Literature in the Service of “Coercion”: a Periodical as a Factor of Reshaping a Literary Text

Peković, Slobodanka

Књижевност у функцији 'принуде': часопис као фактор преобликовања књижевног текста


Beograd: Institut za književnost i umetnost;

Cataloguing data:


If we proceed from the claim that periodicals are a special literary form that functions according to certain rules, then it would be logical to expect that all the texts within a periodical should be subject to rules and requirements dictated by the conditions, time and place of the periodical’s publication, the political, historical, cultural and financial situation. In some cases, the texts that get published actually suffer a certain degree of “deformation” and are adjusted to the requirements and customs of the periodical in question, while in other cases such texts are not exposed to any coercion, remain formally unchanged and function in the same way within the context of the given periodical and outside that context.

Also, one could speak of two kinds of “coercion” that often jointly influence the creation of texts published in periodicals. There exist external and internal coercion. External coercion mainly depends on others, on people who force us to do something. It is observed by people, even by writers and editors of periodicals, but often enough, this kind of coercion, which exerts influence on one’s thinking and creative work, provokes resistance and rebellion. The other kind of “coercion” is more dangerous and more resilient: it is internal coercion, when we deliberately force ourselves into a certain kind of thinking or conduct, and what tends to happen is that editors or authors resort to auto-censorship and coercion in connection with a text, which then turns into a paean to the ruling family, for example, or to a political party, a politician, some idea or ideology... Such auto-censorship is perceived to a lesser degree in fictional works, while it is most prominently displayed in polemics, criticism, letters to the editor or letters from the editorial staff. The same kind of “coercion” is found in literary texts, most often in periodicals aimed at a particular kind or readership, so that, for example, texts published in women’s or children’s periodicals are shaped in accordance with the perceived interests of their readers. The situation is similar in the case of periodicals aimed at particular professions, for example, the pedagogical, police, legal profession, etc. During certain periods of political coercion or a need to form a particular way of thinking or establish certain norms in creative work, critics and polemicists neglect literary norms and customs, turning a given text into an apology, pamphlet, ideological showdown, that is to say, adjusting it to the needs of the moment.


periodicals, editorial policy, censorship, auto-censorship, identity, the national, the traditional, the modern