Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

Subscriber: null; date: 16 January 2019

35 The Slavonic Book in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus

The Oxford Companion to the Book

Christine Thomas

35 The Slavonic Book in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus 

Christine Thomas

  • 1 Early East Slavonic MSS

  • 2 The beginning of printing

  • 3 Printing in 17th-century Moscow

  • 4 Belarusian and Ukrainian printing, 16th–17th centuries

  • 5 Eighteenth-century Russia

  • 6 Private printers in Russia

  • 7 From 19th-century Russia to World War I

  • 8 Ukraine and Belarus within the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian empires

  • 9 The Soviet Union

  • 10 Post-communist Russia

  • 11 Post-Soviet Belarus

  • 12 Independent Ukraine

1 Early East Slavonic MSS

There is no direct evidence of written documents from East Slavonic lands before the acceptance of Christianity by Prince Vladimir of Kiev c.988. From the 11th century, there are twelve extant MSS (seven of them dated) written in Old Church Slavonic in Cyrillic script. The first MSS are the Novgorod Codex (beginning of 11th century), discovered in 2000; the *Ostromir Gospels (1056–7); and Sviatoslav’s Miscellanies (Izborniki Sviatoslava) (1073, 1076). These compendia of works by the Church Fathers, parables, riddles, moral instructions, aphorisms, and citations originated in Kiev in the reign of Prince Sviatoslav. Three of the 11th-century MSS (the Ostromir Gospels, the Sviatoslav Miscellany (1073), and the Chudov Psalter) are richly illuminated and contain decorative woodcut headings made of intertwined letters, known as viaz’. All surviving pre-14th- century MSS are on *vellum, after which paper came increasingly into use. In Novgorod, archaeologists have unearthed medieval commercial and private texts scratched with a bone *stylus on *birch bark.

2 The beginning of printing

The earliest Cyrillic books, printed in the Balkans and in Crakow by *Fiol, were liturgical and closely modelled on MSS (see 36). They are mostly small *folios (without *title-pages), with elaborate interlaced woodcut *headpieces and *initials, a lavish use of red, and with signed *gatherings but without *foliation. Later products, such as *Skaryna’s *Cyrillic imprints, were closer to the central European Renaissance tradition and completely alien to Moscow printing, which began only in the 1550s; they influenced the work of some later Ukrainian and Belarusian printers.

Seven undated liturgical books were printed in Moscow in 1553–67 at the Anonymous Press, which was founded at the instigation of Tsar *Ivan IV and Metropolitan Makarii to ensure both the uniformity and the wider circulation of Orthodox liturgical texts. The earliest dated Moscow *imprint is the famous 1564 folio Apostol (liturgical Acts and Epistles), printed by *Fedorov and *Mstislavets. It has elegant and well-set *type and headpieces of white flowing foliage on a black background, typical of Muscovite MSS and later printed books. In 1565, Fedorov and Mstislavets printed two editions of a *book of hours but then, accused of heresy, fled to the grand duchy of Lithuania.

After their departure, printing in Moscow revived in 1568 and continued sporadically until the city’s Printing House burned down in 1611, during the Time of Troubles. Five other 16th-century printers are named in surviving Muscovite books: it seems likely that printing expertise came to Muscovy from Poland, with Ukraine and Belarus acting as a conduit. By the end of the century, some twenty editions had been published in Moscow, all Orthodox liturgical texts, the vast majority at one press controlled by Church and state.

3 Printing in 17th-century Moscow

In the 17th century, Moscow became the single greatest producer of Cyrillic books, most coming from the Moscow Printing House (Pechatnyi dvor), reopened in 1614. The House was divided into three ‘huts’, each under a *master printer and with its own proofreading department, forge, carpenter’s shop, typefoundry, block-making shop, and bindery. Its output was almost entirely religious in content, the vast majority of its books being large-format liturgical works, though the largest *press runs were for smaller-format *primers, *psalters, and books of hours. In the 1630s the master printer Vasilii Burtsov Protopopov, who had earlier worked with the Belarusian itinerant printer Spiridon Sobol, began to lease two presses in the Printing House. Burtsov broke new ground for Moscow. In 1634 and 1637 he produced primers in two large editions of 6,000 and 2,400 copies, respectively; the 1637 edition had a woodcut of a schoolroom, the first illustration in a Moscow-printed book. His Kanonnik of 1641 was the first Muscovite book to have a title-page.

Under Tsar Alexei (r. 1645–76), the Printing House’s repertoire became more varied. Alexei, with aspirations to modernize Russia and to create an orderly and efficient realm, not only attempted to standardize church ritual and liturgical texts but instigated, in a limited way, secular printing. He commissioned codes of civil (1649) and canon law (completed in 1653), and a book on infantry warfare (1647), translated from the German of Johann Jacobi von Wallhausen’s Kriegskunst zu Fuss (1615).

