Svetlana Aleksievich: croiniceoir an chruachás/ Svetlana Aleksievich: a chronicler of suffering
2015-11-01 15:03:30 -
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An Outside View/Léargas Taobh Amuigh

 

Panu Höglund

 

Is minic a chloisfeá gur scríbhneoirí ró-intleachtúla, róliteartha, doléite ó fhorimeall an tsaoil mhóir iad siúd a mbronnann Acadamh na Sualainne Duais Nobel sa litríocht orthu. I mbliana áfach thaispeáin an tOchtar Déag, de aderton mar a thugas an Sualannach ar bhaill an Acadaimh, go raibh siad ábalta an réamhbhreithiúnas sin a bhréagnú: is í Svetlana Aleksiyevich duaiseoir na bliana. Scríbhneoir neamhfhicsin í agus í ag díriú ar fhulaingt a muintire, na Bealarúisigh, faoi chuingir an tSóivéadachais, sin nó le linn an Dara Cogadh Domhanda – gan aon trácht a dhéanamh ar olltubaiste Shearnóbail.

 

Bhí an Bhealarúis riamh faoi smacht ag comharsana láidire: ar dtús ag an bPolainn agus, ina dhiaidh sin, ag an Rúis. Cé go bhfuil teanga agus cultúr ar leith aici, tá stádas an-íseal ag an mBealarúisis ina tír féin, agus is iomaí duine de mhuintir na tíre nach bhfuil in ann teanga na sinsear a scríobh – nó a labhairt, fiú. Is í an Rúisis teanga scríbhneoireachta Svetlana Aleksiyevich fosta, cé go ndeachaigh scríbhneoirí Bealarúiseacha go mór mór i bhfeidhm uirthi, go háirithe Ales Adamovich. 

 

Ó Adamovich a d’fhoghlaim sí gan ficsean a scríobh faoin gcogadh, nó ba é a thuairimsean riamh ná nár chóir scéalta bréige a chumadh faoi ábhar chomh tromhchúiseach – ar chúiseanna morálta. Bhí sé ní ba thábhachtaí fíorghuth na ndaoine a chur i míotar. Cé gur bhreac Adamovich síos roinnt ábhair faoin dóigh a ndeachaigh an cogadh i bhfeidhm ar a thír dhúchais féin is dócha gurb é an saothar ba mhó a thabhaigh clú dó ná Blokadnaya kniga (Leabhar an Léigir), is é sin an leabhar a scríobh sé faoi imshuí Leningrad in éineacht le Daniil Granin, scríbhneoir scéalta cogaidh a raibh cruachás an chogaidh sa chathair feicthe le súile a chinn féin aige.

 

Cé nach raibh Granin agus Adamovich ina n-easaontóirí polaitiúla riamh, tharraing an leabhar faoi imdhruidim Leningrad cuid mhór calláin. An cur síos a thug siad ar chruachás mhuintir na cathrach le linn an chogaidh, bhí sé róréadúil. San Aontas Sóivéadach ba nós béim a chur ar an laochas, seachas ar uafáis an chogaidh i measc na sibhialtach, agus ba dóigh leis na húdaráis go gcuirfeadh na scéalta déistin ar na léitheoirí: bhí an gorta agus na galair ann, agus iad curtha i láthair an léitheora díreach mar ba chuimhin le muintir na cathrach. Ní raibh blas an laochais ar a leithéid. Mar sin, cé gur foilsíodh an leabhar go dlíthiúil san Aontas Sóivéadach, ní raibh cead ag na scríbhneoirí é a chur i gcló i Leningrad féin.

