Moldavian Writers' Union
The Moldavian Writers’ Union (MWU) was a professional association of writers in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. This institution was founded in 1940, when the former Union of Soviet Writers of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR) merged with a group of Bessarabian writers loyal to the Soviet regime to form the new organisation. The new union was established as an alternative to the previous Society of Bessarabian Writers, formed in 1939, shortly before the Soviet annexation, with the aim of transforming the local literary milieu according to Soviet standards. The MWU was reconstituted in 1945, after the Second World War. In the 1940s, the criteria structuring the power relationships within the MWU had a strong political connotation, based on geographical (Transnistrians v. Bessarabians) and political belonging (communist v. “non-Party” writers). Starting with the 1950s, the MWU was structured more along categories linked to the internal logic of the institution: belonging to a particular generation or practising a certain literary genre (poetry, prose, criticism, etc.). By the early 1960s, the MWU was dominated by two “generations,” which vied for pre-eminence during the next decade: the older “thaw” generation, which consisted of writers born in the 1910s and early 1920s, many of them with a solid background in Romanian culture, and the “generation of the 1960s,” which included a group of younger aspiring writers mainly born in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Although these two groups clashed frequently on issues linked to literary style and the role of “socialist realism,” they also allied themselves against the group of Transnistrian writers who initially had a strong political clout due to their closeness to the regime, but were gradually marginalised due to a perceived lack of “symbolic capital.” The MWU held its first congress in 1954, which was followed by the second (1958) and third (1965) congresses. The last of these acquired special importance in the context of the Soviet period, due to the oppositional stance articulated by some of the members. During the Third Congress of the MWU, the writers raised a number of sensitive questions, e.g. the reintroduction of the Latin alphabet for standard “Moldovan,” the issue of education in Romanian, and the issue of Party interference in the literary sphere. This provoked a hostile reaction on the part of the authorities, who sought to reassert control in the cultural sphere. It also shifted the balance of power within the MWU and the coping strategies of the writers, who adjusted their discourse to placate the authorities but also successfully claimed a certain degree of autonomy in internal matters. Following the “re-Stalinisation” tendencies of the Soviet Party leadership at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s, the issue of the language and “cultural heritage” dominated the debates between rival factions of local writers. Meanwhile, cultural figures, particularly official ones, kept disseminating and reinforcing a Moldovan identity with a “Soviet” content. As a result, the gap between the official stance and the private discourse of the writers widened during the 1970s and 1980s. This became apparent during the Perestroika period, when the new liberalising context allowed the articulation of previously unacceptable dissident views. This was epitomised, among other things, by the virulent attack mounted by the representative of the “1960s generation,” Grigore Vieru, against the long-time MWU stalwart and member of the earlier “interwar” generation, Andrei Lupan. The generational differences between these writers were exacerbated by the specific ideological context of Perestroika, which precluded the building of a consensus, despite the continuities between the 1950s and the 1980s, and emphasised confrontation and rivalry instead. From 1987, the MWU was renamed the Writers’ Union of Moldova. The institution remained subordinated to the Writers’ Union of the USSR until 1991.
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Bahnaru, Vasile, and Gheorghe Cojocaru. 2016. Congresul al III-lea al Uniunii Scriitorilor din RSS Moldovenească (14-15 octombrie 1965). Studiu și materiale [The Third Congress of the Writers' Union of the Moldavian SSR (14-15 October 1965). An introductory study and the congress materials]. Chișinău: Tehnica-Info.
Negură, Petru, interview by Cușco, Andrei, October 10, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection