Echinox Journal

Current Issue

2022 volume 43 – Contemporary Eastern/Southeastern European Noir. Print-and-Screen Fiction, in a European and Global Perspective


Editor: Phantasma. The Center for Imagination Studies
Publisher: Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, România
ISBN 1582-960X (România)
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43

Caius Dobrescu

Noir, Eastern Europe, and the Global Imaginary


Originally, the idea for the present theme issue of Caietele Echinox germinated in the hotbed of the DETECt project, which reunited fourteen universities from ten European countries around a research agenda that becomes apparent in the unfolding of the above administrative (but also poetic…) acronym: Detecting Transcultural Identity in European Popular Crime Narratives. The project explored the manner in which, on the lines of the free circulation of persons, capitals, and labour, a productive European circulation of rhetoric, narrative, symbolic, and thematic structures connected to crime fiction (in its extended understanding as literature, cinema, television, and all their imaginable hybridizations) could also be identified and described. The main working hypothesis was that the spreading rate of such production across the flexible inner borders of the European Union from 1989 to the present was indicative of both their impact on collective imagination, and of a rhizomatic identity dynamics exposing not homogenization, but complex, to time problematic, even contentious, but always relevant and vibrant intrication.

DETECt exercised its European comprehension through a policy of mapping and exploring the different geo-cultural and historical areas of our continental union. The task of covering, if not actually producing “Eastern Europe” was shared by academic representatives of the University of Debrecen and the University of Bucharest. And since one of the most convergent of the theoretical premises of the project was that noir might be the concept best suited to overarch the different subgenres and tendencies of contemporary crime narratives – together with our Debrecen colleagues we set the course for discovering and displaying East-European noir, mainly in its present but also in its historical hypostases. Our collaboration resulted in a number of project deliveries and scientific articles,[1] but we all agreed on the fact that there is still a great deal of work to be done, concerning actual comparative research on all the relevant fields (i.e. production, textual articulation, distribution, reception), but also for extending the network of scholars interested and with relevant expertise in these fields. The core expectation of the original concept of the present thematic issue of Caietele Echinox was that enlarging the network of scholars interested in East-European crime/noir fiction (equally implying the printed and screened varieties) is the only way of obtaining a more accurate image of the diverse regional developments. I embarked on this exploration together with dr. Sándor Kálai, who currently teaches at the Department of Communication and Media Studies of the University of Debrecen,[2] and dr. Roxana Eichel, my colleague at the Literary Studies Department of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest.

But the project actually gained momentum when it intersected, almost providentially, the endeavours of our friends and colleagues from the Phantasma Centre for Imagination Studies. We were happy to discover on the rich research agenda of this prestigious research hub coordinated by professor Corin Braga a distinct interest in symbolic concretions that obviously and expressly intersected the sphere of the noir. From this point on, the project underwent a substantial change of design. We reframed East-European contemporary noir not only as a subject in itself, but also as opening a perspective on, or granting a way of access to larger processes of what might be called, with a bit of conceptual stamina, the global cultural imaginary.

The structure of this thematic issue is the result of the interaction of the above vectors. Its first segment, titled “East European Noir – General and Particular,” stakes out a specific, regional way toward the general problems of defining and understanding noir. Caius Dobrescu and Doru Pop approach the subject matter with the instruments of interdisciplinary area studies rooted mainly in the textual analysis of screened fiction. The former contribution attempts to substantiate, via a genetic and transformative social-cultural model, the notion of East-European noir, while the latter enticingly narrows the comparative focus to East-European cinematic and televisual detective fiction for children and adolescents. Marcela Poučová offers a very dense presentation of the development of crime fiction in the Czech literature of the 20th century, while Katre Talviste and Primož Mlačnik concentrate each on an individual contemporary author (namely Juhan Paju and Sergej Verč) in order to open the gate towards Estonian, respectively Slovenian crime fiction. The last contributor in the section, Radu Toderici, offers a reading as close as it is subtle and penetrating of two masterpieces of the Hungarian “Black Wave” of the 1990s: Béla Tarr’s Damnation and György Fehér’s Passion.

The next topic has been abundantly researched, but not necessarily from the thematic and geo-cultural perspectives illustrated by the authoresses present in the section: the intersection between gender and noir/crime. Amalia Mărășescu makes the first move with the analysis of two Romanian fictional women detectives, coming from different epochs and with astoundingly different social-cultural backgrounds (a peasant woman of the 1920s, and a mathematics professoress turned intelligence officer in the 1970s). Roxana Eichel sets fort her research on gender from the perspective of the theory of interstitiality initiated in the frames of the DETECt project by applying these finely tuned analytic tools on the Romanian crime series Umbre/Shadows. Andrada Fătu-Tutoveanu hints at another form of intersectionality, by associating women representation in the classical film noir with fragmented avatars of the religious and mythical imaginary.

The third section, “East Seen from the West,” opens up with an attentive, considerate, and theoretically engaging study of Canadian scholar Paul Bleton on a comprehensive corpus of East-European crime novels recently translated in French. With comparable minutiae, Ioana Diaconu focuses on “Romanian characters in German television thrillers beginning with the Millennium.” Sándor Kálai continues on the same lines, but changes and broadens the area of reference and, at the same time, the artistic medium, in his investigation of “the Eastern Europe of Scandinavian detective novels.”

