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The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction

The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction
    Book Description:

    The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fictionweaves a fascinating narrative full of colourful characters by examining the prose of today's leading writers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9588-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Approaching the Post-Soviet Ukrainian Intellectual; or, the Word ‘Intellectual’ Pronounced with a Ukrainian Accent
    (pp. 3-14)

    There is a joke circulating in contemporary Ukraine that if someone wished to wipe out the entire post-Soviet Ukrainian intellectual scene all it would take is one bomb, thrown at the city of L’viv, during one particular weekend in mid-September. The black humour of this jest takes on even gloomier undertones when one looks at Ukrainian history and the strategies that were implemented by various regimes, throughout the previous two centuries, in order to humiliate, marginalize, compromise, and even exterminate the Ukrainian intellectual. So who are these Ukrainian intellectuals, why do they endure such a precarious existence, and, finally, what...


    • [PART I: Introduction]
      (pp. 15-16)

      The final few years of the Soviet Union’s existence and the early years of Ukrainian independence marked an ‘era of festivals’ in Ukrainian culture that attracted representatives from various corners of the Ukrainian culture space. Mass gatherings celebrating change offered an opportunity for the cultural achievements of several generations of non-official Ukrainian culture to emerge from beneath the underground and establish contact with a wider public. These gatherings were also attended by former dissidents who had suffered at the hands of the Communist Party as well as by those who had loyally carried out the Party’s cultural policies in the...

    • 1 New Prototypes of the Ukrainian Intellectual in Post-Soviet Ukrainian Prose – The Swashbuckling Performer
      (pp. 17-23)

      Located at the centre of the various celebrations that marked the ‘era of festivals,’ the post-Soviet Ukrainian intellectual emerges from this era as a celebrity whose performance is capable of stimulating the masses. Performance was a cornerstone of Bu-Ba-Bu’s approach to literature and helps to explain their dominance over the emerging cultural scene in the early years of Ukrainian independence.¹ Among the new images of the Ukrainian intellectual that were presented in post-Soviet Ukrainian prose works, as part of a deconstruction of previous literary prototypes, is the intellectual as performer. The Ukrainian intellectual as rock star, reveller, and lothario is...

    • 2 New Prototypes of the Ukrainian Intellectual in Post-Soviet Ukrainian Prose – The Ambassador to the West
      (pp. 24-32)

      Prior to the dissolution of the USSR the Western world represented a forbidden realm for Soviet citizens that conceivably contained much of what the Soviet sphere lacked. An active interest in this world proved to be dangerous for the Seventies Writers, while for intellectuals emerging during the period of glasnost, the growing access to the West served only to increase its attractiveness. In his essay ‘stanislav: tuha za nespravzhnim’ (stanislav: nostalgia for the unreal), Iurii Izdryk describes the unquenchable thirst for information from and about the West for his intellectual circle in the Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivs’k at the time...

    • 3 Deconstructive Revelry
      (pp. 33-64)

      Postmodernism saturated Western cultural discourse at the time that the Soviet Union began opening up to the world, and it was the ideas professed by postmodern theorists that inspired many of the literary debates in Ukraine in its initial years of independence. An understanding of postmodernism such as Matei calinescu’s, which sees it as ‘a face of modernity’ that is characterized by ‘its opposition to the principle of authority’ and its ‘refined eclecticism, its questioning of unity, and its valuation of the part against the whole,’ provided Ukrainian intellectuals with a new theoretical approach with which to address their postcoloniality.¹...


    • [PART II: Introduction]
      (pp. 65-66)

      In an introduction to the anthologyTwo Lands, New Visions: Stories from Canada and Ukraine, Solomea Pavlychko noticed a trend in the prose of the eighties Writers: ‘Writers have largely lost interest in social issues, which were their age-old concern, and instead delve into self-reflection, cue in narcissistically on their bodies, and explore their sexuality.’¹ This ‘age-old concern’ had been virtually inseparable from Ukrainian literature for most of its modern history and, as we have seen in part 1 of this book, the Eighties Writers consciously set off to explore thematic and stylistic territories that had previously been uncharted (or...

