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Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire by Myroslav Shkandrij

By Myroslav Shkandrij

Concepts of civilizational superiority and redemptive assimilation, broadly held between nineteenth-century Russian intellectuals, helped to shape stereotypes of Ukraine and Ukrainians in go back and forth writings, textbooks, and ancient fiction, stereotypes which were reactivated in resulting a long time. either Russian and Ukrainian writers have explored the politics of id within the post-Soviet interval, yet whereas the canon of Russian imperial notion is celebrated, the culture of resistance B which within the Ukrainian case may be traced way back to the assembly of the Russian and Ukrainian polities and cultures of the 17th century B is way much less ordinary. Shkandrij demonstrates that Ukrainian literature has been marginalized within the pursuits of changing readers to imperial and assimilatory designs through emphasizing narratives of reunion and brotherhood and denying alterity.

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Additional info for Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire from Napoleonic to Postcolonial Times

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It was a major effort, and it met with fierce resistance. From the early 1830s to 1859, under the leadership of the legendary Shamil, the rebels tied down some two hundred thousand troops, a third of the tsarist army. Russian losses were ten to thirty thousand annually. ”3 It was an ideological formulation that he might easily have come across in the metropolitan press. fm Page 36 Wednesday, July 25, 2001 3:04 PM 36 Russia and Ukraine The war had a profound psychological impact: it gave rise to ethnographic and political studies and outstanding literary works, from Aleksandr Pushkin’s “Captive of the Caucasus” (Kavkazskii plennik, 1822) to Lev Tolstoi’s Hadji Murad (1904).

The awareness of a Ukrainian consciousness among Russians and the internal self-awareness of Ukrainians were quite different things. 100 This development of Ukrainian writing into a differentiated literature was underestimated by Russian intellectuals. 101 It is the thesis of the present study that the diverging visions conditioned by the two horizons were created by two contradictory dynamics: the imperial-colonial modelling of Ukraine in one and the generation of counterimages and competing narrative structures in the other.

It is significant that the focus gradually shifted to a binary opposition between Poland and Russia and the elision of Ukrainian society. ”102 Mickiewicz described Russia as radically foreign. 103 Whereas Poland was seen as a leader among freedom-loving nations, Russia was portrayed as a threat to the world. The clash between nations was solved in an unforgiving manner. The “Wallenrod complex,” after Mickiewicz’s Konrad Wallenrod (1828), described a pattern of behaviour that sanctioned hatred and revenge against the enemy.

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