The last section, “Noir sans frontiers: Beyond Genre and Geography” brings together salutary attempts of expanding the relevance of noir beyond conventional limits of genre, to wit of assuming a special connection between noir and genres and media hybridization. At the same time, all the contributors view noir as immersed in different forms of global, or glocal culture.  Marius-Mircea Crișan and Carol Senf explore the osmosis of noir with vampire fiction against the backdrop of the East-European tensions between traditional and cosmopolitan mental frames on the basis of a post-communist Romanian novel: Alexandru Mușina’s Nepotul lui Dracula/Dracula’s nephew. Alex Văsieș equally anchors his survey of mystery and SF&F hybridization and of the mainstreaming of genre fiction in the analysis of a contemporary Romanian novel: Greva păcătoșilor/Sinners Strike by Florin Chirculescu. Maria Barbu raises the stakes of the redefinition of noir by associating it with utopian and dystopian venues of post-humanist prophesizing, in her approach of the world-famous HBO sci-fi series Westworld. Carmen Borbély, in her analysis of the novel Zoo City by South African authoress Lauren Beukes, and Ruxandra Cesereanu, in her highly empathetic reading of Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, spectacularly extend the geo-cultural system of reference, while simultaneously deepening the aesthetic and philosophical implications of noir.

The final contribution to the present issue is not directly connected to the main topic. But the concepts tackled in Călina Părău’s essay “Residues and Presents in Contemporary Shrinking Temporalities” raise, taken apart as well as in all their possible connections, fertile theoretical provocations for the research of crime/noir fiction. The fact that, in different local/regional/global approaches, the latter has been almost entirely absorbed in what we use to term the “spatial turn” is an unavoidable evidence. Through its sharp rendering of new modes of problematization of temporalities, this final contribution might show the way toward a whole new world of crime fiction theory, or at least toward a possible second issue of Caietele Echinox dedicated to this intricate and intriguing topic.


[1] I would especially mention Caius Dobrescu, Roxana Eichel, Dorottya Molnár-Kovács, Sándor Kálai, Anna Keszeg, “A game of mirrors: Western/Eastern European crime series and the struggle for recognition”, Journal of European Popular Culture, no. 12(2), pp. 119-134, 2021.

[2] In order to offer a hyper-concentrated suggestion of all the personal qualities that make Sándor a great research partner and an ideal intellectual friend, I will reproduce here the ending of his presentation of the site of his department: “His motto is the same as Georges Simenon’s: To understand and not to judge.”

East European Noir – General and Particular

Caius Dobrescu
University of Bucharest, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.01
P. 13 – 37

Exploring / Inventing East-European Noir. An Attempt to Modelling Historical Transformation

Abstract: The essay proposes a common spectrum of noir detective fictions emerging in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Accordingly, it substantiates the assumption that similar political, social, cultural, economic threats and opportunities contributed to the preservation of a certain air de famille among the genre productions of the countries of the area even after the fall of Communism. The common Communist heritage of genre fiction, cinema, and television is synthesised in three main categories: Cold War “noir” and Socialist “grey”, alternative noir, and popular noir. The crime & detection dimensions of the EU phase of the evolution of East-European countries are equally organised in three clusters, called retrospective noir, introspective noir, and prospective noir.

Keywords: East-Europe; Eastern Europe; Central Europe; Central and Eastern Europe; Communist Detective Fiction; Post-Communism; Area Noir..

Doru Pop
Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.02
P. 38 – 61

The Socialist Boy Detectives and The Cold Wars of Childhood

Abstract: This paper discusses the various manifestations of children as protagonists in Romanian socialist cinema, and particularly those present in the juvenile detective movies of that time. Several productions of the socialism cinema industry had children as their main heroes and the movies discussed here were deploying tropes and narrative strategies specific to the global genre of boy detectives. The analysis uses examples that range from written texts, books or cartoons, to films and television series, as these cultural products were exploring not only childhood, but also a particular behaviour of young children and teenagers. Movies like Babușcă’s Adventures (Aventurile lui Babușcă, 1973), The Redhead (Roșcovanul, 1976), The Son of the Mountains (Fiul munților, 1981), The Knights of the Cherry Blossoms (Cireșarii TV series 1972 and the movie in 1984) or other TV series such as The Freckled (Pistruiatul, 1973), a continuation of The Redhead or The White Rocket (Racheta albă, 1984), which are part of a particular sub-genre in children’s cinema are closely analysed. They are considered to be relevant for understanding the transformations in Romanian society, as the socialist regime was creating an educational environment for children according to the dominant ideology, the narratives were exploring the resources of a wider genre. They belong to a more complex cultural phenomenon, then simply to a propaganda mechanism.  By means of popular cinema and using the strategies of detective storytelling, the common elements of these films are shared with the global “youth detective” sub-genre.  The impact of these movies, seen by millions of viewers of all ages in the socialist society, is undeniable and today many of these movies are broadcasted again by some Romanian television stations. Often the question that is addressed remains centred around the political use of children and childhood, which makes their aesthetic dimensions and their use of genre conventions secondary. Based on a genre analysis and using examples from a selected corpus, this interpretation focuses on the internal processes of these narratives and their functions. While the ideology behind the storytelling is explicit, we need to be questioning their inner mechanisms and their emotional appeal. These heroic children’s characters and their childhood under the socialist regime have more dimensions than simply their labelling as propaganda or their role in imposing the myth of the Father and Mother of the nation. Moving beyond the simplistic explanations, claiming that the literature and cinema created during state socialism were only mindless tools of the dominant ideology, this paper is a contribution to understanding the global cultural dialogue and the contribution of Romanian socialist cinema to the international exchange of ideas. In the absence of a complete cultural history of childhood in socialist Romania, this paper uses the child protagonists and the representation of children in several juvenile detective style movies, created during the 70s and the 80s, as an instrument to understand the cultural history of the autochthonous socialist society.

