinde sä se apropie de condi^ia apatridä a scriitorului-cetä^ean al lumii. Se apropie, dar nu päse^te in aceastä categorie." [all the innovative effervescence, all the formal searches essentially come from a precarious anchorage. The advantage of Jepeneag's bastardism is the fact that, drawing inspiration from two sources, due to the direct contact with French literature, he tends to come close to the stateless condition of the writer-citizen-of-the-world. He comes close, but he does not enter this category.] (Sälcudeanu, 2003, pp.128). Thus, his mioritic tendencies or, by the contrary, the grumpiness of the exiled become the components of a pathetic spectacle, which can be subsumed to the literary pathology of exile.

As for Vintilä Horia, well-known author of the emblematic novel Dumnezeu s-a näscut in exil/ God was born in exile, "farmecul desuet al prozei lui Vintilä Horia se muleazä pe conturul de desen naiv al prozei exilului pe välätucii de senzualitate ce gälgäie in seva textului. Saudosism senin, perfect consolator, lntre limitele enclavei estetice." [the outmoded charm of Vintilä Horia's prose follows the naive-drawing contours of exile prose and the twirls of sensuality spinning in the textual juices. Serene nostalgia, perfectly consoling, within the limits of the aesthetic enclave.] (Sälcudeanu, 2003, pp.176). Alternatively, Petru Dumitriu is considered, without reservations, a monstrous hybrid: "It is difficult to disassemble and analyse in detail the mechanism that managed to produce such an ideological and religious monster-the faithful Marxist apostate, but it is certain that the responsibility rests, to a great extent, with the Romanian political and historical environment, which made possible the appearance of such crossbred consciousnesses that host both atheism and camouflaged faith." (Sälcudeanu, 2003, pp. 159).

Discussed separately, as they should be, the Expatriates are, in Patria de härtie/ The Paper Country, Dumitru Radu Popa, Alexandru Papilian, George Tomaziu, Herta Müller and Sanda Ni^escu. Dilemmatically adapted to the new existential context, to the linguistic, cultural and mentality conditionings, they can illustrate a new type of citizen of the world (Dumitru Radu Popa): "e o nouä categorie de scriitor-roman-cetä^ean al lumii ce, färä bonjurisme sau macdonaldisme prefabricate, reu^e^te sä-§i aproprieze o lume sträinä in eel mai non^alant, plenar nezdruncinat mod cu putin^ä." [It is a new category of writer-Romanian-citizen of the world who, without prefabricated bonjourisms or MacDonaldisms, manages to appropriate a foreign world in the most nonchalant, plenary and unshakeable manner possible.] (Sälcudeanu, 2003, pp. 190). Or they nostalgically repatriate themselves (Herta Müller), they write their memoirs anthologizing their states of mind, like in an auto-archaeology of knowledge (George Tomaziu) or they appeal to the reconstructive gastronomic memory (Sanda Ni^escu).

In conclusion, all the exilic hypostases critically mapped particularize the paper country to the same extent as they announce the category of Ex-patriots as a desideratum on the strength of which the status of citizen of the world cannot be constructed or reclaimed unless - whatever Nicoleta Sälcudeanu might say of believe - out of an (adopted) belonging to the country of origin.


While its theoretical component is perfectly sound, Nicoleta Sälcudeanu's research raises questions concerning the illustrative analyses, the rigid value judgements and the sentimental option, which is not stylistically masked, for certain personalities of Romanian literary exile. Nevertheless, since the study follows the coordinates of a procedure with valid theoretical fundaments, a recalibration of the analytic work would solve the issues of critical approach and it would provide an operationally practical reading grid.


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available on - accessed on 1.03.2014 Salcudeanu, N. (2003). Patria de hârtie. Braçov: Aula.

Vasilache, S. (2004). Casa melcului. Observator cultural, 242, available on*articleID_11950-articles details.html-accessed on 10.03.2014.