Insights into the Belarusian Literary Market (1905-1932)


  • Gun-Britt Kohler University of Oldenburg


Belarusian literature, literary market, field theory, literary institutions, first third of the 20th century


The Belarusian literary market, understood both as the market for books in the Belarusian language and, in a broader sense, in the meaning of the German term 'Literaturbetrieb', has so far received little critical attention. This market grew at a surprisingly rapid speed immediately after the Russian Revolution of 1905 as part of the Belarusian national movement. In a very precarious political environment, however, it quickly went through a phase of stagnation and then developed in opposite ways after 1921 within two antagonistic systems (rise and decline in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic; stagnation and revival in Western Belarus, part of the second Republic of Poland). This article condenses the results of an extensive archival analysis conducted from the theoretical perspective of the literary field (Bourdieu) to study the institutional and organisational profiles of the Belarusian literary market between 1905 and 1932. Its quantitative aspects are considered and a description of its legal context is provided, with a focus on the specific institutions and strategies of material production, symbolic production and distribution between 1905 and 1915, as well as in the 1920s (BSSR). These observations on the Belarusian literary field aim to show how the literary market could not function independently and was destined to remain, at best, a 'hybrid market'.






European Belarus