Keywords: Romanian cinema; Communism; Childhood; Detective movies; Entertainment; Cultural infantilization; Symbolic exploitation

Katre Talviste
University of Tartu, Estonia
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.03
P. 62 – 76

The Curious Case of Juhan Paju and a Fortunate Choice of Pop Lit over Poetry

Abstract: This essay proposes a study of the poetics and local generic context of the work of Juhan Paju (1939–2003), arguably one of the very few original Estonian crime writers emerged from the twentieth century. The focus is on five of his novels centred on investigations led by Toivo Kivistik, a small-town police detective. The series is set in the last decades of the twentieth and the early years of the twenty-first century. This tumultuous period in local history has provided rich material for socially relevant themes. Paju’s work is original in treating this material, but also in his experiments with generic conventions, which he progressively adapts to his own talent and to the local context.

Keywords: Estonian literature; Genre fiction ; Crime fiction; Detective fiction ; Roman à énigme; Roman noir; Juhan Paju

Primož Mlačnik
Centre for Humanities, University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.04
P. 77 – 92

From Minor Literature to Neoliberal Noir: The Detective Novels of Sergej Verč

Abstract: In this article, we analyze the politics of representation in the detective tetralogy (1991-2009) of the late Slovenian and Triestinian writer Sergej Verč to trace the changing patterns of cultural representations in the period of Slovenian transition from socialism to capitalism. Originating from transdisciplinary perspectives, addressing several aspects of Verč’s primary literary semiotic device of schizophrenia, we trace a simultaneous literary and chronological shift from minor literature to neoliberal noir. We expose the fundamental representational ambiguity by analyzing the detective triad (murder-victim-criminal), the fetishization of detective clues, erotization of detection, and the underlying binary oppositions. Verč’s detective novels critique the Slovenian capitalist transition but also reproduce culturally conservative representations of gender, sexuality, and family.

Keywords: Slovenian Literature; Sergej Verč; Minor literature; Neoliberal noir; Trieste; de(mythologization); Schizophrenia; Politics of representation; Detective novels; Critique of capitalism; Cultural conservatism

Marcela Poučová
Université Masaryk, Brno, République Tchèque
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.05
P. 93 – 103

« Accepter et pardonner, c’est se réconcilier avec soi-même », L’Histoire tchèque du XXe siècle vue par le roman policier

Abstract: The article explains the development and specific features of the detective genre in the Czech Republic (and its predecessor Czechoslovakia) from the beginning of the 20th century. It observes that these features are just as valid in the last 30 years. The main focus is on crime fiction literature and, in particular, TV crime series that have become especially popular since 2015, both of which have been inspired by true organised crime cases between 1990-2010. However, it is noted that in its historical examination of the Communist era, the media culture is still avoiding delving into the issues connected with the problematic post-war history of the Czech Sudetenland.

Keywords: Czech Republic; Czech history; Organised crime; Detective genre; Crime fiction literature; TV crime series; Philosophy in the 20th century

Radu Toderici
Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.06
P. 104 – 113

Late Modernist Noirs: Béla Tarr’s Damnation/ Kárhozat and György Fehér’s Passion/ Szenvedély

Abstract: Since the 80s, a large number of films, manifestly indebted to the classic American noir films of the 40s and 50s, have been appropriately labeled neo-noirs. An interesting, but less well documented version of this phenomenon, mostly American in its nature, is the case of some of the films belonging to the so-called Hungarian “Black Series”. Made at the end of the 80s and during the 90s, these films are modernist, stylized versions of the classic noir films. This essay tries to give an outline of this East European reappraisal of the noir film, by insisting on the narrative and aesthetical strategies used by directors such as Béla Tarr or György Fehér in order to deconstruct the classical genre.

Keywords: “Black Series”; Modernist Noir; Hungarian Cinema; Béla Tarr; György Fehér

Gender & Noir

Amalia Mărășescu
University of Pitești, Pitești, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.07
P. 117 – 133

Female Detectives in Romanian Literature: Vitoria Lipan and Minerva Tutovan

Abstract: The essay draws a parallel between two female detectives in Romanian literature: Mihail Sadoveanu’s Vitoria Lipan and Rodica Ojog-Brașoveanu’s Minerva Tutovan. While Vitoria Lipan is not commonly regarded as a detective, Minerva Tutovan is a professional State Security officer and investigator. Mention will be made of their marital status, profession, pets, moral qualities and others, in an attempt to show that although they differ in many respects including education, background, social status, historical epoch and purpose, they are equally skilful in finding criminals and bringing them to justice. They will also be analysed as mentors: Vitoria for her son Gheorghiță and Minerva for her subordinate, lieutenant Vasile Dobrescu.

Keywords: Romanian literature; Mihail Sadoveanu; Rodica Ojog-Brașoveanu; Female detective; Gender roles; Investigation

Roxana Eichel
University of Bucharest, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.08
P. 134 – 147

Intersecting Inequalities in Romanian Crime Series Shadows (HBO). Expressions of Identity between Authenticity, Stereotypes and ‘Eastploitation’

Abstract: The representations of gender, ethnicity and class play a particularly significant part in structuring the way in which East European crime fiction makes sense of its cultural identity. Issues of social inequality and discrimination are addressed by the European institutions through the promotion of inter- and multi-cultural values that are meant to foster awareness about social stereotypes and prejudices and promote the artistic expression of more balanced representations (i.e. the EIGE policies). Yet sometimes the gap between the inclusive aims pursued by the European policies and the realities represented in crime films, TV dramas and novels is more than noticeable. This article aims to discuss this fluctuation between disparity, stereotypization, realism and exploitation in the HBO production Shadows (Umbre, 2014-2019).

