Sociology and literature; a postmodern analysis of the "rascoala" novel

Author:Stefan Ungurean
Position:Law and Sociology Faculty, Transilvania University of Brasov

The present study tries to sociologically explain the Romanian society from the beginning of the XXth century, starting from the reality of a "literary text" - Liviu Rebreanu's novel, "Rascoala". Moreover, the study is thought to be a demonstration of the way in which literature can serve not only the Illuminist ideal of soul creation, but also the understanding of the world. ... (see full summary)


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1. Introduction

One can use sociology in many areas of literature, from the macro social to the interpersonal ones, from the political to the economical ones. The portfolio of social analysis contains the study of the social frames in which a literary production is written, distributed, read and evaluated, the study of the actors from the literary sphere, the centers of symbolic power, the social networks. Social analysis can take the literary text as a reference point for understanding the reality it reflects or anticipates, being interested not in the aesthetics of the text, but in the logics of the social actions of the characters, focusing on the way in which reality is produced inside the text.

2. Paradigm

The present paper analyzes Liviu Rebreanu's novel "Rascoala" from Deleuze's point of view - as an act of sodomy, taking an author from behind, giving him a child "that would be his offspring, yet monstrous. It was really important for it to be his own child, because the author had to actually say all I had him saying. But the child was bound to be monstrous too because it resulted from all sorts of shifting, slipping, dislocations and hidden emissions that I really enjoyed." [1]. The purpose of the present paper is to force Rebreanu to give us arguments for the modernization of the Romanian society from the beginning of de XXth century and we intend to "attack" the novel from different points of view, using multiple analysis.

3. First Analysis: the Economical Condition

The economy is overwhelmingly agrarian. The dominant social relation is the one between peasants and entrepreneurs, the latter being either old landowners, or contractors that live and activate in the urban environment. As the rate of the urban population not involved in agriculture is small, we can define the situation as "a path-dependency", dependency on which an entire socialPage 70scaffolding was built and it still functions. In such situations, any damage of the dependency system can easily block the entire society.

The economy functions by coupling capital and work. In the Romanian society at the beginning of the XXth century capital is exclusively an urban product, such as work is dominantly rural. In this context, from the first time and in the first pages of the book we can see that the author raises the question of "Union", seen from the eyes of a finance man from Bucharest as "the conquest of Transylvania". This is the sign that tells us that Rebreanu uses the analysis of the 1907 rebellion as a social radiography offered to the Transylvanians as a way of understanding this society and, by derivation, of the consequences of the act from December 1, 1918.

The agriculture was based on the arrangement between the entrepreneurs and the peasant, a mutual agreement. The system was built on a cycle: starvation - work - threat with starvation. Because the peasant was starving at the end of the winter, he had to accept all the conditions the entrepreneur had in the agreement, conditions that threatened the peasant with starvation the next winter but forced him to rapidly begin working the fields. To sum it up, work produced starvation. Agriculture and even society depended on this process of "bestialisation" of the peasant and on the constant threat to his being, the only concern being that the "beast" to become hostage, a "tamed beast", incapable of escaping the social park it was imposed to. History is written here differently: we can talk about the biology-social dyad meant not to get the men out from the "animal" condition, for him to overcome his nature condition, but to fix the nature condition into the social one using the economical-social-political mechanism.

As there were no non-agricultural alternatives , the peasant could not escape the "captive beast" condition nor could he protest. The way the machinery was built, it did not have emergency solutions; it did not have the elements that could make it capable of grasping the dysfunctions and produce changes. And because "the beast" has no soul, the machinery bases neither on the peasants' soul, nor on the agreement the soul would give inside domination, but on the control of his body. The dominator- dominated relation is one of submission, not of "obedience", as Rousseau stated, of volunteer agreement. This machinery functions as long as the power controls the peasant's body. If the peasant "recovers" his soul and wins the battle he fights with the entrepreneur over the control of his own body, then the entire economic mechanism catches the flu, and the entire "society" is in danger. In 1907, getting out of the "beast" state and the desire of the majority of the population for a human existence determined a disorder in the social life. It is hard to believe that the Transylvanian reader would not be shocked with this reality just ten years before the Union, he who was living in a different life equation.

This machinery is not perfect. It has two safety valves. The first one is the possibility of re-negotiating the frame- contract with the peasant on the "terrorist" position. It's the case of the emergencies in the field work when, due to weather, the entrepreneur is at the hand of the peasant. The solution for the peasant's blackmail is threatening with the import of workforce from Transylvania. As well as the idea of "occupation", this couldn't be pleasant for the Transylvanian reader. The second valve is stealing. If in the first case we talk about a public exposure of the positions and also a negotiation; in the second case, "the renegotiation" is outside the communication rules. Theft is, in fact, aPage 71sort of communication in absence, sending messages with an anonymous transmitter, a unilateral communication. Blackmail and theft have in common the fact that peasants understand that their social relations are, in fact, social reports, and meaning decoupling and coupling between the same actors, based on the "force's" logic of the moment.

This characteristic of the economic phenomenon...

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