Dialogue on the Threshold


02 November 2021

Dumitru Tsepeneag and Oneirism

Dumitru Tsepeneag and Oneirism 

 Alistair Ian Blyth

Dumitru Tsepeneag’s work spans more than five decades and two languages, Romanian and French, and includes not only fiction written under his own name, but also a novel by one of his characters, his fictional/oneiric alter ego and anagrammatic authorial proxy, Ed Pastenague.

Tsepeneag’s first short stories were “written for the desk drawer” in the late 1950s, a period when it would have been impossible for him to publish texts which, rather like the short stories and parables of Kafka, constructed their own ambiguous, oneiric world, making little direct reference to the “real world,” which is to say, the social, political, historical reality of the time, and even less so the “socialist reality” as officially defined and prescribed by the Stalinist ideology of the Romanian People’s Republic. In 1959, he met then-unpublished poet Leonid Dimov (1926–1987) and together they debated and developed the premises of what they called “structural oneirism,” a theory and practice of writing that takes the dream as its criterion (Tsepeneag) or legislation (Dimov), and that lucidly creates a reality analogous to the dream. During a period of “clandestinity” and “theoretical gestation”(1) stretching from 1959 to 1964, Tsepeneag and Dimov theorized oneirism in opposition to the automatic writing and description of extratextual dreams practiced by the surrealists. (It should be noted that Surrealism had been one of the main Romanian avant-garde movements in the period up to the communist takeover of Romania.) As Tsepeneag was later jokingly to remark, “oneirism descended from the ape of Surrealism.”(2) 

            In 1965, after the death of hard-line Stalinist Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Nicolae Ceaușescu became General Secretary of the Romanian Workers’ Party, retitling it the Romanian Communist Party and renaming the country the Romanian Socialist Republic. In this transition period prior to the full-blown Ceaușescu personality cult and socialist-nationalist dictatorship, there was a short-lived, partial, and ultimately deceptive cultural “thaw,” which came to an abrupt end in July 1971, when the dictator returned from a state visit to China and North Korea and issued his so-called “July Theses,” the signal for a re-entrenchment of totalitarianism and a “mini cultural revolution.”(3) It was during this brief “thaw” that Tsepeneag was able to publish three collections of short stories, which, as well as new work, also included texts dating back to the 1950s: Exerciții [Exercises] (1966), Frig [Cold] (1967), and Așteptare [Waiting] (1971).(4) The stories in the three collections contain dream images, narratives, and situations which, subtly altered or grotesquely distorted, recur obsessively, hauntingly, but also ironically, self-consciously, even comically, throughout Tsepeneag’s subsequent novels, transforming his work as a whole into a single, interconnected text intricately structured according to its own overarching oneiric logic: anxious, bewildering journeys by streetcar; the wife who keeps growing taller and then shorter; theriomorphic images (lion, fish, bird) that recur with menacing insistence, acting as numinous symbols whose meaning, however, remains opaque, impossible to determine outside the dream logic of the text. The title story of the collection Waiting, one of the major texts of this period, and which will form the structural and imaginal matrix of later novels, in particular Roman de Gare [A Novel to Read on the Train] and La BelleRoumaine, is oneiric not only aesthetically (the dream reality of an isolated railway station at the edge a forest swarming with indeterminate creatures, on the other side of which lies a mysterious sanatorium; a place of alternating deep snow and incessant drizzle, menaced by an eagle that grows inexorably larger and larger), but also structurally: the sequence of events (the arrival of an anima figure on an express delayed by the derailment of a freight train, who speaks no known language and brings with her an eagle in a cage; the death of old railway worker Manolache, haunted to the end by the dream of a lion with a human grin from his days at the circus; the disappearance of telegraph operator Lică; the station master’s endless, objectless waiting) keeps shifting, doubling back on itself, repeating itself in a different order. The oneiric narrative structure of “Waiting” therefore looks forward to the dreamlike textual variations and narrative metamorphoses of Zadarnică e arta fugii [Vain is the Art of the Fugue],(5) which was published in French translation as Arpièges (a portmanteau of arpèges “arpeggios” and pièges “traps”)(6) by Flammarion in 1973, but in the original Romanian not until after the fall of the Ceaușescu regime. A shorter, earlier version of Vain Art of the Fugue was published in Luceafărul magazine in June 1969, with the title “Fuga” (“Running” or “Fugue”).

