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The Revolutionary Force of the Periphery: "The Levant," "Nostalgia," and World Literature

The Revolutionary Force of the Periphery: "The Levant," "Nostalgia," and World Literature

Following the December 1989 revolution that overthrew the Communist regime, Romanian literature reentered the international literary market from which it had largely been cut off. The possibility of being translated into major languages of international circulation, and thus of reaching a wider audience and entering a relatively open competition for worldly recognition and legitimacy, changed the modes of production and circulation of Romanian literature. This major change in the sociological reality after 1989 coincided almost prophetically with a major change in Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu’s literary practice: a shift from poetry to fiction.

Mircea Cărtărescu is typically considered the leading member of the 1980s generation in Romanian literature, the generation legitimized as postmodernist. His theoretical book Romanian Postmodernism is the manifesto of a generation, so why discuss him in an issue dedicated to peripheral modernisms?[1] Perhaps we should step back and think for a moment about the use of theoretical labels whose function changes over time, as well as about the difference between our neatly defined concepts and the diversity of literary practice.

In 1982, Ihab Hassan pointed out that “[m]odernism and postmodernism are not separated by an Iron Curtain or Chinese Wall; for history is a palimpsest, and culture is permeable to time past, time present, and time future.”[2] Nor was Eastern Europe during the 1980s truly separated intellectually and literarily from the rest of the world. As the Romanian literary critic Mircea Martin has written, “despite the political and ideological borders, contact with the Western sources was never interrupted.”[3] In his essay “Europe Has the Shape of My Brain,” Cărtărescu himself remarked that “nowhere are there concrete walls, iron curtains, and frontiers,” not even between artistic or literary movements and theoretical concepts.[4] Although usually identified by literary critics as a postmodernist, Cărtărescu has always rejected any kind of theoretical labeling, finding it confining for his identity and imagination. As Matei Călinescu argued in Five Faces of Modernity, postmodernism is “a new face of modernity” next to modernism, the avant-garde, decadence, and kitsch.[5]

History teaches us that theoretical concepts like modern(ist), postmodern(ist), classic, romantic, baroque, and avant-garde undergo an evolution in time, from an initial presentist understanding to an atemporal one. They can be understood chronologically as period concepts, with a clear beginning and ending; topologically, they can be understood as concepts whose characteristics are repeated over time without being bound to a specific space or time period; axiologically, they can designate a special distinction that some works of art gain over time (this is the development of the notion of “classic” as “canonical”). In Romanian Postmodernism, Cărtărescu employs the notions of modern(ism) and postmodern(ism) as topological concepts. Half of his monograph is dedicated to Romanian writers and poets typically classified in literary histories as “modernist” — most notably the major poet of the interwar period Tudor Arghezi and the visionary writer Max Blecher — whose work Cărtărescu reads as “postmodernist” avant la lettre. Even Mihai Eminescu, the leading poet of Romanian romanticism, retrospectively undergoes a sea change in Cărtărescu’s monograph, where we are constantly reminded that we can never neatly fit a major writer into any theoretical box. Eminescu, Arghezi, and Blecher are among Cărtărescu’s major precursors, and it’s important to know why: “If in Western Europe the ‘modernist’ period ends a little after WWII, in the peripheral areas including Romania it extends until the late ’70s.”[6] As he says of the interwar period, “The true European modernity of the time was sooner a postmodernity avant la lettre.[7] If Eminescu, Arghezi, and Blecher are postmodernists before postmodernism’s time, isn’t the reverse true, too: that Cărtărescu’s own work, typically considered postmodernist, can be retrospectively seen as a blended instance of topological romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism? Why put in a theoretical box a writer whose understanding of literature is constantly fighting against it?[8]

As David Damrosch argues in his new book Comparing the Literatures, “What we all do need to consider are the ways in which discussions of literary modernity can be enriched and complicated by including works that don’t fit neatly into the existing modern(ist) canon,” always keeping in mind that “modernism in the ‘core’ devolved into late or neomodernism and postmodernism.”[9] Damrosch writes that the break with the past is a function of the topological sense of modern/modernity that’s not bound exclusively to our modern (i.e., presentist) notion of it that covers only the last two or at most three centuries. The break between modernism and postmodernism is just another instance of this since, as Călinescu argues, they are both faces of the same larger modernity. Proust famously wrote about the impressionist Auguste Renoir, who, in time, stopped being considered an avant-garde painter breaking from the eighteenth-century mode of painting and started to be looked at by the next generation as more like a “traditional” eighteenth-century painter. What changes is our perspective in time on the phenomenon rather than the object itself, and a topological understanding of the theoretical concept replaces the period one:

People of taste tell us nowadays that Renoir is a great eighteenth-century painter. But in so saying they forget the element of Time, and that it took a great deal of time, even at the height of the nineteenth century, for Renoir to be hailed as a great artist. To succeed thus in gaining recognition, the original painter or the original writer proceeds on the lines of the oculist. The course of treatment they give us by their painting or by their prose is not always pleasant. When it is at an end the practitioner says to us: “Now look!” And, lo and behold, the world around us (which was not created once and for all, but is created afresh as often as an original artist is born) appears to us entirely different from the old world, but perfectly clear. Women pass in the street, different from those we formerly saw, because they are Renoirs, those Renoirs we persistently refused to see as women. The carriages, too, are Renoirs, and the water, and the sky; we feel tempted to go for a walk in the forest which is identical with the one which when we first saw it looked like anything in the world except a forest, like for instance a tapestry of innumerable hues but lacking precisely the hues peculiar to forests. Such is the new perishable universe which has just been created. It will last until the next geological catastrophe is precipitated by a new painter or writer of original talent.[10]

As Proust writes, it’s time that changes our understanding of artistic objects, and what the present showed as stark difference from the past, the work of time reveals as its organic continuity or repetition with a difference.

Thinking through the similarities rather than differences between modernism and postmodernism as well as our changing perspective over time, Mircea Martin notes that “principles that used to be thought constitutive of modernism are now attributed to postmodernism.”[11] “It would be difficult to conceive of a real break [between modernism and postmodernism] as long as some names belong to both: Joyce, Pound, T. S. Eliot himself,”[12] Martin continues, an opinion shared by Ihab Hassan, Matei Călinescu, and Brian McHale concerning Joyce, Nabokov, and Borges.[13] Mircea Cărtărescu could easily be added to the list.