 

Sin é an rud a bhí i ndán do shaothar Svetlana Aleksievich sa Bhealarúis, chomh maith, agus ar na cúiseanna céanna. Tá an tír á ríalú ag an deachtóir Aleksandr Lukashenko a bhfuil dearcadh iar-Shóivéadach aige. Ag na hócáidí oifigiúla is fearr leis Rúisis a labhairt ná Bealarúisis, agus é ag cur béime ar chomh deas is a bhí an saol i ré an tSóivéadachais, i gcomparáid leis an lá inniu. Rúbal atá ar an airgead sa Bhealarúis, agus tugtar ‘Coiste na Slándála Stáit’ (is é sin, KGB) ar an rúnseirbhís i gcónaí. Mar sin, ní díol iontais é go bhfuil cinsireacht i stíl na ré Sóivéadaí ag obair i gcónaí.

 

Cé nach bhfuil mórán measa ag Lukashenko ar litríocht ná ar chead cainte, ní féidir a rá nach mbeadh polaiteoir sciliúil ann, áfach. Anois, agus Aleksievich ina duaiseoir, is dócha go mbainfidh sé úsáid aisti agus as a cuid saothar ina chuid bolscaireachta féin le súil an tsaoil mhóir a tharraingt ar an mBealarúis mar náisiún sofaisticiúil cultúrtha, agus is dealraitheach go mbeidh leabhair an scríbhneora sa bhunteanga agus in aistriúchán Bealarúisise ar fáil níos réidhe sa tír.

 

 

Scríbhneoir Gaeilge ón bhFionlainn é Panu Höglund, agus é in ann Rúisis agus Bealarúisis a léamh.

 

 

You always hear that the Swedish Academy awards the Nobel Prize for literature to writers who are too intellectual, too literary, unreadable and marginal. This year, though, the members of the academy – ‘the Eighteen’ or ‘de aderton’, as they are called in Swedish – put this prejudice to shame, as the new winner of the prize turned out to be Svetlana Aleksiyevich. She is a non-fiction writer who describes the sufferings of her people, Belarusians, under the Soviet yoke, whether during the Second World War or in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

 

Belarus has always been downtrodden by stronger neighbours: by Poland to start with, then by Russia. Although it has its own language and culture, Belarusian has a very low status in its own country, and many Belarusians aren’t able to write or even to speak the ancestral language. Even Svetlana Aleksiyevich writes in Russian, although her writing is strongly influenced by Belarusian writers such as Ales Adamovich. 

 

Adamovich taught her not to write fiction about war; in his opinion it was morally indefensible to invent lies about something so grave and important. He wanted instead to record the authentic voice of the people. Adamovich published books about war in his own country, but his most well-known book is probably Blokadnaya kniga (A Book of the Blockade), the book he wrote about the siege of Leningrad together with Daniil Granin, a war writer and an eyewitness of the suffering in the city.

 

Although Granin and Adamovich were never political dissidents, their book about the blockade created something of a scandal. The way they described the suffering of the people in war was too realistic. In the Soviet Union, war was above all described as heroism, with less emphasis on the horrors of war among civilians, and it seemed to the authorities that the stories would be too off-putting to the general reader: there were authentic descriptions of famine and disease and how they were experienced by the inhabitants of the city. Such things weren’t heroic. So, although the book was legally published in Soviet Union, the writers weren’t allowed to publish it in Leningrad itself.

 

That is what happened to Svetlana Aleksiyevich’s books in Belarus, too, and for similar reasons. The country is ruled by the post-Soviet dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko. He prefers to speak Russian rather than Belarusian in official functions, and he makes a point of comparing the Soviet times favorably to life in the country today. Money is still called the rouble in Belarus, and the secret service is the ‘Committee of State Security’, ie the KGB. So it should not come as a surprise that even Soviet-style censorship remains.

 

Lukashenko might not be particularly fond of either literature or freedom of expression, but he does have some political skills. Now that Aleksiyevich has been awarded the prize, he will make his own use of her and her writings in his propaganda so as to give Belarus the appearance of a sophisticated cultural nation, and this means that her books will be more readily available in the country both in the original language and in Belarusian translation.

 

 

Panu Höglund is a Finnish writer of Irish expression, who can read Russian and Belarusian.

TAGS : Swedish Academy Nobel Prize Panu Höglund
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