Keywords: Eastern European identities; Crime fiction series; Exploitation; Cultural stereotypes; Self-orientalization; Gender; Class; Ethnicity

Andrada Fătu-Tutoveanu
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.09
P. 148 – 157

Death Becomes Her. Implicit Religion, Relics, Myth-Making and the Witch Complex in Visual Representations of Women in Film Noir. A Case Study

Abstract: While cinema and especially the Hollywood Golden Age has constructed a mythology of its own, cinematic storytelling has also recycled heavily on classic mythologies and cultural stereotypes. The female figures have represented during the Hollywood Golden Age and in film noir in particular a special category from this perspective, being both deified and demonized, depicted as goddesses, vampires, fascinating ghosts and, above all, femmes fatales. Classic feminist studies have argued (see Laura Mulvey, 1975, Ann Kaplan, 1978) that both this depiction/representation, verbal or visual, and the intended spectator, are male. Based on a comparative case-study, the current paper discusses the manner in which what I call a cinematic witch complex is constructed through either hiding or revealing in order to conclude which is more efficient in the process of gendered myth-making.

Keywords: Film Noir, myth-making, representation, gender, Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca (1940), Laura (1944)

East Seen From the West

Paul Bleton
Université TELUQ, Montréal, Canada
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.10
P. 161 – 171

Lu à l’ouest, le crime de l’est a du lest

Abstract: Based on a corpus of Eastern and Western crime novels dealing with crime in the former Eastern Bloc countries, three issues are examined:

– the globalization of the crime fiction market through French translation and a few of its deterritorializing consequences for writers and readers;

– the a priori pragmatic-semantic configurations informing the act of reading (culture of fiction, culture of the author and culture of the reader);

– the symbolic displacement of the disappeared Iron Curtain towards two types of thematic border: one by excess (the perpetuated over-border) and the other by default (the checkpoint and the confines).

Keywords: Eastern Noir; Western Eastern Noir; Translation; French readership; globalization;

Ioana Andrea Diaconu
Transylvania University, Brașov, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.11
P. 172 – 184

Creating and destroying prejudices. Romanian characters in German television thrillers beginning with the millennium

Abstract: The study includes over 30 German TV thrillers and series aired during a 20-year period, with the plots located in different regions, in which Romanians play parts of different degrees of importance for the story. The main interest is to identify whether or to which extent the different roles are tributary to stereotypes about Romanians and to what extent the characters might contribute to creating a perception of Romanians in the German society, respectively to changing the existent one. Thus it is important to find out the socio-cultural background of the characters, their occupational status and their regional origins, if known. Attention will be also paid on the names of the characters and cast. There is also an interest in whether there is a link between the German regions where the plots are located and the appearance of Romanians in the films, and if so, which fact is this owed to. Another question would be to which extent are the characters/roles connected to the social reality, or just filling in gaps with stereotypes to allow the plot to develop. As far as the characters are those of criminals, it is interesting to find out what place on the ranking of criminals do Romanians occupy, and, if possible, to identify the relation with other non-German felons. An important issue is the fact that the analysed films were aired on public TV stations with an explicit educational, non-commercial mission and editorial policy. It is to be identified, whether the image of Romanians is also tributary to such a policy.

Keywords: Eastern Europe; Romanians; German crime series; Imagology; Stereotyping; Migration; Discrimination; Crime Scene

Sándor Kálai
Université de Debrecen, Hongrie
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.12
P. 185 – 197

Europa Blues (L’Europe de l’Est des romans policiers scandinaves)

Abstract: The Scandinavian detective novel (or at least some of its authors) elaborates on local materials in an increasingly global or European context. From the perspective of its social relevance, the detective novel provides some of the most influential representations of Otherness. What interests us here is the place of Eastern Europe in the novels of certain Nordic Noir authors: Inger Wolf, Arne Dahl and Jo Nesbø. The dynamics between private and public, individual and collective, as well as the rich representation of different forms of mobility make it possible to build a wide variety of character identities, and to embrace both the local and the European/global. On the one hand, for the Scandinavian West, Eastern Europe is problematic, which makes Nordic noir detective novels regularly return to its genuine exploration. But from another angle, the fictional representation of the Eastern part of Europe is largely dependent on stereotypes. The novels in the present selection only partially or intermittently problematize these stereotypes, which could be due to the fact that, on the whole, Eastern Europe plays only a minor and sometimes rather ornamental part in the plot.

Keywords: Scandinavian literature; Detective Novels; Inger Wolf; Arne Dahl; Jo Nesbø; Diversity; Globalization; Stereotypes

Noir sans frontiers: Beyond Genre and Geography

Marius-Mircea Crișan
West University of Timișoara, Romania
Carol Senf
Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.13
P. 201 – 215

The Mysteries of the Post-Communist Vampire: Detective features in the novel Nepotul lui Dracula by Alexandru Mușina

Abstract: The association of the vampire with Eastern Europe has evolved in crime fictions which transform this fantastic character from a supernatural being to a means to comment on politics, many of them focusing on the imagological opposition between Eastern Europe and the Occidental world, a treatment that began with Stoker’s Dracula. Our paper analyses the transformation of this imagological vampiric stereotype, by investigating the deconstructivist novel Nepotul lui Dracula (“Dracula’s Nephew”) (2012) by the Romanian writer Alexandru Mușina. This paper focuses on the detective features of this parodic work, and analyses the elements typical to vampire crime fiction, as well as reflects on problems which the post-Communist society has to face, such as the reversal of values, the shadows of the Communist past, the remnants of the Communist secret police, and corruption in different layers of the society.