In this essay I’ll discuss Cărtărescu’s verse epic The Levant (1990) and the novel Nostalgia (published initially in 1989 in a censored form as The Dream). Though they can be considered postmodernist in terms of their ontological concerns, they are typically modernist through their nostalgic, serious, and creative, rather than deconstructive and parodic, treatment of the (literary) past.

The Levant and Nostalgia are two major texts of world literature that testify to how the revolutionizing of literary practices comes from the peripheries of the literary field;[14] they are not mere imitations of English or French literary forms through local material, as Franco Moretti argues of peripheral literature in “Conjectures on World Literature.”[15] I will analyze a part of the complex intertextual network in which The Levant and Nostalgia are inscribed, a network that includes Dante’s Divine Comedy, Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Diary, and the Bible. I will argue that even in a politically controlled space like pre-1989 Romania, the circulation of works of world literature through translation can produce works of world literature even when authors don’t have the smallest hope that their works will circulate abroad. The politically controlled period in which Cărtărescu wrote allowed him to choose his partners of dialogue in the absence of any strategic hierarchy that would please the center and free from any expectation of gaining recognition from the world literary space.

Of the three definitions of world literature put forth by David Damrosch in What Is World Literature?, the most popular are the first two, which either directly or indirectly speak of a text’s circulation through translation: “World literature is an elliptical refraction of national literatures,” and “World literature is writing that gains in translation.”[16] What about the texts that don’t circulate or aren’t produced in a relatively free literary field that allows them to circulate beyond national borders through translation? Are they works that cannot be considered world literature? Damrosch’s third definition is the least cited one, but it’s the most innovative for the discipline of world literature. It imagines world literature as an intertextual relation while transforming the author into a reader: “World literature is not a set canon of texts but a mode of reading: a form of detached engagement with worlds beyond our own place and time.”[17]

This third definition emphasizes not the circulation of the newly produced text, but rather its production as a node in a vast intertextual network and as a response to texts written in different languages that circulate in the production space of the future text. The 1980s were the darkest Communist decade in Romania, when writers couldn’t even dream of being translated, and yet they did have in hand the massive production of translations of classic and contemporary literature in the 1960s and 1970s. They could thereby experience the entire intertextual network, to which they could respond creatively, in a world where the only way to survive intellectually was to read and write.

David Damrosch emphasizes the intertextual constellation that differs from one writer to another and characterizes contemporary world literature: “A leading characteristic of world literature today is its variability: different readers will be obsessed by very different constellations of texts. While figures like Dante and Kafka retain a powerful canonical status, these authors function today less as a common patrimony than as rich nodes of overlap among many different and highly individual groupings.”[18] This resonates perfectly with the mode of production of Cărtărescu’s prophetic texts The Levant and Nostalgia, though we also need to look at the broader political landscape that shapes individual writers’ intertextual webs. Unlike Damrosch, who proposes a more liberal and democratic circulation of texts, Franco Moretti and Pascale Casanova — two leftist theorists indebted to Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological ­structuralism — ­introduce the question of politics in the circulation of texts.

For Moretti, the modern novel — the principal genre practiced by Cărtărescu since 1989 — ­circulates mainly from a cultural center in Western Europe to the (semi)periphery: “in cultures that belong to the periphery of the literary system (which means: almost all cultures, inside and outside Europe), the modern novel first arises not as an autonomous development but as a compromise between a western formal influence (usually French or English) and local materials.”[19] This formulation has provoked a great deal of often critical debate, yet few scholars note Moretti’s own nuancing of this statement, which describes the law rather than the exception.[20] The exceptions are the genuinely revolutionary texts like The Levant and Nostalgia: “those independent paths that are usually taken to be the rule of the rise of the novel (the Spanish, the French, and especially the British case) — well, they’re not the rule at all, they’re the exception. They come first, yes, but they’re not at all typical. The ‘typical’ rise of the novel is Krasicki, Kemal, Rizal, Maran — not Defoe” (emphasis in original).[21]

Such exceptions also come under the scrutiny of Pascale Casanova in La république mondiale des lettres (The World Republic of Letters), where she develops the concept of the periphery as the space in which the inequalities, hierarchies, and struggle for world legitimacy are most visible. Although achieving this legitimacy wasn’t a possibility for Cărtărescu in 1989, it became one shortly after: “I spent the first twenty years after the publication of my first book in translation trying to convince people to read my works.”[22] In Casanova’s theory, Moretti’s exception becomes central because it revolutionizes the field of possibles and can change what Bourdieu calls the stakes of the game: “The irremediable and violent discontinuity between the metropolitan literary world and its suburban outskirts is perceptible only to writers on the periphery, who, having to struggle in very tangible ways in order simply to find ‘the gateway to the present’ (as Octavio Paz put it), and then to gain admission to its central precincts, are more clearsighted than others about the nature and the form of the literary balance of power.”[23] This concept of the periphery as the space where revolutionary literature is born is doubly relevant for Cărtărescu, as Casanova illustrates with the example of Kafka, one of Cărtărescu’s essential models: “Kafka himself affirmed the need to speak of small literatures, which is to say of literary worlds that exist only in their unequal structural relationship to large (‘great’) literatures; he saw these worlds as inherently politicized, and insisted on the inevitably political and national character of the texts written in them.”[24]

If world literature is a mode of reading (Damrosch), a way of doing literature and criticism differently (Moretti), and a potentially revolutionary way of fighting for legitimacy in a world literary space (Casanova), then world literature is no longer only about the circulation of existing works through translation but also about circulation that leads to new production. As Martin Puchner notes, “world literature is that subset of literature that maintains a crucial relation to the world. World literature is literature insofar as it pertains to the world: a worldly literature. … It would also mean literature that has been taken up by the world, emerging in the struggle for dominance. … it is the literature arising from this struggle itself.”[25]

Before and After 1989

Although written without the hope of ever being translated, The Levant and Nostalgia are as worldly as possible through the intertextual dialogue they create; both books say something not only about the world of 1980s Communist Romania but also about the (literary) world at large.[26] Neither The Levant nor Nostalgia is “born translated”;[27] nor do they aim at conquering a Western cultural center (Moretti, Casanova). However, after 1989, translation becomes one of Cărtărescu’s two major objectives, as he wrote in his journal in June 1990: “1. Writing. 2. Publishing outside. In the literary world here, there’s nothing much left to do anyway” (emphasis in original).[28] To understand the shift from the process of production to that of translation, we should think of The Levant and Nostalgia before and after 1989 and in relation to the chance encounter between the historical changes and Cărtărescu’s individual trajectory.

