The Secolul 21 (21st Century) journal
The Secolul 20 (20th Century) journal, that became Secolul 21 with its first 2001 issue, is a cultural synthesis periodical, co-edited by the Romanian Writers’ Union (Uniunea Scriitorilor din România – USR) and the 21st Century Cultural Foundation (Fundația Culturală Secolul 21 – FCS 21).
In 2011, the periodical reached a half-century of uninterrupted publication, after having achieved a national and international recognition over the years: in November 1987, it was awarded the prize for the “World’s Best Journal of Literature and Art”, on the occasion of the UNESCO Biennale held in Paris, at the “Georges Pompidou” Centre.
With its publishing program that became thought-provoking after 1989 (dialogue between cultures, the sciences of man, world literature), the Secolul 20 / Secolul 21 journal asserted itself as a periodical achieving a synthesis between the sciences of man (the field of social and political sciences becoming a privileged one in its pages), literature, and the arts. It is the first Romanian periodical that was officially launched in a pan-European institution (the issued entitled The Europes in Europe was presented at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, in June 2000).
Between 22 and 26 March 2013, at the Paris Book Fair, the Secolul 21 journal was the periodical around which the organizers of the Romanian stand conceived of first-rate events that brought together Romanian and French personalities.
Every issue contains a selection of articles, essays, and texts of prose and poetry by prestigious Romanian and foreign authors, as well as translations of major contemporary works, that are relevant for the theme or themes under discussion.
Being more than a mere anthology of texts, every issue comes up with a fresh reading and interpretation of a cultural trend, of personalities or themes of a stringent actuality.
Though being a monthly publication, the Secolul 21 journal is being published in the shape of triple or sextuple, thematic, issues of about 1,000 copies each, in book-form, having approximately 300 pages each and both color, and black-and-white illustrations.
Since the Secolul 21 journal is, in fact, a book-type periodical, its distribution is being made both physically, and online, through the endeavors of the FCS 21, in the main bookshops in Bucharest and all over the country: Cărturești, Humanitas, the Librarium Group (the Book Corner Bookshop, etc.), Bibliostar (the “Eminescu” bookshop). It is also being distributed on the basis of subscriptions.
Each issue is thought of as a project for which support is being requested from various, always prestigious, sponsors (over the years: the European Union, the French Ministry of Culture, the European Cultural Foundation, the United Nations’ Development Program, the American Government, the Pro Helvetia Foundation, the Microsoft company), as well as from the embassies of certain Western countries functioning in Romania, from major banks, etc.). The journal benefitted from the constant support of the Romanian Ministry of Culture and, since 2004, when the National Cultural Fund Administration (Administrația Fondului Cultural Național – AFCN) was created, from its financial support as well.
The Secolul 21 journal has been present, since its very first issue (of January 1961), in all Romanian major libraries, first and foremost in the National Library, as well as in the book collections of many a private collector and of some outstanding universities abroad (Princeton, Harvard, etc.).
Through its novel profile as a synthesis, through its resourcefulness and thematic boldness, through the fame of its collaborators, and, most of all, through the felicitous conjunction between its never-ignored cultural past and the competently researched dynamics of the present, the Secolul 21 journal has earned a well-deserved authoritativeness both at home, and abroad. Such a vast addressability is being augmented by the participation of the major names that make up the Honorary Board of the journal: George Banu, Michel Deguy, Sanda Golopenția, Virgil Nemoianu, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Pierre Oster, Gianni Vattimo, Mihai Șora, Ion Vianu.
The design and artwork of the journal, that were taken care of by the great artist Geta Brătescu for almost five decades, maintain its outlook and represent in themselves a discourse.
The conception, publication, promotion, and distribution of the Secolul 20 and, later on, Secolul 21 journal are protected by trade marks registered at the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (Oficiul de Stat pentru Invenții și Mărci – OSIM). These trade marks are the property of the 21st Century Cultural Foundation.
In the process of co-editing the Secolul 21 journal, the USR provides the necessary space for the editorial activities, in its Vernescu House headquarters at 133, Calea Victoriei, whereas the FCS 21 undertakes the payment of the staff wages, the collaborators’ fees, and the printing costs.
The 21st Century Cultural Foundation, created in 1994 by Ştefan Aug. Doinaş, together with a group of Romanian cultural personalities, has set for itself a number of goals: to observe the cultural directions within the transition from the 20th to the 21st centuries and to stand as a careful witness of the events typical for the current century; to support the publication of the Secolul 20 / Secolul 21 journal as a periodical meant to achieve a synthesis between literature, art, science, religion, and the socio-political phenomena; to encourage the activity of single- or multi-disciplinary cultural centers; to sustain the publication of major titles in the Romanian written culture (in the year 2000, a bibliophile’s series of event-books was launched); to promote any activity meant to establish an in-depth cultural dialogue between the world’s various geographical spaces.