Keywords: Romanian literature; Dracula; Transylvania; Alexandru Mușina; Vampire crime fiction; Detective story; Vampire stereotypes

Alex Văsieș
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.14
P. 216 – 225

Narrative Devices in Motion: From Genre Fiction to Mainstream Fiction in Florin Chirculescu’s Prose

Abstract: This article explores the dynamics between Romanian genre fiction and mainstream fiction in the postcommunist period, trying to negotiate the instrumentalizations of narrative devices usually found in popular literature (be it fantasy, crime, or mystery fiction) in a novel that transcends normative genre boundaries. Thus, the text traces a specific way in which some Romanian writers (in this case Florin Chirculescu) have navigated the strenuous path brought by capitalism in the local literary scene.

Keywords: Romanian literature; Genre Fiction; Mainstream Fiction; Maximalist Novels; Florin Chirculescu; Anarchetype

Maria Barbu
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.15
P. 226 – 245

Virtual dystopias: Westworld and technology’s potential to save or enslave the world

Abstract: After the two World Wars and the rise of totalitarian regimes, dystopian narratives have begun to spread within the literary and social imaginary in an attempt to warn against the grim future of such socio-political realities. Lately, considering its continuous developments, technology has also become the subject of very heated debates: will it contribute to the qualitative enhancement of human life? Or, on the contrary, will it become another factor that will threaten humanity’s existence (and maybe even its dominance) on earth? The aim of this paper is to answer these questions by closely examining Westworld (Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, HBO Entertainment, 2016 – present), one of the series that has addressed the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence in a very complex manner during the past few years. Apart from analysing how themes such as free will, conscience or power are discussed throughout the series, this research will also draw comparisons with the European colonizers’ attitude towards the native Americans they encountered during the discovery of the New World, in order to show that man’s eternal desire to subjugate “the other” (be it the race of American natives or the androids specifically created to satisfy his pleasures) can lead to a scenario just as dystopic as the one in which the supremacy would belong to the initially oppressed side.

Keywords: Westworld; Dystopia; Violence; Artificial Intelligence; Technology; Alterity; Free will; Conquest

Carmen Borbély
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.16
P. 246 – 261

Noir Affect in Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City

Abstract: Taking its cue from Christopher Breu and Elizabeth A. Hatmaker’s rethinking of noir affect as a descriptor of detective fiction, this paper contributes to the discussion of South African writer Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City as a narrative that both harnesses and fluidifies the generic conventions of the crime thriller. Pondering Beukes’s claim that her story may become the site for the transmutation or transmission of ethically adjusted emotion, the paper resorts to Lauren Berlant’s thoughts on detective fiction as a genre condensing the “cruel optimism” of the ordinary, rather than the evental, present to explore the clues of affectional attunement in Lauren Beukes’s postapartheid novel.

Keywords: Noir Affect; Crime Fiction; Muti Noir; Lauren Beukes; Cruel Optimism

Ruxandra Cesereanu
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.17
P. 262 – 267

The Savage Detectivism of Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction

Abstract: The present study analyses Roberto Bolaño’s engagement with marginality in the novels The Savage Detectives and 2666, via the conventions of the noir genre. The aesthetics of the peripheral, the poetics of triviality, vagrancy, bohemian wanderlust, and enigmatic rituals are performed in an inimitable personal style that problematizes issues pertaining to the theory of literature and the theory of the novel. Atomised, puzzle-like novels with deliberately obscure police procedural plots, The Savage Detectives and 2666 break several authorial and narrative architectural patterns, becoming major landmarks in today’s novelistic worldscape.

Keywords: Roberto Bolaño; The Savage Detectives; 2666; Marginality; Poetics of triviality; Vagrancy; Bohemia; roman noir

Călina Părău
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.18
P. 268 – 275

Residues and Presents in Contemporary Shrinking Temporalities

Abstract: Taking into consideration the inherent crisis in our experience and perception of time, we will have to ask ourselves what is the link between the way in which we engage with the ‘present’ and with the ‘aesthetic’ in our postmodern societies as we experience the opposing categories of the ‘resisting’ and the ‘elusive’. Zygmunt Bauman believes that our “liquid culture” is marked by discontinuity and forgetting as our social realities become more and more fragmented. Frederic Jameson also mentions the ways in which “the displacement of old-fashioned industrial labor by the newer cybernetic kind” has changed continuity-based possibilities of engaging with reality. A temporality of “passive reception” rather than ‘agency’ characterizes our possibilities of making sense of a preexisting reality made up of circuits that flow in and out of non-temporalized worlds. It is highly important to discuss about the language of an aesthetic, cultural and subjective ‘present’ as a possibility of creating meaning from inside categories of experience that oppose our culture of the fugitive and disengagement.

