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The Cosmopolitism of the Romanian Avant-Garde

Publication: Philologica Jassyensia, IX (2), p. 241-247
Publisher:Institutul de Filologie Română „A. Philippide”
Abstract:In a famous essay published in the eighties under the title Éloge du cosmopolitisme, Guy Scarpetta was defining cosmopolitism the movement of rejection of any “ideological device of root-striking” that connects the individual to the collective phantasms of the tribe, the nation, the race, etc. By its challenging attitude, the avant-garde, in Scarpetta’ s opinion, undermines the “device of root-striking” through its lack of piety towards origins, towards national traditions, towards the so-called “racial patrimony” or towards the “purity of language”, as well as through the transgression of all frontiers (spatial, linguistic, cultural, etc.). Despite the officially preached nationalism, the Romanian avant-garde had from the very beginning the ambition of internationalization, transgressing the territorial borders, traveling and engaging in cultural exchanges with the congeneric European movements. The members of the Romanian avant-garde published also in foreign reviews or participated in artistic events (congresses, exhibitions, etc.) organized abroad, and, conversely, one may notice the presence of numerous foreign names in the Romanian avant-garde publications and in the exhibitions of modern art organized in Bucharest starting with 1928, under the patronage of the review Contimporanul (“The Contemporary”). Otherwise, out of a genuine obsession with uprooting, many members of the Romanian avant-garde went into voluntary exile before or soon after the war, some of them gaining international recognition as names of reference in modern art. One must notice that very few finally settled in Israel, as the vanguardists seemed to refuse that “promised land” dreamt by the Zionists, whom they had always disapproved, preferring instead more cosmopolitan adoptive countries, especially France, the cradle of the avant-garde. The same refusal of root-striking urged them, even when living in Romania, to write in French, the international language of the avant-garde, or to exile themselves in their own language, decomposing and recomposing it ad libitum in order to create an autonomous poetic language, genuinely international. Famous indeed have remained, for instance, the “leopard” language of Virgil Teodorescu and the “prodigious stuttering” of Gherasim Luca (as Gilles Deleuze called it).
Key words:avant-garde, cosmopolitism, root-striking
Language: English

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