The President and Fellows of Harvard College

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The President and Fellows of Harvard College
The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Three Perspectives on the Cossack Past: Gogol', Ševčenko, Kuliš
Author(s): GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
Source: Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (June 1981), pp. 171-194
Published by: Harvard Ukranian Research Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41035904 .
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Three Perspectiveson the Cossack Past:
Gogol9,Sevcenko,Kulis
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
RomantiUkrainian
Thereis littledoubtthattheCossackpastanimates
theme.Indeed,itsimpactis also
cismand providesitsmostproductive
foritbecomes
feltbeyondtheboundsof Ukrainian
literature,
strongly
commonthemesof Polishand
and mostramified
one of thestrongest
withthepre-Romantics,
variouswritRussianRomanticism.1
Beginning
theso-calledUkrainian
ers- in Polishliterature
School,theCossacoof the"St. Petersburg
Coterie,"and finally
philes,the conservatives
the
Decembrists
literature
in
Russian
and
Stowacki,
(aboveall Ryleev),
to
the
events
oftheUkrainian
have
turned
Puskin,andGogol'himselfandcolorful
Cossackpastnotonlyto finda fascinating
subjectmatter,
of history,
theturbulence
butalso to illustrate
and, in fact,to better
nationalpast.This,ofcourse,is all the
theirownrespective
understand
of
Herethebroadphenomenon
literature.
moreapplicableto Ukrainian
andimaginative
wasthesubjectofpurely
Cossackdom
concerns,
literary
of
interests
and
with
Kostomarov,
ethnographic
Metlyns'kyj
beginning
of
concerted
historiand
and
of
(e.g., Sreznevskij Maksymovyc), finally
Kulis
and
Kostomarov.
Ultiand
cal
work,primarily
by
historiographie
ofthesevariousmodalities,
andsynthesis
ina complexevolution
mately,
oftheCossackpastprovided
the
andconceptualization
an understanding
nationalconsciousness.
basisfora newUkrainian
and Kulisinthisprocess,
roleplayedbyGogol',Sevcenko,
Thecentral
in
Slavic
Romanticism
as a wholeis
and
inmodernUkrainian
literature,
artists
whoseinfluAllthreearepreeminent
also unquestionable.
literary
ence,eachinitsownway,isvisibletothisday.Theyall sharea common
at thesametime,theyall leavea profound
culturalheritage;
Ukrainian
of
in
the
case
mark,especially
Gogol',on thebroaderRussianimperial
1 An extendedtreatmentofthissubject,some ofthehighlightsofwhichare presented
in this article,appears in my forthcomingbook, The Ukraine as Myth: A Study of
Polish, Russian and Ukrainian Romantic Literature.
172
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
context.They are, to some extentat least, contemporaries,and, in
varyingdegree,theysharea commonRomanticpoetics.Most obviously,
each turns,withan almostobsessivefascination,to thesame past. And
intheirexpressionofthiscentralinterest
yet,itis theprofounddifferences
and in theirformulationof a vision of Cossackdom thatare the most
fortheliterary
critic- and, I wouldsubmit,forthestudentof
instructive
Ukrainian
national
consciousness.2
modern
to whichour attentionis heredirected
in "perspective"
The differences
and expressexiston a deep level,i.e., in theverymodeofapprehending
ofvarious
of
certain
the
of
The
level
characterizations,
events,
ing subject.
three
to
all
but
common
formaldevices,etc., may be
writers, thisis a
surfacelevelwhich,forour purposes,is ofsecondaryimportance.Rather
on thegiven
thandwelling,as is done so frequently
(and superficially),
and
writer'sevocationof Cossack heroismand patriotismor hisliterary
historicalsources,I will focuson what I take to be morefundamental,
thatis,thebasic natureofhiscode. For itis onlybyknowingthecode that
we can beginto understandtheencoded contents.
In termsof such a code, the differences
betweenthemare indeed
crucial. In the criticaltradition,the writingsof Gogol', Sevcenko,and
Kulis have at varioustimesbeen called historical,and all threeauthors'
depictionsof theCossack past have beenvariouslyconsideredexamples
of historicalfiction.3I submit,however,that in Gogol' and Sevcenko
2 ThefactthatGogol'wroteinRussianandisgenerally
is
a Russianwriter
considered
This,as I haveargued
not,to mymind,an instanceofjust sucha basicdifference.
Studies1,
HarvardUkrainian
ofUkrainian
Literature,"
elsewhere
("Towarda History
no. 4 [December1977]:520-23and passim),does notin and ofitselfdivorceGogol'
has
Ukrainianliterature
In variousperiodsofitshistory,
fromUkrainianliterature.
been bilingual(relyingalso on Polish and Russian),and in the firsthalfof the
all Ukrainianwriters,
nineteenth
includingSevcenkoand KuliS,
virtually
century,
thisdoesnotmake
wroteas much,or evenmore,inRussianas theydidinUkrainian;
At thesame
or thesewriters,
thesewritings,
anylessa partof Ukrainianliterature.
time,I am notarguingthattheveryfactof beingbornUkrainianmakesGogol'a
- isa reflection
and
thatliterature-anyliterature
Theissueisrather
writer.
Ukrainian
an emanationof a culture;in Gogol"s case, his writings,
especiallyhis"Ukrainian
rootedin
stories,Vederana xutorebliz Dikan'ki and Mirgorod,are profoundly
cultureand itsvarioustraditions
Ukrainian
(andindeed,as criticalpracticehastended
outsidethatcontext)and forthatreasonhe
to show,are ratherincomprehensible
- a Russianand a
should be considered-at the veryleast in his earlywritings
ofhis
consciousformulation
On theotherhand,thegivenwriter's
Ukrainianwriter.
nationalidentity-in Gogol''s case, his claim of havingboth a Ukrainianand a
butthatis a separatesubject.
Russiansoul,his dvoeduSie-is important,
3 On Gogol',cf.,forexample,A. Karpenko,Narodnyeistokiepiceskogo
stiljaistonceskixpovestejN. V. Gogol/a(Cernivci,1961),orS. MaSinskij,
Istoriëeskaja
povest'
ukrajinmynule
Gogol/a(Moscow,1940);on Sevcenko,see M. Marcenko,Istorycne
s'koho naroduv tvorcostiT. H. Sevcenka(Kiev, 1957),Ju. Margolis,Istoriceskie
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
173
what has been called historyis fullyand quintessential^myth;their
of conceptualizationand narrativecomposition,and thecogstructures
nitivevalues theyimpart,are mythical,not rational-historical.
Kulis,in
contrast,was indeeda writerof historicalfiction,and, forthatmatter,
also a historianin the strictor academic sense. But this,too, mustbe
featureof his perspectiveon the
qualified,forthe actual, determining
Cossack past is not "merely"historical,but a historicistdebunkingof
of Sevcenko'smyth.Ratherthanconfininghimselfto
myth,specifically
an objectiviststance,or to the correctionof errorsand "sins" against
historicaltruth,Kulisconstructsnothingshortofa programwhichis not
In intrinsicterms,the
only rationalistic,but militantlyanti-mythical.
betweenGogol' and Sevcenko,on theone hand,and Kulis,on
difference
betweensymbolicand rationalthought.
the other,is the difference
As I use ithere,mythis notonlya narrativethattellsa "sacred,"deep,
- "truth,"but also a comunverifiable
and abiding- and intrinsically
plete,closed, symbolicsystem.A mythis always tellingus something
essentialabout the culturalreality;its purposemay be explanatoryor
for,ora reinforcement
of,existingsocial
normative,
i.e.,as a prescription
it
to
the
in eithercase, is an attempt grasp totalityofa givenset
structures;
of phenomenaby non-rational,symbolicmeans. In thisrelianceon the
also lies thegreatpowerof myth.In its basic
symbolicand theaffective
to
as
functioning
mythmoves, Lévi-Strausshas argued,fromstructure
or "truth"maygenerateanynumberof
event,thatis,a basic relationship
inquestionis bothpsychoThe structure
plotlines,events,orcharacters.4
is to saythatthemyth
which
and
collective
(universal),
logical(personal)
articulatedbyan individualwriteris a mediationbetweenpersonaland
or classical myth,on the
collectivethought.(Anonymous,i.e., primitive
itbecomes
otherhand,is purgedof thepersonalelementin theretelling;
worndown and polished,like a pebble by thewaves of thesea, so that
onlytheessenceof collectivethinkingremains.)
