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Белорусский писатель Владимир Семенович Короткевич. Фото В. Ждановича. БЕЛТА
Беларускі пісьменнік Уладзімір Сямёнавіч Караткевіч. Фота В. Ждановіча.. БЕЛТА
Belarusian writer Vladimir Semenovich Korotkevich. Photo by V. Zhdanovich. BELTA
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Народный поэт Беларуси Максим Танк. Фото В. Лупейко. БЕЛТА
Народны паэт Беларусі Максім Танк. Фота У. Лупейкі. БЕЛТА
People's poet of Belarus Maxim Tank. Photo by V. Lupeyko. BELTA
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Народный писатель Беларуси Иван Шамякин. Фото М. Иванова. БЕЛТА
Народны пісьменнік Беларусі Іван Шамякін. Фота М. Іванова. БЕЛТА
People's Writer of Belarus Ivan Shamyakin. Photo by M. Ivanov. BELTA
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Народный писатель Беларуси Кондрат Крапива. Фото В. Лупейко. БЕЛТА
Народны пісьменнік Беларусі Кандрат Крапіва. Фота У. Лупейкі. БЕЛТА
People's Writer of Belarus Kondrat Krapiva. Photo by V. Lupeyko. BELTA
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Народный писатель Беларуси Василь Быков. Фото В. Шубы. БЕЛТА
Народны пісьменнік Беларусі Васіль Быкаў. Фота У. Шубы. БЕЛТА
People's Writer of Belarus Vasil Bykov. Photo by V. Shuba. BELTA
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Белорусский писатель Франтишек Богушевич. Фоторепродукция БЕЛТА
Беларускі пісьменнік Францішак Багушэвіч. Фотарэпрадукцыя БЕЛТА
Belarusian writer Frantisek Bogushevich. BELTA photo reproduction
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Народный поэт Беларуси Якуб Колас. Фото Р. Королева. БЕЛТА
Народны паэт Беларусі Якуб Колас. Фота Р. Каралёва. БЕЛТА
National poet of Belarus Yakub Kolas. Photo by R. Korolev. BELTA
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Народный поэт Беларуси Янка Купала. Фоторепродукция БЕЛТА
Народны паэт Беларусі Янка Купала. Фотарэпрадукцыя БЕЛТА
People's poet of Belarus Yanka Kupala. BELTA photo reproduction
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Факсимильное издание "Книжное наследие Франциска Скорины". Фото Р. Насибулина. БЕЛТА
Факсімільнае выданне "Кніжная спадчына Францыска Скарыны". Фота Р. Насібуліна. БЕЛТА
Facsimile edition of the "Francis Skaryna's Book Heritage". Photo by R. Nasibulin. BELTA


The origin of Belarusian literature begins from ancient times. It is inextricably connected with the oral and poetic folk art of Belarusians, which is considered one of the richest in the Slavic world. The origin of Belarusian literature is directly connected with the adoption of Christianity by Kievan Rus in 988 AD and the appearance of written language. The largest center of literacy was Polotsk where local chronicles were started in the 12th–13th centuries. The Belarusian theme sounds in the Russian Primary Chronicle and in The Tale of Igor’s Campaign — masterpieces of the ancient Eastern Slavic literature.

For further formation and development of the Belarusian literature in the 14th–15th centuries the unification of the Belarusian lands under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania where the Old Belarusian language became the official one, had major value. The Belarusian-Lithuanian chronicles became the achievement of the Belarusian historical prose of the 14th – 16th centuries.

The Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of 1529, 1566 and 1588 are the most important monuments of Belarusian business writing and legal thought

The activity of the Belarusian first printer, humanist, educator, writer and translator Francysk Skaryna (ca. 1490 – ca. 1551) has had critical importance. In 1517 – 1519 he released in Prague 23 books of Bible in Old Belarusian language.

In 1562 in Nesvizh publicist and translator Symon Budny (ca. 1530–1593) published Catechism, the first book in the Old Belarusian language. The 16th – 17th centuries were marked by appearance of new genres of historical prose (memoirs, diaries, family chronicles, etc.), the development of poetry and polemic publicism. In the middle of the 17th century Simeon of Polotsk, Belarusian and Russian poet, playwright and enlightener, started his work.

Until the first half of the 19th century the Belarusian literature developed according to directions dominant in the Western Europe (Renaissance, Baroque).

In the first half of the 19th century Romantic movement began to influence the literature and contributed to its orientation to the living language and folklore. The most outstanding representative of this new direction was Polish and Belarusian poet Adam Mitskevich (1798–1855) who dedicated  one of his most significant works to the Belarusian land, the poem "Pan Tadeusz". The beginning of the literary activity of Vincent Dunin–Martsinkevich (1808–1884), who is considered to be the forefather of modern Belarusian literature, belongs to the same period.

The most considerable figure of the late 19th century was Franciszek Bohuszewicz (1840–1900), the first people′s and national Belarusian writer.

An important role in the development of Belarusian literature was played by the first legal Belarusian newspapers Nasha Dolya (Our Fate) and Nasha Niva (Our Field), around which the most famous authors of the period united: Yanka Kupala (1882–1942), Yakub Kolas (1882–1956), Eloisa Pashkevich (1876–1916), Maxim Bogdanovich (1891–1917), Zmitrok Byadulya (1886–1941), Maxim Goretsky (1893–1938), Kanstantsia Builo (1893–1986), Ales Garun (1887–1920) and others.

