Scholarly article on topic 'Exile Narratives – from Psychological Mechanisms to Ideological Motivation'

Exile Narratives – from Psychological Mechanisms to Ideological Motivation Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Iuliana Barna

Abstract Within the Communist age, the Romanian political censorship has functioned as the key-factor in generating the phenomenon of the exile. The Romanian writers who have never accepted the overruling political regime and favored the reality-oriented, aesthetically-coined, transparent literature by means of which they rejected ‘word blindnes's and stereotypical discourse have been forced to emigrate. The present study is focused on the analysis of the exile narratives, be they epical or dramatic, so as to grasp the thinking subtlety, the psychology determining a special type of literature virulently opposing the ideological constraints.

Academic research paper on topic "Exile Narratives – from Psychological Mechanisms to Ideological Motivation"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 63 (2012) 190 - 194

The 4th Edition of the International Conference: Paradigms of the Ideological Discourse 2012

Exile Narratives - from Psychological Mechanisms to Ideological Motivation

Iuliana Barnaa*

aAssistant, PhD, Iuliana Barna, "Dunârea de Jos " University of Galati,, Romania


Within the Communist age, the Romanian political censorship has functioned as the key-factor in generating the phenomenon of the exile. The Romanian writers who have never accepted the overruling political regime and favored the reality-oriented, aesthetically-coined, transparent literature by means of which they rejected 'word blindness' and stereotypical discourse have been forced to emigrate. The present study is focused on the analysis of the exile narratives, be they epical or dramatic, so as to grasp the thinking subtlety, the psychology determining a special type of literature virulently opposing the ideological constraints.

© 2012 TheAuthors. PublishedbyElsevierLtd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos UniversityofGalati

Keywords: exile narratives, psychological mechanisms, ideological motivation, literature of revolt

* Barna Iuliana, Tel.: +4-075-125-7152 E-mail

1877-0428 © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dunarea de Jos University of Galati doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.10.029

1. Introduction

The Romanian literary scene lost sight for just a moment of the talented and spiritual writer Virgil Tanase. For some time now, the key has been found and the door, opened. We have been welcomed by a complex, lively, cryptic, magnetic, and prone to interpretations writing.

With his own epic formula and life experience, Virgil Tanase impresses with the easiness, refinement, and harmony of his writings, unfortunately, only in a foreign country. Only rarely we find in the Romanian journals a few lines or a few pages on Virgil Tanase's books or his directorial activity.

Virgil Tanase's literature is one about life, thoughts, hopes, about the people escaping in the Western world from the burden of the totalitarian regime. In his writings, Virgil Tanase shows a will to break all the established patterns, and a fierceness to evade all the predetermined meaning imperatives. In prose fiction or drama, Virgil Tanase, the writer, masks his other side, mirroring it distinctively, pencilling a dreamy, sensitive character who is also sensible, rebellious, and emancipated.

2. The beginning. The Orient-Express, from censorship to exile

Arrived in the capital of France, the young prose writer Virgil Tanase was saying: "Je suis de ces écrivains que le régime roumain essais de tuer en les empêchant tout simplement de publier : pour un ecrivain, c' est la mort... Les intellectuels que je fréquentais ont été avertis qu' il fallait me laisser en paix,. Dans la rue , je suis évité. Peut-être rejoindrai-je la foule des écrivans et des artistes qui ont été toute leur vie bannis, injuriés, et auxquels la mort a conféré le droit d' être présentés au peuple et acceptés par lui?" [1].

Everyone regarded him as an exiled in Paris, though the proser did not feel well in this position. The exile notion made him think of the miserable Ovid, cast out among the barbarians at the Euxine Sea [2].

The writers and artists exiled in Paris from the communist countries were labelled as such, which caused their placement under protection from generous souls in various reception halls: Beckett or Garcia Marques were not considered exiles, the term denoted most often those who, for political reasons, were not able to travel to their countries. Therefore, the exile was a category in relation to boundaries permeability - a geographical, political issue anyway, unrelated to the substance of creation. For the writer, to be exiled was an administrative situation and not an artistic identity (our translation) [3].