*
*
a historyoftheUkraine,but
Gogol',as we know,triedhishand at writing
vzgljadyT. G. Sevcenka(Leningrad,1964),or ¡storycni
pohljadyT. H. $evcenka,ed.
I. Ó. Hurzijet al. (Kiev,1964).In thecase ofKuliSthequestionseemsself-evident;
cf.
B. Nejman,"KuliSi Val'terSkott,"PantelejmonKulis:Ukrajins'ka
akademijanauk,
viddilu,vol. 53 (Kiev, 1927),pp. 127-56.
Zbirnykistoryöno-filolohiönoho
4 See ClaudeLévi-Strauss,
"TheStructural
StudyofMyth,"inMyth:A Symposium,
ed. ThomasA. Sebeok(Bloomington,
1972),pp. 81-106;and idem,TheSavageMind
(Chicago,1966).
174
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
he quicklyabandoned the project,suggestingthatthe reason lay in his
withtheavailable chronicles.5But itis clearthathistory
disappointment
- whetherwrittenor taught- was quite uncongenialto him. Its very
nature requireda reasoned exposition of events,causes, dates, etc.,
whereasGogol' passionatelywantedto conveythe totalityof the past,
withall itsemotionalstatesand experiences.In fact,he wishedto make
- and thiscan be done onlyin the
the past contemporaneous,timeless
symbolicsystemof a myth.
Such a myth,encompassingboththepast and thepresent,is givenin
Gogol''s UkrainianstoriesofDikan'ka and Mirgorod.No one storygives
a full statementof the myth,but when theyare superimposedand
ordered,a coherentworldresults,i.e.,a worldwhich,despiteitscomedy
is in declineand movingtowarddecrepitude.It is
and exuberantactivity,
a world,as we see fromthe story"Zakoldovanoe mesto,"that is susis ultimately
"ne
pended in an abnormalstate,wherealmosteverything
it is a worldthatis "cursed"or,
tak." Taking the storiescumulatively,
That world'sfullmeaning
moreprecisely,in the processof transition.6
- especiallywithreference
to thepast and to Cossackdom- can bestbe
seen by lookingmorecloselyat thelongeststoryofthetwocycles,Taras
Bul'ba.
In many respectsTaras Bul'ba is the most revealingexpositionof
Gogol"s mythof the Ukraine;it is also a workthatis almostuniversally
and Sovietperiods,itwas read
In thepre-Revolutionary
misunderstood.
sacri-and indeedstillis today- as a sublimestatementof patriotism,
and genuinedemocraticheroficeforthefatherland,
friendship,
bravery,
ism. At thesame time,it is takenas historically
true,in fact,as a higher
is
the
In
of
synthesis history. short, story perceivedpreciselyas a myth
- as somethingthatis bothideal and true.What is moststriking,
however,is thatsuch perceptionshave become establishednot onlyin the
popular,but also in the Soviet scholarlyopinion.There,of course,it is
froma representacalled"history,"not
"myth,"aswesee inthisstatement
tivestudy:
ofa concrete
historical
event
ThepowerofGogol"snovelliesnotinthecreation
features
orfigure,
etc.,butinthefactthatitcouldinclude
highly
important
typical
5 See his letterto Sreznevskij of 6 March 1834, in N. V. Gogol', Polnoe sobranie
socinenij (hereafterPSS), vol. 10 (Moscow, 1952), pp. 298-99. See also George S. N.
Luckyj, Between Gogol' and Sevcenko (Munich, 1971), p. 111 and passim.
6 Abnormality,suspension of the normal laws of existence, or,
metaphorically
speaking, the quality of being "cursed," are preciselythe definingfeaturesof what
VictorTurner,and Van Gennep beforehim,call "liminality,"i.e., the centralphase of
an individual's or a group's riteof passage; cf. below.
THREE PERSPECTIVES
ON THE COSSACK
PAST
175
ofthelifeofthewholeepoch oftheNationalLiberationstruggleoftheUkrainian
people againstthe "Polish Yoke." Nalyvajko and Pavljuk,Taras Trjasyloand
Ostrjanycjacould recognizethemselvesin Taras Bul'ba. . . . And in thislies the
greatesttriumphof the realistichistoricismof the artist.7
The classicalfeaturesof myth,itstotalityand yetfactualindefiniteness,
are takenas aspectsof"realistichistoricism."
(This tendencyto blendthe
of the prereal and the "oughtto be," one mightadd, is characteristic
secularizednatureof officialSoviet thoughtin general,not only of its
literarycriticism.)
To state it most succinctly,the mythin Taras Bul'ba presentsthe
theemergenceofconflict,and thepassing
ofCossack strength,
flowering
and a newsphere.As in Gogol' 's
oftheCossack "spirit"intoimmortality
otherUkrainianworks,the basic structurehereis foundedon dualism
and constitutesa riteof passage in the formof initiation.8
The mostbasicdichotomyforGogol' is betweenmanand woman,and
upon it he builds the furtherdistinctionbetweenthe settledand the
as soon as
Cossack wayoflife.9Theseare presentedat theverybeginning,
The
home
from
Kiev.
difference
between
the
sons
come
Taras Bul'ba's
male and the femaleworldis immediatelysignalledon a level close to
Gogol"s heart- in thechoice of food.Thus,as theyprepareto welcome
theirchildren,Taras tells his wife:"Ne nuzno pampusek,medovikov,
makovnikovi drugix pundikov;tasci nam vsego barana, kozu davaj,
medysorokaletye!Da gorelkipobol'se, ne s vydumkamigorelki,s izjua cistoj, pennoj gorelki. . ." (p. 43). 10
mom i vsjakimivytreben'kami,
and recherche
(The contrast,one mightadd, withthegamutofconfitures
brandiesof the old-worldlandowners,the Tovstogubs,could not be
greater.)The dichotomyextendsto otherhabits,as well:thuswhilethe
women(and thepeasants)sleep in theirhouses,Taras and hissons sleep
outsideunderthestars.The issue is fullydramatizedwhenTaras Bul'ba
feelsthe call of the male, Cossack world:
KaKoro AbHBOJiaMHe 3#ecb >KflaTb?Mto6 a craji rpenicoceeM, ¿jomobo^om,
/ja õaÕHTbca c aceHoñ? fla npona^H OHa: a
rjiH^eTb 3a OBuaMH na. 3a CBHHbHMH
KO3aK,He xony! (p. 45)
7 MaSinskij, Istoriceskqjapovest' Gogolja, p. 137.
8 This is trueof various mythicaltreatmentsofthe Ukraine,e.g., Rzewuski's Zaporozec or, especially, Slowacki's Sen srebrnySalomei; cf. The Ukraine as Myth.
9 Cf. his "Vzgljad na sostavlenie Malorossii," published in the
Arabesques, withthe
subtitle"A Fragmentfromthe Historyof the Ukraine. Volume I, Book 1,Chapter 1."
This is all that ever appeared of GogoPs planned work in "six small or four large
volumes."
10 PSS, vol. 2 (1948), pp. 43. All subsequent page referencesin the textare to this
edition.
176
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
And this,in turn,becomes a generalcall to arms in the words of an
that call asserts the Cossack life and
archetypalesaul; significantly,
world:
the
settled
negates
3h Bbi, nHBHHKH,ôpoBapHHKHÎ nojiHO BaM iiHBO BapHTb, ¿ja BajiHTbCHno
TejioM Myx! dynaiiTe cjiaBbi pbiijap3aneHbHM,Aa KopMHTbcbohm MCHpHbiM
CKOH h necTH AOÕHBaTbCfl!Bbi, njiyrapH, rpenicoceH, OBijenacbi, 6a6ojiK)6bi!
nojiHO BaM 3a ruiyroMxoAHTb, ßß. nanicaTb b 3eMJiecboh »ejiTbie neõoTbi, jià
h ryÓHTbcHjiypbiuapcKypo!Ilopa ßocraBaTb KO3aijKOH
noAÖHpaTbCHK >KHHKaM
cjiaBbi! (p. 47)
And we are toldthatjust as Taras breaksup thepotsand pansand bottles
was preciselytheuniverseof Afain his house (and this,we remember,
Ivanovna
Ivanovic
and
Tovstogub),so theCossacks,too,
Pulxerija
nasij
breakthe tools of theirtradeand heed the call.