Yet it was the Church, rather than the government, that provided the main impetus for printing: decrees and other government documents were not printed. The energetic Nikon, appointed Patriarch of Moscow in 1652, set the Printing House the task of standardizing and revising liturgical texts, seeking to ensure their accuracy. Church councils in 1654 and 1656 produced his corrected versions and banned earlier texts and liturgical practices. A group of Old Believers rejected these innovations, continuing to copy in MS and to print the pre-reform texts until well into the 20th century.

In 1663, the first Moscow Bible appeared. It incorporated a number of innovations, such as a woodcut *frontispiece with the national coat of arms, a portrait of the tsar, a *map of Moscow, and Old and New Testament scenes. By the end of the 17th century, about 500 books had been printed in Moscow, almost all religious in content and all in Church Slavonic. The first *grammar of the vernacular (Russian) language was printed at Oxford in 1696.

4 Belarusian and Ukrainian printing, 16th–17th centuries

In contrast with Muscovy book culture, the Ukrainian and Belarusian book developed in an environment where Orthodoxy was not the sole religion. However, printing with Cyrillic type in those lands was influenced by the wish of the Ukrainian and Belarusian Orthodox to keep their religion alive. Although most printers were itinerant, some printers and Orthodox merchants had their own presses. Of the presses financed by merchants, the most famous was that of the Mamonich family in Vilnius. Other presses were set up by magnates, such as the hetman Hryhorii Chodkiewicz and Prince Vasyl Kostiatyn of Ostrih (Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski). At the *Ostrih (Ostrog) Press on Kostiatyn’s estate, Fedorov printed five books, notably the Bible of 1581 that served as an *archetype for the Moscow Bible (1663). The third category of printing houses was those of the Orthodox confraternities whose educational programmes needed grammars and books on poetics, rhetoric, and philosophy as well as polemical works. The most prolific were in Lviv (1591–1788), headed by the distinguished printer *Slezka, and in Vilnius, established in 1591. A fourth category of presses was the monastery presses. For Belarusian book culture, the most important was that of the Vilnius Holy Spirit Monastery, and, for Ukrainian works, the press of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, founded in 1616. Throughout the 17th century, this press continued to produce books of very high scholarly and technical standards, especially during the tenure of *Mohyla. In the second half of the century, most privately owned presses ceased to exist, and printing was dominated by the monasteries. Although only Vilnius, Kiev, and Lviv developed into major printing and bookselling centres, presses were active in more than 30 locations.

Ukrainian and Belarusian books were closer to mainstream European printing tradition than Muscovite books. For example, dates of printing were given in the Western style from the birth of Christ, whereas Moscow followed the Byzantine tradition of dating from the creation of the world. Even religious books contained secular elements: there was some use of the vernacular and wider use of illustrations, title-pages, *commentaries, and *indexes.

5 Eighteenth-century Russia

The end of the 17th century marked a turning point in the history of Russian printing. In 1698, *Peter the Great hired Dutch printers to establish Russian presses for printing maps, charts, and books on technical subjects, and commissioned the new Civil *founts for secular publications. The state supplanted the Church as the main driving force behind printing. In the tsar’s new capital, the St Petersburg Press, established in 1711, became the main publisher of government publications, notably the Vedomosti (News), the first printed Russian *newspaper. A new monastic press was established at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery outside St Petersburg in 1719. The Moscow Printing House (known, from 1721, as the Moscow Synodal Press) expanded, and the quantity of religious printing under Peter grew, though not as fast as secular printing.

Twice as many books were published during Peter’s reign (1682–1725) as during the whole of the 17th century, with state and legal documents constituting more than 60 per cent of the titles, religious publications totalling less than a quarter, and popular publications (*calendars and primers) forming the third largest category. Fewer than 2 per cent of publications were devoted to history, geography, science, and technology; these, intended for a narrow audience, were issued in small print runs. Between 1727 and 1755, the Russian Academy of Sciences press published about half of all new books and over three-quarters of secular books. Its products, including Russia’s first scholarly journal, Commentarii Academiae Scientarium Imperialis Petropolitanae, were almost invariably in Latin or German, and so were accessible only to a small readership. The Academy bookshop, opened in 1728, sold Russian and foreign books, and from 1735 it issued a catalogue that also circulated in the provinces.

In 1714, the Russian Academy of Sciences Library opened in St Petersburg to all, free of charge; *Moscow State University Library and press were established in 1755–6. The 1750s saw the expansion of the periodical press, an increase in the publication of literature translated into Russian, and, to a lesser extent, of original works in Russian. These developments were given impetus by the initiatives of Catherine the Great (r. 1762–96).

35 The Slavonic Book in Russia, Ukraine, and BelarusClick to view larger

International science in 18th-century Russia: the Scottish scientist Matthew Guthrie, living in St Petersburg, publishes his account of the freezing point of mercury. The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (G. Pamph. 1821(5)

She supported the founding of the Society for the Publication of Foreign Books (1768–83), which was responsible for the publication of 112 separate translations (including Fielding, Tasso, *Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and selections from the *Encyclopédie), and became the leading voice for the Russian Enlightenment. In the wake of Catherine’s initiation of the journal Vsiakaia vsiachina (Odds and Ends, 1769), a spate of short-lived satirical journals, on the model of English periodicals such as the Spectator, came into existence, four of them edited by *Novikov.