In addition to fiction that embodied oneirist praxis, during the “thaw” Tsepeneag was able to publish articles in the literary press that laid out the theory of aesthetic or structural oneirism. That such articles were published at all is indicative of the relative relaxation of hard-line control over freedom of expression, but notwithstanding, even before the “July Theses” and the crackdown that was to arrive a few short years later, there were still limits. In June 1968, Tsepeneag began to publish a series of theoretical articles in the weekly literary magazine Luceafărul, under the title “In Search of a Definition.” The first three articles briefly stated the premise of oneiric literature (“in oneiric literature, as I conceive it, the dream is not a source, nor is it an object of study; the dream is a criterion. The difference is fundamental: I do not narrate a dream (mine or anybody else’s), but rather I attempt to construct a reality analogous to the dream,”)(7), outlined the history of the dream in literature and art—the references range from Homer, Virgil, and Dante to Bosch, Swedenborg, Blake, Jean-Paul, Novalis, E. T. A. Hoffmann, G. H. von Schubert, De Chirico, and, of course, the Surrealists—and were leading up to a fuller exposition of Tsepeneag’s own theory of structural oneirism when an anonymous voice from the wings interrupted the text, demanding that the author cut it short and leave the stage:

I had hoped that this series of articles (this theoretical feuilleton!) might stimulate pertinent debate, wherein might be abandoned the preconceived ideas, the false or imaginary premises upon which is constructed an entire brilliant but pointless argumentation; I would at least have liked it to have been read, this theoretical patchwork, which in places is quite dry, because of the sallies into literary history that I deemed necessary, and in places perhaps not completely clear; I would in any case have liked it to be possible for a distinction to be drawn between terms employed not exactly at random, and at least for it to be understood that there is a difference between source, wellspring of inspiration, on the one hand, and criterion, a term of comparison, on the other. But the “big heat” is on and it is natural that there not be enough goodwill or patience and, ultimately, perhaps that there not be any interest. For this reason, although I had initially planned a much longer sequence of theoretical investigations, precisely in order to receive and utilize various suggestions and objections as I went along, I shall conclude with this article.(8)


The article itself concludes with a defense of oneirism against the implied official criticism of delusion, illusion, hallucination, irrationality, unreality: “Oneiric literature is a literature of infinite space and time, it is an attempt to create a parallel world, not homologous but analogous to the ordinary world. It is a perfectly rational literature in its modality and means, even if it chooses as its criterion an irrational phenomenon. And in any case, oneiric literature is not a literature of delirium or sleep, but of complete lucidity.”(9)

            In the first of his “In Search of a Definition” articles, Tsepeneag alludes to his forthcoming translation of a work “fundamental in oneirology,”(10) Albert Béguin’s L’Âme romantique et le rêve (1939), which was to be published two years later in the “Studii” series issued by Editura Univers.(11) Away from the immediate public eye of the weekly literary press, the conclusion of Tsepeneag’s preface to the translation contains perhaps one of his most incisive statements of the poetics of oneirism:

But the dream and also poetry must be viewed otherwise than as sources of knowledge or instruments of metaphysical revelation in which aesthetic pleasure is merely an adjunctive phenomenon, resulting from the ambiguity and uncertainty of revelation.

In the first place, we must take account of the fact that the nocturnal dream, being evanescent and non-recurrent, even if it brings us a revelation of a metaphysical order, is incommunicable. So, too, the poetic adventure: it is individual, it cannot be conveyed with complete coherence. Neither the dream nor the poetic state can be reconstituted. It is impossible and even pointless to achieve once more the uniqueness that like a gas disperses throughout the subconscious. For the purpose of an artist is to achieve, and to do so in complete lucidity, a conveyable work, relative to which the prototypical dream is nothing but a criterion, a distant model that provides its laws rather than accidental and far too individual images. [. . .] the modern oneiric poet seeks in the dream its structure and mechanism in order to transfer them analogically to poetry, of course employing the imaginal material provided by the surrounding reality, since none other exists. [. . .] the modern poet resorts to the dream in order to introduce into the immediate reality—which the senses perceive too chaotically, and the intellect too drily, too notionally—a new organizational and at the same time germinative power, a logic other than the Aristotelian logic of so-called common sense. It is not an evasion but an invasion, an attempt to bring into communication these strata of reality that have for so long been kept isolated from each other;(12) 


