Cover Osteuropa 1-2/2018

In Osteuropa 1-2/2018

An individual tone
Svetlana Alexievich and Belarusian and Russian culture

Ulrich Schmid

Deutsche Fassung


The relationship between national literature and world literature is difficult to pinpoint in Svetlana Alexievich’s work. She explicitly describes herself as a Belarusian author, although at the same time, she repeatedly emphasises her affiliation to the greater Russian culture, and even to a cosmopolitan project. More recently, this self-attribution has clashed with the “Russian World” initiative promoted by the Kremlin, which aims to bind Russian “compatriots” living outside the Russian Federation more closely to the Fatherland – culturally, in terms of their values and ultimately also politically. Such patriotic tones are alien to Svetlana Alexievich. At the same time, her cosmopolitan self-concept cannot be integrated into the current debates surrounding Belarusian national literature without conflict.

(Osteuropa 1-2/2018, pp. 135–148)