If we turn to the theoretical approach proposed by numerous studies of world literature today that argue that the major genre of our globalizing age is the novel, not poetry, we could interpret Cărtărescu’s change from poetry to fiction shortly after 1989 as reflecting an interest in gaining recognition through translation. But Cărtărescu’s shift to the novel is not a matter of giving in to a Moretti-style “wave” sweeping the world but the result of an organic growth in his work. The Levant is a rewriting not just of Romanian literature and poetry but also of world literature, constructed intertextually as a summa of everything he’d written until then. Its two major intertextual models are both epic in scale, and rather than only deconstructing them parodically like a postmodernist, Cărtărescu also engages with both of them creatively, nostalgically, and seriously, like a modernist. These epic models are Dante’s Divine Comedy, as a poetic testament and a form of self-canonization for the late medieval poet, and Finnegans Wake, through which Joyce creates what he calls an abookalypse — the book that contains its own death and rebirth through the ending that connects back to the sentence that opened the book. This architecture is translated in The Levant where the poet Manoil hears his own voice in canto 7 spoken by a statue representing the last important Romanian poet of the twentieth century, whose song repeats the epic’s opening lines. The Levant closes a major period in Cărtărescu’s life as a poet but, through its epic, imaginative force, opens another, which Nostalgia, written simultaneously with The Levant, prophesizes. His diary entries from 1990 see this coincidence as prophetic, allowing Cărtărescu once more to identify not only with Dante’s Inferno but also with his Vita nuova, an identification as serious as possible rather than a parodic one with a comic effect that a postmodernist would choose: “’89 was, objectively speaking, a grand year, like you live maybe once in a lifetime” (1 January 1990).[29] “Indeed, we’re entering a brave new world” (3 January 1990),[30] for which a vita nuova is required. This vita nuova, as the diary indicates, is the shift from poetry to the fiction in the future trilogy Blinding: “[I need to] regenerate for a new book / a new life” (29 June 1991).[31]

A diary entry from 3 January 1990 tells of a prophetic dream: “Here’s a dream I never told (it’s old): I was in front of an immense wall, the obtuse façade of a building like those in the Valley of Kings. White wall, blinding, slightly inclined on the upper part, like a pyramid. All of a sudden, a gate opened in it, and through it I entered a library as big as a warehouse.”[32] What he enters through the gate in the wall, as in Kafka’s dream of the multiple gates opening in the Great Wall of China, is the space of world literature, resonant with Borges’s Library of Babel. At the same time, along with fragments from Kafka’s diary, Cărtărescu rereads the Divine Comedy, “the only book one can stand to read after a revolution.”[33]

For the Romanian writers of the 1980s generation, “poetry had truly been Reality, while everything around us seemed a strange ghost of colloidal matter, acids, and granite” (1 May 1993).[34] Sensing that after 1989 the Western world would be interested in realistic fiction about the Communist past, Cărtărescu develops his revolutionary peripheral strategy against this expectation, instead creating a poetic and oneiric history following in the footsteps of the peripheral Dante, who opposed Latin by writing in his Tuscan dialect: “When all will turn to the social, the political, and the historic, I will stick to the psychic ‘che muove il sol e l’altre astre [sic]’” (in Italian in the original, replacing Dante’s stelle with the archaic Romanian word of Latin origin astre). “My fiction grew out of my poetry, and it is poetry, a work of imagination” (emphasis in original).[35]

Literary genres are not as pure as theory would have them, and poets don’t stop being poets because they turn to fiction. The verse epic The Levant and the novel Nostalgia transform their respective genres from normative and predictive formulae into genres that establish their own history. As René Wellek and Austin Warren note, a major text institutes its own genre, becoming normative for others that will take it as a model.[36] The visionary force and linguistic brilliance of The Levant’s poet lie at the heart of Nostalgia, the trilogy Blinding (1996, 2002, 2007), and Solenoid (2016).[37] Both an inner and an outer journey, The Levant reactivates a tradition that goes from the Odyssey to Dante’s Divine Comedy, Gérard de Nerval’s The Daughters of Fire, and Joyce’s Ulysses.

Cărtărescu’s metanovel is endowed with all the linguistic and visionary force of poetry, two major canonical criteria according to Harold Bloom.[38] Similarly, Cărtărescu described Blinding as “a novella — a novel — an extended poem” and as “a sonnet-novel.”[39] As Mariano Siskind has argued, in the contemporary context of world literature new literary genres are born that discover “the universalizable potential of akin texts.”[40] In the following pages I will discuss Bloom’s two canonical criteria — the revolutionary force of language and the cognitive power of the visionary imagination — through the intertextual network activated in The Levant and Nostalgia, in order to show that world literature exists even in the absence of the possibility of circulation beyond national borders, giving us a new way of reading intertextually what T. S. Eliot called literary tradition.