The Zaporozhian Sich at which they arrive is the epitome of the
and violence(e.g.,theattack
Cossack world.It is characterizedbyrevelry
ritualofthedance,byself-sufficiency
on theJews), bytheliberating
(e.g.,
thevignetteoftheCossack darninghisownshirt)- and bytheabsenceof
women.Moreover,itis a worldunencumbered
bypossessions.Incontrasi
to Ivan Ivanovic Perepenko,thecharacterin "The Two Ivans" who has
all theCossacks' belongingsare communal;in contrastto the
everything,
distantrelativeof theTovstogubswho goes to marketto compareprices
and neverspendsmorethana ruble,we are told thattheZaporozhians
"nikogdane ljubilitorgovat'sja,a skol'korukavynulaiz karmanadeneg,
stol'ko i piatili"(p. 66).
betwentheCossack worldand thatofthesettledtoilers
The distinction
is only the firstof the dichotomies,and, as we see, the principleof
oppositionextendsto the Cossacks themselves.Althoughdisputeand
bickering
accompaniedtheelectionofthekosevoj,thiswas buta tempornota basic division.Such a divisionoccurswhenone halfof
friction,
ary
the Cossacks decides to fightthe Turks and the otherhalfvotes to go
againstthe Poles, and it is givensymbolicimportance:"I vse staliperexodit' kto na pravuju,kto na levujustoronu"(p. 126). This,however,is
ofa muchmoreominousdivision.Laterinthestory,
buta foreshadowing
a numberof Cossacks wantto make peace withthe Poles, butforTaras
"
Bul'ba thisis a betrayalof a sacredcause: "Ej, getmani polkovniki! he
shouts,tearinghis tuftofhair,"ne sdelajtetakogobab'ego dela! ne verte
"
ljaxam: prodadutpsjajuxi! (emphasismine;p. 167). WhenTaras breaks
hisact symbolizesthedivisionthathas
hisswordin angerand frustration,
enteredinto the Cossack world.
ofdivision,however,is themicroThe arenaforthefulldramatization
cosmofthefamily.Taras's son Andrijbetraysthefaithand thefatherland
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
177
for the love of a Polish woman. But the love itselfis a functional,
"manipulative"element:as such it correspondsto various tried plot
devices(suchas, forexample,theScottiandeviceofloversseparatedbya
siege).11On thedeeperlevel,Andrij'srejectionof theCossack cause is a
movementtowardtheworldofwomen,"family,"and personalvalues;it
is treasonon all levels,as Andrijhimselfsays:
Kto cKa3an, hto moh 0THH3HaYicpaíiHa? Kto rslji MHe ee b othh3hw? OTHH3Ha
ecTb to, nero HiijeT Ayma Hama, hto MHJieeajih Hee Beerò. OTHH3Ha moh- tu!
Bot moh OTHH3Ha!H noHecy h 0THH3Hychk> b cepAue MoeM, noHecy ee, noica
CTaHeT Moero BeKy, h nocMOTpio, nycTb kto-hh6vai> h3 KO3aKOBBbipBeT ee
orryßa! M ece, umo hu ecmb,npodaM,omdaM,noayôjiw3a maKytoomumny!
mine;p. 106)
(emphasis
The second major plane of themythin Taras BuVba is thatof initiain Ostap and Andrij.As in
tion,and itssuccessand failure,respectively,
so manyworkson theCossack theme,theSich is theplace of initiation
here. One's verydeparturefor it is the firststep in the passage from
boyhoodto manhood,as we see in theeloquentconclusionofchapter1:
"
"Proscajtei detstvo,i igry,i vsë, i vsë! (p. 52). It is therethatthe boys
learn the martialarts. The initiationitself,the ordeal, consistsof the
"tasks"thatare presentedon thefieldofbattle,and itis herethatAndrij's
transitionto the world of fullmanhood is reversed:he returns(witha
woman- theTartarservantgirl)througha tunnel(!) to a woman.There
fromthat of the
he embraceshis beloved and a life totallydifferent
Cossacks. His initiationis cut short,and thismustinevitablylead to his
death.Gogol' presentsthisquite clearlyin his depictionofthefatalkiss:
IlojiHbiH He Ha 3eMJieBKyniaeMbixnyBCTB,Ahaphh nouejioBaji b chh ÕJiaroBOHk mene ero, h He6e3OTBepTHbiõbuiH õjiaroBOHHbieycTa.
HbieycTa, npHJibHVBiiiHe
Ohh OTO3BajiHCbTeM ace, h b ceM oõoíoahocjihhhhom nouejiye omyTHjiocb to,
HTOOAHHTOJlbKOpa3 B HCH3HH
¿jaeTCHHyBCTBOBaTbHCJlOBeKy.
M norHÓ KO3aic! Ilponaji ajih Beerò KO3auKoro pwuapcTBa! (p. 107)
That Andrijdoes notbecomea man is evidentinhisfinalmoments,when
hisfatheron thefieldof thebattle:"Pokorno,kak rebënok,
he confronts
siez on s konja i ostanovilsjani ziv, ni mertvperedTarasom"; and the
are thoseoftheagricultural,
imagesof his death,withutterconsistency,
settledmode: "Kak xlebnyjkolos, podrezannyjserpom,kak molodoj
barasek,pocujavsijpod serdcemsmertel'noezelezo, povis on golovoj i
povalilsja na travu,ne skazavsi ni odnogo slova" (p. 144).
Ostap,on theotherhand,proceedsthroughhisinitiationto a different
destiny.Afterbecomingan ataman (otaman), he is capturedand exe11 Cf. V.
Gippius, Gogol' (Leningrad, 1924; reprint,Providence, 1966), p. 73.
178
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
evoke
cuted in a cruel ordeal. The images of his death intentionally
in hislastcry
associationwithChrist'spassion on thecross,particularly
to hisfather.His ordealis fullymeaningful,
however,becausehebecomes
a martyrforthecause; in him,as subsequentlyin Taras Bul'ba himself,
the Cossack cause will see its highestideals,and theOrthodoxfaithits
truedefender.Like the ResurrectedChrist,theywilllive on in memory
and tradition.
that of Ostap and Taras
Throughtheirsacrifice(paradigmatically,
Bul'ba), the Cossacks and the Ukrainetheyrepresentpass on to a new,
higher,and maturestate.This stateis moreimpliedthanelaborated,but
as we see fromtheconclusionofthesecondredactionof TarasBul'ba and
fromthe psychologicalmovementof the Ukrainianstories,it generally
equals integrationinto the all-Russian imperialcontext.The rite of
passage in Taras Bul'ba can thusbe seen as a synecdochefortheentire
passing
myth:the Ukraineand the Cossacks in fundamentaltransition,
throughthe"curse,"throughabnormalityand "death,"intoa different
mode of existence.
*
*
*
on theCossack pastis also mythical,
Sevcenko'sperspective
indeed,more
historical
so
than
so-called
His
poems (as I have
Gogol"s.
intensely
assert
in
detail
and
can
elsewhere,
here)12are eminently
only
argued
historical
figuresand
mythical:all the facts of history chronology,
events,causes, and processes are subordinatedto a symboliccode. A
momentfroma duma can thusbe as importantas a factfroma historical
becauseitrevealsthe"holytruth"with
source;indeeditis moreimportant
is concerned.As inthe
and myth-maker
whichSevcenkoas myth-carrier
case of Gogol', Sevcenko'svision of the Ukraine'spast and presentis
couched in fundamentaloppositions,and he, too, shows the Ukraine
movingthroughitsliminal"cursed"stateintoa higherreality,subsumed
undera millenarianvision of the future.Sevcenko'soppositionsdiffer
fromGogol"s, however.Ratherthan being that of Cossack and nonCossack, male and female,theyare the oppositionof communitasand
structure.
The conceptof communitasand structure
(i.e., societyas a structured
Turner
while
Victor
were
discussingthe ritesof
developed by
body)
12 See especiallychapter2 ofmyforthcoming
Makerand
book, ThePoetas MythA StudyofSymbolicMeaninginSevcenko.ThediscussionofSevcenMyth-Carrier:
ko whichfollowsis excerptedfromthisstudy.