A shorter version of the preface, titled “Under the Sign of the Grail,” was published in România Literară magazine,(13) omitting Tsepeneag’s exposition of his own theory of oneiric literature and other passages unacceptable to the official ideology (including a reference to Jungian psychoanalysis and a quotation from Béguin’s diary in which he argues that “the fundamental opposition between Spirit and History [. . .] places its seal on every act of the totalitarian states”). As Tsepeneag was later to recall, the editor of România Literară, novelist Nicolae Breban, invited him to write for the magazine, but on the prior condition that he avoid all mention of the oneiric group.(14) Similarly, according to what Tsepeneag was told by Ștefan Bănulescu, the editor of Luceafărul, the “In Search of a Definition” series had had to be cut short because the “comrades from the Section” were sick of studying his articles with a magnifying glass every week lest some “unseemly” idea slip through.(15)

Meanwhile, an “oneiric group” had formed around the two central figures of Tsepeneag and Dimov, which included poets Virgil Mazilescu (1942–1984), Emil Brumaru (1939-2019), Daniel Turcea (1945–1979), poet and novelist Vintilă Ivănceanu (1940–2008), and prose writers Florin Gabrea (b. 1943) and Sorin Titel (1935–1985), the last of whom was already an established author. A joint interview of group members Leonid Dimov, Dumitru Tsepeneag, and Daniel Turcea,(16) along with literary critic Laurențiu Ulici (1943–2000), who was sympathetic to oneirism, was published in student magazine Amfiteatru, No. 36, in November 1968. In the interview, the participants discuss oneirism in relation to Surrealism, which either draws on the dream as a source external to the text or allows authorial lucidity to be obnubilated through abandonment to the dream state of automatic writing. As Dimov puts it, “the oneirc poet does not describe the dream, he does not allow himself to be controlled by hallucinations, but rather, employing the laws of the dream, he creates a lucid work of art, the more lucid and perfect it is, the closer it approaches the dream.”(17) Implicitly, of course, oneirism was also defined in opposition to realism in general and, given the cultural context of the time and place, socialist realism in particular. Tsepeneag might be said to hint at this politically subversive view when he says that dream should not be viewed as merely “a source of poetic inspiration, but as a second reality.”(18) On the one hand, the interview brought the oneirists greater notoriety, including attention in the West, on the part of Radio Free Europe, for example, which viewed the movement as a bold act of defiance against the regime’s repressive ideology and ossified cultural policy. On the other hand, even though the interview had been “mutilated by the censors,”(19) it was still subversive enough to provoke outrage on the part of the communist literary establishment. There were violent attacks against the group in the official Party newspaper, Scînteia [The Spark], and by establishment literary critics. In the end, by the early 1970s, even the word “oneiric” would be banned, along with the works of Tsepeneag and any reference to them, in effect erasing him as an author from Romanian literature for the next two decades.

In the eyes of the regime, and in the words of the “investigative organ” who in 1975 opened criminal proceedings against him for “the infraction of propaganda against the socialist order,” Tsepeneag had since 1967 taken “a hostile stance toward the socialist order of the Socialist Republic of Romania” and through “the so-called ‘oneiric group’” had “propagated hostile ideas, to the effect that the political regime of our country does not grant freedoms, is based on hypocrisy, aims at the complete depersonalization of the individual, that socialism is a joke, incompatible with culture and creative freedom.”(20) But since Tsepeneag was by then living in France, there was little the regime could do to bring him to socialist justice. On April 3, 1975, the day after the Ministry of the Interior “investigative organ” issued the procès-verbal to begin criminal proceedings, dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu signed Decree no. 69 stripping Dumitru Tsepeneag of his Romanian citizenship, a drastic symbolic act that was not to be extended to any other Romanian dissident in exile.