The Revolutionary Force of The Levant’s Eschatological Language

The Levant, written in an impressive array of prosodic forms and divided into twelve cantos, seems the most local and untranslatable text anyone could imagine, a Finnegans Wake in a minor language that mixes references to Romanian epic traditions like Ion Budai-Deleanu’s Țiganiada (The Gypsiad; or, The Camp of the Gypsies, 1800), folk ballads like The Ballad of Argeș Monastery or the legend of Master Manole, and a Balkan regional history of fighting the Ottoman Empire. The Levant tells the story of Manoil/Manuel/Manoli’s fantastic adventures in the Mediterranean world in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the attempt to liberate Walachia (today’s southern Romania) from the Ottoman Empire and establish a national state. Written between 1987 and 1989 but published only in 1990, The Levant speaks of a tyrant who runs the country and whom Romanians want to overthrow, led by the poet Manoil. But alas, revolutions are not that revolutionary in a Balkan country, where habits of bribery, deceit, and crime — learned during half a millennium of Ottoman rule — die hard. As Oscar Wilde knows, it’s reality that imitates fiction, and The Levant’s failed revolution, which overthrows a tyrant only to replace him with another one, proved prophetic of the 1989 Revolution that brought down Ceaușescu’s Communist regime. “I finished my poem in the fall of 1989, just a few months before the ‘revolution’ that would turn out just as dubious as the one in my epic: ‘I know, a terrible failure,’” writes Mircea Cărtărescu in 2004.[41] These words establish the poet as a visionary and a prophet, a function common not at all to a postmodern paradigm of thought but rather to a romantic one. This should come as no surprise, as one of Cărtărescu’s major poetic models is the romantic poet Mihai Eminescu.

In The Levant’s canto 7, apparently the canto most metatextually rooted in the local tradition of Romanian poetry, Cărtărescu’s authorial mask Manoil walks through gigantic subterranean constructions accompanied by a nymph. In these strange, endless halls, he meets, in chronological order, the six Romanian poets who revolutionized the language of poetry starting in the mid-nineteenth century — Mihai Eminescu, Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga, Ion Barbu, Bacovia, and Nichita Stănescu — with a seventh at the end: Manoil/Cărtărescu himself. Each of his predecessors is a statue that recites a poem in his own voice — but is it really his own voice? The seventh figure speaks in Manoil’s voice, uttering a poem that turns out to be the opening verses of The Levant. The first six poets are each represented through a poem that could have been written by them but isn’t. These poems include all the commonplaces and stereotypical phrases that were once linguistic revolutions, a logic that Proust reminds us is the fate of all art in time. Through these texts, the six major poets who preceded Cărtărescu are at once recognized and parodied through their own mannerisms, which suggests that their poetry is decomposable like a mechanism. But the minute we think we’re in full postmodernist parody of the past, Manoil has a deeply serious revelation that turns his own parodic rewriting on its head: “Manoil, we’re now in the mind’s eye / In the deep of the deep of the deep of all being.”[42]

What seems an exclusively local reference, destined for an audience well versed in Romanian literature, is also revealed as a very serious reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is being rewritten, not deconstructed — as evidenced not only by their common epic genre but by their visionary character and their use of a vernacular language (the Tuscan dialect for Dante, the Walachian dialect for Cărtărescu) spoken by a small community, and also by the narrative itself, down to the use of certain phrases. In canto 7, Cărtărescu rewrites Dante’s canto 4 (Limbo), which itself is the most metatextual canto in the Divine Comedy. It is here that Dante, accompanied by Virgil (like Manoil accompanied by the nymph) meets with his precursors, in the same chronological order in which Manoil meets with his: Homer (“the supreme poet”), Horace, Ovid, and Lucan (lines 85–90).[43] Dante’s predecessors, including Virgil, then do him the honor of including him as the sixth in their company.

Like Dante, Manoil/Cărtărescu comes last, following his models, in a gesture at once reverential but also iconoclastic and self-canonizing. This gesture would manifest in reality on 15 January 1990, the anniversary of Eminescu’s birth, when the literary magazine Orizont showed Cărtărescu on the front page. Young, with slightly longer hair, a moustache, and a dreamy look, Cărtărescu bore a striking resemblance to Eminescu himself in one of his iconic photos. But as Cărtărescu follows in the footsteps of Dante, he is simultaneously, through the same reference, also walking in the footsteps of Eminescu. The intertext here is the lesser-known poem The Epigones, cited in the epigraph of The Levant, that established Eminescu as a poet in his own right by rewriting the Romanian poetic tradition before him, through an ironic gesture that equates the worldly and the local. But Cărtărescu quotes Eminescu hereas a proto-(post)modernist, disenchanted with the very idea of novelty and originality (and in this sense removed from the romantic paradigm he’s usually framed with): “Should you find in The Epigones praise for poets like Bolliac, Mureșan, or Eliade, this is not for the inner merit of their writings but only because their honest naivete, completely unaware of itself, is genuinely moving. We, the newcomers, we are aware of ourselves and the times we live in, and therefore we have all the more reason for being discouraged.”[44] Cărtărescu frames his Levant with this quotation from Eminescu, not for a comic or parodic effect as a postmodernist would have done, but rather for a serious one, reflecting back with admiration and nostalgia on his predecessors’ poetry, a gesture that’s modernist rather than postmodernist.

Thus, the circle of world literature opens for a second to receive Dante-Cărtărescu and then closes behind them. Including himself in a tradition of revolutionary Romanian poets, Cărtărescu sets himself also in the lineage of Dante, the great absent figure not named directly in canto 7, where Cărtărescu canonizes himself with postmodern irony but also with the romantic awareness of his prophetic soul, knowing he is “the last major poet of the century / that’s yet to come.”[45]

But the complexity of the intertext, at once worldly and untranslatably local, doesn’t end here. The musicality and meter of the poem through which Cărtărescu represents himself in canto 7 — the opening lines of The Levant in trochaic octameter — are resonant of Eminescu’s First Epistle, where we find an interesting character: an aged, learned man, a visionary. He can see in his mind’s eye both the genesis and the apocalypse:


Over there an aged teacher, with his elbows jutting out

Through the threadbare jacket, reckons and the sums cause him to pout.

Shivering with cold, he buttons his old dressing-gown, austere,

Thrusts his neck into the collar and the cotton in his ear.

Skinny as he is and hunch-backed, a most wretched ne’er-do-well,

He has in his little finger all the world, heaven and hell;

For behind his brow are looming both the future and the past,

And eternity’s thick darkness he’ll unravel at long last.

. … . … . … . … . … . … . … . … . … . … . … .

Thinking takes him back through thousands upon thousands of hoary ages

To the very first, when being and non-being were nought still,

When there was but utter absence of both life-impulse and will,

When unknown there was nothing, although everything was hidden,

When, by His own self pervaded, resting lay the Allforbidden.