THREE PERSPECTIVESON THE COSSACK PAST
179
passage thathe takesto be a centralmomentin thestudyofcultureand
society.Turnerobserves
forhumaninterrelatedness,
The
twomajor"models"
juxtaposedandalternating.
as a structured,
andoftenhierarchical
of
first
is ofsociety
differentiated,
system
withmanytypesofevaluation,
men
positions
separating
politico-legal-economic
isofsociety
of"more"or"less." Thesecond,[communitas]
as anunstrucinterms
structured
andrelatively
undifferentiated
comturedorrudimentarily
comitatus,
. . .'3
ofequal individuals.
or evencommunion
munity,
Thus,twoideal and ideallyoppositemodelsofsocietyare posited:on the
themarginsofsociety;
one hand,thepoor,theweak,thedisenfranchised,
theworldofrankand authority.
on theother,therichand thepowerful,
The oppositionof communitasand structure
clearlymodelsSevcenko's
conceptof the Ukraineof his day. His metaphoricformulationof the
Ukrainein manypoems is preciselythat of a weepingwidow,indeeda
blind cripple,abandoned and mistreatedby her sons. But because his
notcausal,thepast
nothistorical,mythic,
visionis essentially
synchronie,
is also modeled by this opposition,and the Ukrainianbody politic,
specificallyCossackdom itself,is split,like the Ukraineof the present,
The taskofthepoetas myth-carrier
betweencommunitasand structure.
is to resolvethe opposition,firstby diviningand expoundingthe deep
meaningof thisconflictand thenby mediatingit.
theCossacksare bothcommunitasand strucFor Sevcenko,therefore,
him
to
ture;paradoxically,
theyexemplifyboth the "native"values of
and the"foreign"features
freedom,equality,and emotionalspontaneity,
of authority,hierarchy,and power. In one sense, as Soviet criticsare
- of
quickto pointout,thisoppositionis a functionofclass stratification
thetensionbetweenthepoor rankand file,or sirjaky,and thepropertied
- as wellas ofSevcenCossack upperclasses,orstarsynaand karmazyny
ko's clearidentification,
as Kuliswas perhapsthefirstto observe,withthe
former.14
however,is not reducibleto rational,sociothought,
Mythical
13 Victor Turner, The Ritual Process (Chicago, 1969), p. 96.
14 In an unsigned autobiographical article ("Zizn' Kulisa," Pravda, 1868, no. 24)
Kulis describes his firstmeetingwith Sevcenko in this manner:
KuliS did not quite like Sevcenko forhiscynicism;he put up withhiseccentricities for the sake of his talent. Sevéenko, on the other hand, did not like Kulis's
aristocratism.. . . Kulis loved cleanlinessaround his tidyperson;he loved orderin
thingsand time;his ear was like thatof a maiden,nobody everheard himuse foul
language. It would be possible to say thatthiswas a meetingbetweenthelowland
Cossack fromthe Sich and a richcityCossack. Indeed theywere representatives
of both parts of Cossackdom. Sevéenko representedthe Right-Bank Cossacks
180
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
theveryfactthatCossackdom,whichforSevcenko
politicaldistinctions:
was a singleobjectof emotionalapprehension,containedso profounda
contradiction
demandedthatitsresolutionbe positedon an emotional,
i.e., symbolic,and not merelyintellectualplane.
In their"purest"(i.e., both "holiest"and least ambivalent)formthe
collective.This is projected
Cossacks are a nameless,undifferentiated
in
in
and variouscontexts: theirfusionintoa singleagentin
consistently
scenes of battle,e.g., Hamalija or Hajdamaky, in overtstatementsof
of purposeand opinion,as in theelectionofa Hetmán(". . . I
unanimity
odnohlasne,odnostajne/Hromadavybralahetmana,""U nedilen'kuu
(e.g., "Son [Komedija]"or
svjatuju"); in thecommonbond of suffering
"Irzavec'"); and, above all, in the ultimateequality,anonymity,and
indeedfreedomofthecommongrave.More thananyother,theimageof
the mohyla,the burialmound"tightly
packed" withthedead, servesas
for
the
Cossacks
and thepast in general.Thus
Sevcenko'skeymetaphor
in "Poslanije," the poet countersthe self-congratulatory
claims of the
morevapid enthusiastsof theUkrainianpast bysayingthattheCossack
gloryand freedomthat to theirmind overshadowsthe gloriesof the
Roman heroes,theBrutusesand Coccleses,infactslepton heapsof"free"
and looted Cossack corpses:
KpoB'K) BOHa yMHBajiacb,
A cnajia Ha Kynax,
Ha KO3aubKHXbojii>hhx Tpynax,
OicpaAeHHXTpynax!
(lines145-48)
In "Za bajrakombajrak" (to whichwe shall return),thethreehundred
Cossacks in the commongraveare called "pureas glass." But themost
of theCossack commongraveas a holysepulchre,
explicitpresentation
virtuallya templeof theideal ofcommunitas,occursin "Buvaje v nevoli
inodi zhadaju," where the poet's persona, in the guise of a child, is
instructed
by theCossack who stepsout of themohylaand takeshimin
his arms:
who after the treatyof Andrusovo were leftwithout leadership and, finding
themselvesunder Polish domination,fledto the Sich and fromtherereturnedto
theirlandlords' estates as rebellious hajdamaky . . . anxious to smash the landlords completely.KuliS was a descendantof the Cossacks who sat in council with
the tsar's boyars, formedfor Tsar Peter the Little Russian Collegium, helped
Tsarina Catherine to write her Code and to introduceschools in place of old
seminaries.
Cited in Luckyj, Between Gogol' and Sevëenko, p. 146.
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
181
- flHBHCfl, AHTHHO, Olje KO3aKH
(Hì6h MeHi Ka>Ke), Ha bcíh Yicpami
Bhcokí MorHJiH. Ahbhch, ahthho,
Yci tí MorHJiH, yci OTaici.
HaHHHeHi HaiiiHM ÕJiaropoAHHM TpynoM,
HaHHHeHi Tyro. Oue bojih cnHTb!
Jlarjia BOHa cjiaBHO, Jiarjia BOHa BKyni
3 HaMH, K03aKaMHÎ EaHHIII, HK JIOKHTbHeHane cnoBHTa! . . TyT naHa HeMae,
Y Ci MH OAHaKO Ha BOJli HCHJIH!
Yd MH OAHaKO 3a BOJ1K)JlHrjlH,
Yci MH i BCTaHeM, Ta 6or ñoro 3Hae,
Kojih-to
Te 6yAe.
(lines24-36)
however,is notabsolutelyessential,and thereare numerAnonymity,
ous instanceswhereCossacks are named.Butthesearewithoutexception
eitherlegendaryheroes,such as Ivan Pidkova, or the entirelyfictional
- Taras Trjasylo,Loboda,
Hamalija, or theleadersof Cossack uprisings
Nalyvajko, Ostrjanycja,and Palij or, finally,leaders of Hajdamak
- Honta, Zaliznjak, Svacka. All of them are rebels against
uprisings
defendersofthepoorand oppressed,"holyavengers,"inshort,
authority,
those
the veryincarnationof the ideal of communitas.15
Significantly,
ofstructure,
ratherthan
Cossack leaderswho are clearlyrepresentatives
are perceivedpositiverebelsor avengers,and yetare presentedfavorably
lybyvirtueof beingopponentsand victimsofRussianimperialdesignsmostclearly,HetmánPolubotokin"Son,"and Dorosenkoin"Zastupyla
cornaxmara"(wherehe is calleda "Zaporozhianbrother"),and implicitly, the colonel Cecel' in "VelykyjTox" and the Zaporozhian otaman
Hordienko in "IrzavecV Finally,the veryfact of seekingto continue
Cossack institutions,
i.e., A. Holovatyj's formationof the Black Sea
Cossack army (cf. "Slipyj"/"Nevol'nyk"),sufficesto give a figurea
positivecast.16
But Cossackdom as a structuredsystem,specificallyits figuresof
15 Thus, too, the Cossack raids on Turkey
("Hamalija" and "Ivan Pidkova") are
portrayed here, as in the dumy, as motivated by the desire to free captive fellow
Cossacks ratherthan to obtain booty.
16 An oblique referenceto
Sahajdacnyj in "Hamalija" also focuses only on his
legendarymilitaryprowess and the (erroneous) belief that at the end of his life he
entereda monastery;both moments,again, characterizeSahajdacnyj as one withthe
elementalCossack ethos and not as a representativeof structure.A passing reference
to Sahajdacnyj in Hajdamaky (line 1121) refersnot to the man, but to his time.
