JoLIE 10:2/2017


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1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia






The syntagm ‘saints of prisons’ is strongly connected to the Romanian collective consciousness, the freedom of expression and the freedom of religious beliefs, as well to the cultural and spiritual resistance up to personal sacrifice. However, as any element presenting a potential of affinity and personal reverberation in the collective consciousness, this metaphor is appealing to contemporary politicians in the process of manipulating the voters and eventually for the exoneration of the criminally indicted politicians.

The first part of our study explains the emergence of the metaphor and exemplifies its main elements and the context in which the people politically convicted by the communist regime expressed their condition through creation. Our examples come from the memoir literature, from the recent fictionalisation in the Romanian literature, in Un singur cer deasupra lor (A Single Sky above Them), by Ruxandra Cesereanu and the TV documentaries from the series Memorialul durerii (The Memorial of Pain). This aspect of the metaphor circulates in his original meaning, even if, in time, the process of secularisation affects its transmissibility to the young generations, except for some initiatives that epitomise elements, such as “social fraternity and solidarity”, legionary elements without any harmful potential, or hip-hop musical projects militating for the recovery of the historical past of the communist prisons, e.g. Cedry2k.

The second part of the study analyses the abuse of the metaphor ‘saints of prisons’ and the way in which, by using the religious elements and the collective memory, the political dignitaries condemned for various crimes circulate the status of “politically condemned for having fought for the awakening and the salvation of the nation”. Beyond the self-legitimisation aspect, we make a comparison between the following elements: survival and creation in the prisons for communist reformation as a risk for the aggravated punishment versus the luxury conditions and literary creation in the contemporary prison as a condition for probation.


Key words: Saints of prisons; Metaphor; Abuse of metaphor; Prison literature; Political manipulation.






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How to cite this article: Vănoagă, C.M. (2017). ‘The saints of prisons’ – the use and abuse of a metaphor. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 10(2), 123-134. DOI:



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[1] This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2785.