Belinsky about Kvitka Cover Image

Белинский о Квитке
Belinsky about Kvitka

Author(s): Viktória Lebovics
Subject(s): Ukrainian Literature
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Keywords: Ukrainian literature; Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky; Hryhory Kvitka- Osnovyanenko; literary criticism; literary critic; Ukrainian writer; Ukrainian language

Summary/Abstract: The Ukrainian literary critic Yuriy Boyko stated that Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky (1811–1848), the famous Russian literary critic harshly criticized Ukrainian writers who wrote in Ukrainian. In fact, he tried to persuade those who wrote not only in Ukrainian but also in Russian to use only the latter. Belinsky often referred to contemporary Ukrainian literature in his writings. His attitude towards Ukrainian literature and Ukrainian language was rather ambiguous. It was the manifestation of the interest in Ukraine and Ukrainian culture that existed in Russia at that time and also the continuation of the polemics about the existence of the Ukrainian language, which was quite vivid in the first half of the 19th century. The critic believed that the Little Russian language did exist but only in folk poetry of value. Since the time of Peter I, according to Belinsky, due to the separation of estates, noblemen began to speak Russian and at the same time, the Little Russian language spoken by people began to deteriorate. His categorical and unfair conclusion is that there is no Little Russian language but there is a regional Little Russian dialect, such as Belarusian, Siberian, and other similar regional dialects. The paper is devoted to Belinsky’s evaluation of the oeuvre of Hryhory Kvitka-Os- novyanenko (1778–1843), the Ukrainian writer and playwright. In his writings from 1839 to 1846, Belinsky analyzed and sometimes only mentioned Kvitka’s prosaic and dramatic works written in Russian or translated from Ukrainian into Russian. On the one hand, Be- linsky characterized Kvitka as a “wonderful talent” and “an excellent master” but, on the other hand, he called him ironically “the first Russian writer”, mentioning his “mediocrity” and “bad taste”. On the one hand, Belinsky spoke about witty, fascinating, and original works but, on the other, he called Kvitka’s writings artificial or late imitations. The reasons for such ambiguous attitude of Belinsky towards the Ukrainian language and literature, and in particular to Kvitka’s works, are the above-mentioned polemics about the Ukrainian language and literature, the juxtaposition of the patriarchal Ukrainian village subjected to the “disastrous” influence of Russia, and the fact that most Ukrainian writers grouped around the retrograde Mayak, an ardent opponent of Otechestvennye zapiski. The whole problem was not sufficiently explored theoretically, thus Belinsky had no opportu- nity to rely on authoritative research. The level of development of the so-called new Ukrai- nian literature also influenced the critic’s opinion.

  • Issue Year: 64/2019
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 357-369
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Russian