Was it an abyss? a chasm? wat’ry plains without an end?

There was no estate of wisdom, nor a mind to comprehend.

For the darkness was as solid as is still the shadows’ ocean,

And no eyes, had there been any, could have formed of it a notion.[46]

But in these visions, Eminescu himself is rewriting the myth of Creation from another text of world literature: the Rig Veda.


Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.

What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?

Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider.

That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos.[47]

In Cărtărescu’s verses “The poetic mechanism, made of levers and images / Has at the other end a quill that blackens page after page / That you think you dreamed, but they’re all dreamed / Long before floods, fossils, coacervates,”[48] he rewrites Eminescu’s ancient of days, who “has in his little finger all the world, heaven and hell; / For behind his brow are looming both the future and the past.” But the visionary’s mind’s eye that shows earthly time to be only the dream of a learned man is also an intertext with the Rig Veda as well as with Dante’s Empyrean: “He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, / Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.”[49] Cărtărescu chooses Eminescu’s decrepit learned man not only for purely aesthetic reasons but also as an ironic hint at the grim Communist Romania of the 1980s, where everyone, the poet included, lived in utter poverty, with no heating in winter and on the brink of starvation. But it was a Romania where the poet bookishly dreams of genesis and apocalypse through the only thing that remains free: thought itself. As Stephano reminds us in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “Thought is free.”

Deeply anchored in the local history of Romania during the 1980s, The Levant is at the same time a work of world literature. Two other precursors who imagine genesis and apocalypse, the beginning and the ending, are Dante and Joyce. At the end of the Divine Comedy, we find out that Dante’s mental journey was nothing but a dream-vision:


At this point power failed high fantasy

but, like a wheel in perfect balance turning,

I felt my will and my desire impelled

by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.[50]

Eight centuries later, Dante’s circular dream structure returned in James Joyce’s “abookalypse.” Finnegans Wake has a circular structure based on an open chiasmus: the opening of the first sentence appears at the end while the book opens with the ending of the first sentence, perfectly mirroring the books of Genesis and Revelation, which frame the Christian Bible. And finally, for the poet-prophet who writes The Levant in 1989, through Eminescu, Dante, and Joyce one hears the voice of God himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 21:6). It’s the voice of the same Savior who returns as a fulfilled prophecy in Cărtărescu’s trilogy Blinding: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). No postmodernist poet ever imagined himself a visionary prophet who can foretell the course of history, or even the absolute God of his written universe. But the romantic and the avant-garde poet did.

“A Sea-Change / Into Something Rich and Strange”: “Gemini”

Nostalgia’s intertextual web is generated by the same “poetic mechanism.” This book is a living being, brought to life with the force of Eminescu and the modernist poet Arghezi, whose voices we hear in two epigraphs, which speak of a book that moans (Arghezi) and of the (literary) past that swallows us: “And time looms out of my past years. … I darken” (Eminescu). However, in Cărtărescu’s view, both Arghezi and Eminescu are major poets whose work cannot be neatly fitted into a period concept like modernism for the former and romanticism for the latter. For Cărtărescu, who prefers the topological notion of concepts like romanticism, modernism, and postmodernism, they are also (proto)(post)modernists among many other things: “Eminescu’s poetry … deserves a monograph to explore, beyond the uncontestable classical and romantic elements, the bizarre, the baroque, the artifice of construction and language in his truly visionary texts — for let us not forget that Eminescu is, at least biologically, Rimbaud’s ­contemporary.”[51] As for Arghezi, “While remaining connected to modernism through an umbilical cord, Arghezi … is a very atypical modernist, as his poetics points toward something else. And it’s not the past … but rather a form of the future. When the young postmoderns of the ’80s claim him as precursor, they are mainly thinking intuitively of this type of antimodernist poetics that’s hinted at in Arghezi’s work” (emphasis in original).[52] “What kind of poet was Arghezi after all? Traditionalist? Symbolist? Modernist? … The most important modern poet of our century is not truly a modernist!” (emphasis in original).[53] We could read in Cărtărescu’s description of Arghezi a mirror of Cărtărescu himself: “The most important postmodern [Romanian] poet is not truly a postmodernist!”

Apparently a series of stories, the five texts included in Nostalgia turn out to be parts of a strange poetic novel that communicate through an immense subterranean structure. The heart of this metanovel is the oneiric prose text “Gemini,” which tells the love story of two adolescents.[54] Their names (Andrei and Gina) and their zodiac sign — Gemini — point to the myth of the androgyne from Plato’s Symposium. They make love for the first time in a secret room that Gina has in Bucharest’s Antipa Museum, and something uncanny happens: they exchange bodies. The story of this monstrous metamorphosis is written by Andrei, now in Gina’s body, in a psychiatric hospital, where the doctor requests her/him to write the story for therapeutic reasons. This scene of writing recalls Gérard de Nerval, who wrote his last prophetic text, Aurélia, in Émile Blanche’s clinic upon the doctor’s request.

“Gemini” is constructed through a series of mirrored sequences that prophesy the characters’ metamorphosis. Cărtărescu here once again rewrites Eminescu, a major reference for a Romanian audience. In Gina’s room, the two lovers look in the mirror as Gina’s index finger draws strange signs on their reflection, but their mirrored image doesn’t replicate this: “A streak of light steam sectioned my face now, the tiny drops quivering a crimson hue. The phantom hand, simultaneously real … rose and pressed with open palm in between our heads in the mirror. The dissolved seal of a palm of reddish steam persisted on the glass.”[55] Readers familiar with Romanian literature will see in this passage a reference to Eminescu’s fantastic novella Sărmanul Dionis (Poor Dionis, 1872), which tells the story of a poor young man who travels into past lives through a magical red sign in an esoteric book. When he touches it, he becomes the monk Dan. The sequence rewritten by Cărtărescu is the one that precedes Dionis’s metamorphosis into Dan, when Dionis touches the reddish, kabalistic sign with his index finger. This turns into the portal that makes the metamorphosis possible.

