Peripheral Modernisms. The Interwar Translation of East-Central European Novel in Romanian Literature

Cosmin Borza
Babes-Bolyai University


Until World War II, the most common qualifiers associated by the Romanian cultural magazines with Polish, Hungarian, Czech, and Slovak novels were “modern” and “contemporary.” Obviously, the qualifiers had an advertising role, given that, starting with the late 19th century and alongside the first half of the 20th century, the Romanian literary culture was defining itself mainly through the ideological programme of “catching up with the West.” But what “modern” or “contemporary” really meant when attached to the (semi-)peripheral European cultural production? Did such terms just qualify the expansion of Western literary models in East-Central Europe, or, quite to the contrary, did they label an alternative (local or regional) cultural approach on modernity? The present paper aims at answering such questions by analysing the pre-/interwar critical reception, selection and timeline of the Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Hungarian novels translated into Romanian.


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