182
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
powerand authority,presentsan entirelydifferent
picture.Apartfrom
Polubotokand Dorosenko,whoforSevcenkobecomevictimsofstronger
externalforcesand martyrsforthe commoncause- thusexpiatingby
- the
misfortune
theirhighstatusand, in a word,suffering
statusreversal
Cossack hetmansare invariably
depictedin darkcolors.17Byfarthemost
attentionis givento Bohdan Xmel'nyc'kyj,
who forSevcenko(as forso
manyof his contemporaries)symbolizesthe Cossack state. The poet's
attitudetowardXmel'nyc'kyj
rangesfrominvectiveand derisionin such
as
to
Bohdane
poems
"Jakby ty
p"janyj" and "Za seo my ljubymo
Bohdana" to bitterreproachesforfoolishlyacceptingMuscovitesovereigntyover the Ukraine.In "Rozrytamohyla"MotherUkraineherself
calls hima foolishson and reproachesherselffornotkillinghimwhenhe
was stillan infant.In "Slipyj" his verymemoryis reviledin Cossack
of"Rozryta
songs(thereal-lifeequivalentof thepatheticpersonification
mohyla"),songsthatcontrasteloquentlywiththepietywithwhichHonta and Zaliznjak are remembered:
I cnißajiH yflBOXco6i
upo Hajioro CaBy,
upo Bor^aHa HeflOMy^pa,
Jle/janoro cHHa,
I npo FoHTy MyneHHKa,
ÍÍ cjiaBHoro MaKCHMa.
(lines655-60)
In "VelykyjFox" evensongsabout thehetmáncarrya curse,forthethree
minstrels
are thrashedby the Russian authoritiesforsingingabout the
"swindler"Bohdan. Finally,in the sequel to thispoem,in "Stojit'v seli
but at the
Subotovi,"the poet offersXmel'nyc'kyjpartialforgiveness,
his"sin"was: above all,betrayingsame timeelaborateson whatprecisely
deceivingtheUkraine("Zanapastyvjesyvbohu/Syrotu
Ukrajnu"). Here,
's
is
one
with
of
Sevcenko's
male
role
who
characters,
Xmel'nyc'kyj
many
of
seduceand abandon or generallyvictimizetheirwomen;thestructure
the relationshippreciselyrecapitulates
thepatternof inequalityand vic-
17 A partial exception is Mazepa, toward whom Sevcenko is reticentand somewhat
ambivalent(thereis only one passing referenceto himin thepoetry,in"Irzavec'"). On
the manifestlevel, Mazepa is depicted neitherpositivelynor negatively,but simply
shown as fleeingwith the Swedes afterthe battle of Poltava. Althoughclearlysympathizing with the Cossacks* cause against Peter 1, Sevõenko does not make the
hetmánan incarnationofthatanti-imperialcause (as he does Polubotok and Dorosenko), but implicitlycharges himwithfactionalismand self-interest
(cf. "Irzavec'," lines
9-12).
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
183
timizationfound earlierin Sevcenko's depictionof the family.As so
the Ukraineis not onlyused and abandoned,but
manyof hispokrytky,
forthesinsofthefalsehusband-father.
The wordsthe
indeedleftto suffer
of"Knjazna"- "Tyseebudespokutovat'/
poetspeaksto thetitlecharacters
thefate
Hrixyna simsviti,/
Hrixybat'kovi. . ."- can equallycharacterize
oftheUkraineafterXmel'nyc'kyj,
called
"bat'ko
popularly
Xmel'nyc'kyj."
The secondaspectofthehetman'ssinreflects
theessential
just as directly
natureofstructured
as itappearsin Sevcenko'smythic
authority
thought:
itis destructive
ofthenationalethos(themetaphorical
"nen'ka-Ukrajina")
becauseitis basicallyaliento it. Ultimately
structured
is a form
authority
ofexistential
or,in Sevcenko'searthier
idiom,folly.His address
absurdity,
to Xmel'nyc'kyjbringsthisout mostclearly:
OTaice-TO, 3ÌH0BÌK),
OjieKciÏB Apywe!
Th Bee OAijaB npHHTejiHM.
A im i oaH/jyace
KaacyTb, oanmu, mo Bee to Te
TaKH íi õyjio Hauie,
Ilio BOHH TÍJlbKO HaHMaJlH
TaTapaM Ha nauryTa nojiHKaM . . .
(lines29-37)
The wagesoffriendship
withsomeoneso alienas theMuscovitedespotis
becominghisand history'sfool,and thefateoffollowing
generationswill
be to become a laughingstock of nations:"Tak smijutsjaz Ukrajiny/
Storonnijiljudy!"
The refrainofXmel'nyc'kyj's
follyrunsthroughSevcenko'sdepictions
of thehetmán,18
butitmustbe seenas partofa muchbroaderdialectical
set of Wisdom/Folly (or True Wisdom/False Wisdom)thatconstitutes
themetaphysical
structure
essence,as itwere,ofthecommunitas/
opposition.For it is thenatureof structure,
of therepresentatives
of hierarchy
- be theythe Russiantsarand theimperialapologists,or
and authority
the biblicalSaul, or Xmel'nyc'kyjwithhis plans, or indeedSevcenko's
18 Thus, for example, the four-line
poem "Za seo my ljubymo Bohdana" (which,
along with "Jakby to ty Bohdane p"janyj," is usually omittedin the popular Soviet
editions of Sevcenko):
3a mo MHjik)6hmo BoryjaHa?
3a Te, mo MOCKajii ñoro 3a6yjiH,
Y JXypHiHÍMHHKHOÕyjlH
BejiHKOMVAporo reTbMaHa.
184
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
ofGermanIdealismand other
fellowUkrainians,thegentlemen-fanciers
- to place theirfaithin reasonand powerand the
fashionabletheories19
orderof thingsthisis mere
existingorder.But in thetrue,transcendent
folly.In fact,itis theapparentfollyoftheHoly Fool (thejurodyvyj)and
theprophet(indeedthekobzar,as well), and theuntutoredheartof the
- that will ulticommon man- in a word, the truthof communitas
most
of
this
The
fervent
occurswhenthe
be
vindicated.
mately
expression
poet, echoing Isaiah and Jeremiah,exhortshis noble countrymento
"Stop and become human":
CxaMeHiTbca! õyzjbTe jtioah,
Bo jiHxo BaM 6yfle.
yMHHTeca! o6pa3 õohchh
BarHOM He cKBepmTe.
He AypiTe AÍTeñ BauíHx,
Il^O BOHHHa CBÍTÍ
Ha Te TÜibKo, mo6 naHyßaTb . . .
Bo HeBHeHeoko
3arnHHe ïm b caiviyAyiuy
Fjihõoko! rjiHÕOKo!
HeõoacaTa,
,H,03HaK)TbCH
Mhh Ha Bac iiiKypa,
Ta h 3ac5myTb,i npeMyApHx
HeMyzjpi OAypHTb!
("Poslanije,"lines63-64and 79-90)
ofCossackdom,overthecourseof
As withXmel'nyc'kyj,
thehierarchy
HetmánSamojlovyc
history,is depictedas bothfoolishand destructive.
is simplycalled "stupid,"and KyryloRozumovs'kyj,withhisCouncilof
Elders,are powderedlackeys,dogs lickingthe slippersof CatherineII;
Ivan Skoropads'kyjis called a "stupidhetmán"merelyin passing,in the
descendants.20
courseof Sevcenko'sexcoriationofone ofhis"degenerate"
19 Cf. "Poslanije," lines 91-99:
JIkõh bh BHHjiHCbTaK, JiKTpeõa,
To h MyApocTb 6h õyjia cboh.
A to 3ajii3eTe Ha He6o:
«I MH He MH, i H He 51,
I Bee Te 6aHHB, i Bee 3Haio,
HeMa Hi neKJia, aHi paw,
HeMae ñ 6ora, TijibKO h!
Ta KyuHH HÍMeub y3JioBaTHH,
A 6ijibUJ HÍKoro! . .»
20 Cf. "Zastupyla corna xmara": "Iz-za Dnipra napyraje- /Durnyj Samojlovyc"
(lines 7-8); or in "Slipyj": "Kyryloz starsynamy/Pudromosypalys'/1 v caryci,mov
THREE PERSPECTIVESON THE COSSACK PAST
185
as a collectiveentityare somewhat
Thejudgmentson Cossack structure
no
moredeveloped,but lesscategorical.To be sure,inthefirstofthese,in
in Hajdamaky,thetoneis one of
theopeninglines of"Svjato v Cyhyryni"
lamentat the passingof Cossack gloryratherthanof condemnationof
any agent of thisdecline. In "Poslanije," however,this condemnation
becomes articulatedin the sharpestinvectivethat modernUkrainian
literaturehad yetseen:
. . . ocb mo
Baiui cjiaBHi BpyTH:
PaÕH, nOAHOHCKH,rpíttb MOCKBH,
- Baiili náHH,
BapmaBCbKe cmítth
flCHOBeJlbMOHCHiïTeTbMaHH.
