Romanul judiciar. Către un nou subgen al romanului istoric românesc

The judicial novel: Toward a new subgenre of the Romanian historical novel




judicial novel, crime fiction, novel subgenres, historical novel, journalistic strategies, sensationalism, illustrations


The lifespan and popularity of a subgenre are determined by the inventiveness with which novelists develop and innovate the standard formulas. The judicial novel emerges as an extension of the popularity of the outlaw novel, adding a technical dimension to the misdeeds committed by wrongdoers. The outlaw and judicial novels are anthropomorphized subgenres that set in motion symbolic models, with a central figure dominating the entire course of events. The judicial novel reconfigures the perspective of naturalism, transforming the social milieu into a triggering factor for reprehensible acts. Shocking acts, such as crimes or suicides, and their mysterious circumstances, are analyzed from multiple angles, akin to using a set of parallel mirrors, while the brisk steps of investigations are fascinatingly reconstructed within the eloquent phrases of the novelists. One of the central ideas that the judicial novel seeks to develop is the sacrifice as a social practice, whether symbolic, articulated in the imposition of precarious living conditions leading to extreme gestures. Spatiality and temporality constitute the central pillars that compose the dramatic scenes of the Romanian judicial novel. Crimes are plotted and committed in the moonlight, in neighborhoods or on winding streets. The schematism of gloomy settings and the rudimentary nature of character profiles are countered by allusions to an undefined darkness, the contours of which elude discernment. The judicial subgenre utilizes conventions from the detective novel formula, involving the exaggeration of a cause-and-effect relationship as inevitable and the conquest of a reassuring imaginary, complementary to the moral imperatives discussed by Romanian novelists determined to rehabilitate the reputation of the genre through fictional digressions on morality.  In its dimension of historical crime fiction, the Romanian judicial novel not only accentuates its documentary aspect, showing how the institutions responsible for investigations and judicial processes function but also the expansiveness of historicizing interpretations of the analyzed bloody events. Within the context of a dynamically structured novel distinguished by thematic configuration and ideological significance, the incorporation of illustrations transcends mere decorative intent. The judicial novel strategically incorporates illustrations as a highly effective extratextual approach. This not only disrupts the linear narrative trajectory and heightens suspense but also concurrently bestows substance upon the ethereal images adeptly invoked by the literary text.


Author Biography

Alexandra Olteanu, ”Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, Romania

Alexandra Olteanu holds the position of Assistant Professor at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi. She is a member of the Digital Humanities Laboratory research team. Her main scholarly interests are Cultural Studies, Digital Literary Studies, Genre Theory, Literary History and Theory. She has consistently researched the literature of the 19th century and the evolution of the Romanian novel. A selection of her articles comes as follows: Modelul Gazetăresc al Banditului Social în Romanul Tâlhăresc al Secolului al XIX-lea [The feuilleton model of the social bandit in the nineteenth-century outlaw novel], (2023); The Ideological Instrumentalization of Literary Myths in 19th Century Romanian Literature (2023); Social Banditry and Feminity in the 19th Century Hajduk Novel, (2023); The Novel as the Foundation of Romanian Literary Terminology in the Age of Cultural Modernity (2023).


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How to Cite

Olteanu, A. (2024). Romanul judiciar. Către un nou subgen al romanului istoric românesc: The judicial novel: Toward a new subgenre of the Romanian historical novel. Swedish Journal of Romanian Studies, 7(2), 37–56.