Worldwide Literature publishing house

19.12.2018

Worldwide Literature publishing house

The exhibition is devoted to a great, almost utopian cultural project – publishing house “The Worldwide Literature” (1918-1924) founded on Maxim Gorky's initiative. The publishing program of “world literature” was truly extensive: it was planned to publish the translations of more than 1200 writers and a whole range of works of Western European literature and literature of the East.

The idea of “worldwide literature” united a great range of Russian humanitarian intellectuals: writers, scientists, linguists, editors and translators. Almost every representative of the Silver Age took part in the project: Konstantin Balmont, Alexander Benois, Alexander Blok, Valery Bryusov, Zinaida Gippius, Nikolai Gumilev, Evgeny Zamyatin, Mikhail Lozinsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Korney Chukovsky, and world-famous orientalists Vasily Alekseev, Boris Vladimirtsov, Ignatiy Krachkovsky and many others. The publishing house formed its own library and organized a studio for translators’ training.

But, unfortunately, the resource was quickly exhausted. The publishing house existed for six years though the active work lasted only three years. In 1921 Block died and Gumilev was shot. Then somebody immigrated on his own will and some initiators were expelled on the “philosophical steamship”. As a result, the publishing house had to abandon its original programme and release a series of governmental programmes (children's books, foreign literature news). A total amount of books published under the brand of “Worldwide Literature” counts 220, 72 of which are in the main series.

However, the echo of the unique cultural project was powerful: from 1967 to 1977, 200 volumes of the “Library of world literature series” were published, which inherited the idea of the legendary publishing house. In 2003 this series appeared in the publishing house “Eksmo”. The exhibition in Alexander Blok Museum presents the materials of the funds of St. Petersburg's State History Museum, the Institute of Russian Literature RAS, the Central State Archive of Literature and Arts of St. Petersburg, the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian national Library. There are books published by the publishing house; documents of the publishing house work; photos and autographs of the participants of this fabulous project. The exhibition is enlarged by multimedia programs: electronic catalog of books published by the publishing house and literary quiz.

The exhibition is open until May 26, 2019.

You can visit the exhibition with the St. Petersburg Card in addition to the main exposition of Alexander Blok Museum (Dekabrisov st., 57). 

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