It's not only the beautiful name of the country this book is about - 'White Russia' - that piques the reader's interest; to this day Belarus remains a blank spot on the map for many people. Previously difficult to find, publications on Belarusian history are a potential treasure trove for the English language reader, holding the story of a nation whose territory is larger than some European countries.
Throughout its history, Belarus has been continuously included in various state formations such as Kievan Rus’, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Poland, the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union. Lubov Bazan’s book is a detailed narration of all these meaningful milestones in the history of Belarus. The book presents a thorough but fascinating chronological history of the country.
The book gives the reader plenty of leeway to form their own conclusions about the historical material she presents: the book covers different theoretical viewpoints on important points such as the ethnic background of the Belarusian people and their ethnic and national identity, the origins of the language, and the historically complex union between the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Translated by Callum Walker.
Lubov Bazan, a historian, art analyst and translator, was born in Belarus where she graduated from the Faculty of History at the Pedagogical University and the post-graduate School of Art at the Academy of Science. Following her graduation, she worked as a research associate at the Vitebsk Historical Museum and professor of the History of Art at the Institute of Technology.
In 1988 Bazan became the director of the Vitebsk Municipal Art Gallery, at the same time working as the television writer and hostess of TV shows about art.
In 1991, under Bazan’s supervision, Belarus saw an exposition of Marc Chagall’s work, the first of its kind in the country at the time, featuring over a hundred paintings by the previously banned in the communist state artist. After the exposition, Lubov Bazan became actively involved in the creation of the Marc Chagall Museum in his native Vitebsk, eventually assuming the position of the museum’s director.
Since 1997 Lubov Bazan has lived in the Netherlands where she lectures on the history of Russian art and iconography. She has authored multiple articles about history, culture and art, and in 2011 translated the book Pyotr’s Borscht by Dutch novelist José Hennekam into Russian.