Nevertheless, Paris meant a new home for the writer, he found his serenity among his confrères, in literary caffés. He confesses that he was confronted with administrative difficulties in the capital of France - humiliating queues at the Prefecture of Police, distrust on the part of the realtors and other uncomfortable situations (he will hire as a doorman of a luxury house while being at the same time a contributor for Flammarion Publishing). Although he is granted the French citizenship at the end of 1978, Virgil Tanase never gives up his status, even though Securitate recommends the revocation of the Romanian citizenship, on December 2nd, 1977: Virgil Tanase's deeds are crimes of propaganda against the Socialist regime, provisioned and punished by art. 66, Penal Code... consequently, the State Council may withdraw the Romanian citizenship (our translation) [4].

For Virgil Tanase, the exile can be explained psychologically: the exile was that of a lonely wanderer in a world requiring to jaunt in company, accompanied by military music. Established in a foreign country, the writer was still convinced that the communist regime was just a transitory historical form of a profound monster taking the shape of an ideology and his struggle was carried out against this monster exclusively. He did not want to be considered one of those who make a profession or at least a condition out of the exile.

The unaffectedness, finesse, refinement of the Romanian novelist and playwright make an impression upon the French literary criticism: Malgré ses origines, rien ne destinait Virgil Tanase, venu d'une Roumanie qui semble sortir d'un délire de Jarry, à écrire ces textes amers et grinçants où la mort s'amuse avec des héros paumés et désabusés. Admirateur de Valéry, disciple de Barthes, professeur d'art dramatique, esthète raffiné, ce

romancier aurait été certainement plus à l'aise dans la composition de livres bercés par la nostalgie des ports du Danube. La réalité terrifiante de nos temps, la traque et l'exil en ont décidé autrement.... De ce jeu d'écriture, ce ces jeux de miroir demeure un mal de vivre, une angoisse essentielle rendus soutenables par l'humour de Tanase, cet humour si étrange qui témoigne d'un authentique désespoir [5].

Getting by with the drawbacks of the French administrative system, rejecting the idea of the political asylum, writing rigurously, acting in honesty and tact, Virgil Tanase will enjoy a well-earned appreciation: None of those reading with so much joy the novels published in Paris at the beginning of the 1980s was surprised to find out that Virgil Tanase was awarded in 2004 the prize for literature from the Latin Union. It is, otherwise, a very natural fact. And not only because he was born in Romania, on the shores of the Danube and he established in Paris more than thirty years ago, but especially because Virgil Tanase is a quintessence of Latinity in himself (our translation) [6]. His writing amazes with a certain kind of imagination, pertains to a particular genre and, even more, his novels are animated by a peculiar 'spirit' and a great depth.

3. In search for refuge: Oneirism, a reinvented psychological mechanism

For the writer Virgil Tanase, the great intellectual references spring from Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters), a novel that would lead the young proser on the path of initiation in the secrets of literary creation. He nourishes plentifully from the writings of Thomas Mann, Jack London, Mark Twain, and Turgenev and reads poetry, losing himself in Bacovia's lyrical universe. He excels as a translator, fusioning with Jacques Prévert's poetics and, at the same time, assimilating Barthes (On Racine, 1968), Tzvetan Todorov (Introduction à la littérature fantastique 1970, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre), Beckett (Act Without Words, 1971), Diaz-Plaja (Garcia Lorca - a monography, 1971) or Balzac (Contes drolatiques - Droll Stories).

When it comes to the first literary success, the writer can tell us best: In the second year at the university I also translated some of Jacques Prévert's poems. We were publishing a sort of a journal on a panel. More translations including mine had been posted there. The next day, my translation from Barthes was missing: someone had stolen it. It was my first literary success (our translation) [7].

