Remembering Late Socialism

Maximalist Autofiction, Surrealism and Late Socialism in Mircea Cărtărescu’s Solenoid




maximalist autofiction, counterfactual autobiography, Romanian late socialism, surrealism


This article studies the fictionalization of late Eastern-European socialism in contemporary Romania, namely the literary projection of the 1980s in Mircea Cărtărescu’s autofictional novel Solenoid (2015). The novel is an ample, paranoid, metaphysical, and counterfactual autobiography that uses a late-communist backdrop to create a metaphorically skewed representation of the self and the world. In order to describe this narrative structure as an emergent subgenre of the postmodern maximalist novel, we coined the term ‘maximalist autofiction.’ We then discussed Cărtărescu’s option for maximalist autofiction and the effects this literary choice has had on his representation of Romanian late socialism. This option is influenced by the author’s biography, as well as by his own relationship with the memory burden of socialism in today’s post-Cold War world. Cărtărescu uses hyperbole, metaphysical parody, and a maximalist surrealist imagination to propel the discussion of socialism and cultural peripherality beyond the dated parameters of the East/West dichotomies.

Author Biographies

Doris Mironescu, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University of Iaşi

Doris Mironescu, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Romanian Studies of “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, and a senior researcher with the “A. Philippide” Institute of the Romanian Academy. He has studied modernist literature in its interconnections with cultural modernity, wrote a critical biography of M. Blecher, Viata lui M. Blecher: Impotriva biografiei (Humanitas, 2018), and edited this modernist Romanian-Jewish writer’s work. He teaches and writes on 19th century Romanticism, literary practices of memory and aesthetic nationalism.

Andreea Mironescu, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University of Iași

Andreea Mironescu, PhD, is a Senior Researcher at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Department within the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi. Her domains of interest are Romanian modern and contemporary literature, postcommunism, and cultural memory. Her current research deals with the novel of memory and in particular with its Romanian embodiments both during and after the fall of communism. Her recent publications include ‘Post-memory: The Labour of Critical Remembrance after Communism,’ in Christian Moraru, Andrei Terian, Alexandru Matei (eds.), Theory in the “Post” Era: A Vocabulary for the 21st-Century Conceptual Commons, New York: Bloomsbury, 2021.





Remembering Late Socialism