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Tamizdat as Cold War Literary Phenomenon

Sun, November 15, 10:00 to 11:30am, Virtual Convention Platform, Room 16

Session Submission Type: Panel

Brief Description

From the 1960s onward, much of the clandestine literature consumed within Eastern Europe was not presented through samizdat, but rather within tamizdat. This phenomenon, encompassing volumes published in the west and secreted beyond the Iron Curtain, was simultaneously a boon for citizens desperate to read non-official works and a weapon used by intelligence services to “reinforce links with the West” and “destroy isolation and apathy.” Beyond this political element, however, numerous individual actors also engaged in tamizdat for a variety of reasons, helping to enrich the literary and cultural life of Eastern Europe. These non-state actors, including Ardis, YMCA, and others, played an important role in introducing first editions of important works to the region, including texts such as Lolita, The Gulag Archipelago, and Requiem. This panel aims to offer a holistic overview of this under-studied and variegated phenomenon. Through papers focusing on authors, publishers, and tamizdat as a whole, it hopes to provide a multivalent perspective on this practice, arguing for its importance within the literary history of the twentieth century.

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