The true writing adventure starts after an ideal communication with Dostoyevsky's, Proust's, Faulkner's, and Gogol's literature, making his debut in Luceafarul journal in 1969, with the story însemnârile celor ce merg spre somn (The jotting of those heading to sleep). Later on, the articles Rata sâlbatecâ (The Wild Duck), and Desenat într-o parte (Drawn askew) will be published in Luceafarul, 1970 and, during the same year, in Romania literara, Doamna cu licornul (The Lady with the Unicorn) is published, a poem in prose on love, death, and eternity: You're right, you're right too many times, I don't love you, I run away with you from that death we'd been glimpsing at the end of the straight road we'd taken and I'll stand by you as long as we won't be able to see anything further from us, leaving the wonderful train of the two hundred years of love flowing within us to the great herb fields to beam through the consummate mist (our translation) [8].

The writing of the stories in which imaginary dwells in real and life is wooed by death, as in an oneiric game where time and space seem endless and mirage fades only when struck by Mr Truth, anounces the birth of a talent, of a painter who, conscientiously alternating the quill and the paintbrush, creates a picture of novelty and poetry: The death who had black hair on the forehead and long, beautiful face, and loved horses, and had a only reed in her hand, and was wearing a green coat and was in a hurry to head to the mountains, yes, she (in Romanian, the noun death is feminine and we have kept it like that for preserving both the meaning and the cultural element) had come there, on the porch, from the sea scenting of jasmine and touched them, first her, the gypsy woman, and they all thought she was now telling the gypsy man: Come, come to Semenic Mountains... but it wasn't true... he died right after the gypsy woman, touched by the same hand... (our translation) [9].

The Lady with the Unicorn, Virgil Tanase resorts genuinely and significantly to the island symbol. For the island is no longer a refuge from the senseless world, nor is it the sacred, compensatory place coveted by the decayed and decaying human being, it only symbolises immovability. Even the syntax of this prose fiction is

conceived to hinder, by displacing adjuncts or objects from their normal position [10]: She reached out and embraced my neck and from the waters of the lake, dark, came out to the mirror which, draped in brocade, like in old practices, was held by the Lady, the unicorn (our translation) [11]. We find in Doamna cu licornul / The Lady with the Unicorn a proustian sentence, lagoon-shaped, lazy, insidious, but, unlike Proust, whose sentence plays the part of 'substantiating the progression of the thought', with Virgil Tanase it becomes calculated, reined in, meant to ensure that immovability concentrated in the symbol of the island: It was late and naturally there was no one to cross over here, to take us back to village, and there I was, alone, along the graves of sentenced boyars who surely had, some of them, spent past nights of love in the Lady's blood, dressed in high, thin clothes, black and white, lost around here, on these endways from before the invention of the compass and, with four masts and the bridges high above the sea... The Lady, with the neck and shoulders clanging in the dance of the adornment, alone on that island in an ocean which she had never sailed, to come and help her go beyond that field, Magellan bird, and in her hand with long fingers gently reaching out, she was holding the mirror... the silver mirror in which, gentle and confused, the Unicorn was looking.

The man and artist Virgil Tanase has stayed and will be staying behind the curtains, allowing every once in a while to be known and acknowledged for his art, then finding a refuge in his unconstraint universe, waiting for the moment when he, the novelist, is absolutely necessary again. Otherwise, after a long and intense introspection, Virgil Tanase defines himself as 'a unique individual', moreover, analysing the context the artist is living in these days, he asserts: something must happen in this creation for my presence to become a requisite and my death, an aberration [12].

A time-travel shapes the portrait of a young man aspiring for the secrets of literature, who manages, by writer's craftsmanship, to enter a puberal literary paradise, matured step by step by its inhabitants, by their letters harmoniously refined and by their profound experience. And Virgil Tanase has lived ever since here, in this fairy land, preserving loyally in his writings the genuine scent of poetic literature (my emphases).

It is the time when the Romanian literature is invaded by a new literary movement named Oneirism. Rejecting the automatic dictation, the supreme law ruling the texts of Surrealism, the writers attending to Luceafarul literary circle, the magical place of the 'rebel spirit', presided at that time by Eugen Barbu, were trying to create a literature of the endless time and space, a parallel world, not homologous, but analogous with the ordinary world (our translation) [13]. This way, Dumitru Tepeneag and Leonid Dimov open the gates of the new literary group, stating its theoretical bases as well: The new literary movement is visionary, not descriptive. It was meant to be in flight from realism by appealing to dream, a view opposed to that of Surrealism [14].