6 Private printers in Russia

In the 1770s, leasing agreements were granted to some non-native printers, and in 1771 J. F. Hartung became the first private printer in Russia—for foreign books only. A 1783 decree permitted the free establishment of presses anywhere within the empire, subject to the *censorship of local police. Half a dozen independent presses sprang up in Moscow, including Lopukhin’s Masonic press, with which Novikov was closely associated. It published some 50 works before being closed down in 1786. By 1801, 33 private presses had opened in Moscow or St Petersburg, publishing over two-thirds of Russian books. Most private printers were from the merchant class; the majority were non-Russian, and largely German-speakers. There was a smaller group of ‘intellectual’ publishers. For all private publishers, finances were precarious. State monopolies had been granted to institutions (mainly the Academy) for the few profitable types of publication—*textbooks, calendars, and *almanacs. However, private publishers were able to exploit the growing market for popular adventure stories; the most sought-after was Matvei Komarov’s bawdy Adventures of the English Lord George (1782).

Only the police, the senate, or the empress had the power to ban books. In the face of the publication of Old Believer texts and a growing number of mystical, including Masonic, works, the Church felt most threatened by relatively unrestricted printing. In 1787 an imperial edict authorized the synod to search all bookshops and publishing houses in the empire. The subsequent ‘book raids’, especially stringent in Moscow, temporarily paralysed the book trade, although ultimately few books were confiscated. On reopening, bookshops recovered quickly until the outbreak of the French Revolution. In 1790–95 several writers and publishers were arrested, books were confiscated, and printing offices closed down. Imports of French books and newspapers were banned. The first (official) presses had been established in the provinces in 1784; by the end of the century, seventeen provincial capitals had printing offices. The 1795 clampdown provided a stimulus to provincial printing, with a number of printers moving out of the capitals. In September 1796, two months before her death, Catherine issued an edict revoking the right of individuals to operate their own presses. The repression of Catherine’s last years was intensified by her son Paul (r. 1796–1801), and by the end of the century, only three active private presses remained.

Alexander I (r. 1801–25) allowed the independent presses, closed under the 1796 law, to reopen. A decree of 1804 established Russia’s first systematic censorship legislation, which, although relatively liberal in spirit (operated not by the police but by the ministry of education), introduced the concept of pre-publication censorship. Private publishing, overwhelmingly concentrated in the capitals, revived very slowly, and operated far below the level of the late 1780s. The book market was too small to make unsubsidized publishing a viable enterprise. However, some firms, like that of Semen Ioannikievich Selivanovskii and Ivan Petrovich Glazunov, the most famous representative of the Glazunov dynasty of publishers and booksellers, emerged and were to play an enduring and prominent role. The Academy, kept afloat by its monopoly on calendars, remained the dominant publisher of scholarly monographs and journals. Besides its main journal, Mémoires de l’Académie (then in its fifth series), it launched in 1804 the innovative and successful Tekhnologicheskii zhurnal (Technological Journal), intended to popularize science. It also continued to publish Sanktpeterburgskie vedomosti (St Petersburg News), and produced textbooks for the educational institutions established in the early 1800s.

7 From 19th-century Russia to World War I

In the first half of the 19th century, education expanded and university enrolments grew, stimulating a demand for books among a wider section of society. Printing technology improved, and in the 1830s the first successful commercial publishers and booksellers emerged.

The war against Napoleon had a devastating effect on the trade: the 1812 fire of Moscow destroyed presses (including Moscow University Press), MSS, and thousands of books. The following years saw a steady recovery. The Ekspeditsiia Zagotovleniia gosudarstvennykh bumag, established in St Petersburg in 1818 for the printing of bank notes, incorporated a *paper mill, and by the 1820s Russia was producing much of its own paper. In 1812, the first iron press was imported for use by the Russian branch of the *British and Foreign Bible Society. The first *lithographic presses appeared in St Petersburg (1816) and Moscow (1822). Moscow University Press—which by 1825 had overtaken the Academy in size, with 30 presses—was the main producer of textbooks and modern literature. The skills of a rising school of Russian engravers were used in finely printed books, including about 40 publications devoted to Russian history, commissioned by *Rumiantsev.