In exile, Tsepeneag continued to write in Romanian, with his novels being published in the French translations made by Alain Paruit. Les Noces nécessaires, the French translation of Nunțile necesare (The Necessary Nuptials), was published by Flammarion in 1977 and is an oneiric reworking of the archaic Romanian “Miorița” myth, in which two shepherds conspire to murder a third, who is forewarned by a ewe lamb (mioriță) but fatalistically accepts his death as a cosmic ceremony in which he is wedded to Nature. Finding himself in the situation of a writer who no longer existed for readers in his native language, without any hope of ever being published in Romania again, as the country descended deeper into the totalitarian night of the Ceaușescu cult of personality, Tsepeneag reluctantly began to write in French. The transition from Romanian to French, the crossing of the border from one language to the other, is described in Cuvîntul nisiparniță [The Sandglass Word],(21) an anxiety dream in which a deserter keeps running and running, trying to escape across an imaginary frontier. The text itself mirrors the author’s desertion of his native tongue, with isolated French words and then phrases seeping into the Romanian text, like grains of sand through an hourglass, until by the closing chapter of the novel, the whole text is in French. Roman de gare [Railway Novel],(22) Tsepeneag’s first novel in French, is an oneiric metatext, in which a company of actors and film crew attempt to shoot a film based on the short story “Waiting,” a film which, itself having coalesced into an oneiric image, recurs in the later novels Hotel Europa, Pont des Arts, and La Belle Roumaine. Tsepeneag’s second novel in French, Pigeon vole [Pigeon Fly Away],(23) was published under the anagrammatic pseudonym Ed Pastenague (the French pastenague is the Dasyatis pastinaca or common stingray), a younger French oneiric avatar of the author, who here asserts his independent existence as not only a character but also an author in his own right. As Giorgio de Chirico once remarked, “la vue en rêve d’une personne est, à certain points de vue, une preuve de sa réalité métaphysique.”(24) But neither Tsepeneag’s French publisher, the late Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, nor his American publisher, the late John O’Brien, were able to accept the metaphysical reality of Ed Pastenague as a separate, independent author within the oneiric text of Tsepeneag’s work as a whole, and subsequent printings of the French Pigeon vole have appeared under the name Dumitru Tsepeneag. Since Pigeon vole, however, Pastenague has gone on to publish translations of Romanian poets in French and a Romanian translation of Alexandre Kojève’s Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, and he appears in the guise of a failed and frustrated novelist in later novels by Dumitru Tsepeneag.

            After the fall of the communist regime in Romania, Tsepeneag was able to return to Romanian literary life, publishing in their original language works that had theretofore existed only in translation (Vain Art of the Fugue, The Necessary Nuptials) and translating into Romanian works he had written in French.(25) He began to write fiction in Romanian once more, embarking on a series of novels that, for the first time in his work, included “realist” elements reflecting the social, political, and historical changes occurring in post–Cold War Europe, in particular the issue of migration (immigration, emigration): the trilogy Hotel Europa (1996), Pont des Arts (1998), Maramureș (2001), and the two interrelated novels La Belle Roumaine (2004) and Camionul bulgar [The Bulgarian Truck] (2010), all feature journeys back and forth across Europe, between East and West.

In an interview for the Tageblatt newspaper (Luxembourg) after the publication of Hotel Europa, Tsepeneag says that in the novel he aimed to transcend both oneirism and realism by merging them within a wider space.(26) However, some critics saw the realistic, documentary elements of Hotel Europa, Tsepeneag’s first new novel in Romanian for almost two decades, as somehow in “contravention of canonical oneirism,” making it the first of his books in which “oneirism no longer lays down the law.”(27) But in fact, Hotel Europa and the four subsequent novels bring the practice and theory of oneirism to its highest level of structural complexity and aesthetic sophistication. As we have seen, in the preface to his translation of Albert Béguin’s L’Âme romantique et le rêve, Tsepeneag argues for an oneiric textual practice that would draw not on the content of actual dreams prior and external to the text, but on “the imaginal material provided by the surrounding reality, since none other exists,” applying to this material the structure and mechanism of the dream in order to produce an oneiric text.

