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He was inspired by the works of Honoré de Balzac, attempting to write a Romanian novel cycle that would mirror Balzac's La Comédie humaine. He was also under the influence of the Sămănătorul critique of Romanian society.
As a journalist, Cezar Petrescu made himself known as one of the editors of the magazine Gândirea, alongside Nichifor Crainic and Lucian Blaga. For a long time, he was a member of the National Peasants' Party, and wrote extensively for its press, especially for Aurora.
His major work consists of novels such as Întunecare ("Darkening"; 1928), Calea Victoriei (the name of a Bucharest avenue; 1930), Dumenica orbului ("The Blind Man's Sunday"; 1934), and Noi vrem pământ ("We Demand Land"; 1938).
Notwithstanding his prolific output as a novelist, Petrescu is mostly remembered for his children's book Fram, ursul polar ("Fram, the polar bear"—the circus animal character was named after Fram, the ship used by Fridtjof Nansen on his expeditions).