Until the 1820s, most elite reading was of works in French, but then a vogue arose for Russian-language almanacs, similar to the *gift books fashionable in Britain and the US; they were popular with a new readership of women educated in institutes for aristocratic girls, boarding schools, or at home. The most famous almanacs of the 1820s (e.g. Poliarnaia Zvezda (Polar Star) in 1823–5, and Mnemozina in 1824–5), featuring some of the best Russian authors of the day, were literary and commercial successes, stimulating interest in native writing. They also played an important part in the professionalization of authorship, since their publishers paid fees to contributors. In the 1820s and 1830s, an increasing demand for home-grown literature was met by the works of such authors as Ivan Krylov and Aleksandr Pushkin,

35 The Slavonic Book in Russia, Ukraine, and BelarusClick to view larger

The third edition of Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (St Petersburg, 1837), the last for which he read *proofs. A *thirty-twomo, such *miniature books (it is 11cm tall), were a novelty in Russia at the time. The Museum of the Miniature book, Azerbaijan

although all writings were severely censored following the failed Decembrist uprising (1825).

Bookshops and fee-based *circulating libraries had existed in Moscow and St Petersburg from the mid-18th century, owned primarily by foreigners. The bookshop and library opened in St Petersburg in 1788 by the Russian bibliographer Vasilii Stepanovich Sopikov was a notable exception. After 1812, however, the trade was mostly in the hands of Russians. The most outstanding library was that of the bookseller and publisher Vasilii Alekseevich Plavil’shchikov, founded in St Petersburg in 1815. By the 1820s it had a stock of 7,000 titles and had become a meeting place for writers. Upon his death in 1823, Plavil’shchikov left his bookshop and library to his most valued assistant, *Smirdin, under whose aegis it became one of the richest in Russia.

Some of Smirdin’s publications, such as his two-volume Novosel’e of 1833–4, are prime examples of the *Didot style of typeface, introduced to Russia by the typefounder Zhorzh Revil’on (Révillon). The press and type foundry of Adol’f Pliushar (Pluchart) was also in demand for fine publications. Other St Petersburg firms that came to prominence include those of the Glazunov family (whose catalogues remain an invaluable bibliographical source), and of Isakov, Bazunov, and Lisenkov. Iakov Alekseevich Isakov was at work from 1829 until his death in 1881, with a lending library for foreign books and an office in Paris for the purchase of French books. One of Smirdin’s former salesmen, Fedor Vasil’evich Bazunov, set up the St Petersburg branch of the business, in 1835 (its Moscow branch was run by other family members). After 1854, it expanded under Aleksandr Fedorovich Bazunov until its bankruptcy in the early 1870s; the firm also produced useful catalogues.

In Moscow, the leading figures were the bookseller and publisher Aleksandr Sergeevich Shiriaev and the French publisher and printer Auguste Semen, whose press was considered the finest in Moscow. Among institutional publishers, the Academy’s repertoire was broadening. From 1834, its Mémoires were divided into four specialized subject series, and in 1836 it launched a Bulletin scientifique with more concise articles and announcements. Moscow University Press continued its dominance: by mid-century it was still producing a third of all secular Moscow publications. Religious publications were produced in considerable numbers by the Synod Press.

Provincial publishing, which had seen some expansion from the 1820s onwards, continued to develop very slowly, dominated by local government publications. Provincial readership also grew slowly, poor transport making books 10–12 per cent more expensive in the country. In the 1830s, ‘thick’ encyclopaedic journals began to find a niche, constituting popular and useful reading for country landowners and their families. Urban publishing in the 1830s saw an increasing readership, larger editions, lower prices, and the expansion of periodical circulation. However, the economic depression of the 1840s was followed by the Crimean War and the ‘Seven Years’ Gloom’ (1848–55), with a tightening of censorship in response to European revolutions. A number of booksellers went out of business.

Between 1855 and 1860, there was a striking increase in the number of periodicals: over 150 new titles appeared. The political climate under Alexander II (r. 1855–81) allowed the topic of the emancipation of the serfs to be discussed in print. The abolition of serfdom in 1861, economic recovery, the flourishing of trade and industry, and the growth of the railways resulted in a corresponding upturn in the production and distribution of printed material. Despite intensified censorship (responsibility for censorship passed in 1865 from the relatively enlightened ministry of education to the ministry of the interior), this growth continued into the 1870s. Large-scale capitalist enterprises began to emerge, among them the publishing houses of Mavrii Osipovich Vol’f and Aleksei Sergeevich Suvorin in St Petersburg, and *Sytin in Moscow. Suvorin and Sytin became leading newspaper proprietors.

The tsar’s reforms also resulted in the development of public *lending libraries in the 1860s. Charitable literacy committees raised funds for the creation of over 100 local libraries. The publisher Florentii Fedorovich Pavlenkov bequeathed his entire fortune to create more than 2,000 public libraries. Following Alexander II’s assassination in 1881, censorship became harsher. Numbers of publications, especially those on political topics, declined; but the end of the 1880s saw an increase in scholarly works, and a government drive for economic growth resulted in a proliferation of agricultural and technological materials. Around the turn of the century there was an expansion in mass market publishing, ranging from Marxist publications to cheap editions of Russian and foreign classics and translations of *detective novels.

