Ukraine as a Literary Legacy in Gogol''s Ukrainian Stories

Suk-Young Kim, University of Illinois, Chicago

Some recent Gogol' scholars have paid much attention to Gogol''s Ukrainian profile. The canonical categorization of Gogol' as a "great Russian writer" is being challenged, thanks to the works of scholars, such as Grabowitz, Krutikova, Karpuk, Holquist, and Sawczak. Despite various approaches, these scholars illuminated the significance of Ukrainian language, literature and culture, which directly or indirectly interacted with Gogol''s own writing. However, their analysis paid much attention to the factors beyond Gogol''s stories, such as biography, Gogol''s mythological consciousness embedded in folklore, literary significance of Ukrainian language, and the historical relationship between Ukraine and Russia of Gogol''s time. As a result, a close analysis of Gogol''s prose and the Ukrainian literary legacy in tandem has not been fully realized.

This paper attempts to indicate the interconnection between Gogol''s "Ukrainian Stories" (the Dikanka and the Mirgorod cycles) and various genres of Ukrainian literature (such as Cossack dumy, kobzar, koljadki, shchedryvki and religio-ethical legends and folktales) with specific examples. I will compare Gogol''s stories with various Ukrainian genres; "Terrible Vengeance" and Taras Bul'ba with Cossack dumy and badura songs, "Christmas Eve" with koljadki and shchedryvki, "A Bedeviled Place," "A Lost Letter" and "Vij" with peasant folktales, "A May Night or a Drowned Maiden" with religio-ethical legends. I hope to complement what the current Gogol' scholarship has overlooked, namely illuminating the mutual influence of Ukrainian literary legacy on Gogol', and Gogol''s reshaping the Ukrainian literary tradition itself.