Mihail Eminescu, Poesii (edition which reproduces exactly the 1883 edition)

was the most important movement of Romanian literature in the 19th century. It consisted of two main waves: the "pașoptism" (1848ism) and the junimism. Some also count a third wave, eminescianism.


As a stylistic paradigm, romanticism can be identified by its preference for subjectivity, fantasy and emotion instead of reason and objectivity (see realism), the use of certain themes (love, death, (life as a) dream) and especially motifs (such as the "blue flower"), its preference for idealist philosophical ideas and the use as sources of inspiration of folklore, traditions and (mythicised) national history, as well as the introduction of new aesthetic categories (sublime, grotesque etc.) and of new literary genres (meditation, philosophical poem, historical novella).

In Romania, unlike the European countries where romanticism was initially developed, there was no actual neoclassicism (other than the neoanacreontism of some isolated poets) to react against, so Romanian romanticists also used many classicist elements (Grigore Alexandrescu, for instance, wrote many fables).

1848 waveEdit

     See main article: pașoptism.

The writers of the 1848 wave were named so for their involvement in the political revolution of 1848. They were young people with education done usually in France, from where they tried to translate and "import" romanticism. The romanticism of this period is described as Beidermaier-type (see Virgil Nemoianu and his book The Taming of Romanticism), "low", "domestic". Though considered today rather minor, these writers had a crucial importance on the development of Romanian literature. Vasile Alecsandri was considered the major writer of his day and remains until today part of the literary canon. Ion Heliade-Rădulescu, Costache Negruzzi, Dimitrie Bolintineanu and Grigore Alexandrescu were also important.


     See main article: Junimea.

The members of the cultural community Junimea (founded around 1863), when attempting to make an anthology of (then contemporary) Romanian poetry, ended up agreeing on only a very small part of the poetry that was popular at the time. Since they were also grown-up in a different cultural background (German/Austrian rather than French), their gestures were initially seen as a radical departure from the 1848 wave. In 1872, Titu Maiorescu publishes the text Direcția nouă în poezia și proza română ("The New Direction in Romanian Poetry and Prose), in which he retains a member of the previous generation, Vasile Alecsandri (due to his new poems that were published in Convorbiri literare, Pasteluri) as pinnacle of the "new direction". Right after Alecsandri he singles out, however, Eminescu, who at the time published only a few poems, but was already considered by Maiorescu center of the next canon. (The section on "prose" is actually limited to scientific/academic prose.)

Maiorescu is today credited for having discovered and promoted Mihai Eminescu, Ion Creangă, Ioan Slavici and I.L. Caragiale. With the exception of Eminescu, however, none of these major classic writers do not fall into the perimeter of romanticism or, for that matter, any other given style (even Eminescu, "the last European romanticist" as he is often described as, is not entirely easy to pigeonhole, as it has been argued many times in the past few decades that some of his poems are actually "postromanticist" and anticipate modern poetry). "Minor" poets of the period are easier to classify as such.


See main article: Eminescianism.

The tragic decline and death of Eminescu grabbed attention and helped spawning a late wave of minor romanticists who often imitated superficially the great poet (especially his love poems and "folklore-inspired" poems), but achieved major popularity at the time. Alexandru Vlahuță and especially George Coșbuc were sometimes seen as poets more important evan than Eminescu (who was for a long period of time considered rather "pessimist", in contrast with his "luminous", "optimistic" imitators). They marked the transition towards traditionalism, as a way of the literary and cultural mainstream to configure a national identity that was still under construction. Symbolism is considered today, however, more important. It is noteworthy that the early symbolists, especially Alexandru Macedonski, were still influenced by romanticism, even though they claimed to react against it.

Elements of romanticism have circulated up until neomodernism (see Nichita Stănescu, Ana Blandiana or even Cezar Ivănescu) and even postmodernism (see Mircea Cărtărescu). Third-hand eminescianism, however, has never ceased being active and, until today, is notoriously known as the style of pupils and other newbies who try to start writing poetry by imitating canonic poets (though today Bacovia and, to a lesser degree, Nichita are more popular models than Eminescu). However, some persist in this obsolete style and, after receiving easy publication in the Communist period, continue to gather in small literary circles (often localised in towns or smaller cities, but not only, see the infamous group Amurg Sentimental) and publish themselves on the Internet, rarely receiving attention from major literary critics or magazines.

Romanticist writersEdit

1848 waveEdit



See also: traditionalism.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.