The material infrastructure for printing expanded and developed; the number both of presses and of technological advances—including the introduction of *rotary presses and the mechanization of typesetting—grew (see 11). Educational works became a more important strand in popular publishing. A series of inexpensive editions of Russian classics and Western authors in large print runs was launched by Suvorin, who established retail outlets in many provincial towns. The publishing firm Posrednik (Intermediary), established in 1884 as a joint enterprise of Sytin, Tolstoy, and his disciple Vladimir Chertkov, provided wholesome and edifying booklets for the minority of literate peasants (13 per cent), as did some 50 educational organizations. Catering to the higher end of the educational market were the St Petersburg firm Prosveshchenie (Enlightenment, established 1896), and the German-Russian concern *Brokgauz & Efron.

In contrast with the largely utilitarian, mass-produced publications most typical of this time, some lavish illustrated books and magazines also appeared, exemplified by the journals of the World of Art (Mir iskusstva) movement. The work of some of the best illustrators of the period can also be seen in the short-lived satirical journals that sprang up after the 1905 revolution, when censorship was temporarily in abeyance. From 1910 to 1914, Russian Futurist poets and painters collaborated to produce handmade books, with very limited *press runs, later to become collectors’ items.

The first years of the century up to the outbreak of World War I saw an unprecedented expansion in Russian publishing, with a growing emphasis on the commercial mass market. Whereas between 1801 and 1900, c.2,500 titles had been published, some 400,000 appeared between 1901 and 1916. In 1912 and in 1913, Russia produced nearly as many books as Germany. The outbreak of war caused figures to slump; there was a chronic shortage of paper (the huge growth in Russian output had made the country dependent on imported printing supplies, particularly from Germany) and many presses were forced to close. The chief academic publishers, such as the Academy of Sciences and Moscow University, as well as some of the larger commercial publishing houses, survived the war, and the printing of government patriotic literature, as well as of Bolshevik leaflets and *broadsides, continued.

8 Ukraine and Belarus within the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian empires

The 18th century saw a decline in Ukrainian and Belarusian book culture. Russian imperial decrees in the 1720s banning the publication of anything apart from liturgical texts identical to those printed in Moscow and St Petersburg limited the previously distinctive nature of Ukrainian printing. The first work of literature in modern Ukrainian, Ivan Kotliarevs’kyi’s burlesque travesty of Virgil’s Aeneid (in which the Trojan heroes become Cossacks expelled from their homelands by the Russian government), circulated in MS and was eventually published in St Petersburg in 1798. Publications in Ukrainian, or even in the Ukrainian recension of Church Slavonic, were not allowed. No longer permitted to publish new texts, the Kiev Monastery Press did, however, continue to produce books with ornaments and illustrations, including excellent *woodcuts by prominent Ukrainian artists. The presses of the Uniate monasteries—at Pochaiv (1734–1914) and at Univ (1660–1770)—on territory that remained part of Poland-Lithuania, became the most productive centres. Printing for the Orthodox in Belarus, also part of Poland-Lithuania, was restricted by the Catholic Church. Publishing continued in the (Uniate) Supraśl Monastery and nine other cities.

As a result of the first partition of Poland, Russia gained more Ukrainian and some Belarusian territories. State presses were opened in Elizavetgrad (1764), Kharkiv (1793), Kiev (1787), and Ekaterinoslav (1793), and in the administrative centres of Belarus (Vitebsk, Hrodna, Mohileu, and Polotsk) for the publication of official directives and reports in Russian.

In the first half of the 19th century, there was still no Ukrainian-language publishing. The Ukrainian-language Istoriia rusiv, an anonymous history of the Ukrainians, circulated in MS, as did some other books in the language. Several publishers in Ukraine (notably Kharkiv University Press, founded in 1805) touched on Ukrainian themes. Kiev University Press (founded 1835) published some important historical documents on national history in its four-volume Pamiatniki (Monuments, 1845–59), and from 1839 the Odessa Society for History and Antiquities began publication of its journal. In 1836 Ivan Timofeevich Lisenkov, a native of Ukraine, established his publishing and bookselling business in St Petersburg, specializing in Ukrainian authors; and in the 1860s, against a background of increasing national cultural awareness, the scope of Ukrainian publishing in Russia widened somewhat. Panteleimon Aleksandrovich Kulish set up a press in St Petersburg, publishing the works of Ukrainian authors, textbooks in Ukrainian for Sunday schools, and, in 1861–2, the only Ukrainian-language periodical in the empire, Osnova (The Base). In East Ukraine, centres of printing included Kiev, Odessa, Chernihiv, and Poltava.

Ukrainian-language printing in East Ukraine was again curtailed by the 1876 Edict of Ems, which authorized the publication of only limited subject matter—historical documents, ethnographic materials, and belles-lettres (subject to approval by the censor)—and also required that permission be sought for the importing of Ukrainian-language publications from abroad (e.g. Prague, Vienna, and Geneva, as well as Western Ukraine). From 1875, some underground revolutionary and populist presses were set up in Odessa, Kiev, Kharkiv, and Ekaterinoslav.