Eminescu returns a second time in the ending of the metamorphosis scene, when Andrei looks at Gina, who sleeps with her eyes open, and “instead of seeing my face in her obscured pupils, I saw hers!” (emphasis in original).[56] Leaving Gina’s place, out on the street Andrei sees two young lovers who look strikingly similar to himself and Gina a few hours before, when they were walking to her place. As he passes by them, Andrei realizes that time is running backward, for “the young man was I.”[57] The reader of Eminescu’s poetry recognizes here the poem “Dream,” where the hero, a king of old, meets with himself in an immense dome of the kind that will be recurrent in Cărtărescu’s fiction:


And from the sad noise there looms out,

Slowly and veiled, as in a dream, a face,

A torch in too-gaunt a hand,

Wearing a king’s white cloak.


And my eyes freeze under my brow

And terror silences my voice.

I tear up his veil and, startled,

I’m petrified: for he is I.[58]

For the reader of world literature, the story of a man who becomes a woman overnight, in a fiction written in two voices, is a response to Virginia Woolf’s fictional biography Orlando, a book written off by Woolf herself in her diary as a mere “joke,” although the book itself is dead serious, just as is Cărtărescu’s rewriting of it.[59] No reader laughs when reading Orlando or “Gemini” as the reader of a postmodernist text would. Cărtărescu’s “Gemini” takes up the question: how was Orlando’s metamorphosis possible? The empty space in Orlando, which leaves the transformation a mystery, is filled in by “Gemini,” a text that creates an intertext not only with Woolf’s poetic novel but also with her life. “Gemini” opens and closes with two suicides: Gina in Andrei’s body and then vice versa. Before drowning herself in the river Ouse in 1941, Woolf had experienced her death through her authorial masks in Mrs. Dalloway: the shell-shocked war veteran and visionary Septimus Warren Smith and Clarissa’s imaginary identification with Septimus when she learns of his suicide at her party. “Dead serious” takes on a whole different and literal meaning with Cărtărescu’s rewriting of Woolf’s works as well as her life.

Written in the same year as A Room of One’s Own (1928), Orlando tests the essay’s central theory: the creator’s consciousness can only be androgynous. Woolf projects herself as Shakespeare’s imaginary sister, whom she chooses as her model, along with Proust. Like The Levant, “Gemini” reactivates a complex intertextual network of texts that are themselves highly intertextual, mixing local and world references.

An example is the recurrent image of a man reflected as a woman or the other way round through different objects: the magic mirror in Gina’s room, Gina’s own eyes, and a marvelous yet unreal tarot card that echoes Borges’s short story “The Book of Sand”: “I stared at the card. … It was a jack, but the lower side of the card was not the same jack turned upside down, but a superb queen of clubs.”[60] Finally, Andrei dreams of the ice at the edge of the world: “Sitting on a crust of ice that reflected the stars, I made my way on the surface of an infinite mirror, on the world’s glass edge. … A silhouette tore itself from the fog and began advancing toward me. … It was a woman, but her image in the mirror below was a man.”[61]

With no expectation that Nostalgia would ever circulate on the world literary market, Cărtărescu creates an androgynous dialogue with Woolf’s novel. Orlando opens with the famous ironic sentence related to the (non)ambiguity of its central character’s sex: “He — for there could be no doubt of his sex.”[62] And then it continues with Orlando’s early years and adolescence, when he meets the beautiful Sasha, a mysterious Russian woman, on the frozen Thames. Sasha’s apparition effaces gender distinctions and becomes in retrospect a prophecy of Cărtărescu’s Gina:

he beheld, coming from the pavilion of the Muscovite embassy, a figure, which, whether a boy’s or a woman’s, for the loose tunic and trousers of the Russian fashion served to disguise the sex, filled him with the highest curiosity. The person, whatever the name or sex, was about middle height. … Images, metaphors of the most extreme and extravagant twined and twisted in his mind. He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald, and a fox in the snow. … all his images at this time were simple in the extreme to match his senses and were mostly taken from things he had liked the taste of as a boy. … but the skater came closer. Legs, hands, carriage were a boy’s. … but no boy had those eyes which looked as if they had been fished from the bottom of the sea. … She was a woman.[63]

Just as in The Levant, where the fragment chosen from Eminescu’s First Epistle was itself intertextual, this passage from Orlando that Cărtărescu rewrites is also intertextual. Orlando perceives Sasha through literature — Proust’s affective memory and Rimbaud’s disorganizing of the senses that is activated by the unknown: “he did not know whether he had heard her, tasted her, seen her, or all three together.”[64] Mad love, manifested through “disorganizing all the senses,” is one of the most famous metatextual phrases from Rimbaud’s writings: “I say you have to be a visionary, make yourself a visionary. A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences” (emphasis in original).[65] Significantly, Andrei reads Rimbaud and also Paul Éluard — a major surrealist poet who, like his fellow surrealists, finds a precursor in Rimbaud. And so does Cărtărescu.

Just as Dante was an oblique yet structuring presence in The Levant’s canto 7, so is Shakespeare both in Orlando and in “Gemini.” Among the many comparisons Orlando uses to describe Sasha, we read of her “eyes which looked as if they had been fished from the bottom of the sea.” The reader of world literature recognizes here an oblique reference to Ariel’s song about the shipwreck from Shakespeare’s The Tempest:


Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.


Woolf’s Shakespeare, and both Cărtărescu’s Shakespeare and his Woolf in turn, suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange, for world literature is also a new mode of reading and writing. As the ending of Orlando makes clear, the sea from whose bottom these metaphors were fished is the dreaming visionary’s own mind. This makes Woolf doubly interesting for Cărtărescu, whose universe is always an inner one — “in my mind’s eye” to quote Hamlet and Dante at the same time (“the mind’s eye” from The Levant). It’s not surprising that Woolf owes the metaphor of the inner sea to Shakespeare, who appears as an unnamed ghostly presence in both the beginning and the ending of Orlando — a perfect symmetry to Woolf’s own disguised apparition in the beginning and ending of “Gemini” through Andrei and Gina’s double suicide. As we read in Orlando:

For the shadow of faintness … had deepened now, at the back of her brain (which is the part furthest from sight), into a pool where things dwell in darkness so deep that what they are we scarcely know. She now looked down into this pool or sea in which everything is reflected — and, indeed, some say that all our most violent passions, and art and religion, are the reflections which we see in the dark hollow at the back of the head when the visible world is obscured for the time.[67]

