National and Universal

Tascu, Valentin
Revista Literatures Núm. 3 1999

Two assertions are valid, as long as they are considered separately: "Literature is universal only to the extent that it is national," and "Literature is national to the extent it is universal". The idea that literature is essentially an expression of nationality, is a generous and even glorious one. But, in the strict sense, limiting. What is important for any literary tradition is the fact of saying something knowing that other literary traditions exist, and to say it with so much conviction that this makes it different, original. In the Romanian case, we need urgently to rehabilitate and readjust the honour of the terminology that belongs to the notion of "national specificity". Such a rehabilitation should not be carried out at the exclusively theoretical or ideological level, but one that is practical and tangible in individual terms and with a great creative scope. The elements which might define the "Balkan specificity" are comprised precisely by a diversity of origins, religions, human prototypes, landscapes, opinions, all of these systematically evolving somewhere between harmony and states of conflict, which is an inexhaustible source of originality for artistic creativity. The fact of benefiting in the literary sense from the events in the Balkans would permit us to turn to our advantage values which we have been seeking for some time. At the same time, it obliges us to create an more extensive form of communication thus to overcome the great obstacle of the restricted circulation of our languages.