One of the results of the 1905 revolution in Russia was the appearance of Ukrainian- and Belarusian-language magazines, newspapers, and educational societies. New Belarusian publishers began work, two in St Petersburg and three in Vilnius, where one, Nasha Niva (Our Cornfield) and its newspaper of the same name, came to embody the early 20th-century Belarusian literary renaissance.

A 1906 law established freedom of publication of books for non-Russian nationalities, including the Ukrainians. The Kiev publisher Chas (Time, 1908–20) made a particularly important contribution to the development of Ukrainian culture, producing works by Ukrainian authors, translations from other languages, and textbooks for a mass readership. Nevertheless, Ukrainian publications were censored more strictly than those in other ‘minority’ languages of the Russian empire. From 1798 to 1916, only about 6,000 books were published in Ukrainian, and fewer than half of those within the Russian empire.

In Western Ukraine, conditions for publishing became more favourable following the 1867 Austro-Hungarian Constitution. Private and institutional presses were founded in Lviv, Chernivtsy, Peremyshl, and Kolomye; the most influential and long-lasting were those of the Prosvita (Enlightenment) society, established in 1868, and the Shevchenko Scientific Society, which set up a press in Lviv in 1873.

During World War I, most Ukrainian publishing was carried out abroad—in Vienna, Canada, and the US. During the short-lived period of Ukrainian statehood (1917–21), 78 Ukrainian titles were published in 1917, and 104 in 1918. In 1918–19, the National Library of *Ukraine and the Ukrainian Book Chamber (centres for *legal deposit and national bibliography) were founded.

9 The Soviet Union

Soon after the October 1917 revolution, all press organs deemed to be counter-revolutionary were closed down. A number of pre-revolutionary publishing houses, including Sytin, were allowed to continue operations. In the civil war years, when publishing reached its lowest ebb, Russian publishers abroad, notably *Grzhebin in Berlin, were enlisted to help supply textbooks for the government’s literacy campaign.

The first state publishing enterprises were set up from 1918, among them Vsemirnaia Literatura (*World Literature), the State Publishing House, and Kommunist. The most important, the State Publishing House (Gosizdat), established in 1919, was charged with regulation of other publishing bodies, state and private, and after 1921 was producing one third of all books on Soviet territory. The printing industry was nationalized. In 1922, with the foundation of the Soviet Union, bodies equivalent to Gosizdat were established in East Ukraine and Belarus, now designated ‘Soviet Socialist Republics’. Moves were made to build up the library network. All significant private book collections were nationalized, benefiting especially the Petrograd Public Library (later National Library of *Russia) and the Library of the Rumiantsev Museum (later the *Russian State Library). Both had been designated legal deposit libraries in May 1917. The Chief Administration on Publishing Affairs (Glavlit) was established in 1922 and operated as the main organ of censorship until 1990. During the years of the New Economic Policy (1921–9), some relaxation of state control galvanized the publishing industry, leading to a rise in the quantity and quality of publications. By the late 1920s, print runs of a million were not uncommon. Gosizdat, with its subsidies, control over allocation of scarce paper supplies, and right of first refusal of all MSS, retained its favoured position, but private publishers were again allowed to operate. By January 1925 there were 2,055 publishing houses in the Soviet Union, of which around 400 were private. Some of the best avant-garde artists of the time produced remarkable books. Innovation in literature was also tolerated. However, as the 1920s progressed, there was more and more state pressure for ‘approved’ literature (propaganda, socio-economic and political titles) to be published.

The Soviet government also followed a policy (1925–32) of ‘indigenization’, promoting the indigenous languages of the Union’s non-Russian peoples. There was an initial period of Ukrainianization during which Ukrainian-language book publishing, though state-controlled, increased. A Ukrainian-language-based education system was introduced, dramatically raising the literacy of the Ukrainophone rural population. By 1929 the number of Ukrainian newspapers, of which there were very few in 1922, had reached 373 out of a total of 426 titles published in the republic. Of 118 magazines, 89 were Ukrainian. There was a renaissance of national literature, and book publishing in Ukrainian reached 83 per cent of the total output.

The 1930s brought dramatic strengthening of the powers of censorship, wielded not only by Glavlit but, increasingly, by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the USSR *Writers’ Union. In literature, the doctrine of socialist realism ruled. An attempt was made to eradicate duplication and to rationalize publishing; as a result of mergers and restructuring, a number of specialized state publishing houses were formed under the aegis of the Association of State Publishing Houses (OGIZ). There were parallel developments in Ukraine and Belarus. However, duplication and inefficiency remained widespread.