(lines159-63)
Or, again, in one of thelast poems,"Buvalyvojnyi vijs'kovijisvary,"he
enumeratesthefamousnamesoftheCossack upperclass in theplural,as
so muchworthless"stuff:
ByBaJIH BOHHH H BÌHCbKOBÌl CBapH!
FajiaraHH, i KHcejii, i Konyôeï-Haraï Eyjio floõpa Toro HHMajio.
MHHyjio Bee, Ta He nponajio,
OcTajiHCb iiiauiejii
(lines1-5)
The reason forSevcenko'sjudgmentis clear: afterthe dissolutionof
Cossackdom,mostofitselite,thestarsyna,becameincorporatedintothe
Russian imperialserf-owning
nobility,whilethe rankand fileCossack
- became theirserfs.Outrage at this obscene
- theirformerbrothers
dissolutionand perversionoftheoriginalideal order,ofthe"goldenage,"
- with Sevcenko's
which invariablyis postulatedin mythicalthought
thoughtno exception- is expressedin a greatnumberofhispoems,both
in conscious,polemical-ideologicalexcoriationsof the existingsystem
(cf.,forexample,"Poslanie" or"P.S.") and invarioussymbolicconstructions.As starkas itis, however,thisinversionoftheCossack ideal,from
freedomand equalityto totalpowerforsomeand slaveryforothers,is for
Sevcenko only the narrowercase of a universalcurse hangingover
mankind,whichis man'sunbridleddriveto controland oppresshisfellow
overcommunitas.Thus,"Saul," thepoemthat
man,to establishstructure
tracestheoriginsof structure
and authority
(which,nota bene, is shown
sobaky,/PatynkyIyzaly"(lines 625-28); or in "P.S.": "Sõyryjpan,/ Potomok het'mana durnoho,/1 prezavzjatyj patriot" (lines 12-14).
186
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
as comingfromSatan himself:"Az os' lyxyjcarja nese/Z zakonamy,z
mecem,z katamy,Z knjazjamy,temnymyrabamy . . ."), ends with
apparentbleak pessimism:
. . . Tope! Tope!
flpi6HÍK)Tb jilote Ha 3eMJii,
PocTyTb i BHCHTbCH
uapi!
(lines110-12)
The mostpointedexpressionofthisconflictin theCossack world,i.e.,
in the Ukrainianpast as such, is the sin of fratricide,
whichstandsas a
directparallel to the "crimesagainst nature" parricide,infanticide,
incest- that occur, withmuch insistence,withinthe timeframeof the
ofthisis givenin"Son" (Horymojivysokiji):
present.The firstintimation
i
"Upyvalys' cuzoji/isvojejikrovi"([and they,theCossacks] weredrunk
withforeign/
and theirown blood). Thereis, however,a moreextensive
elaboration,remarkableforbothitspowerand explicitness.In theprison
cycle poem "Za bajrakom bajrak" (1847), Sevcenko presentsan old
to walkthesteppeand sing
Cossack risingat nightfromtheburial-mound
a sorrowful
song,and then,at thecock's thirdcrow,to sinkback intohis
grave. Its setting,the directcommunionwiththemohyla,is alreadyan
unfailingsignoftheutmostseriousnessof itsmessage,and theCossack's
"song,"the heartof the poem, is indeeda centralstatement:
- HaHOCHJIH3eMJli,
Ta h flOflOMyniiiijiH,
I hìxto He 3raAae.
HaC TVT TpHCTa, HKCKJIO!
ToBapHCTBa jiarjio!
I 3eMjia He npHHMae.
$ík 3anpoAaB reTbMaH
Y apMO XpHCTHHH,
Hac nocjiaB noraHHTH.
Ilo CBoiñ no 3eMJii
CbOK) KpOB pO3JlHJlH
I 3api3ajiH 6paTa.
KpoBi 6paTa BnmiHCb
I OTyT nojiarjiH
y Monuii 3aKJi$rriñ.
(lines 8-22)
In consequenceof thesin of spillingtheirbrothers'blood, theCossacks
to acceptthemand, evenmore,by
are cursedbytheveryearth'srefusing
the fact that theywill not live on in collectivememory,that "no one
THREE PERSPECTIVESON THE COSSACK PAST
187
intheCossack phenomenon
"The tension,thecontradiction,
remembers.
in
that
is again evoked the paradox
despitetheirsin and the apparent
consequentcurse,theyare stillcalled "pure as glass." One theone hand,
on themanithisrecapitulatestheconflictof communitasand structure
festsocial level,foritis thehetmánhimselfwho ordersthemto thisdeed;
thepoem re-evokesthesocial conflictin thepast,the"sinful"flawin the
social order,and as such parallelsSevcenko'srationaland "ideological"
ofthe"Trylita"
statedin so manyearlierpoems(particularly
imperative,
of
to
the
true
nation's
and
discern
the
meaning
period), ponder
past. But
the poem also has a deepersymboliclevel,forit is at thesame timean
elaborationof theCossacks' relationshipto death,or, morespecifically,
to theirexistentialstatuson the borderlineof lifeand death.
ThroughoutSevcenko's poetrythe image of the Cossack is almost
invariablylinkedwiththeimageofthegrave,themohyla.Most obviously
and generally,thissignifiesthatthe Cossacks are now dead and in the
past, as we see in the oft-citedopeninglines of "Ivan Pidkova":
- B YKpaiHi
ByjlO KOJIHCb
PeBÙiH rapMaTH;
Byjio KOjiHCb- 3anopo3ui
Bmíjih naHOBaTH.
IlaHOBajiH, AoõyBajiH
I cjiaBy, i BOjiK);
- OCTaJlHCH
MhHVJIOCH
MorHjiH Ha nojii.
(lines1-8)
the
noted
as
above show,thecommongraveofthe
Moreover,
examples
communitasand hence,forSevcenko,thesacredness
mohylaexemplifies
inherentin Cossackdom. But beyondthislies the questionof mythical
in thecorpusindicate,and thepoems"Za
function.As variousreferences
and
"Buvaje v nevoliinodi zhadaju" make eminently
bajrakombajrak"
the
Cossacks
and
the
Cossackgrave(mohyla)constitute
one mythicclear,
semanticunit,a unitwhose primaryfunctionis thatof ritualrevitalization.This is theritualofthegravesthatis foundinpractically
all cultures,
butwhichis particularly
stressedin momentsofdeprivationand crisis,as
in variousmillenarianmovements;it is a turningto thepast to findthe
collective(or "national") strength
forcontinuedexistence,a turningto
thedead to insurelife,in a word,thevitalizationofthefuturethroughthe
past. The Cossacks thus functionas a remarkablyresonantmediator
betweenthepastand thefuture,betweenlifeand death.Like all mythical
mediationsbetweenopposing categories,theyassume a preternatural
188
GEORGEG. GRABOWICZ
existence.21
Theyare theliving-dead.The demonicaspectofthismodeis
in various folkloricversionsof Cossacks as sorcerers
reflected
amply
who
withdarkforces.22
But in Sevcenko- unlike
{xarakternyky) traffic
in Gogol' whoseCossack and non-CossackUkrainianworldsare shown
in radical opposition,witheach seeingtheotheras demonic- theCossacks'demonicsideis largelymuted.In Hajdamaky,thedemonicfeatures
of Honta are on theone hand attributable
to surface(Byronic)convention,and on theotherclearlycounterbalanced
byhisdesignationas a holy
martyr.The unquestionablydemonic Mykytain "Tytarivna"is givena
blurredidentityas he becomes a Cossack-panyc.23
And only once, in
is
as
a
a
Cossack
identified
In fact,for
actually
"Xustyna,"
xarakternyk.
function.They are, above all,
Sevcenkothe Cossacks servea different
carriersofa profoundtruth,whichis thatofan ideal- i.e.,free,equal and
- earlierexistenceoftheUkraine.Indeed,in a mannercharharmonious
acteristicof mythicalthought,thecarrieris themessageitself:theCossacks- as theCossack communitas,of course- are the Ukrainianpast,
and the Ukrainianpast is the Cossacks. The two categoriesare made
and no other"historical"Ukrainianpastis posited
equal and co-extensive
Sevcenko.
is
also
(This
by
appropriateinanother,veryconcretesense:the
Cossacks are the onlyones to have a past, forthe peasant world- the
- is timeless,ineffect
otheraspectof Ukrainiancommunitas
theworldof
nature,an eternalvegetativecycle.And thisis broughtout mostclearlyin
theshortlyric"Oj coho typocornilo....") Het'manscyna,theCossack
, is consistently
depictednotas a state,a political
period(nottheterritory)
or social order,the rule of any given hetmán,but as a formof ideal
existence;in "Son" (Hory moji vysokiji)thisis made explicitas theold
man (a clear projectionof thepoet himself)speaks of it in one breathas
"God's paradise"(bozyjraj). Unquestionably,
SevcenkoseestheUkraine
of the past as an ideal and as an existential,not political,category.