Employing a technique first found in Pigeon vole, the narrators of Tsepeneag’s novels published since 1996 incorporate faits divers into their narratives, which always unfold at the moment of writing, without the first-person authorial character having any means of telling in which direction his text might go next, the same as a dreamer has no volitional control over his unfolding dream (although, of course, behind the authorial character can be found the author himself, with the latter lucidly structuring the dream of writing a novel in which the former finds himself hopelessly entangled). According to Tsepeneag, the Surrealists betrayed the “transcendental meaning of the dream” by setting off into the real world like reporters in search of the strange and unusual,(28) in search of oneiric faits divers, rather than constructing a different, parallel world analogous to the dream. In Nadja, for example, “the ‘facts’ precede the text, Breton presents them as already having happened, he narrates them.”(29) But in Hotel Europa and the subsequent oneiric novels, rather than being an account of (real or fictional) facts that have already happened, outside the text, the narrative is always contingent, and the faits divers are employed structurally as a means of augmenting this sense of contingency. For example, in Hotel Europa, the authorial character, who has decamped to the country in the hope of finding the peace and quiet to let him get on with his novel, nonetheless finds himself unable to continue his narrative because his wife has failed to mail him a folder of the newspaper clippings he claims to rely on for inspiration; in Pont des Arts, while visiting Bucharest, the author character bumps into a schoolmate who went on to become a sycophantic newscaster for state television during the communist period, but was unceremoniously sacked after the fall of the regime, and this embittered old friend insists on sending the author the sundry news items he has clipped from the Romanian papers, many of which mysteriously echo the recurring oneiric images found throughout Tsepeneag’s fiction (the report of an attack by a giant eagle, for example, echoes the short story “Waiting”). The texts of the novels therefore produce themselves from other texts, but in a contingent, oneiric way, the way a dream produces itself working on imaginal material from the waking world. Just as the dream digests what Freud called the Tagesreste of the dreamer’s lived experience, the dreamwork of the oneiric novel absorbs and transforms faits divers, the scraps and leftover texts of the daily news.

Likewise, the characters of Tsepeneag’s five novels of the post-communist period are more “realistic” than those to be found in any of his previous fiction, in that they have backgrounds that situate them within a definite social, political, historical, geographical context: a Romanian student who is involved in the post-Revolution protests against the Iliescu regime and then travels across Europe to the West, haplessly getting mixed up with shady characters from the post-communist East; an ethnic German employed by Romanian Railways, who in the communist period emigrates to Germany, where in his old age he becomes obsessed with philosophy, ecologist politics, and backgammon; a French doctor who takes humanitarian aid to Romania after the collapse of communism and later to Bosnia after the collapse of Yugoslavia; a Bulgarian truck driver who plies the route from East to West and back.

But existing within an oneiric text, the characters are dream persons and as such they are independent of the authorial character or dreamer, often acting in ways he cannot foresee and even writing him letters, as in the case of Ana, a recurring character inscrutable even to the author. In this respect, it might be argued that just as you have no control over your actions when you appear in another person’s dream, so too, you have no control over the actions of other people when they appear in your own dream. Rejecting the Freudian view that dream persons are simulacra of their living selves created by the dreamer and the Jungian view that they are expressions of the dreamer’s own psychic traits, in Dream and the Underworld, James Hillman posits that dream persons are “shadow images that fill archetypal rôles; they are personae, masks, in the hollow of which is a numen.”(30) Like the dream person, the character in an (oneiric) fiction is a shadow image, an insubstantial persona, visible only to the mind’s eye, perceivable only in thought, during the act of writing or reading, but acting independently of the perceiving mind. One such archetypal oneiric figure haunting Tsepeneag’s work is the neither living nor dead Hunter Gracchus, whose rudderless bark is driven by the wind that “in den untersten Regionen des Todes bläst,”(31) and whose recurrent appearances in Pont des Arts presage the death of amateur philosopher and ecologist Fuhrmann.

Similarly, in Pont des Arts, the late Leonid Dimov, who together with Dumitru Tsepeneag developed the theory of structural oneirism in the 1960s, asserts his metaphysical reality within the unfolding dream text by telephoning the authorial character from the beyond. The telephone itself is a recurring oneiric image in Tsepeneag’s work: it first appears as a silent, menacing presence in “The Bird,” a short story included in Waiting; in Hotel Europa, the telephone keeps ringing, but at the other end can be heard nothing but dissonant grating and white noise; in Pont des Arts, a voice finally makes itself heard, “from afar . . . from the back of beyond.” Before his voice fades into a “whistling sound receding into the distance,” Dimov recites stanzas of his oneirist poems, which have long since sunk to the bottom of the authorial character’s memory, but whose imagery now resurfaces throughout the unfolding dream text of the novel.

