Studi Slavistici XV, 2018, 2
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Volodymyr Vynnyčenko as Diarist, Historian and Writer. Literary Narratives of the “Ukrainian Revolution”

Ulrich Schmid
University of St. Gallen

Published 2019-02-02


  • Vynnyčenko,
  • Ukrainian Revolution,
  • Literary Representation of the Nation

How to Cite

Schmid, U. (2019). Volodymyr Vynnyčenko as Diarist, Historian and Writer. Literary Narratives of the “Ukrainian Revolution”. Studi Slavistici, 15(2), 141–154.


Volodymyr Vynnyčenko portrayed the “Ukrainian Revolution” in four different literary genres: in his diary, in an historiographic epic, in a drama, and in a short novel. In each of these representations, another aspect prevails. The diary focuses on Vynnyčenko’s personal role in the Ukrainian nation-building project. The epic endows the failure of the independent Ukrainian state with a historiosophic necessity. The drama translates the social and national dilemmas in Ukraine into a family tragedy. The short novel portrays the hero not as an agent in history, but as an evolving consciousness. Behind all four literary elaborations, a quite heterogeneous mix of philosophical sources can be observed. Vynnyčenko shares with Hegel the belief that every free nation should be in possession of a state. He follows Marx in his economic criticism of capitalist exploitation and his contempt for the bourgeoisie. Finally, he reveres Nietzsche for his concept of the irrational will and his appreciation of ‘great men’ in history. It was clear for Vynnyčenko, that he himself was predestined to play an important role in history. However, he used his historiosophic musings in the four literary genres to prove an essential point: the failure of his Ukrainian project was not his personal shortcoming, but must be ascribed to the belated historical development of the Ukrainian nation. 


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