21 "'Mediation' (in this sense) is always achieved by
introducinga thirdcategory
whichis 'abnormal' or 'anomalous1in termsof'rational'categories.Thus mythsare full
of fabulous monsters,incarnategods, virginmothers.This middlegroundis abnormal,
non-natural,holy. It is typicallythefocusofall taboo and ritualobservance."Edmund
R. Leach, "Genesis as Myth," in Myth and Cosmos (Garden City, 1967), p. 4.
22 Living-dead heroes are the
subject of P. Revjakin's "Sblizenija i sledy. Entrückte
Helden, Lycari nevmyraky,"Osnova, January 1862.
23 Mykytais the quintessentialdemon-lover.He departsfora
longjourney,and the
phrase used here ("V daleku dorohu/Pisov sobi") is also an idiomatic referenceto
death. His behaviorwhen he returnsis demonic in theconventionalsense: he seduces a
girl,killshis bastard child,and puts the blame on the unfortunatemother,who is then
killed by the community.At the end- a compleat vampire- he is fated to live on
foreveras a Satan-man and to seduce girls.
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
189
nota historicalphenomeSimilarly,forhimtheCossacks are a mythical,
theirreasonforbeingis
non. Not onlyare theynotpresentedhistorically,
notsimplyto embodythepast and itsglory,butto revealtheinnermost
truthsabout Ukrainianexistenceand to serveas a touchstoneon whichto
base an ideal future.As we see withgreatclarityin"Buvaje v nevoli,"they
appear frombeyondthegraveembodyingthesacredrevelationof what
theUkrainewas and whatitcan be. In thefallenand ignoblepresent,the
full meaningof this message- the secretof the "greatvault" (yelykyj
I'ox) thatis theUkraineand themohylythatareCossackdom- is known
onlyto thepoet. His prophetictaskis to pass iton,to inculcateituponthe
In thistaskliesthefunctionofthemyth-carrier.
heartsofhiscountrymen.
*
*
In sharpcontrastto Gogol' and Sevcenko,Kulisfundamentally
challenges
on theCossack past. BothGogol' and Sevcenko
themythicalperspective
show the Cossack past throughmythicaloppositions:for Gogol', the
oppositionwas betweenthe Cossack and the non-Cossack(male and
female)aspectsof Ukrainiansociety,and forSevcenko,it was between
communitasand structure.The resolutionsof theiroppositions,while
are also mythical.For Gogol' resolutionoccurs,on the
quite different,
one hand, in thefinaldecrepitudeand collapse of theCossack Ukraine
that we see in such storiesas the "Two Ivans" and "The Old-World
Landowners"and also in the author-narrator's
to
flightto Petersburg,
oftheold Ukraineinto
Russia;on theother,ithappenswiththetransition
wheretheCossacks- as we see at the
a newimperialRussianframework,
of imperialRussianOrend of Taras Bul'ba- becomea foreshadowing
thodoxpower.For Sevcenkotheresolutionis containedin a millenarian
visionofa new,holy,andjustorder:"I na onovlenijzemli/Vrahane bude,
1 budut' ljudy na zemli." Kulis,
supostata/A bude syn i bude maty/
such
not
allow
himself
visions. Instead,he proposesan
does
however,
and ultimatelypositivisticprogram.
rationalistic,
entirelydifferent,
To be sure,in his earliestphase Kulis,likehis contemporaries,
is still
models and theirimplicit
quite enthralledby ethnographic-folkloristic
His firstworkin
affective,
and, ofcourse,collectivethinking.
metaphoric,
thismode, Ukrajina(publishedin 1843), is an attemptto reconstruct
an
epic poem coveringUkrainianhistoryfromitsbeginningsto thetimeof
Xmel'nyc'kyj.Consciouslyinvokingthe Homericepos as an ideal type
and model (and perhapsalso the model of Ossian), Kulis uses various
dumy thathe had heardand collected,elaborateson them,and fillsin
gaps withhis own dumy.This co-creation,blendingthe individualand
190
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
collective,is quitein keepingwithRomanticpoetics,butalreadyhas one
significant
departure:hisemphasisin theprefaceon historicalcompleteofoppositions
ness.WhereGogol' and Sevcenkoworkwiththestructure
to symbolicallyconveythe deep, concealed essence of the Ukrainian
condition,the"holytruth"about itsterrible"sin"or "curse,"whereall of
Sevcenko's so-called historicalpoems are always at most metahistory
(i.e., nota statementof what happened,but whatit all meant), Kulis is
thepastin a plenitudeofcausal
herealreadyconcernedwithrecapturing
sequencesof events.
culminatedwiththe publicationin
Kulis's next period of creativity
1857 of Coma rada, his major artisticwork and the firstUkrainian
historicalnovel. Duringthistimehe was guided,on theone hand,byhis
interestin the historicalnovel as modeledby Sir WalterScott,and on
the other,even more decisively,by his immersion(largelyunder the
influenceof the Polish literarycriticand writerMichal Grabowski)in
archivaland antiquarianresearch.Coma rada could notstandinsharper
contrastto thevisionof theCossack past of eitherSevcenkoor Gogol',
specificallythe latter's Taras Bul'ba, against which Kulis consciously
to
measureshimself.The novel does indeedtry,and quite successfully,
but
the
turmoil
of
the
Cossack
Ukraine, it
capturethecolor,thespirit,and
does so not throughsymbolicand mythicalconstructs,but throughan
artisticequivalentofrational,historicalanalysis.His focusis above all on
thedelineationof social forces,on thedynamics,values,and aspirations
of social groups;in thisrespectViktorPetrovis quitecorrectin callingit
thefirstUkrainianworkto
thefirstUkrainiansocial novel.24It is certainly
see the Cossack past as history,forit perceivesthepast not in termsof
emotionallychargedabsolutes,notas "holytruth"(as Sevcenkodid) , but
as a complexand rationallyknowableprocess.Althoughitis verymucha
productof Romanticpoetics,especiallyas regardstheconcernforlocal
color, familyhistory,and above all the utilizationof the patternsand
devices of the Scottian novel, Coma rada already points to a postRomanticstance.At thecore ofthisnewsystemofvaluesis a beliefinthe
primacyof reason directedat social and culturalanalysis. It is most
indicativethat the novel's epilogueis a calm, balanced,and extremely
of Russianand Ukrainianliterainquiryintotheinterrelation
insightful
ture.
In theyearsfollowingtheappearanceof Corna rada, Kuliscomesout
24 ViktorPetrov,"Coma racla,jak romansocijaFnyj,"
in Literatura,
Zbirnvk
persvj
(Kiev, 1928),pp. 29 37.
THREE PERSPECTIVESON THE COSSACK PAST
191
witha numberof importanthistoricalstudies,rangingfromtheshortto
the voluminous.25His guidingprincipleis to reevaluateall misconceptions ("myths"in the popular sense) that have accretedto his fellow
of theirpast. The centralissue is balance
understanding
countrymen's
as he saysin an openingpassage ofhisprojectedbutnot
and perspective,
completedoverallhistoryof the Ukraine:
of the Ukraine1 must[tryto] pleasemyfellow
a history
As I beginwriting
wholoveandrespect
theirhomeland.
