The gothic in Ukrainian romanticism: an uncharted genre

  • Author / Creator
    Krys, Svitlana
  • While there have been many studies devoted to the Gothic in European and American Romantic literatures, it has remained largely overlooked in Ukrainian criticism up to now, mostly, due to political reasons. Firstly, this genre was mostly excluded from the Soviet canon as something that was considered reactionary in nature. Secondly, Soviet criticism traditionally interpreted Ukrainian literature as a localized phenomenon, which stemmed mainly from folklore, in contrast to a more “developed,” well-rounded Russian literature. Therefore, it was rarely presupposed that Ukrainian Romantic prose might have derived some of its elements from West European literature.

      My dissertation aims to fill this gap in Ukrainian criticism. It outlines the manner in which the Ukrainian Gothic tradition came to exist, and connects it to the West European Gothic movement. My main research objective is to study how the three major Ukrainian Romantic authors—Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnov''ianenko (1778-1843), Nikolai Gogol'/Mykola Hohol' (1809-1852), and Oleksa Storozhenko (1805-1874)—engage the Gothic discourse in their horror oeuvre. My analysis reveals the hitherto overlooked intertextual links in their tales, which firmly connect them to the works of the British, German and French Gotho-Romantic authors, such as Charles Maturin, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Jacques Cazotte. To strengthen my intertextual argument, I also utilize psychoanalytical theory, which allows me to discover, in addition to close plot parallels, a common symbolism hidden behind the supernatural horror images in both Ukrainian and West European Gothic fiction. 
       My comparative analysis proves that the Ukrainian Romantics knew the original Gothic and borrowed from its various branches (such as the comic Gothic, the psychological Gothic, the frenetic Gothic), when creating their own version of the Gothic literary mode. What makes their texts especially interesting is the fact that they wove their cultural and religious experience, along with oral lore, into the adopted Gothic framework. As a result, they blended the Western Gothic foundations with Ukrainian themes and constructed the specifically Ukrainian literary world of horrors, while also enriching the general Gothic tradition with Ukrainian features. Unlike other European variations of the Gothic, their texts simultaneously awe and mock the supernatural horrors.

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  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.