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Marin Preda (1922–1980) was one of the leading literary personalities in Romania during the communist period. A charismatic figure, author of a complex work both acclaimed by critics and popular with the general public, the writer defined his age not only in aesthetic but in moral and historical terms. Two of his phrases, “the obsessive decade” (firstly used in an interview) and “the age of scoundrels” (in the novel Cel mai iubit dintre pământeni/ The Most Beloved of Earthlings, 1980) are still widely used by Romanian intellectuals to describe the intricacies of literary and moral responsibility.
This paper will investigate two aspects of realist writing in his novels and essays, in order to assess the adherence to a realist poetics with a writer whose fiction blends in numerous influences ranging for traditional to modernist. One the one hand, the function of factual details such as character’s names or toponyms, on the other hand, the forms and stakes of authorial commentary will be interpreted in light of a certain pact with the reader that aims at overcoming the ideological limitations of the time. The reception of Preda’s novels both before and after the fall of communism will also be taken into consideration.