The Eternal Way (Адвечным шляхам)
Right at the beginning of this essay, written in 1921, Belarus is presented as “the border between East and West”, a culture without distinct contours. Kančeŭski sees the tragedy of the Belarusian nation in the vacillation between East and West. The way out, however, is not to decide in favour of the West or the East and their cultural forms, but rather to develop a mobile, non-coercive, “flowing” form.
This form of life, which does not yet exist, is to be fed by creativity, which Kančeŭski sees as a cosmic force and basis for life. In his view, social movements lack social creativity, which is indispensable when it comes to freeing themselves from the constraints of existing forms of life.
The new “fluid” form would provide a solution also for the development of Belarusian identity, which has always lacked defined contours.
In the Soviet Union, the essay was not accessible until Perestroyka. Since the fall of communism, this text has exerted great influence on Belarusian intellectuals. The author's name has been used to name the website “of open Belarusian thought”, where intellectuals publish their programmatic texts.
Since the Belarusian protests of 2020, which were characterised by particular creativity, the concepts of “fluid form” and “social creativity” have become even more widespread.
Outside Belarus, this book is hardly known. On the one hand, a bilingual edition would provide a new view of Belarus, of a “contourless” country; on the other hand, the idea of flowing form is interesting in terms of cultural studies. A form that is movable and changeable, yet does not become formless, is a concept that could also be productive in our present.
Ihnat Kančeŭski, pen name: Ihnat Abdziralovič (1896–1923), was a Belarusian poet, philosopher and publicist who is considered a significant thinker of the Belarusian independence movement of the early 20th century.
Kančeŭski was born into the family of a court clerk in Vilna (Vilnius). In 1913 he was admitted to the Technical College in St Petersburg, but transferred to Moscow University the following year.
After initially being drafted into the Tsarist army in 1916, he soon returned to Moscow after the February Revolution, where he attended the Higher Cooperative Courses at Shanyavsky University.
Kančeŭski was a social revolutionary and supported the Ukrainian national movement. He worked in various cooperative institutions in Vilna and Smolensk. From 1919 he moved to Minsk and was active in the Sovnarkhoz, the Central Federation of Consumer Associations of Belarus. After moving to Vilna, he was also employed there in the cooperative federation.
In Vilna he published poetry, political articles and reviews. His best-known work is the essay “The Eternal Way” (“Адвечным шляхам”).
In the early 1920s he contracted tuberculosis and died after several years of unsuccessful treatment on 23 April 1923.
The Belarusian publishing house where the book was to be published remains unknown for safety reasons.
Maryja Martysevich is a poet, translator, publicist and organiser of cultural projects. She was born in Minsk in 1982. She translates poetry and prose from English, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Czech into Belarusian, is a coordinator of multifaceted cultural projects and organiser of literary events. Since 2017 she has been the editor of the book series “Amerykanka” and, since 2020, of the series “Gradus” in the Zmicier Kolas publishing house. She has published numerous translated books and four books of her own. She received two literary awards in 2019 for her book “Sarmatyja”. She lives in Minsk.
Publisher has not yet been determined.