Butwhatiftheydo notfind
countrymen,
to intheirbooks?Wehavebecomeused
herewhattheyhavebecomeaccustomed
oftheUkraine
ourCossackdom
to lookingat thehistory
andtoturnall
through
the
But
around
Cossacks.
ourhistorical
Cossackdom
itself
meanwhile,
writing
a prickly
thistle
in themidstofourwild
and sometimes
was onlya richflower
grewon ourhomeground,
steppe.ApartfromtheCossacks,manyotherthings
andall thatwhichgrew,bloomed,diedandwasbornagaininanother
guise,all
ofourUkraine.
ThusI havetoconsider
thatconstitutes
thehistory
equallyeach
andespecially
careforwhatwasdoneinthepast
forcewhichbattled
otherforces,
to affect
thepresent,
and whatcamedownto us. We mustnotlookat thepast
butfromthedistant
Cossackdom,
pastto themorerecent
through
past,and in
thatto also studytheCossacks.26
In timetheseviewsbecame sharplypolemical.Kulis came to see the
Cossacks (and evenmoreso thehajdamaky)as an unequivocallydestructive,anarchicforce,creatorsofthe"GreatRuin"thattheUkrainebecame
in hispoetry,which
at theend of theseventeenth
century.Concurrently,
he resumedwritingonlyafterthedeathof Sevcenko,Kulisengagedin a
twofoldprogramthatis bothan elaborationand an exorcismof Sevcenko's legacy. His firstconcern,datingback to his earliercontactswith
Sevcenko,and the help and advice thathe offeredhim,was withcontinuingand expandingSevcenko'sessentialmessage,whichproclaimed
thereborndignity,power,and creativepotentialofa nation.His second
came to be
concern,even whileconceivedby Kulis as complementary,
seen by manyas nothinglessthana treacherousand scurrilousattackon
Sevcenko. For what Kulis does, especiallyin the collectionsXutorna
poezija and Dzvin, is to chargeSevcenkowithbecominga spokesman
and an apologist for destructionand ruin; in Kulis's view, the Bard
becameenthralledto a blindand bloodthirsty
muse,as he has Sevcenko
himselfadmitin the poem "Z toho svitu"{Dzvin):
25 For example,Xmel'nyccyna
and Vyhovscyna
in 1861,and especiallyIstorija
Rusi(1874and 1877)and OtpadenieMalorossiiotPol 'si(1888-89and
vossoedinenija
1890).
26 "IstorijaUkrajinyod najdavnijsyx
Kulisa,vol. 6
casiv,"in TvoryPantele/mona
(Lviv,1910),p. 7.
192
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
a 6a6a Tajiajiañica
fl 6yBco6i nHHHH,
Be3KOCTHM H3HK0M CBOÏM MCHe ApOHHJia,
I rojiOBy Mem, nonaBiiiH 3 HaJiHBaHKa,
BHCOKOCJiaBHHMH repOHMH HaÕHJia.
I ßOBejia MeHe aac ao hohcíb cbBHneHHX,
JXO ToHTH, mÓ flÏTeH nopÍ3aB KaTeJlHKÍB,
JJ,onpaBocjiaBHoï PyÏHH aïji CKa>KeHHx,
1U.Ó HHMH nHHAHMOCb npOMÍ>K 3CMHHX H3HKÍB.
(lines1-8)
Kulis'spersonalattitudetowardSevcenkois moresorrowful
thanangry,
but his condemnationof Sevcenko'sheroes,his commonCossacks and
hajdamaky,and withit his beliefin their"holy cause," is implacably
severe.As he says in a poem directedto Sevcenko,"the last Cossack
minstrel"("Ostan'n'omu kobzarevikozac'komu"; also in Dzvin):
He nojiHHce, Kaaceiu, cjiaBa
. . .
Hi, KoÕ3apK), 6paTe!
CBoe KO3airrBO
ripoKjiHjia
YKpaiHa
3apo6ÍTKOM
MaTH.
pO36HLUaUbKHM
FopAysaTH cTajia,
I noeMH raiÎAaMaubKi
EpexHHMH Ha3Bajia.
Bce-)K 60 B HHX 6yjia oMaHa:
Bona, necTb, HHuapcTBO,
3a mo CbBÍTOM KOHOTHJIO
Be3 nyTH KO3auTBo.
BOJlfl- HHLLJHTb3eMJlK) naHCbKy,
MeCTb - JlíOACHAypHTH
A JTHUapCTBO- XpHCTiflHCbKy
KpOB piHKaMH HHTH.
(lines29-44)
The onlyotherthingthatcan drawso muchof hisscornare theglorifiers
of the"Ruin," theapologistsof bloodshedand vengeancewhom Kulis
collectivelyaddressesas "hajdamak scribblers."Perhaps theirgreatest
sin, in his eyes,is theirtotal distortionof Sevcenko'slegacy:
B ÍMH HOrO CbBHTe,
Ha copoM YicpaiHH,
Bh õpexHinjieTeTe
upo ÕJiaroAaTb
PyÏHH.
Ha rjiyMTapacoßi,
^CajiKyioTbBaci bhchì,
Ilio He AopÌ3ajiH
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON THE COSSACK PAST
193
riaHÍB HO>KÍ CbBHHeHÍ,Ilio ToHTa H 3aJlÏ3HHK
He cTajiH TaM khjhhmh.
fle npaBHB MoHOMax
3 CHHaMH-BHTiHHMH.
Dzvin;lines45-56)
("Pys'makam
hajdamakam,"
*
*
We cannotexamineherethefullrangeand detailof Kulis's historical
views.It is clear,at any rate,thathis viewswereoftenhighlyemotional
and bitter.Butitis utterly
fallaciousto claim,as Jefremov
oncedid,27that
centralperspective.On the
theywerevacillatoryand withouta unifying
contrary,it is evidentthat for most of his maturelife,Kulis came to
oftheCossack pastthatwas indirectopposiarticulatean understanding
tionto themythicalvisionso deeplyinscribedon thecollectiveUkrainian
consciousnessby Sevcenko. For whereSevcenkoapotheizescommunitas, Kulisoffersthemodel,prospects,and demandsofstructured
society.
It is preciselywiththesedesiderataofenlightenment,
oflaw and order,of
normalculturaland social developmentin mindthathe feelsobligedto
search,almost desperately,fora model in neighboringstates- gentry
Poland, imperialRussia,MohammedanTurkey- fortheCossack world
itselfcan offeronly a styxija,the anti-structure
of communitas.Thus
PeterI and CatherineII, who forSevcenkoare theveryincarnationof
who conquer the
evil, are seen by Kulis as carriersof enlightenment,
"barbarism"of anarchy,who come to ruletheUkrainewith"theeternal
sceptreof scienceand culture"("Dvoje predkiv").28
of the past.
Now, one can take strongissue withthis interpretation
Kulis's historico-political
be
shown
to
be
reasoningmay
entirelyonesided,but it would be highlyunfairto accuse himof condoningdespotism.In fact,hisoppositionto officialRussian(or Polish)chauvinism,
to
of
Ukrainian
national
is
and
etc.,
manifest,
continuous,
rights,
oppression
vociferous.The cruxof thematter,however,is thathe sees theonlyreal
prospectsforthedevelopmentof the Ukrainiannationin itsacceptance
not of mythand symbolicthinking,but of the "universalstandard"of
rationalthoughtand of concrete,constructive
action.
Kulis's
of
the
Ultimately,
debunking
mythicalsenseoftheCossack past
is notonlyhistoricist,
butpositivist.His ownlifecan be seenas exemplify27 "Bez syntezu,"
AkademiianaukURSR,
viddilu,
Zapvskvistorvcno-filolohicnoho
vol. 4 (Kiev,1924).
28 Cf.,also, "Petroi Kateryna"
and "Vin i vona" (Dzvin).
194
GEORGE G. GRABOWICZ
It was
cultureand social betterment.
ingthe"organic"effortoffostering
none otherthanKuliswho was thespiritualfatheroftheProsvitamoveofSevcenko'sdeathsuggested
ment;itwas he who at thefirstanniversary
to himwas nota resplendent
mausoleumorsweet
thatthebestmonument
to
In this Kulis
of
trades
children.29
the
but
village
teaching
praise,
of
the
birth
an
and
of
Romantic
the
end
entirelynew
ideology
signals
of
oftheUkrainiansituationand thecontinuum Ukrainian
understanding
history.As muchas themythis stillwithus, hisantithesishas also leftits
indeliblemarkon our sense of the Ukrainianpast.
Harvard University
29 ["Nauka remeslai pracja narodnapo selax"], TvorvPantelejmonaKulisa,6:
560-64.