Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism by Edyta M. Bojanowska

By Edyta M. Bojanowska

The nineteenth-century writer Nikolai Gogol occupies a key position within the Russian cultural pantheon as an ardent champion of Russian nationalism. certainly, he created the nation’s most renowned literary icon: Russia as a dashing carriage, choked with elemental power and unlimited potential.

In a pathbreaking e-book, Edyta M. Bojanowska topples the principles of this russocentric fable of the Ukrainian-born author, a fantasy that has additionally ruled his Western photo. She finds Gogol’s artistic engagement with Ukrainian nationalism and calls consciousness to the subversive irony and ambiguity in his writings on Russian subject matters. whereas in early writings Gogol endowed Ukraine with cultural wholeness and a heroic previous, his Russia seems bleak and fractured. Russian readers resented this unflattering distinction and known as upon him to provide a brighter imaginative and prescient of Russia. Gogol struggled to fulfill their calls for yet eventually failed.

In exploring Gogol’s fluctuating nationalist commitments, this ebook strains the connections and tensions among the Russian and Ukrainian nationalist paradigms in his paintings, and situates either within the higher imperial context. as well as substantially new interpretations of Gogol’s texts, Bojanowska deals a entire research of his reception by way of contemporaries.

Brilliantly conceived and masterfully argued, Edyta Bojanowska essentially adjustments our figuring out of this loved writer and his position in Russian literature.

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Additional resources for Nikolai Gogol: Between Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism

Example text

Proud of its richness, Panko offers to share it with his Russian readers, but he wants them to be mindful of the dichotomy between the two worlds. This emerges, for example, in the explanation of the Ukrainian vechemitsy, or evening get-togethers: These are, if you will, these are similar to your balls, only not completely. If you go to your balls, then you do that just to fidget with your feet a bit and yawn into your sleeve. In our parts [u nas], a crowd of girls will gather in one hut with no ball in mind, but with a spinning wheel, or with combs, and at first they will take to working: spinning wheels hum, songs flow, and none of them will so much as raise their eyes.

Yet beyond this authenticating function, "local color" also limits the imperial language's access to the represented culture and privileges local usage over imperial norm. Such is the function of Panko's vechernitsa. Panko's awareness of Russian attitudes comes through in his allusion to the Russians' stereotype of Ukrainians as a homogenous mass of peasants. His desire to undermine this stereotype prompts him to differentiate the better Ukrainian society that gathers in his house from the peasants: "And one must say that these people are not at all of a common kind, not some kind of village peasants" (PSS 1, 104).

We, thank God, are free Cossacks! " (PSS 1, 164). In contrast to the office of the hetman, elected by the Cossacks themselves (and abolished by Catherine II in 1764), the function of the chief is that of an imperial lackey. The prospect of opposing him stirs up in the young The chief considers these challenges to his authority in eminently political terms. He threatens his ineffective policemen that he will denounce them as rebels to the commissar. In an ending that anticipates Gogol's future comedy The Government Inspector, the commissar himself appears in the form of instructions he supposedly penned to the chief, ordering him to allow Levko to marry Ganna (Levko obtained the note in the story's supernatural plot line).

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