Keywords: Zygmunt Bauman; “Liquid Culture” ; Fragment; Time; Experience; Culture; Anarchetype; Perception

Les imaginaires du féminin/masculin dans la littérature/Feminine vs. Masculine Imaginaries in Literature

Najate Nerci
Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morrocco




Ce dossier est consacré à des articles relevant des actes du colloque : « Imaginaires du féminin/masculin : Permanences et métamorphoses » organisé à l’Université de Casablanca au Maroc les 4 et 5 Mars 2020 en collaboration avec le Centre des recherches internationales sur l’imaginaire (CRI2i). Cet événement s’inscrivait dans le cadre du projet : « Genre et droits humains » financé par le programme Ibn Khaldoun d’appui à la recherche dans le domaine des sciences humaines et sociales[1]. Les articles du présent dossier se penchent sur divers aspects que revêt la dyade du féminin/masculin dans la littérature. L’apport des lettres dans l’élaboration d’un matériau riche en interrogations sur cette dualité n’est plus à prouver. En effet, la littérature depuis ses origines constitue le lieu de dépôt mais aussi de mobilisation de l’imaginaire dans l’expérience narrative de l’être et du monde. Cet objet de recherche aux multiples métamorphoses qu’est l’imaginaire du féminin/masculin trouve un lieu d’expression favorable d’investissement des mythes, des archétypes et des représentations dans la littérature. Les articles que nous présentons dans ce dossier en fournissent un exemple éloquent. Les nouvelles configurations de mythes relatifs au féminin et au féminin y trouvent une place de choix. L’un des plus marquants et fascinants est bien celui des amazones devenu topos revisité par nombre d’écrivaines de la deuxième vague féministe des années 60 (Les Guérillères by Monique Wittig (1969), The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975), Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976) and A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski (1986). L’utopie des Amazones en devient une « expérience de pensée », une démonstration par l’absurde servant de mise en garde contre les dangers de perpétuer une société discriminatoire envers les femmes (C. Braga). La reprise contemporaine du mythe féminin, elle, dans deux films : L’Antichrist (2009) de Lars Von Trier et Mère! (2017) de Darren Aronofsky, présente la nature féminine comme malfaisante, irrationnelle et fragile. Au Brésil, l’imaginaire du féminin étudié par Luísa Assunção Pesché dans trois romans est constitué également par la figure féminine dangereuse. La femme fatale est l’archétype par excellence de cet imaginaire. Trois héroïnes brésiliennes : l’oblique Capitu, l’héroïne de Machado de Assis dans le roman Dom Casmurro (1900) ; Gabriela, la mulâtresse de Gabriela, cravo e canela (1958) de Jorge Amado, et Hilda Furacão, la prostituée du roman homonyme de Roberto Drummond (1991) permettent une interprétation de l’archétype féminin enfoui dans les profondeurs de l’imaginaire brésilien. Il y est synonyme de fascination et de menace pour l’ordre établi entraînant la perte de l’homme (Assunção Pesché).

Or, d’autres comme Georges Sand rêvait, d’Indiana à Nanon, de 1832 à 1872, d’une union harmonieuse entre le masculin et le féminin et tenta même de trouver le moyen de surmonter la dualité à travers l’art (G. Peylet). A une époque plus proche, Yourcenar laisse transparaître à travers son personnage impérial : Hadrien, sa perception de l’unité originaire, divine et androgyne en inscrivant l’être humain dans l’ordre naturel de l’être sacré (C.M. Zărnescu). Dans « ZABOR ou les psaumes de Kamel Daoud », la réinvention, le détournement et la transformation du personnage féminin de Schéhérazade en personnage masculin se fait à la fois par le corps et par l’usage du récit pour contrer la mort (S. Atoui-Labidi). Black Milk d’Elif Shafak décrit comment les expériences des femmes reflètent un destin tragique dans un monde post-moderne où l’individualité est marquée par la diversité et la multiplicité. La maternité s’avère être un fardeau vu les normes de la société patriarcale imposant une identité « donnée » pour les femmes et les hommes (E.-S.-A. Yunusoglu). Pour Yasmine Chami, l’exploration de la sphère de l’intime s’effectue à la manière d’une spéléologie de la conscience d’être au monde. L’auteure mobilise un imaginaire multiforme par l’usage du conte et de la mythologie permettant à la question du féminin/masculin de se déployer conjointement sur le plan intime et universel. (F.-E.Taznout)

Flaubert, dans Salammbô, octroie au roman un projet unique : l’affirmation d’une confrontation entre configurations mythologiques masculines et féminines. Le nihilisme de Flaubert cherche à détruire les plus hautes valeurs de la culture bourgeoise et culmine dans une attaque contre les rôles qu’il assigne au sexe opposé. (H. Ismail). Plus proche de nous, le nihilisme féminin au Canada francophone prend une autre ampleur. Il est analysé, ici, à travers les expériences scripturales de Nelly Arcan (Burqa de chair) et Catherine Mavrikakis (Deuils cannibales et mélancoliques et La ballade d’Ali Baba). L’analyse montre que si, chez Nelly Arcan, la pesanteur de la matérialité du corps et la certitude qu’elle n’y a aucune autre dimension qu’elle mène à un nihilisme autodestructif, chez Catherine Mavrikakis, le nomadisme réitéré, la force de la narration et le cosmopolitisme affiché éludent la solution du nihilisme. (L.T. Ilea)

Bien que distinctes les uns des autres, ces écritures littéraires de la dualité féminin/masculin sont liées par des questionnements d’une grande acuité. Ils manifestent le désir de recréer un imaginaire foisonnant qui s’adosse à un passé archétypal et font de leurs produits un lieu de déconstruction et de recréation, un lieu qui achemine l’imaginaire des sexes vers de nouveaux circuits de sens. La dyade féminin/masculin n’a de cesse d’être l’endroit idéal pour interroger le rapport de l’être humain à lui-même et au monde.