    • 4 New Prototypes of the Ukrainian Intellectual in Post-Soviet Ukrainian Prose – The Sick Soul
      (pp. 67-81)

      Many of the Ukrainian intellectual protagonists that appear in the prose of the Eighties Writers are shown to be suffering from some form of illness; repeated references to the physical and/or mental sickness of these intellectuals show them to be maladjusted, mad, and dysfunctional. As was the case with ‘the swashbuckler’ or ‘the ambassador to the West’ prototypes discussed previously, these portrayals have little in common with the intellectuals residing on the pages of socialist-realist prose. They instead hark back to a modernist portrayal of the artist as an alienated individual and a ‘mad creator.’ Such a representation of the...

    • 5 A Return to the Margins
      (pp. 82-108)

      As the years of Ukrainian statehood advanced, the social position of Ukrainian intellectuals and the Ukrainian language shifted away from the centre, and the intellectual once again inhabited the margins. The ability to abandon one’s past proved to be a valuable skill in the new Ukraine. In a list of comparisons, literary critic Oleksandr Boichenko contrasts the ‘era of festivals’ in Ukraine with the one that followed it:

      держава встигла здійснити перехід від рекреації до перверзії, від червоної рути до червоної ностальгії, від карнавалу до посткарнавального безглуздя, від епохи джазу до великої депресії, від національної романтики до есенгешного цинізму …¹...


    • [PART III: Introduction]
      (pp. 109-110)

      As I mentioned in the introduction, the three tendencies in post-Soviet Ukrainian literature – euphoria, chaos, and community – should not be interpreted as being wholly distinct and separate developments. Instead, they should be seen as movements that intertwine and coexist, often within one particular literary work. In the euphoric movement of the early 1990s, the Eighties Writers were successful in shifting Ukrainian culture away from the social responsibility and metaphysical character that had traditionally been required of it by the Ukrainian national myth; this new-found freedom, however, also brought on a general disorientation and rootlessness for the post-Soviet intellectual protagonists that...

    • 6 Agents of the Metaphysical
      (pp. 111-120)

      A significant constituent of the identity of post-Soviet intellectuals that deserves deeper analysis is morality. InSources of the Self: The Making of Modern IdentityCharles Taylor traces the evolution of modern identity and designates inwardness, nature (as an internal wellspring of morality), and the affirmation of ordinary life as three key facets in this development. According to Taylor’s thesis, an individual’s relationship with morality contributes to the formation of self. He writes that ‘In order to make minimal sense of our lives, in order to have an identity, we need an orientation to the good, which means some sense...

    • 7 A Community of Others
      (pp. 121-141)

      The inappropriateness of postmodernism for Ukrainian culture observed by Serhii Hrabovs’kyi has also been voiced by other critics of contemporary Ukrainian literature. The merit of such thoughts becomes clearer when one considers the disorientation that marked the chaotic movement in this literature. Rostyslav Semkiv echoes Hrabovs’kyi’s concerns in an essay on Iurii Izdryk’s prose entitled ‘Ironiia nepokirnoi struktury’ (The irony of a rebellious structure). In it, Semkiv lists postmodern ‘tricks’ found in Izdryk’s prose and tries to determine what it is in this prose that the reader probably enjoys most. Dividing the novel’s contents into what he feels is postmodern...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 142-146)

    The 1990s were an exciting and important period for Ukrainian literature – the Eighties Writers arrived on the Ukrainian cultural scene as the generation that would spearhead the creation of newly independent Ukraine’s new culture. In the early part of the decade, artists were able to organize and lead mass celebrations at which Ukrainian literature and culture were at the centre of events. Inspired by the social and political changes occurring in their country, the Eighties Writers approached Ukrainian culture with a vigour that demonstrated their comprehension of the uniqueness of their position in the history of that culture. With the...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 147-162)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-170)
  11. Index
    (pp. 171-183)