At the beginning of “Weeping”, the opening story of the collection Waiting (1971), the narrator captures the indeterminacy of things read and then half-remembered, as if in a dream:


I read somewhere—or maybe I heard, I dreamed, or somebody else dreamed and told me the dream—that a manicurist had for a long time kept an eagle in her bedside cabinet and that a photographer reared a lion in a drawer of his desk.(32)


If a text read and then forgotten, but whose words and gist hover at the threshold of conscious recollection, is like a dream, indistinguishable from a dream, then the opposite might also be argued: that a dream is like a text, and that ultimately the two have more in common with each other than they do with “the real world.” And this is what Tsepeneag would seem to argue in his early theoretical text “In Search of a Definition” when he says, “Interest in the dream preceded literature and I almost might venture to argue that it determined its appearance.”(33) Ultimately, this is also what Tsepeneag’s work as a whole tells us, with unfailing structural lucidity over the course of half a century: that the dream and the text are analogous instantiations of a second, unseen reality.

1. Dumitru Tsepeneag, “Tentativa onirică, după război” (The Post-War Oneiric Endeavour), the author’s translation of an article published in Les Lettres Nouvelles, No. 1, February 1974. Dumitru Țepeneag, Opere 5. Texte teoretice, interviuri, note critice, “șotroane.” 1966–1989 (Bucharest: Editura Tracus Arte, 2017), 181.

2. “Grupul oniric a coborît din maimuța suprarealismului,” interview with Dumitru Tsepeneag published in Amfiteatru, Nos. 9–10, September 1990, in Leonid Dimov, Dumitru Țepeneag, Momentul oniric [The Oneiric Moment], ed. Corin Braga (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1997), 246–253.

3. The “July Theses” was the shorter, unofficial title of the more cumbersome Proposals for Measures to Improve the Politico-Ideological and Marxist-Leninist Educational Activity of Party Members and All Working People, which Ceaușescu presented to the Executive Committee of the Romanian Communist Party on 6 July 1971.

4. Exerciții (Bucharest: Editura pentru Literatură, 1966), 126, special supplement of Luceafărul magazine, in a print run of 6,140 copies; Frig (Bucharest: Editura pentru Literatură, 1967), 115, in a print run of 10,140 copies; Așteptare (Bucharest: Editura Cartea Românească, 1971), 108, print run not stated.

5. Dumitru Tsepeneag, Arpièges, trans. Alain Paruit, Paris: Flammarion, 1973.

6. Although Tsepeneag had taken up residence in France by the time Arpièges was published, his Romanian citizenship had not yet been revoked, which meant that his exile was not yet officially irrevocable. In an interview from the early 1990s, immediately after the fall of communism, he says that he changed the title from the original Zădarnica e arta fugii [Vain is the Art of the Fugue, or: Vain is the Art of Fleeing] because “at the time I had a dread even of the idea of fleeing [de-a fugi] (the country),” Dumitru Țepeneag, Reîntoarcerea fiului la sînul mamei rătăcite [The Return of the Son to the Bosom of the Errant Mother], (Colecția Texte de Frontieră, No. 2, Jassy: Institutul European, 1993), 157.

7. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, no. 25, 22 June 1968, Opere 5, 46.

8. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, no. 28, 13 July 1968, Opere 5, 53–54.

9. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, no. 28, 13 July 1968, Opere 5, 58.

10. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, no. 25, 22 June 1968, Opere 5, 45.

11. Editura Univers also published Tsepeneag’s translations of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Les Gommes and Dans le labyrinthe. The “Studii” series included works of literary criticism, structuralism, semiotics by not only Russian and East-European thinkers (Viktor Shklovsky, Vladimir Propp, Mikhail Bakhtin, Yuri Lotman, Boris Tomashevski, Roman Ingarden, Jan Mukařovský) but also Western theorists (Gérard Genette, Marthe Robert, Tzvetan Todorov, Jean Burgos, René Girard, Jean Ricardou, Jean-Pierre Richard, Renato Barilli, William Empson, George Steiner, Wayne C. Booth, Northrop Frye, René Wellek, I. A. Richards, among many others). As late as 1988, in the darkest, terminal period of the Ceaușescu regime, a translation of Jean Ricardou’s Nouveaux problèmes du roman was published in the series. On the other hand, the fact that such books were published does not mean they were readily available in bookshops; in the late 1980s, they were as hard to obtain as consumer goods in general and even basic foodstuffs. 