[1] La première édition du programme Ibn Khaldoun d’appui à la recherche dans le domaine des Sciences Humaines et Sociales a été mis en place par le centre national de la recherche scientifique et technique et le ministère de l’éducation nationale, de la formation professionnelle, de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche scientifique pour trois ans (2019-2022)

Corin Braga
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.19
P. 281 – 290

The New Amazons: Second-Wave Feminist Dystopias

Abstract: From Antiquity to Modernity, the topic of the Amazons questioned the relationships between men and women, triggering a series of anthropological, social and cultural problems, such as the separation between the sexes, the fascination with parthenogenesis, or the reversal of the social and cultural roles of the genders. In the wake of the second-wave feminism of the ’60, resonating with the Women’s Liberation Movement, several authors revisited this topos: Monique Wittig, Les Guérillères (1969), Joanna Russ, The Female Man (1975), Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), Joan Slonczewski, A Door into Ocean (1986). In this paper I focus on Joanna Russ’s “polytopia”, in which four distinct personas of the narrator live in four alternative worlds differentiated by the relationship between the sexes, and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, the only utopia (to my knowledge) in which the ideal society is situated not in a different space or time, but in the (delusional) mind of the protagonist. My thesis is that, in these texts, the Amazones’ utopia is a “thought experience”, a demonstration by the absurd warning against the dangers of perpetuating a society that discriminates women.

Keywords: Utopia; Dystopia; Feminism; Amazons; Joanna Russ; Marge Piercy

Assunção Pesché Luísa
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.20
P. 291 – 308

Les héroïnes (fatales) brésiliennes : archétypes et métamorphoses

Abstract: This work proposes to observe the appropriation of the myth of the femme fatale, the great guiding myth of French decadence[i] and its system of symbols in the Brazilian imaginary. Three Brazilian heroines, which fall under the theme of fatality in women, constitute the main corpus of this research: the oblique Capitu, the heroine of Machado de Assis in the novel Dom Casmurro (1900); Gabriela, la mulâtresse de Gabriela, cravo e canela (1958) by Jorge Amado, and Hilda Furacão, the prostitute from the homonymous novel by Roberto Drummond (1991). The echoes of the myth allow us to see that these heroines are fatal women par excellence, their figures moving within an evolving patriarchal society in Brazil.

[i] Voir Gilbert Durand, « Lettres sur les deux mythes directeurs du XXe siècle », in Champs de l’imaginaire, Grenoble, ELLUG, 1996.

Keywords: Brasilian literature; Machado de Assis; Jorge Amado; Roberto Drummond; Femme fatale; Myth; Metamorphosis

Gérard Peylet
Université Bordeaux 3, France
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.21
P. 309 – 324

Le masculin et le féminin dans le roman sandien: Vers un dépassement de la dualité

Abstract: From Indiana to Nanon, from 1832 to 1872, G. Sand never ceased to revolt against the abuse of power of which women are victims in a society made for men and directed by them. She also sought to find a positive response to this tyranny which makes women a dependent being, by reflecting on another form of relationship between man and woman and on a new role that women could play within the society. After being a victim, the Sandian woman becomes an educator of herself and others, a true mediator before engaging in social life alongside men. In this male/female relationship, education, which plays a central role, is based on dialectical thinking. Through education, the Sandian character learns to overcome the social, political, cultural and psychological barriers that hinder being. It is a weapon to conquer freedom, to give back to the degraded feminine identity its dignity. George Sand was not content to seek another power for women. She did not want to affirm the superiority of women either. She dreamed of a harmonious union between masculine and feminine and even tried to find the way to overcome duality through art.

Keywords: Masculine/feminine; George Sand; Feminine identity; Power; Duality.

Crina-Magdalena Zărnescu
University of Piteşti, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.22
P. 325 – 340

Sous le masque du masculin? Approche poétique du roman Mémoires d’Hadrien de Marguerite Yourcenar

Abstract: Marguerite Yourcenar could have said “Hadrian, it’s me” like Flaubert whose conception of impersonal narrator she shares, but she didn’t say it! She leaves behind her Me and all the emotions, feelings, life experiences which Me represents by replacing it with and auctorial and imperial I of Hadrian. She barrows Hadrian’s voice to convey her thoughts on human condition, liberty, authenticity, and truth. Her author traits meet the emperor’s traits which manifest themselves wonderfully in this novel by their capacity to access the essential, to immerse in the historical context to unveil in an a-historical way, let’s say, Hadrian’s eminent, august, and human personality. Beyond this writer-character “substitution”, one accedes to her literary credo on the originary divine, and androgyne unit which writers can remake in their texts by putting the human being with all its the attributes in the natural order of its sacred existence. By the above assertions, we have configured the main directions of our poetical approach which also uses hermeneutical and psychoanalytic instruments.

Keywords: Marguerite Yourcenar; Mémoires d’Hadrien; Masculine/feminine; Me/I, Human condition; Authenticity; Masculine writing

Souad Atoui-Labidi
Université Mohamed Boudiaf de M’Sila, Algérie
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.23
P. 341 – 353

Réinvention et détournement du féminin ou Schéhérazade au masculin dans ZABOR ou les psaumes de Kamel Daoud

Abstract: Scheherazade, an important female character in the collection of tales The Thousand and One Nights, its main storyteller and guarantor since she ensured its continuity by inventing each night a new story to achieve a specific goal: (to) save from the execution. She is also presented as the perfect embodiment of the therapist who wields speech with great intelligence to heal the king of his complexes and his insatiable desire for revenge. But what fate was reserved for her after the thousand and one nights stories (Les Mille et Une Nuits)? What was the destiny of this “out of the ordinary” female character after her last story? Her fate has certainly changed… The current literary writing has ensured many mutations and important metamorphoses. In this article, we analyze the novel by Algerian author Kamel Daoud ZABOR ou les psaumes focusing our attention on the reinvention and diversion of the female character of Scheherazade to the masculine.