Since its creation in 1994, down to the present day, the 21st Century Cultural Foundation oversaw the publication of the Secolul 20 / Secolul 21 journal and created and sustained the activity of the “Paul Valéry” Romanian multi-disciplinary center. Over fifty projects of national and international scope have been developed and numerous colloquia and round tables have been organized over the years (in 1994 – “Paul Valéry: The vitality of a posthumous carreer”, with about thirty foreign participants from four continents; in 1996, within the framework of a European Union PHARE micro-project – “Women in Romania: Actuality and perspectives”, with the participation of several members of government and of many political leaders of the time; in 1997 – “Ernst Jünger and his century”, in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Bucharest; in 2000 – the debate on “Romania and the united Europe” and the international colloquium “Nietzsche, a precursor of the 20th century”, under the chairmanship of Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, a member of the European Parliament at the time). In April 2003, the FCS 21 set up a round table on “Identities in dialogue in the current international context”, that was held at the headquarters of the NATO House in Bucharest.
The FCS 21 developed a program with socio-political and cultural implications (“The Drug”) in partnership with, and based on the financial support of, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Romania; in 2005, with the help of the Pro Helvetia Foundation in Zurich, of the Romanian Ministry of Culture and Cults, and of the Romanian Embassy in Switzerland, the FCS 21 launched the issue entitled Switzerland, a Country in Europe of the Secolul 21 journal at the Swiss National Library in Bern.
Several major debates are to be mentioned as well: “Romania – Switzerland: An intercultural dialogue”, supported by the Pro Helvetia Foundation in Zurich, and “The Drug: Cultural and Social Dimensions. A Romanian Reality in the European Context”, financed through a MATRA-KAP project in 2004; then, in 2006, “Austria and the enlargement of the European Union towards the East”, financed by the Austrian Cultural Forum; finally, “Kichinev – Cultural dimensions”, in which the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also involved.
The FCS 21 participated with two major projects in the “Sibiu, Capital of European Culture 2007” program: “The creation of a national and European archive of the Sibiu Literary Circle” and “Bucharest – Sibiu – Luxembourg: Cultures in dialogue”. For this latter project, that envisaged the creation of an East-West cultural axis, the main partner of the FCS 21 was the “Pierre Werner” Institute in Luxembourg.
Since 2003, following the initiative of Alina Ledeanu as its chairperson, the FCS 21 has been developing a vast project of salvation and protection of the cultural heritage: the creation of the National and European Archive of the Sibiu Literary Circle, within the framework of which a series of events have been set up in Romania, France, Germany, and Serbia.
The Secolul 20 journal in the succession of Maiorescu’s “Junimea” (“The Youth”)
To better understand the history and vocation of this journal, here is an analysis grid the relevance of which has often been confirmed: the program of the “Junimea” Society, that was launched by Titu Maiorescu in 1863. The society’s main purposes were summed up in an exemplary fashion by professor Virgil Nemoianu as being three: a just correlation between tradition and renewal; between the local and the universal; between the need for order and the need for freedom. The Secolul 20 journal began to come out at a time when there was a great unbalance between the local and the universal; the ties with the West were still most anemic, in both ways: we were getting too little of the Western cultural creation and were insufficiently present in the West with our own. The Secolul 20 journal came as a revelation ever since its earliest issues: even while observing the censorship-imposed restrictions, it sailed deftly among the rocks, nevertheless.
Through this journal, we have learned a great many things that we could not have access to at their sources. The Secolul 20 journal has managed not only to meet, at least in part, our need to gather information about the cultural products of the countries that were more advanced culturally, but also to generate such a need, at least to a certain extent, in people who did not possess it yet. It was meeting, therefore, the “Junimea” society’s imperative to reduce the gap between the local and the universal.
After 1989, changes of direction occurred, that were brought about by the transition from dictatorship to democracy: hence, the relationship between order and freedom, another “junimist” imperative, could be debated on freely. What was essentially at stake here was the problem of understanding democracy as a means to avoid both dictatorship, and anarchy. The transition to the globalized society, together with the country’s joining of both the European Union, and the North-Atlantic Treaty, is the current form of the “junimist” imperative of a just correlation between tradition and renewal. The problem at stake here was that of our national identity, our capacity to interact with the world in such a manner as not to waste what is essential in the input of the past. The Secolul 20 / Secolul 21 journal has always turned its undivided attention to these questions and to all the aspects of passing towards the civilization of the Internet.