12. Dumitru Țepeneag, “Sub semnul Graalului,” preface to Albert Béguin, Sufletul romantic și visul, trans. Dumitru Țepeneag (Bucharest: Colecția Studii, Editura Univers, 1970), xvi-xvii.

13. Dumitru Țepeneag, “Sub semnul Graalului,” România literară, No. 2, 15 January 1970, in Opere 5, 115–120.

14. Dumitru Țepeneag, “Despre cenzură și vis” [On Censorship and Dream], Reîntoarcerea fiului la sînul mamei rătăcite, 84.

15. “Despre cenzură și vis,” Reîntoarcerea fiului la sînul mamei rătăcite, 83.

16. Virgil Mazilescu was also due to have taken part, but according to Tsepeneag, he got left behind in the bar where the oneirists had been drinking before the interview. “Grupul oniric a coborît din maimuța suprarealismului,” Momentul oniric, 248.

17. “O modalitate artistică. Discuție la masa rotundă cu Leonid Dimov, Dumitru Țepeneag, Daniel Turcea, Laurențiu Ulici” [An Artistic Modality. Round-table Talk with . . .], in Leonid Dimov, Dumitru Țepeneag, Momentul oniric [The Oneiric Moment], ed. Corin Braga (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1997), 71.

18. “O modalitate artistică,” Momentul oniric, 72.

19. “Tentativa onirică, după război,” Opere 5, 182.

20. Procès-verbal of the Ministry of the Interior Criminal Investigations Department, dated April 2, 1975, reproduced in Dumitru Țepeneag, Opere 3. Un român la Paris. Jurnal (Bucharest: Editura Tracus Arte, 2016), 560.

21. Dumitru Tsepeneag, Le Mot sablier, trans. Alain Paruit, Paris: Éditions P.O.L, 1984.

22. Dumitru Tsepeneag, Roman de gare, Paris: Éditions P.O.L, 1985.

23. Dumitru Tsepeneag, Pigeon vole, Paris: Éditions P.O.L, 1989.

24. Giorgio de Chirico, L’Art métaphysique, ed. Giovanni Lista (Paris: l’Échoppe, 1994), 60.

25. Tsepeneag translated Roman de gare as Roman de citit în tren [Novel to Read on the Train]. Some reviewers commented on the looseness of the translation, oblivious to the fact that it is the author’s prerogative to rewrite his own work in translation. 

26. “[M]on intention a été de dépasser en même temps l’onirisme et le réalisme, en les incluant, l’un comme l’autre, dans un espace plus large.” Le texte original existe quelque part, Corina Mersch, entretien avec D. Tsepeneag, Tageblatt, Luxembourg, December 1996, quoted in Marian Victor Buciu, Țepeneag. Între onirism, textualism, postmodernism (Craiova: Editura Aius, 1998), 36.

27. G. Dimisianu, “Onirismul bine temperat” [Well-tempered Oneirism], România Literară, No. 36, 1996, quoted in Între onirism, textualism, postmodernism, 37–8.

28. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, No. 5, 22 June 1968, Opere 5, 46.

29. Diary entry for 11 August 1974, Dumitru Țepeneag, Opere 3. Un român la Paris. Jurnal (Bucharest: Editura Tracus Arte, 2016), 470.

30. James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld (New York: Harper and Collins, 1979), 60–61.

31. “Mein Kahn ist ohne Steuer, er fährt mit dem Wind, der in den untersten Regionen des Todes bläst” (My bark is rudderless, it is driven by the wind that blows in the lowermost regions of death): the closing sentence of Kafka’s short story “Der Jäger Gracchus”

32. Dumitru Țepeneag, “Plînsul,” Așteptare (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1971), 5.

33. “În căutarea unei definiții,” Luceafărul, No. 5, 22 June 1968, Opere 5, 45.

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