Keywords: Kamel Daoud; Scheherazade; Literary imagination; Zabor; Reinvention; Diversion; Scheherazade to the masculine

Eylül-Sabo-Andrada Yunusoglu
Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.24
P. 354 – 370

“The Harem Within” The complexity of female identity in Elif Shafak’s Black Milk

Abstract: In a post-modern world where selfhood is defined by diversity and multiplicity, Elif Shafak’s Black Milk outlines how women’s experiences depict a tragic fate. In this memoir Elif Shafak writes about motherhood and authorship and the many stereotypes women face in a patriarchal society. For many women writers, motherhood became a burden, because they had to choose between being a “good” mother and a “good” author. This article aims to explore the complexity of women’s identity in Black Milk through a feminist perspective and also to analyse Elif Shafak’s feminine discourse and its empowerment process. Elif Shafak questions the norms of the patriarchal society, because it enforces a “given” identity for both women and men. Black Milk also outlines the anxiety women face when it comes to writing, motherhood and many other experiences, describing an enormous pressure put on women to reflect an ideal.

Keywords: Elif Shafak; Black Milk; Feminine identity; Motherhood; Authorship; Memoir; Feminist theory

Fatema-Ezzahra Taznout
Université Hassan II, Casablanca, Maroc
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.25
P. 371 – 386

Yasmine Chami, une écriture de l’intranquilité

Abstract: Yasmine Chami’s fictional work is made of the meticulous exploration of the sphere of the intimate in the manner of a caving of the consciousness of being in the world. A narrative motif in particular comes off for the systematic nature of its occurrences, that of abandonment (of the woman by her spouse). This leitmotiv strikingly crystallizes the fragility of couple bonds and inevitably induces a profound questioning of the relationships between women and men and the representations that underlie them. In order to shed new light on the life path of her heroines, the author mobilizes a multifaceted imagination. In the present study, the focus will be primarily on the ingenious use she makes of storytelling and mythology as major narrative springs which allow the work to unfold simultaneously on the intimate and the universal level.

Keywords: Yasmine Chami; Gender imaginaries; Myth; Oral tradition; Memory; Interpretation; Abandonment

Hichem Ismaïl
Université de Sfax, Tunisie
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.26
P. 387 – 400

L’antagonisme du féminin et du masculin dans Salammbô de Flaubert

Abstract: In Salammbô by Flaubert, the representation of the ancient universe reveals a struggle between two opposing principles, masculine and feminine, which takes on a character that is both mythological and cosmological. While revealing the dangers of the encounter between these two poles, the story stages a fierce confrontation between these two imaginaries presenting themselves as mutually exclusive. The fiction is driven by a single project and revolves around a single purpose: to highlight the antagonism between the mythical configurations of the masculine and those of the feminine. This antithetical construction will give rise to a whirlwind of passion and cruelty that will consecrate the triumph of monstrosity over amorous emotions. In the Punic work, the language of violence prevails over that of love so much so that the deep energy that nourishes amorous desire is transformed into a veritable force of generalized annihilation. Flaubert’s nihilism strives to undermine the highest values ​​of bourgeois culture, which disgusts it, and reaches its peak when it attacks the roles it assigns to the opposite sexes.

Keywords: Gustave Flaubert; Salammbô; Antagonism; Myth; Sexual stereotypes; Feminine vs. Masculine; Desire; Subversion

Laura T. Ilea
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.27
P. 401 – 413

La littérature féminine en infrarouge. Au-delà du nihilisme 

Abstract: The article analyzes two versions of feminine nihilism in the French-speaking Canada: Nelly Arcan, especially in her posthumous book, Burqa de chair, and Catherine Mavrikakis, in two of her novels, Deuils cannibales et mélancoliques and La ballade d’Ali Baba. By emphasizing the terms mélanomanie and néantisme, the headliners of the “professors of despair” in the homonymous book by Nancy Huston, my text defends the idea that the story-telling operation specific to the search for the “great novel” in La ballade d’Ali Baba is capable, through its reiteration of nomadism, cosmopolitanism and a “poisoned narrative”, to overcome the nihilism inherent to the solipsistic writings of Nelly Arcan.

Keywords: Canadian Literature; Feminine nihilism; Professors of despair; Nelly Arcan; Flesh burqa; Catherine Mavrikakis; Poisoned narrative

Library Survey

Andrei-Călin Zamfirescu
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.28
P. 417 – 423

Marius Conkan, Building Secondary Worlds in Portal-Quest Fantasy Fiction, Interdisciplinary Discourses, 2020

Carmen Borbély
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.29
P. 424 – 428

Marcus Tomalin, Telling the Time in British Literature, 1675-1830. Hours of Folly?, New York and London, Routledge, 2020

Ioana Pavel
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.30
P. 429 – 433

Călin Teutișan, Scenarii ale criticii. Protagoniști, metode, interpretări, Cluj-Napoca, Editura Școala Ardeleană, 2021

Laura T. Ilea
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.31
P. 434 – 438

Cătălin Pavel, Archéologie de l’amour. De l’homme de Néandertal à Taj Mahal, Éditions de l’Aube, La Tour-d’Aigues, 2022

Constantin Tonu
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
DOI: 10.24193/cechinox.2022.43.32
P. 439 – 445

Vasile Voia, Religia în epoca romantică: Un imaginar al Absolutului, Cluj-Napoca, Școala Ardeleană, 2022

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