One of my students, Maria Dabija, recently pointed out to me that even this beautiful metaphor of the dark hollow at the back of the head, which epitomizes Woolf’s own poetics, is fished from the same Tempest. When Miranda remembers “rather like a dream” their life before reaching the island, the magician and poet Prospero asks her: “What seest thou else / In the dark backward and abysm of time?” (1.2.49–50).[68]

But what if this sea inside us hides not only things we’ve lived through but also what we’ve read? Then what we will fish from its bottom will be memories from other lives, written by others, yet lived by us through the books we read. In “Gemini,” Andrei’s melancholy comes from his readings, which completely take over his life, as they had done with Kafka, one of the great models for Pascale Casanova’s revolutionary periphery. Andrei literally falls in love with one of these readings, whose name is Orlando. Just like Raymond Joubert, the protagonist of Posy Simmonds’s graphic novel Gemma Bovery who’s in love with Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, we never know if “Madame Bovary” refers to the book or to its heroine.[69] Andrei falls in love with the man-woman Orlando and/or with the book that bears her/his name.

Orlando/Andrei delves to the bottom of the sea inside himself (which is repeatedly compared to an emerald’s changing glimmer that matches Sasha’s/Gina’s eyes), in a parallel gesture to Woolf’s own descent into her memory to fish from there Shakespeare’s poetry from The Tempest: “For in all she said … there was something concealed. So the green flame seems hidden in the emerald. … within was a wandering flame. It came; it went; … Orlando ran wild in his transports and swept her over the ice, faster, faster, vowing that he would chase the flame, dive for the gem … with the passion of a poet.”[70] This poet is none other than Shakespeare himself, whom Orlando encounters as a young boy without knowing who he is. All he sees is a man sitting at a table, pausing from writing, looking into the void as if he sees “the depths of the sea.”[71]

A very attentive reader of Orlando, Cărtărescu finds in these pages the idea to bring Orlando, reborn, into a different language — in this case, Romanian. Woolf’s Orlando feels that English isn’t the right language to describe Sasha: “Ransack the language as he might, words failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue. English was too frank, too candid.”[72] And what better landscape and language than the Romanian one, this strange tongue with a Latin skeleton and a body made in large part of Slavic words, for Orlando-Sasha to be reborn in the androgynous body of “Gemini”?

To whom does Nostalgia belong? Deeply rooted in local literary and linguistic practice, Mircea Cărtărescu’s work has an essential connection to world literature as a mode of reading and writing. His post-1989 fiction keeps poetry as its imaginative core without any preoccupation with the hybridity of this Kafkaesque vermin: “Abroad, at least when it comes to books … no one cares about the artists’ nationality, only how strong they are. I really don’t think anyone cares whether [García] Márquez is Colombian or Kundera Czech.”[73] As Cărtărescu remarked in a recent interview, “today it matters little where you live. You can write anywhere, and my country is where my family is. When it comes to my life or my work I wouldn’t mind living in Europe, South America or elsewhere — even in Antarctica.”[74]

By choosing one of Virginia Woolf’s least read novels, perceived by many Woolf scholars as an odd member among her other writings — a reading fed by the author’s own ironic remarks from her diary — Cărtărescu chooses to identify with the semiperipheral author of Orlando rather than with the famous and canonical author of Mrs. Dalloway or To the Lighthouse. In Orlando Woolf was fighting with the gender prejudices of a patriarchal society by putting forth an uncanny product, a poetic novel that turns the conventions of biography and historiography upside down. Half a century later, in the darkest of the Communist decades in Romania, Mircea Cărtărescu gives birth to twin texts — The Levant and Nostalgia. In his Dantesque Limbo at the periphery of Europe, he brings together Eminescu and Dante, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, the Bible’s anonymous poets and William Shakespeare. For the last poet admitted to this circle, Mircea Cărtărescu, language is the real paradise. end of article


Acknowledgments: A Romanian version of this essay was initially written for a volume dedicated to Mircea Cărtărescu’s works, Harta și legenda: Mircea Cărtărescu în 22 de lecturi [The map and its legend: Mircea Cărtărescu in 22 readings], eds. Oana Fotache-Dubălaru and Cosmin Ciotloș (Bucharest: Muzeul Literaturii Române Press, forthcoming).

  1. Mircea Cărtărescu, Postmodernismul românesc [Romanian postmodernism] (Bucharest: Humanitas, 1999). ↩

  2. Ihab Hassan, The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature, 2nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), 264. ↩

  3. Mircea Martin, “D’un postmodernisme sans rivages et d’un postmodernisme sans postmodernité” [On a postmodernism without borders and a postmodernism in the absence of postmodernity], Euresis, nos. 1–4 (2009): 17. ↩

  4. Mircea Cărtărescu, “Europa are forma creierului meu” [Europe has the shape of my brain], Observator cultural, no. 153 (28 January 2003), ↩

  5. Matei Călinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 8th ed. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 265. ↩

  6. Cărtărescu, Postmodernismul românesc, 269. ↩

  7. Ibid., 299. ↩

  8. Too often, essays on Mircea Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia and The Levant have taken only a limited view of him as a postmodernist, but Cărtărescu’s work is richer and more complicated than any such singular definition can encompass: e.g., Christian Moraru, “Cosmallogy: Mircea Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia — the Body, the City, the World,” in Postcommunism, Postmodernism, and the Global Imagination, ed. Christian Moraru, East European Monographs (Boulder, CO: New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 47–69; Christian Moraru, “Beyond the Nation: Mircea Cărtărescu’s Europeanism and Cosmopolitanism,” World Literature Today 80, no. 4 (2006): 4145; and Dumitru Mircea Buda, “Virtuality and Hypertext in Mircea Cărtărescu’s Levantul,” Studia Universitatis Petru Maior: Philologia 12 (2012): 77–78. These readings entirely miss the major dimension of Cărtărescu’s work — rewriting creatively major works of world literature rather than deconstructing them parodically — that can better be seen as modernist. ↩

