A Metacritical Approach to Eminescu’s Myth. With a Look to Florina Ilis’s Novel Parallel Lives [Viețile paralele]


  • Andreea MIRONESCU Department of Interdisciplinary Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, Romania


collective imaginary, cultural myth, national poet, Mihai Eminescu, Florina Ilis


The centrality of Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) in the Romanian collective imaginary has been repeatedly acknowledged in the last one hundred years. His figure – and to less extent his poetic and journalistic work – enabled the proliferation of a wide gallery of cultural, political, and literary myths, which collided with one another and inspired vivid debates in the public arena. My article seeks to examine one recent contribution in this area, namely the novel Viețile paralele [Parallel Lives] published by Florina Ilis in 2012. Drawing on concepts such as national poet(s) and cultural saints, I suggest a more cautious approach to Eminescu’s myth, which is often seen as a form of Romanian cultural pathology. Comparative research stresses that in East-Central Europe the figures of national poets are subject to collective mythization and ideological annexation. The first part of my article comments on the mechanisms of national myths production and reiteration, while the second part focuses on the role played by literary works in these processes. In this respect, my analysis of Ilis’s novel shows that literary fiction both enables and disables collective myths. However, as a postmodern and postcommunist female author, Ilis approaches the myth of the Romanian national (male) bard from a deconstructionist perspective, which asks for a rethinking of the collective representations on Eminescu.


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