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The political, the urban, and the cosmopolitan : the 1970s generation in Romanian-German poetry Cernahoschi-Condurateanu, Raluca


This study is an introduction to the body of work produced by the German poets who were born during or after World War II in Romania and whose almost simultaneous debut lies in the relatively liberal period 1965 – 1971. Helped onto the Romanian-German literary scene by a propitious environment and informed by the socialist ideology they were born “into,” the poets born between 1942 and 1955 formed a remarkable generation unit which sought to significantly renew German-language literature in Romania. Rejecting identification with the insulary Romanian-German communities, the young poets strove to create a socially and politically relevant verse expressing an urban and cosmopolitan attitude. The growing nationalist rhetoric and isolationist stance of Romania's regime and the material and psychological hardships endured by its population through the 1970s and 80s forced the generation to revise its incipient enthusiasm for Romanian socialism. Increasingly, the poets' work came to depict the threatened existence of the German minority and the harsh general living conditions in Romania and to provide an alternative to the absurd official proclamations of a “golden age” under Ceauşescu, despite the poetry's growing reliance on obscuring literary techniques. The emigration of most of the generation members in the mid to late 1980s brought about the eventual unravelling of the generation unit and marks the end of my study. By following the evolution of three themes – social and political engagement, the German minority, and the urban environment – which define the poets as a generation throughout their literary careers in Romania, the analysis illuminates not only the generation's development from identification with Romanian socialism and rejection of the German minority to criticism of the country's policies and a renewed interest in the fate of the German community but also the changing possibilities and limits of literary expression under communism. In addition to providing an introduction to the body of work created by the 1970s generation in Romania, the study also expands the understanding of German literature in the 20th century by providing new material on literature written under totalitarianism and of intercultural German literature.

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