Taking into consideration that the deepest roots of the Romanian literature are in the myths, legends and fairy-tales of the folkloric culture, we can say that the Romanian literature was born even before people started to write, being therefore impossible to place in time. 

The Romanian language was born by the mixing of Latin with the language of the inhabitants of the ancient Dacia due to the occupation of these lands by the Roman Empire after the wars from 101-102 A.D. and 105-106 A.D. For the next centuries, other languages of the people living around this territory have influenced the already formed Romanian language, the most important ones being Slavic, Greek and Turkish.

But, to have an overview of the Romanian literature, it is necessary to make a short presentation of every period or age this literature has.

1. Pre-Romanian Literature

Before the actual Romanian literature, there were some works written in Slavic, mainly ecclesiastic and historical writings, which are part of the Romanian literature, being later translated into Romanian. The Slavic language entered these territories in the 10th century, writing in Slavic appearing in the 12th century. There are many chronicles as Macarie's Chronicle, Eftimie's Chronicle and Azarie's Chronicle. But the most important piece of literature of this period seems to be Neagoe Basarab - The teachings of Neagoe Basarab to his son, Theodosie.

2. Humanism 

The first document written in Romanian is considered to be Neacsu's letter to Hans Benkner of Brasov written in 1521. Some of the most important writings from this period are either religious - Varlaam's Romanian teaching book, Simion Stefan's The New Testament from Bălgrad (1648) and The Bible from Bucuresti (1688)- either historical - the chronicles of Grigore Ureche, Miron Costin and Ion Neculce.

But, the most important of this period, considered the father of Romanian literature, is Dimitrie Cantemir and his books Descriptio Moldaviae and The Hieroglyphic History. He is the first talented Romanian writer.

3. The Enlightenment

In Romania this literary movement is very closely related to the so-called Transylvanian School (Scoala Ardeleană) and to the struggle of the Romanians in Transylvania for national liberation from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The representatives of this period are Ion Budai Deleanu with Tiganiada, Ienăchită Văcărescu, Alecu Văcărescu, Anton Pann, Costache Conachi, Samuel Micu, Petru Maior, Gheorghe Sincai.

4. Realism

Realism appears in Romanian literature after the great revolution of 1848, when there is a need in literature to reflect the social and national realities of the time. There is also a critical attitude of the writers towards the social reality. The representatives of this period are: Ion Heliade Rădulescu, Grigore Alexandrescu, Vasile Cârlova, Andrei Muresanu, Dimitrie Bolintineanu - in poetry, and Costache Negruzzi, Nicolae Filimon, Alexandru Odobescu, Bogdab Petriceicu Hasdeu - in prose. The most important of all is Vasile Alecsandri, poet and playwright, who has both realist and romantic works.

5. The Great Romanian Classics

Starting with 1863 there is a new direction developing in the Romanian literature. It is the epoch of the greatest Romanian writers. Poetry is dominated by Mihai Eminescu, the Romanian national poet, who has made the most important renewal in Romanian poetry. In prose there are two great artist who had a great contribution to the development of this genre: Ioan Slavici, Ion Creangă. The dramatic literature is by far dominated by Ion Luca Caragiale, the greatest Romanian playwright. The person who has theorized the directions in the literature of this period was Titu Maiorescu.

6. The End of the 19th Century

What characterizes the Romanian literature between the end of the 19th century and a few decades of the 20th century is the simultaneity of several different literary movements. There is the social poetry, a prose with a realistic tendency, but there is also a rebirth of a provincial romanticism. There is also a movement towards renewal, mostly present through symbolism. The first Romanian symbolist is Alexandru Macedonski. Other representatives of this period are: Barbu Stefănescu Delavrancea, George Cosbuc and Octavian Goga.

7. The Literature between the Wars 

The period between World War I and World War II is maybe the most prolific one in Romanian literature, in all domains and for all genres. Therefore we have great story-tellers like Mihail Sadoveanu, poets like George Bacovia (symbolist), Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga, Ion Barbu, Ion Pillat (expressionists) and Vasile Voiculescu, who is also a short-story writer. But there is no doubt that the novel is the supreme genre of this period, and now the greatest Romanian novelists have a very prodigious activity. The novelist of this period are Liviu Rebreanu, Hortensia Papadat Bengescu, Cezar Petrescu, Ion Agârbiceanu (the critical-objectiv novel), Camil Petrescu (the subjectiv expressionistic novel), George Călinescu (the classical-realistic novel), Mateiu Caragiale (the baroque novel) and Mircea Eliade (the symbolist-expressionist novel). In drama we have writers like Camil Petrescu and Lucian Blaga, while the critics, theorists of the time are Eugen Lovinescu, Tudor Vianu, George Călinescu, Pompiliu Constantinescu, and many others. This is also the period of the essayists Emil Cioran, Constantin Noica, Paul Zarifopol and Mihai Ralea.

8. The Literature after World War II

Alongside the writers from the previous period, who continue their activity after WW II, as well, there is a new generation of writers, which could have continued the positive development of the Romanian literature from the period between the wars. But, after 1984, and mostly in the 60s, there is an ill-fated subordination of literature to the political power, manifested through the imposing of certain directions and ideologies that deviated it from its natural meanings. Starting with the 70s, literature begins to detach from the political pressure. Therefore, the representatives of this period are: Marin Preda, Eugen Barbu, Stefan Bănulescu, Fănus Neagu, Radu Popescu, Augustin Buzura, Nicolae Breban, Geo Bogza, Nicolae Steinhardt - in prose, Nichita Stănescu, Geo Dumitrescu, Stefan Augustin Doinas, A.E. Baconski, Marin Sorescu, Ana Blandiana - in poetry, and Marin Sorescu, Horia Lovinescu, Ion Băiesu - in drama.

9. Postmodernism (The 80s)

The generations of the 80s and 90s detach from the past in an ironic manner. This happens by ironically assuming the old artistic styles, thus denying them, demystifying them. Especially in prose, there is a shift in what the subject is concerned. Thus, it seems that in a novel, it is not the events that are important, but rather the way the novel was written, that is the novel about writing a novel. Some of the writers of this period are: Mircea Nedelciu, Gheorghe Crăciun, Mircea Cărtărescu Tudor Dumitru Savu, Tudor Vlad, Horia Ursu, Ion Bolos, Tudor Danes. Besides them, some of the writers from the previous period also continue their activity.

10. Postmodernism (The 90s)

After the Revolution in 1989, a period of intense recovery follows. Now, some texts which were not published during the dictatorship are published. Apart this, the period is characterized by an acute crisis of the fiction. In this period we have writers like Rodica Draghincescu, Marian Ilea, Adrian Otoiu, Daniel Bănulescu, Horia Gârbea and Cătălin Târlea.


1. Alexandrescu, Emil (1995). Analize si sinteze de literatură română. Iasi: Moldova

2. Glodeanu, Gheorghe (1998). Dimensiuni ale romanului contemporan. Baia Mare: Gutinul

3. Grigor, Andrei (1994). Limba si literatura română. Bucuresti: E.D.P
4. Nicolae, Nicolae I. (1993). Limba si literatura română. Bucuresti: E.D.P.