In The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction (University of Toronto Press, 2012), Mark R. Andryczyk takes his readers to an intriguing territory...

In The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction (University of Toronto Press, 2012), Mark R. Andryczyk takes his readers to an intriguing territory of dense narratives, arising from a complex network of literary, political, and philosophical connections that were accompanying the history of the countries constituting the USSR. Mark Andryczyk’s research offers an insightful analysis of Ukrainian literature that was taking shape right after the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the emergence of Ukraine as an independent state. The Ukrainian literary scene of the 1990s was to some extent responding to a new political and social environment, revealing, and at times instigating, paradigmatic transformations. Becoming open to the West after almost seventy years of international isolation, Ukraine appeared to be building dialogues that involved identity and self-identification concerns locally and globally. In this process of awakened nationalconsciousness, which undoubtedly entailed a number of controversies, Andryczyk identifies a hero that communicates a diversity of searches and pursuits in the realm of ethics, aesthetics, philosophy, politics, etc. The intellectual, as the author argues, is a hero that gives a unique tint to the Ukrainian literature of the 1990s: although present in the literary scenes of other time periods, the intellectual acquires a stronger and a more eloquent voice in the 1990s.

In his research, Andryczyk discerns a few types of the intellectual: The Swashbuckling Performer, The Ambassador to the West, The Sick Soul. Although distinct, their voices intermingle and echo each other: they may agree and/or argue with each other but they all mark an unrestrained impetus to make themselves heard. After decades of propaganda control, establishment suppression, and Communist Party’s directions for artists, in post-Soviet Ukraine writers were seeking ways to exercise their freedom to write and to think. The Intellectual as Hero in 1990s Ukrainian Fiction is an in-depth investigation of how a text/narrative responds to a changing environment; how an artist finds a way amidst a captivating chaos in order to discover his/her truth and create a world of subtle harmony–fragile and yet vital.

Mark R. Andryczyk teaches Ukrainian literature at the Slavic Department at Columbia University. He also administers the Ukrainian Studies at the Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies (Columbia University).

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