Government sales of rare books and MSS (including the Codex *Sinaiticus) abroad for hard currency impoverished Soviet libraries and enriched public and private collections in Europe and North America. The Stalinist terrors of 1934 and 1937–9 resulted in bookshop and library purges: works written by or making reference to condemned people or on forbidden subjects were removed, to be destroyed or placed in libraries’ special, restricted-access collections (‘spetskhrans’), together with most foreign publications. Writers, bibliographers, and book historians were among those to perish in the purges. In 1939, Western Ukraine (Galicia) was incorporated into the Soviet Union and all its publishing houses were closed down (50 had existed in the interwar period).

World War II brought with it a chronic shortage of paper, the relocation of much publishing away from Moscow and Leningrad, and loss of Soviet control in areas under German occupation. Book production fell from about 40,000 titles in 1941 to about 17,000 in 1944. Rare items from libraries in the western part of the USSR were evacuated to the east, but thousands of books were lost, as a result of bombing or seizure by the Germans, and more than 40,000 Soviet libraries were destroyed. Many libraries managed to function throughout the war, including the Leningrad Public Library (later National Library of Russia), which served readers throughout the 900 days of the siege of Leningrad. There was some underground publishing in the occupied territory of Belarus and Ukraine, and the Belarusian Gosizdat, evacuated to Moscow at the end of 1942, continued to function.

After the war, the Soviet publishing industry recovered relatively quickly: by 1948 output had come close to 1938 levels, and it rose steadily thereafter. The industry retained its prewar structure, and output was very much influenced by the dictates of the Party. Following Stalin’s death in 1953, Khrushchev’s dismantling of the Stalin cult and selective relaxation of censorship resulted in some liberalization of literature, and diversification in the content of published works. In Russia, a degree of polemical debate appeared in the literary journals, both hard-line (notably Oktiabr’ (October) and liberal. Among the latter, Novyi mir (New World), edited by Aleksandr Tvardovskii, was in the forefront, publishing Solzhenitsyn’s *One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

An August 1963 decree initiated a radical reorganization of publishing, printing, and the book trade; by 1964, these had a structure that was to remain in place until the emergence of a market economy in the 1990s. In order to establish more effective government supervision, responsibility for control of the press in the Soviet Union passed to the State Committee for the Press (renamed State Committee for Publishing, Printing, and the Book Trade in 1972), directly subordinate to the USSR Council of Ministers (other republics had separate equivalents). It was charged with reducing the number of publishing houses and rationalizing areas of coverage assigned to those remaining. However, both in the book trade and in library supply, the cumbersome ‘administrative command’ system, which inhibited publishers’ ability to respond to readers’ demands, caused a shortage of the books that people wanted to read. Along with *samizdat, a thriving black market emerged not only to disseminate dissident and other forbidden literature but also to make up for the shortage of popular and perfectly legal publications.

During the Brezhnev era, known as the ‘period of stagnation’, the book industries remained stable. In the 1970s and early 1980s, all printing was censored, and the central control of raw materials and printing continued to influence print runs. Authors were paid to a standard formula, according to genre (e.g. fiction or textbook) and length. Perhaps for this reason, the average length of a Soviet book in 1984 was about 136 octavo pages, in contrast with the average 82 pages during the 1930s.

One of the Soviet media’s clichés—that the USSR was ‘the world’s foremost nation of readers’—could in many ways be justified. The book industry had few rivals worldwide in numbers of titles and copies published. Illiteracy had been virtually eradicated, and more than half the population were users of the extensive network of urban and rural libraries. Yet, for seven decades, the book was essentially the ideological tool of a totalitarian state.

The Gorbachev reforms brought about a loosening of state control, initiated from above and seized upon from below. The Law on State Enterprises (1987) allowed some private initiatives, and the Law on the Press and the Media (1990) guaranteed their freedom. The Law also allowed any organization or individual to register as a publisher and establish mass media publications. State publishers were given more leeway to decide what they would publish, and some were leased to collectives. The first private publishing firms, small cooperatives, appeared in 1988, and a considerable number were established in 1989–90, but most were short-lived. A parallel press emerged, producing thousands of semi-legal leaflets and periodicals of every conceivable kind, among them anarchist, feminist, Green, nationalist, and religious.

10 Post-communist Russia

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the collapse of centralized control brought with it a crumbling of state structures. The political and economic crises of 1990 and 1991 brought the publishing industry to its knees. In 1992 there was an all-time slump, with only about 28,000 books being published, but there were already signs of recovery in 1993. In 2000 the *Russian Book Chamber registered 56,180 titles (surpassing the previous official record of 55,657 titles in 1977). The Book Chamber record is almost certainly an underestimate because of the failure of some publishers to comply with legal deposit. The shape of the industry also changed: by mid-1993, state houses were producing only 30 per cent of books, and in the ensuing years private publishers took over more and more of the market. By 2000, the seven most prolific publishers were all—with the exception of the state-owned textbook publisher, Prosveshchenie—private firms, less than a decade old. Some of the larger ones—EKSMO, Terra, and Olma-Press—had acquired their own printing plants and distribution systems.