  9. David Damrosch, Comparing the Literatures: Literary Studies in a Global Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020), 323, 319. ↩

  10. Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, vol. 3, The Guermantes Way, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, rev. D. J. Enright (New York: Random House, Modern Library, 1998), 445–46. ↩

  11. Martin, “D’un postmodernisme,” 12. ↩

  12. Ibid., 13. ↩

  13. Brian McHale, Postmodernist Fiction (London: Routledge, 2004). ↩

  14. Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M. B. DeBevoise (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). ↩

  15. Franco Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature,” New Left Review 1 (Jan.–Feb. 2000): 54–68. ↩

  16. David Damrosch, What Is World Literature? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 281. ↩

  17. Ibid. ↩

  18. Ibid.  ↩

  19. Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature,” 58. ↩

  20. Ibid., 60. ↩

  21. Ibid., 61. ↩

  22. Mircea Cărtărescu, interview by Magda Grădinaru, 3 June 2019, ↩

  23. Casanova, World Republic of Letters, 43. ↩

  24. Ibid., 203. ↩

  25. Martin Puchner, “Teaching Worldly Literature,” in The Routledge Companion to World Literature, ed. Theo D’haen, David Damrosch, and Djelal Kadir (London: Routledge, 2012), 256–57. ↩

  26. Christian Moraru writes that Nostalgia’s “worldly imaginary gives back to the agonizing corpus of Bucharest and its inhabitants what official policies deny” (“Cosmallogy,” 53). ↩

  27. Rebecca Walkowitz, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015). ↩

  28. Mircea Cărtărescu, Jurnal I: 1990–1996, 2nd ed. (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2005), 42.  ↩

  29. Ibid., 6. ↩

  30. Ibid., 7. ↩

  31. Ibid., 110. ↩

  32. Ibid., 6. ↩

  33. Ibid., 7. ↩

  34. Ibid., 252. ↩

  35. Ibid., 171. ↩

  36. René Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of Literature, 3rd ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1956), 235. ↩

  37. Mircea Cărtărescu, Orbitor: Aripa stângă [Blinding: The left wing] (Bucharest: Humanitas, 1996); Mircea Cărtărescu, Orbitor: Corpul [Blinding: The body] (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2002); Mircea Cărtărescu, Orbitor: Aripa dreaptă [Blinding: The right wing] (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2007); Mircea Cărtărescu, Solenoid (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2016). ↩

  38. Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994), 29. ↩

  39. Cărtărescu, Jurnal I: 1990–1996, 10, 18. ↩

  40. Mariano Siskind, “The Genres of World Literature: The Case of Magical Realism,” in Routledge Companion to World Literature, 247. ↩

  41. Mircea Cărtărescu, Levantul [The Levant], ed. Cosmin Ciotloș (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2016), 9. ↩

  42. Mircea Cărtărescu, Levantul [The Levant] (Bucharest: Humanitas, 2003), 106. All following quotations are from this edition. ↩

  43. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, ed. and trans. Robert M. Durling, introduction and notes by Ronald L. Martinez and Robert M. Durling (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 75. ↩

  44. Cărtărescu, Levantul, no page number. ↩

  45. Ibid., 116. ↩

  46. Mihai Eminescu, First Epistle, trans. Leon Levițchi, ↩

  47. Rig Veda, 10:129, trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith, ↩

  48. Cărtărescu, Levantul, 106. ↩

  49. Rig Veda, 10:129. ↩

  50. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Paradise, trans. with introduction, notes, and commentary by Mark Musa (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), 394. ↩

  51. Cărtărescu, Postmodernismul românesc, 245. ↩

  52. Ibid., 284. ↩

  53. Ibid., 279–80. ↩

  54. I will refer to Cărtărescu’s story “Gemenii” from Nostalgia as “Gemini” rather than “Twins,” the title given by Julian Semilian when he translated Nostalgia for New Directions in 2005. Semilian’s translation is generally excellent, but “Gemini” is preferable, as it captures the double meaning of the Romanian word, which refers both to twins and to the zodiac sign. One of the ways Cărtărescu suggests the symmetry between the two main characters, Andrei and Gina, is the fact that they are both born under this sign, as was Cărtărescu himself. ↩

  55. Mircea Cărtărescu, Nostalgia, trans. Julian Semilian (New York: New Directions, 2005), 113–14. ↩

  56. Ibid., 114. ↩

  57. Ibid., 118. ↩

  58. My translation, from Mihai Eminescu, Poezii [Poems], ed. Perpessicius (Bucharest: Editura de Stat pentru Literatură și Artă, 1958), 432. ↩

  59. Christian Moraru does identify the myth of the androgyne in “Gemini,” but he mentions it briefly and only in relation to Plato’s Symposium. There is no mention of Woolf’s Orlando, the major text rewritten in “Gemini” that, in conjunction with Mrs. Dalloway and Woolf’s own biography, provides the architectural structure for Cărtărescu’s text. According to Moraru, Borges’s short story El aleph is “the novel’s primary intertextual ingredient, the closest literary connection” (“Cosmallogy,” 52). ↩

  60. Cărtărescu, Nostalgia, 115. ↩

  61. Ibid., 134. ↩

  62. Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, annotated with introduction by Maria DiBattista, ed. Mark Hussey, Harvest Book (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2006), 11. ↩

  63. Ibid., 27–28. ↩

  64. Ibid., 28. ↩

  65. Arthur Rimbaud, Complete Works, trans. Paul Schmidt, Harper Classics (New York: Perennial, 2008), 116. ↩

  66. William Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. with a glossary by W. J. Craig (Leicester: Promotional Reprint, 1992), 6. ↩

  67. Woolf, Orlando, 237. ↩

  68. Shakespeare, Complete Works, 2. ↩

  69. Posy Simmonds, Gemma Bovery (London: Jonathan Cape, 1999).  ↩

  70. Woolf, Orlando, 35. ↩

  71. Ibid., 17.  ↩

  72. Ibid., 35. ↩

  73. Mircea Cărtărescu, interview by Magda Grădinaru. ↩

  74. Mircea Cărtărescu, interview by Dana Mischie, Adevărul, 1 June 2019, ↩