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Rumanian Literature

songs, oral, folklore, tales, dome, century, time and slavonic

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RUMANIAN LITERATURE. To get a clear idea of Rumanian (or properly Daco Rumanian) literature, it will be convenient to divide it into oral and written. The first of these sections includes the interesting dome (lyric songs), balade (epic songs), pore (dance songs), collude (carols), basme (fairy tales), snoave (anecdotes), vorbe (proverbs) and ghocitoare (riddles). This literature belongs generally to the cycle of the Balkan nations as a whole, for in everyone of these countries exact parallels are to be found. There was no direct borrowing by one nation from the other, but all of them seem to have stood for a long time under identical psychological influences and to have developed on similar lines. Their folklore shows much family likeness. •The heroes are often the same. The Serbs, Bulgars and Rumans sing the chivalrous deeds of their hajduks (braves), Starina (Baba) Novak and Kralyevich Marko; or they recite the legend of the Monastery of Argesh or the ballad of Iorgovan, found also in the Russian byliny. The Rumanian folk-songs are mostly heard amongst gatherings of peasants, men and women, who transmit them by oral tradition. They are in general unrhymed, rhythmical int provisions, sung to a monotonous chant, ac companied often with a cobra (guitar) or with truer (flute), beginning and ending with a re frain. Most of the poems have the wild melan choly and the fierce simplicity of all true popu lar songs. The epic poetry is not so rich as that of the Serbian, but compares favorably with the Bulgarian. The noted and far-famed dome have an undertone of ghastly mystery that reminds one of the Highland 'second sights and Irish fairy tales. They belong to a world of banshees and wraiths; there are bits and refrains that recall the Pharntacetaria of Theocritus. One striking fact in these poems is the absence of any suggestion of Christianity as a religion, of church, of creed, or ritual of any kind. If there are any religions ideas at all, they are Pantheistic, but with the Panthe ism of oceanic islanders. This absence of Christian ideas suggests that the basis of the dome may belong to pre-Christian ages; and possibly, may have been colored and influenced by tsigani (gypsies) and lc/uteri, a kind of wandering minstrels, by whom they are chanted and recited.

For a long time the collection of Rumanian oral literature was neglected, and it began only in the middle of the 19th century. One of the first to collect these treasures of national litera ture was Vasile Alecsandri in 1852,66. Bring ing together the fragments of the Rumanian Made, Alecsandri was not so strict as modern study of folklore demands; however, he re tained their poetical. beauty unerringly. In

1859 A. M. Marienescu collected the songs of Transylvania, S. F. Marian, those of the Buko Nina (1873) and T. T. Burada, those of the Dobrudja (1880). But the most complete col lections are those of S. F. Marian, Poesii popu lore romine, I. Balade, II. Dome si Hore (1873) and G. D. Teodorescu, Poesii populare ro man( (1885). The collection of fairy tales started later than that of the ballads. The most important, considered as classical, are the successive publications of P. Ispirescn. The collected tales of the Moldavian Ion Creanga (1837-89) appeared in his Opere complecte (1908). Good collections are these of D. Stan cescu, Bcdme (1885-93) and Francu si Candrea (1888). In the second half of the 19th century Rumanian folklore was published in the reviews of Convorbiri iderare, and Contemporanut In recent times the only review devoted to the study of folklore is the Shazatoarta founded in 1892.

Leaving the popular and oral literature, we come to what has been committed to writing. The earliest specimen of Daco-Rumanian monu ments do not go back of the 16th century. AU conserved documents prior to this period were written in old Slavonic, which was used by high officials and in church also. Unity of lan guage did not exist at that time. In Moldavia they employed the Rtisso-Ruthenian dialect and in Wallachia Serbo-Bulgarian. The first and most prominent writer was the. Metropolitan Grigone Tamblacu (Slavic, Grigoriy Tsamblak) who wrote 26 works in three different dialects: Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian. In 1407 he was hegumen of the Serbian monastery Visoki Dechani, and in 1409 went to Russia. A few years later came to Moldavia where he settled and played a prominent role, introducing the Cyrillic alphabet and the Slavonic language in the service books of the Moldavian Church. From the 16th century began to appear books and manuscripts in the Cyrillic alphabet and in both vernaculars, Slavonic and Rumanian. The literature of this period consists mainly of translations from .the Bible, homilies and chronicles. There is a gospel composed by Radu Gramaticu, 1574 (now in the British Museum) • a printed book by a clergyman, Coresi Diaconal (1560-82) ; a collection of religious writings of the Priest Grigore din Mahacin, from Tran sylvania ; Codex Sturdzanus; and Codex Ve ronetean (Codicele Veronetean). All these documents have more historical and philologi cal than literary value. They are clumsy trans lations from Slavic and Greek works.

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