Author (s): Lіubych О.

Work place:

Lіubych О.

Ph.D. in History,

Associate Professor of the Department of Economics and Social Disciplines,

Academy of the State Penitentiary Service, Chernihiv, Ukraine

Language: Ukrainian

Scientific Herald of Sivershchyna. Series: Education. Social and Behavioural Sciences 2019. 2 (3): 121–132


During the partition of Poland in 1792 and 1795 the Left-Bank Ukraine, the former frontier of the Russian Empire, turned into the inner part. “The Ukrainian Issue” was united with “the Polish Issue” and gave rise to a number of new problems, which had a significant impact on the image of Little Russia. Two competing ideologies – the imperial and the Polish ones – engaged into a kind of a struggle for Ukraine. N.M. Karamzin gave the canonical form to the “Polish” ideological complex (ancient unity, sectarian and ethnic community, reward for intervention), while Catherine the Great’s stand, reflected in numerous odes of that period (G.R. Derzhavin, N.A. Lvov, and others), had served as a prologue. The basis of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ideology was the idea of the same national nature of the Kresy and the Crown Poland. The system of education was the main instrument of polarization. The Polish image of Ukrainian schools and grammar schools was reflected in the fiction and travels of 1800–1820s (V.T. Narezhny’s fiction). Memories of Little Russia were actualized during the Napoleonic wars and the Russian-Turkish campaign of 1806-1812, when, after a long break, Ukrainian militia was called and Cossack troops were restored. Those events led to the rehabilitation of the Cossack heritage that had been displaced from the Little Russian discourse for such a long time. The odes of 1807–1814 were the poetic review for the Cossack theme revival and, as a consequence, for the anti-Polish historical reminiscences. Some of the odes were written in the Ukrainian language, although they were intended for the imperial audience (G.P. Danilevsky, P.F. Kalaidovich, etc.). In texts, which reflected the regionalist consciousness, the Cossacks appeared as a phenomenon of the general Russian-Ukrainian history, as the embodiment of the ethnic-religious relationship. In keeping with the similar precedent discourse the events of 1807–1814, which glorified the Cossacks all over the world, were conjured up as a retribution not only to Napoleon, but to Poland, that was going to conquer Ukraine again. After the Congress of Vienna, during 1815–1819 Alexander I had a firm intention to expand the territory of the formed unitary state, the Kingdom of Poland, by annexation of the Kresy. Those plans provoked strong reactions of both conservative and liberal camps of the imperial elite and became a constant background of Ukraine’s image, not only of the Right-Bank Ukraine. The Decembrists’ projects proposed the attempts to comprehend Ukraine’s place in the cultural space. The attempts significantly transformed the confrontational Russian-Polish discourse. The intense public discussions of the “returned” provinces problem gave new significance to the image of Ukraine. Its affiliation to the Russian world again became the object of reflection, and that aimed people not only at identification of similarities, but also at the actualization of the implicit differences that resulted, in the imperial (including Little Russian) authors’ opinions, from the former influence of the Commonwealth. It is revealed in the evaluation of the Little Russian language, historiography and art literature. Such insistent returning to the features of the “otherness”, which were connected with the Polish influence, and the emphasis on Little Russia’s specialness created the culture medium for the development and strengthening of the local nationalist discourse growing in the polemics of 1830–1840s about the independence degree of the Ukrainian language, history and culture.

Key words: Hetmanshchina, Russian Empire, Empire literature, Ukrainian literature, «Polish Issue», the image of Ukraine, nationalism, regionalism, ethnographic.


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