An illustration by Demian (from an issue of Gândirea)

is an umbrella term for a multitude of movements and trends of the first half of the XXth century, literary and, in general, social/cultural movements that, as a reaction to the increasingly accelerated modernisation process and to the hastily development of both society and literature, promoted traditional values of the old rural society and of orthodoxism. Subdivisions include: sămănătorism (Sămănătorul group), poporanism (Viața Românească group), gândirism (Gândirea group), "poeții tineri ardeleni" (Young Transylvanian Poets) and the so-called "Bukovinian Surrealists" (Iconar group).

      See also: neotraditionalism.


Cover of the first issue of Sămănătorul (illustration after Grigorescu)

In the early phases of traditionalism, such as poporanism and especially sămănătorism, writers pretended to follow the guidelines of folklore poetry, whilst remaining in the vein of late romanticists such as George Coșbuc, who was one of the first directors of Sămănătorul. Providing a copy of a copy rather than something authentic, sămănătorist poets were later demolished on grounds of "fake, idyllic vision" by modernist critics such as Eugen Lovinescu, who even said that Sămănătorul is "the cemetery of Romanian literature". Transylvanian poets such as Octavian Goga and Aron Cotruș, however, were popular due to their accent on social issues, but Cotruș did not enter the canon and Goga only partially. Prose writers such as Ion Agârbiceanu, Gala Galaction, Ionel Teodoreanu and especially Mihail Sadoveanu, who remained active during all phases of traditionalism, have managed to retain the attention of critics for longer periods of time.

A 1938 issue of Gândirea (notice the title theme: Childhood and Holiness)

While Viața Românească continues poporanism in a moderate line after 1918, the group of writers around Gândirea (initially an eclectic modernist magazine) establish themselves, thanks to Nichifor Crainic, as a new wave of traditionalism in poetry, prose and essays. There were genuine writers associated with Gândirea that did not suffer from the pitfalls of sămănătorism: Lucian Blaga, Ion Pillat, Vasile Voiculescu, Nichifor Crainic, Radu Gyr, Zaharia Stancu, N. Crevedia, Vintilă Horia, Sandu Tudor, Ștefan I. Nenițescu, Pan M. Vizirescu etc. Sometimes even modernist authors such as Mateiu Caragiale or translations by Ion Pillat of modern Western poets (Saint-John Perse) were published. The ideology of Nichifor Crainic determined Gândirea to be associated with far right politicians; as a consequence, all collaborators of the magazine have been banned or emprisoned after the arrival of the Communist regime. Some of its poets have eventually returned in literary history and canon, especially after 1989, as they had an important role: gândirists managed to conciliate some forms and structures of modernism with the traditionalist themes, which is a real achievement, considering that traditionalist magazines had a much wider audience than those with modernist or avant-garde profile. While prosperous, interwar Romania was still very much a rural country.

Young Transylvanian Poets (Emil Giurgiuca, Mihai Beniuc etc.) have tried to supplant the social lyricism of Goga with their more modern versions (before some of them turned to socialist realism), while the "Bukovinian Surrealists" (Mircea Streinul, George Drumur, Iulian Vesper, Teofil Lianu etc.) were, in spite of their nickname given by G. Călinescu, actually just a slightly eccentric variant of gândirism.

Writers associated with traditionalismEdit




Young Transylvanian PoetsEdit

Iconar (Bukovinian Surrealists)Edit

Other traditionalistsEdit