Ion Minulescu started to write while still in lycée, publishing under the penname I. M. Nirvan a number of poems and diary entries. Ballads for Later, his first and without a doubt most successful collection of poems, was published in 1908. In it we find a poet already at the height of his powers, and strongly under the influence of Symbolism.
Close to Dimitrie Anghel, another leading Romanian Symbolist poet, Minulescu explores the realms of the ballad and chansonette, forms that were highly popular in the interbellum. The lyrical post that Minulescu struck was in full agreement with the audience he was addressing, whence the great popularity of his poems in the first half of the century, particularly among women readers.
A connoisseur of French Symbolism, Minulescu successfully adapts the manner of the Parisian café to the milieu of Bucharest, providing a lyrical image of the belle-époque familiar to Romanian readers of the time.
Unlike George Bacovia, whose collections of symbolist poetry made virtually no impact when they were first published, Minulescu was a resounding success from the very start, although Bacovia was to eclipse him posthumously. Both poets wrote about similar themes and had similar literary roots, but they could not be more different, lying at opposite ends of the symbolist spectrum. Where Bacovia sees grey, garish colours, sickness, which he describes in an anguished manner, Minulescu is ironic, ludic, almost a parody of Bacovia, although obviously this was not the intention.
Minulescu’s prose work is of negligible interest and has as little impact today as it did at the time. A number of fantastical short stories are still worth reading, but the main interest of his work is undoubtedly to be found in his first collection and the later Talking to Myself (1913) and Confessions (1927), which preserve the same tone.