After the October Revolution of 1917 the ideas of national revival prevailed in the Belarusian literature. In the 1930s great pieces of drama, lyric and epic poetry were created by Vladislav Golubok (1882–1937), Mihas Charot (1896–1937), Vladimir Dubovka (1900–1976), Kondrat Krapiva (1896–1991), Pavluk Trus (1904–1929) and others.

During the World War II the genres of publicism and satire were especially popular. The most famous pieces of poetry are a collection of poems "The Iranian Diary" by Pimen Panchanka (1917–1995) and poem "Brigade Flag" by Arkady Kuleshov (1914–1978). The high-water mark of Belarusian wartime prose is the novels "The Milky Way", "The Search for the Future" and "The Great Day" by Kuzma Chorny.

The theme of the Great Patriotic War becomes a long–lasting dominant for Belarusian soviet literature: "Deep Streams" and "Restless Happiness" by Ivan Shamyakin (1921–2004), "Unforgettable Days" by Mihas Lynkov (1899–1975), "The Khatyn Story" and "Chasteners" by Ales Adamovich (1927–1994), "Tartak" and "Neidorf" by Ivan Ptashnikov (born 1932), Pine Tree by the Road by Ivan Naumenko (1925–2006), poem "Blockade" by Ryhor Baradulin (1935–2014), etc. Among the authors of novels about World War II Vasil Bykov (1924–2003) occupies a very special place; he wrote novels "The Dead Feel no Pain", "Sotnikov", "Sign of Misfortune" and others. Apart from the war theme, Belarusian prose described life in Belarusian villages: "Polesye Chronicle" by Ivan Melezh (1921–1976), "Nizhnije Bajduni" by Yanka Bryl (1917–2006), works by Vyacheslav Adamchik (1933–2001), Mihas Streltsov (1937–1987). The most prominent representative of historical genre is Vladimir Korotkevich (1930–1984), the author of such literary pieces as "Hoary Legend", "King Stakh′s Wild Hunt", "Ears Under Your Sickle" and many others.

In 1950s–1970s a lot of distinctive personalities came to Belarusian poetry, including Ryhor Baradulin, Gennady Buravkin (1936–2014), Oleg Lojko (1931–2008), Nil Gilevich (born in 1931), Eugenia Yanischits (1948–1988), Sergey Zakonnikov (1946–2016) and others. The prose was enriched with the works by Victor Kozko (born in 1940), Ales Zhuk (born in 1947), Vasily Gigevich (born in 1947), Genrikh Dalidovich (born in 1946). The most significant names of the Belarusian drama of this period are Andrey Makajenok (1920–1982), Alexey Dudarev (born in 1950), Elena Popova (born in 1947), Georgy Marchuk (born in 1947), Matukovsky Nicolay  and others.

The modern Belarusian literature is characterized by harmonious combination of traditionalist and post-modern tendencies. Genre, stylistic, problem-thematic searches have noticeably expanded. Patriotic motives have appeared. The idea of national sovereignty became the pivot of many literary works: prose of Andrey Fedorenko (born in 1964), Ales Astashonok (1954–2004), Galina Bogdanova (born in 1961), Leonid Dranko-Majsuk (born in 1957), Anatoly Kozlov (born in 1962), Vladislav Rubanov (1952–1994), Ludmila Rublevskaya (born in 1965), Jury Stankevich (born in 1945), Vladimir Stepan (born in 1958), Vladimir Yagovdik (born in 1956) and others. Among the most prominent contemporary Belarusian poets are Irina Bogdanovich (born in 1956), Ales Badak (born in 1966), Ales Pismenkov (1957–2004), Eduard Akulin (born in 1963) and others.

The works of Belarusian literature are translated in many languages, including all European ones.

The Day of Belarusian Written Language is an annual holiday. The holiday is intended to demonstrate the unity of the Belarusian written word and the history and culture of the Belarusian people, and to show the development of the written language and book publishing in Belarus.

Useful links

Audiokollekciya literaturnoj klassiki i sovremennoj prozy Belarusi (Audio collection of literary classics and modern prose of Belarus)

Belorusskij gosudarstvenny'j arxiv-muzej literatury' i iskusstva (Belarusian State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art) 

Gosudarstvenny'j literaturno-memorial'y'j muzej Yakuba Kolasa (Yakub Kolas Memorial Literary Museum)

Gosudarstvenny'j literaturny'j muzej Yanki Kupaly' (State Literary Museum of Yanka Kupala)

Gosudarstvenny'j muzej istorii belorusskoj literatury' (State Museum of History of Belarusian Literature)

Literaturny'j muzej Maksima Bogdanovicha (Maxim Bogdanovich Literary Museum)

Nacyyanal'naya litaraturnaya premiya (National Literary Prize)

Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas – classics of the world literature

Links to resources of publishing houses

Izdatel'stvo «Belarus'» (The publishing house "Belarus")     

Izdatel'stvo «Belorusskaya e'nciklopediya imeni P. Brovki» (The publishing house "Belarusian Encyclopedia named after P. Brovka")

Izdatel'stvo «Mastackaya lіtaratura» (The publishing house "Mastatskaya Litaratura")

Izdatel'stvo «Narodnaya asveta» (The publishing house "Narodnaya Asveta")