Popular "lubok literature", which both interpreted and catered to the tastes and desires of the lower classes, constituted a closed and self-sufficient system up until 1917: the publishers, who lacked any connection with elite literature, came from the same social milieu as the readers and commissioned texts from various "specialized" or subaltern writers that would meet specific market criteria; these works were then spread throughout the length and breadth of Russia by a proven network of fairs and itinerant salesmen. An exceptional figure in this context is Ivan Sytin (1851-1934), a publisher of humble origins and rudimentary education, who, started from nothing, conquered with surprising rapidity the market of the lubok (including both popular prints and the chapbooks based on them), and then moved into what had previously been the exclusive territory of elite literature. Inspired by his collaboration with Leo Tolstoy, for whom Sytin (Posrednik) published and distributed short stories aimed at popular edification (texts written primarily by Tolstoy himself, but also by Leskov, Korolenko, and others), Sytin decided to go beyond the usual offerings of lubok literature and offer popular readers unabridged editions of Russian and international literary classics at very low prices. After a difficult beginning, this risky venture was quite successful and, together with other initiatives aimed at enlarging the reading public, made Sytin not only the largest publisher in Russia, but also one of the largest in the world. While Sytin's primary goal was profit, by printing a wide variety of texts for the popular reader (including lubok literature, as well as classics, school texts, agricultural manuals, newspapers, magazines, calendars, etc.), he also contributed fundamentally to the spread of education in Russia – probably more than any other public organization or private charitable endeavor.

Ivan Sytin, il mediatore

Mario Alessandro Curletto
2017

Abstract

Popular "lubok literature", which both interpreted and catered to the tastes and desires of the lower classes, constituted a closed and self-sufficient system up until 1917: the publishers, who lacked any connection with elite literature, came from the same social milieu as the readers and commissioned texts from various "specialized" or subaltern writers that would meet specific market criteria; these works were then spread throughout the length and breadth of Russia by a proven network of fairs and itinerant salesmen. An exceptional figure in this context is Ivan Sytin (1851-1934), a publisher of humble origins and rudimentary education, who, started from nothing, conquered with surprising rapidity the market of the lubok (including both popular prints and the chapbooks based on them), and then moved into what had previously been the exclusive territory of elite literature. Inspired by his collaboration with Leo Tolstoy, for whom Sytin (Posrednik) published and distributed short stories aimed at popular edification (texts written primarily by Tolstoy himself, but also by Leskov, Korolenko, and others), Sytin decided to go beyond the usual offerings of lubok literature and offer popular readers unabridged editions of Russian and international literary classics at very low prices. After a difficult beginning, this risky venture was quite successful and, together with other initiatives aimed at enlarging the reading public, made Sytin not only the largest publisher in Russia, but also one of the largest in the world. While Sytin's primary goal was profit, by printing a wide variety of texts for the popular reader (including lubok literature, as well as classics, school texts, agricultural manuals, newspapers, magazines, calendars, etc.), he also contributed fundamentally to the spread of education in Russia – probably more than any other public organization or private charitable endeavor.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/889553
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