Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Olga Campbell-Thomson, The Soviet Reception of Selma Lagerlöf, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research Vol. 25 , Iss. 4, 2017

DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2017.1362590

The focus of this paper is Selma Lagerlöf’s literary presence in Soviet Russia. Despite being one of the most translated and published foreign authors in pre-revolutionary times, Lagerlöf made very infrequent appearances on the Soviet literary scene for 40-odd years between 1917 and the end of the 1950s. The process of literary production is examined in this paper in search of an explanation for the changing pattern in the publication of Lagerlöf’s texts. To problematize the process of literary production in the newly established Soviet state, Foucault’s conceptualization of the process of knowledge construction is utilized to describe, understand, and explain the interplay between critical resources, such as linguistic and literary expertise, individual initiative, and the government-controlled publishing enterprise in the Soviet state. I argue that the agency of literary workers remained relevant to the literary process, despite increasing ideological pressure on literary production, and that they paved the way towards the official reintroduction of Lagerlöf to the Russian Soviet readership during the 1950s.

Keywords: Selma Lagerlöf, women writers, literary production, travelling texts, Soviet publishing

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