aaus-list @ ukrainianstudies.org -- [aaus-list] IEU Features Populist Writers in Russian-ruled Ukraine(April 2009 newsletter)

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(April 2009)

Populist ideals, which began to crystallize in Russia and Ukraine following
the Crimean War during the reign of the Russian tsar Alexander II, had a
profound impact on Ukrainian literature in the second half of the 19th
century. The main tenets of Ukrainian populism (narodnytstvo) were
federalism, the emancipation of the peasantry, and the recognition of the
cultural distinctiveness of the Ukrainian people. Study of the Cossacks
induced romantic visions of rebellions against landlords and national
oppressors and of the existence of a Cossack republic based on equality and
brotherhood. Those ideas, reinforced by the fiery poetry of Taras
Shevchenko, inspired a younger generation of Ukrainophiles, some of whom
were also influenced by Western European utopian socialists. By the end of
the 1870s Ivan Nechui-Levytsky and Panas Myrny had written some of their
most important works, and Ivan Franko had made his literary debut. Despite
the ban on the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian literature had become
established in its own right by the 1880s, that is, during the period when
it was most evidently populist in orientation. Treating literary works as
effective tools for propagating socio-political ideas, populist writers
began to examine new, previously unexplored, themes in Ukrainian
literature, such as the role of the intelligentsia and the women's
question, in addition to the well-worn theme of the fate of village folk...

Learn more about the legacy of Ukrainian populist writers in Russian-ruled
Ukraine by visiting:
or by visiting:
and searching for such entries as:

RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN POPULISM. Ukrainian and Russian populists idealized
the people (narod), which, practically speaking, meant the peasantry.
Populists believed that their theories reflected the interests of the
peasantry, and that it was their duty to try to help them. Russian
populism, as ideology, was socially more radical and utopian than Ukrainian
populism. Idealizing peasant traditions, especially communal farming,
Russian populist thinkers believed that the peasant commune could serve as
the foundation of a future socialist Russia. Ukrainian populists were
involved primarily in cultural and educational work. The Cyrillo-Methodians
were the first to formulate a populist political platform based on social
and national emancipation, albeit couched in religious and romantic terms.
In 1862, Volodymyr Antonovych, leader of the khlopomany, issued a typically
populist manifesto in which he called on the nobility to renounce their
privileges and work for the benefit of the people among whom they lived,
the Ukrainian peasantry...

NECHUI-LEVYTSKY, IVAN (pseud of Ivan Levytsky), b 25 November 1838 in
Stebliv, Kaniv county, Kyiv gubernia, d 15 April 1918 in Kyiv. Writer. Upon
graduating from the Kyiv Theological Academy (1865) he taught Russian
language, history, and geography in the Poltava Theological Seminary
(1865-6) and, later, in the gymnasiums in Kalisz, Siedlce, and Kishinev. He
began writing in 1865, but because of Russian imperial censorship his works
appeared only in Galician periodicals. His works about the lives of
peasants and laborers established him as a master of Ukrainian classical
prose and as the creator of the Ukrainian realist narrative.
Nechui-Levytsky was the first to provide fictional characterizations of
various classes of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, ranging from students and
teachers to high-ranking members of the Russian civil service. Against a
background of colonial repression and thoroughgoing Russification
Nechui-Levytsky sought to depict the stirrings of national consciousness in
the Ukrainian intelligentsia...

MYRNY, PANAS (pseud of Panas Rudchenko), b 13 May 1849 in Myrhorod, d 28
January 1920 in Poltava. Writer. He worked in various government offices
and eventually achieved the rank of full government councilor (1914). The
works of Taras Shevchenko had the greatest influence on the formation of
Myrny's worldview, artistic preferences, and ideology. His early literary
attempts included poems, dramas, and short stories. His best-known work is
the novel Propashcha syla (The Ruined Strength), also titled Khiba revutí
voly, iak iasla povni? (Do the Oxen Bellow, When Their Mangers Are Full?,
1880). The work can be characterized as a sociopsychological
novel-chronicle; it covers almost a hundred years in the history of a
Ukrainian village, from serfdom to the postreform era. In it Myrny depicts
social oppression, internal strife between different social groups, the
tsarist legal system, the harsh life of a soldier during the time of Tsar
Nicholas I, police violence, and spontaneous protests against lies and

HRINCHENKO, BORYS, b 9 December 1863 at Vilkhovyi Yar khutir in Kharkiv
county, d 6 May 1910 in Ospedaletti, Italy. Prominent public figure,
educator, writer, folklorist, and linguist. For 10 years he taught in
elementary schools in Kharkiv gubernia and Katerynoslav gubernia. In 1894
he settled in Chernihiv, where he organized there the largest publishing
house in Russian-ruled Ukraine, which published 50 popular-educational
books despite severe censorship. In 1902 he moved to Kyiv, where the
Hromada of Kyiv entrusted him with the task of compiling a dictionary of
the Ukrainian language. Hrinchenko's literary work was directly linked with
his journalistic work and was to a large extent subservient to it. In his
realistic short stories and novelettes he depicted Ukrainian peasant life
while raising urgent social questions, the attitude of the intelligentsia
to the peasantry, the education and denationalization of the rural
population, and the relation between nationalism and radicalism or

STARYTSKY, MYKHAILO, b 14 December 1840 in Klishchyntsi, Zolotonosha
county, Poltava gubernia, d 27 April 1904 in Kyiv. Writer and theatrical
and cultural activist. Orphaned in childhood, Starytsky was raised by his
uncle, the father of Mykola Lysenko. He studied at the Poltava gymnasium
(until 1856), Kharkiv University (1858-60), and Kyiv University (1860-6).
Starytsky was first published in 1865. An important part of his literary
legacy is his poetry on social issues, which is characterized by populist
and patriotic motifs, glorification of the Ukrainian past, and protests
against tsarism. Starytsky made a considerable contribution to Ukrainian
theater and dramaturgy. In 1883 he headed the first Ukrainian professional
theater and in 1885 founded a new troupe with young actors. He wrote
several original dramatic works as well as librettos for many of Mykola
Lysenko's operas. During the last years of his life Starytsky wrote several
historical novels on Ukrainian themes in Russian and Ukrainian...

The preparation, editing, and display of the IEU entries featuring the
legacy of Ukrainian populist writers in Russian-ruled Ukraine were made
possible by the financial support of the STEPHEN AND OLGA PAWLUK UKRAINIAN
STUDIES ENDOWMENT FUND at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies
(Edmonton, AB, Canada).

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