Written Here, Published There

Written Here, Published There: How Underground Literature Crossed the Iron Curtain

Friederike Kind-Kovács
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 450
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  • Book Info
    Written Here, Published There
    Book Description:

    Written Here, Published There offers a new perspective on the role of underground literature in the Cold War and challenges us to recognize gaps in the Iron Curtain. The book identifies a transnational undertaking that reinforced détente, dialogue, and cultural transfer, and thus counterbalanced the persistent belief in Europe’s irreversible division. It analyzes a cultural practice that attracted extensive attention during the Cold War but has largely been ignored in recent scholarship: tamizdat, or the unauthorized migration of underground literature across the Iron Curtain. Through this cultural practice, I offer a new reading of Cold War Europe’s history . Investigating the transfer of underground literature from the ‘Other Europe’ to Western Europe, the United States, and back illuminates the intertwined fabrics of Cold War literary cultures. Perceiving tamizdat as both a literary and a social phenomenon, the book focuses on how individuals participated in this border-crossing activity and used secretive channels to guarantee the free flow of literature.

    eISBN: 978-963-386-023-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 1-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Tamizdat as Cold War Interaction
    (pp. 3-16)

    The Iron Curtain is an enduring symbol of the division between East and West. Even after 1989, historians continued to interpret the cultural encounter between the ‘real’ socialist East and the ‘capitalist’ West in terms of a contest for supremacy over literature and art. In this view, the Soviet system restricted unauthorized exchanges with the Western cultural sphere, severely impeding the flow of ideas and information.¹ The ensuing image of a disconnected continent continues to color our understanding of Cold War culture. This study presents a different picture of the Cold War. While the Iron Curtain prevented people from moving...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Tamizdat on Trial
    (pp. 17-80)

    Boris Pasternak’s Russian classicDoctor Zhivagoalready had a venerable history when it became one of the most iconicsamizdattexts.¹ The moment it crossed the Iron Curtain and was released by the Milanese publishing house Feltrinelli Editore in 1957, the novel laid the basis for half a century of SoviettamizdatTamizdat’s long literary legacy in Russian letters stretches back to the Free Russian Press which took advantage of the more liberal conditions in other countries to circumvent Russian political censorship.³ Established by Alexander Herzen in London in 1853, the press published and circulated revolutionary literature that would have...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Tamizdat: A Transnational Community
    (pp. 81-216)

    The emergence oftamizdatwas closely linked to the relationship between the inception of non-conformism in general and literary non-conformism in particular.¹ What matters here is the nature of the regime from which non-conformism developed. Often, it surfaced from an individual’s decisive experience with the state. As Andrei Sakharov has pointed out, it was the state, especially the censor, that indirectly invented the phenomenon of non-conformism. “Professional dissidents,” Sakharov wrote in hisMemoirs, “had not yet appeared on the scene. I don’t use this term as a reproach: it was the authorities who, by firing some dissenters, driving others into...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Tamizdat Border Crossings
    (pp. 217-330)

    “Exiles will pierce the Iron Curtain,” announces the headline of aNew York Timesarticle from July 3, 1950. How will these exiles accomplish this? In a “New Radio Broadcast Tomorrow.”¹ The Cold War ether was a prime target for institutions and individuals that wanted to overcome a “divided sky” and a divided Europe.² Following from this, recent research trends approach radio during the Cold War as a zone of convergence rather than one of ideological antagonism and isolation.³ The link between the airwaves and the transmission oftamizdatrequires focusing on radio’s character as a medium for transnational and...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Tamizdat: The Writer’s Right to Literature
    (pp. 331-422)

    From the 1950s the basic belief in the necessity of the free flow of books across the Iron Curtain animated various initiatives on both sides of the divide. These schemes, which predated the 1975 Helsinki Accords, explicitly formulated certain rights and lobbied against the persecution of writers in the ‘Other Europe.’ The rhetoric of rights, including human (and particularly writers’) rights,¹ was invoked across the Eastern Bloc countries and their Western counterparts to petition for writers that were censored, imprisoned, pushed out of their jobs, or forced into exile. One of these literary endeavors was the non-governmental organization PEN, which...

  10. EPILOGUE: Beyond the Literary Cold War
    (pp. 423-430)

    More than twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989 turned the Iron Curtain into a Cold War relic. Today, travel companies promote Iron Curtain bike tours, offering “sustainable tourism of the former death strip” and promising its participants will get “as close as possible to the former border,” even “frequently crossing” it.¹ Before 1989 such promises would have sounded suicidal. Living at and with the Cold War border evoked many fears amongst the locals. The Iron Curtain succeeded in physically preventing people from leaving the Eastern Bloc and from seeking a new life in the West. But when...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 431-478)
  12. Index
    (pp. 479-504)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 505-505)