With the demise of the state publishers and the appearance of private houses more responsive to demand, the two most popular genres to emerge were crime and *romance novels. In the early 1990s, these were translations of foreign writers, but Russian authors largely superseded them later in the decade. Glossy magazines also began to make an appearance. Another significant growth area was encyclopaedic dictionaries on a wide range of subjects. Scholarly publishing survived, and even flourished, aided by finance from NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Alongside books on previously taboo subjects or by banned authors, works formerly published in centres of Russian publishing abroad—such as Paris, Frankfurt-am-Main, Berlin, Israel, and various cities in the US and Canada—made their first appearance in Russia.

There was considerable democratization in libraries, in spite of difficulties caused by dwindling financial support from the state. By the early 1990s, the considerable task of releasing restricted books from the spetskhrans and entering them in general library catalogues was virtually complete. The 1994 Law on Libraries guaranteed all citizens free access to information through libraries. An Open Society programme, Russian Libraries on the Internet, helped to provide access through the *World Wide Web.

11 Post-Soviet Belarus

At the end of the Soviet period, Belarus was probably the most Russified of all the republics, with a weak sense of national identity. At the very time in early 1989 that a law was passed prohibiting cooperative or private publishing, the first private publishers appeared, circumventing the law by purchasing *ISBNs from Russian publishers in return for giving them 10 per cent of every print run.

In the early years of independence, up to 1994, the government had a policy of Belarusianizing education and reviving the moribund literary language (kept alive in the diaspora). The works of émigré writers were published. Post-1990, more books, booklets, magazines, and newspapers were published in Belarus: 2,823 books (435 in Belarusian) were produced in 1990 compared with 7,686 (761 in Belarusian) issued in 2000.

In 1995 the Russian language was given official status along with Belarusian. Although the situation in Belarus was not conducive to the development of independent publishing, by 1995 private publishers accounted for some 70 per cent of the nation’s total output. The second half of the decade, however, saw a decrease in private publishing. The government repressed the independent press, refused registration to private publishers, and closed down newspapers offering a critical perspective. The state-owned press enjoyed more favourable conditions, although it too was in crisis. The beginning of the 21st century saw a significant growth in numbers: there were 490 publishers in 2002, although 80 per cent of them were orientated towards the Russian-language market.

12 Independent Ukraine

Steady Russification throughout the Soviet period had caused a decline in Ukrainian-language publishing. Although in the 1960s some 60 per cent of the books published in Ukraine were in Ukrainian, by 1980 that figure had decreased to 30 per cent. As a consequence, some Ukrainian-language publishing was undertaken abroad. Following its revival in 1947 in western Europe and in the US, the Shevchenko Scientific Society played an important role in publishing: it issued three multi-volume encyclopaedias of Ukraine and, from 1989, operated in Ukraine. Other key publishing centres were the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (founded 1968) and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (founded 1976).

Post-independence, political restrictions on publishing were replaced by economic constraints, and publishing grew slowly, from 5,855 books in 1991 to 7,749 in 2000. Russian and Belarusian publishers, who operated under a more favourable tax regime, flooded the Ukrainian market with cheaper Russian-language books, especially in the lucrative area of popular literature. Despite a large number of enterprises (2,000 private and 28 state publishers in 2002), Ukraine produced less than one book per person in 2002, compared to 3.5 in Russia and seven in Belarus. The distribution system broke down, and newly established wholesalers concentrated mainly on popular material. However, in the field of scholarly publishing, both state publishers and institutions, ranging from the Academy and national libraries to small local museums, produced a wealth of historical and bibliographical material on Ukrainian history and culture. Scholarly publishing was assisted by funding from government, NGOs, and Ukrainian centres in the diaspora. The Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, established in 1994, became an energetic lobbying body, and the Ukrainian Academy of Printing in Lviv established courses in publishing and bookselling. By the end of the 1990s, there was a substantial improvement in typographical standards and in publishing facilities. Electronic publishing developed quickly, and the Vernads’kyi National Library of Ukraine began an active *digitization programme.


M. R. Barazna, Belaruskaia knizhnaia hrafika, 1960–1990-kh hadou (2001)Find this resource:

    I. A. Isaievych, Ukraïns’ke knihovydannia: vytoki, rozvytok, problemy (2002)Find this resource:

      M. N. Kufaev, Istoriia russkoi knigi v XIX veke (1927; repr. 2003)Find this resource:

        D. Likhachev, ed., Knizhnye tsentry Drevnei Rusi (2 vols, 1991–4)Find this resource:

          S. Lovell, The Russian Reading Revolution (1999)Find this resource:

            G. Marker, Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700–1800 (1985)Find this resource:

              E. L. Nemirovskii, Frantsisk Skorina (1990)Find this resource:

                I. Ohiienko, Istoriia ukrains’koho drukarstva (1925; repr. 1994)Find this resource:

                  M. Remnek, ed., Books in Russia and the Soviet Union: Past and Present (1991)Find this resource:

                    G. P. M. Walker, Soviet Book Publishing Policy (1978)Find this resource: