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What is wrong with "The Old Man of Hottabych", or Why Russian literature was banned in Russia and abroad
What is wrong with "The Old Man of Hottabych", or Why Russian literature was banned in Russia and abroad

Works, even those that were later to become classics of Russian literature, were often banned in their homeland. This is just not surprising, because most of them, written in an accusatory manner, could not please the current government, which perceived this as criticism. But it is for the same reason that many writers published abroad, seeing no other way to convey their creation to readers. However, some books written and published in Russia and the USSR did not pass foreign censorship, despite the notorious freedom of speech. What was forbidden in them and what exactly did the censors dislike?

Offline bans

It is impossible not to admit the fact that books are what forms the personality

It may seem wild to the modern generation that literature can be banned in principle. After all, any text is now available on the Internet. Moreover, now it is not necessary to be a writer and generally a writing person in order to clothe thoughts in a text and send it to the readers for judgment. But at almost all times, literature, and not only fiction, was under the watchful eye of censors.

Books could be banned for a variety of reasons. Be it politics, religion, descriptions of forbidden scenes. If, for example, in America a work that went beyond the bounds of morality, religion and morality, as well as causing anxiety and "wrong" thinking for the reader, could get banned.

However, censorship was not only state-owned; often it came to this because of public pressure. Moreover, the prohibitions began to come from the states and cities and their governing bodies.

The ideal Soviet citizen: sees nothing, talks nothing, understands nothing

But the censorship of the USSR was completely "senseless and merciless", the domestic censors had enough hint or ambiguity to ban the publication from publication, or even remove it from sale altogether. The description of political or historical events from any other, non-communist angle, could become the reason for the ban. It happened that in a book already published, the name of someone who had been declared an enemy of the people was mentioned. A whole batch of books could have this name erased, cut, glue over a line, or even pages. An attempt to control everything and everyone, and most importantly, the minds and moods of people, is perhaps the main reason why the government treated the fruits of other people's creativity so painfully.

However, given the seemingly incomparable level of censorship between Russia and the West, there were publications that were published in Russia and the USSR, but were banned abroad. And the reasons are not only political.

Russian literature on foreign bookshelves

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are the most widely read Russian writers abroad

On American bookshelves, Russian literature was not at all rare, and the political relations between the two countries were not reflected in any way on this fact. Although, before World War II, Russian authors appeared in American stores much more often than after it. During the Cold War, official organizations like the library association closed off readers' access to Russian authors. The distribution and printing of Russian literature began to be considered a crime.

Publishers who tried to work with authors from the USSR were handled by the FBI, but there was no question of direct bans, rather it was considered unpatriotic, and various obstacles were put in place for businesses that were unduly interested in Russia. Even after Sholokhov became a Nobel Prize winner, very little was published.

Now nothing from the classics is prohibited, but are these authors read?

However, in general, the American system cannot be called a tough and direct ban. Everything was more subtle here, rather, the translations of Russian literature were encouraged, which would represent Russia and the average Russian in a certain light and form his image. So, Pasternak began to publish in America, but Sholokhov was under an unspoken ban.

If we talk about certain periods, then Russian literature periodically found itself in disgrace in many countries. And not all works, but just Russian literature for the simple reason that it was written by people from this country. Hitlerite Germany, fascist Italy, Spain and Japan at different times in their history treated Russia and everything connected with it differently.

Nazi fire from Russian literature

German destruction of literature

Heinrich Heine is the author of the phrase that people will be burned where books are burned. It is unlikely that he knew that his words would be prophetic for his own country. Germany, having embarked on the path of totalitarianism, immediately went the standard way and banned unwanted authors, but this turned out to be not enough, Hitler would not have been Hitler, if he had not arranged an indicative flogging out of this.

In 1933, processions with torches took place in universities and libraries - prohibited literature was confiscated. Moreover, it was burned right here, simply because it did not correspond to the German foundations. About 300 authors, both foreign and German, were subjected to such "repression". More than 40 thousand people took part in such a strange event, almost 30 thousand books were burned - and this is only in Berlin.

In many cities, the action could not be carried out, but not at all because of civic consciousness, but because it was raining that day, therefore it was simply postponed and the objectionable literature was dealt with later. But Hitler was bypassed in Nicaragua, where it turns out that there was also Russian literature and the local dictator ordered to destroy it so that the locals would not learn about the communist system and generally know less about Russia.

Books first, then people

Now Ukraine is doing the same, prohibiting the works on which many citizens of the country grew up. Among the "forbidden" are "An Ordinary Story" by Ivan Goncharov and "Old Man Hottabych" by Lazar Lagin. In fact, there are not so many works of Russian literature that would be banned abroad by name. It is not surprising, Russian literature describes events and problems at home so colorfully that they were banned on the spot, because it is much easier to deal with the author than to eradicate the problem.

For example, Leo Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata was considered too immoral not only at home, but also in America and a number of other countries. If "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov is considered Russian literature, then it will definitely break all records for censorship, because it was banned in many countries.

For many works, the ban on publication was a harbinger of success. True, this is unlikely to please the authors, who did not receive recognition and royalties. but the history of many recognized works, which are now the property of world literature, remembers the facts of censorship and prohibitions for publication, distribution and reading.

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