Later, the Oneiric group will be enlarged with Virgil Mazilescu, Vintila Ivanceanu, Daniel Turcea, Florin Gabrea, Emil Brumaru, Sorin Titel, Iulian Neacsu, and the tenth and the last, Virgil Tanase, whom Dumitru Tepeneag describes as follows: He was younger than anybody else! tall, slim, with a thick, baritone voice that might have impressed the girls and the women who allowed themselves to be tempted by a certain analogy. Otherwise, chary of words. His laconism was impressive, especially when the rest of us loved to chatter (our translation) [15].

With a sharp mind and an analytical, yet warm insight, Virgil Tanase surprises with his pleasant, elegant, reasonable and honest discourse, distant when necessary. He speaks serenely of the writing experience, yet does not provide with too many details on the metaphorical symbols concealed in his books, leaving us to infer the deep significance of his text. About the exile, he keeps telling over and over again the story of the adolescent got away of his universe, forced to leave his house, garden and town behind to go to university. This break from the regional childhood and the departure to Bucharest will leave a great impression upon him, so that his first novels will reflect it plentifully. For Virgil Tanase, the exiled is that lonely wanderer in a world requiring to jaunt in company, accompanied by military music, while the exile literature is literature in a zoo, with animals which do not live their natural life.

These days, the Eastern European literary space witnesses an acute and deliberate break with the communist political system, which triggers a conscious quest for the self on the part of literatures reborn with the extinction of the ideological oppression mechanism [16].


[1] Ezine, Jean, Louis. (1976). Un ecrivan roumain baillonnéparle, Les nouvelles littéraires, 21 octombrie-28 octombrie, Anul 54, No. 2555.

[2] Virgil Tanase : le promeneur solitaire in the periodical Combats Magazine, Périodique multilingue. Littérature/politique/culture, October, 18, 2004.

[3] Interview with Virgil Tânase by the writer Cornel Nistor in Discobolul magazine, July-September 2004.

[4] Florin Manolescu, Enciclopedia exilului literar românesc /The encyclopedia of the Romanian literary exile 1945-1989, Ed. Compania, Bucuresti, 659.

[5] Edgar Reichmann. (1984). Les morts ludiques /Theplayful dead, published in the French periodical Le Monde, June, 22.

[6] Patrice Bollon. (2005). Un latin balcanic/A Balkan Latin Writer, Caiete Critice, Nr. 1(207), 19.

[7] Tanase, Virgil. (1996). Ma Roumanie, E.D.P., Bucureçti, 51.

[8] Tanase, Virgil . (1969)Insemnârile celor ce merg spre somn /Thejotting of those heading to sleep, Lucealârul, Year XII, issue 47 (395), November, 22, 5.

[9] Tanase, Virgil. (1970).Desenat într-o parte /Drawn askew, published in Lucealarul, Year XIII, iss.18, 5.

[10] Negoitescu, I. (1990). Despreproza lui Virgil Tanase /On Virgil Tânase'sprosefiction, România literarâ, Year XXIII, issue. 27, July 5, 7.

[11] Tanase, Virgil. (1970), Doamna cu licornul /The Lady with the Unicorn, România literarâ, Year III, iss.35, August,27, 19.

[12]. Tanase, Virgil. (1996). Ma Roumanie, 54.

[13] Oprea, Nicolae. ( 2005). Noptile de insomnie /Nights of Sleeplessness, Piteçti: Paralela 45, 23.

[14] Leonid Dimov, Dumitru Tepeneag. (1997). .Momentul oniric /The Oneiric Moment, Cartea Romaneasca, 76.

[15] Dumitru Tepeneag. (2005). Portret de tânârscriitor înpeisaj marin / Portrait of the young writer in seascape, Caiete Critice, issue 1(207), 21.

[16] Ifrim, Nicoleta (2011). Identitate culturala si integrare europeana. Perspective critice asupra discursului identitar romanesc în perioada postdecembrista / Cultural Identity and European Integration: Critical Perspectives upon the Romanian Identity Discourse after December 1989, Ed.Europlus, Galati, 7.