Ukrainian Literary Club in London – The works of Mykola Khvylovy

The next meeting of the Ukrainian Literary Club will take place on Saturday, October 11th, 11.00AM at the Ukrainian Institute, London. We will discuss the works of prominent writer and publicist of the Ukrainian cultural renaissance of the 1920s, Mykola Khvylovy. Khvylovy Mykola (photo)

The Literary Club in London provides an opportunity for those interested in Ukrainian literature to meet and discuss both classical and contemporary works. The club meets monthly and is led by London-based Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Oleyko. Readings and discussions are held in Ukrainian. 

All Welcome. Free Admission 

Mykola Khvylovy was a prominent Ukrainian writer and publicist of the Ukrainian cultural renaissance of the 1920s. His first poetry collection Molodist’ (Youth) was published in 1921. After his second collection, Dosvitni symfonii (Twilight Symphonies, 1922), appeared, he switch to writing prose. His publications include Zhyttia (Life, 1922), Syni etiudy (Blue Etudes, 1923), Osin’ (Autumn, 1924) and many other stories, novellas, etc. Khvylovy also played a key role in the life of literary organizations and he was a superb pamphleteer and polemicist.

Download texts here:

“Сентиментальна історія” http://www.ukrcenter.com/Література/Микола-Хвильовий/21872-1/Сентиментальна-історія

“Україна чи Малоросія?”  http://www.ukrcenter.com/Література/Микола-Хвильовий/25917-1/Україна-чи-Малоросія

“Мати” http://www.ukrcenter.com/Література/Микола-Хвильовий/21649-1/Мати

“Я – Романтика” http://www.ukrcenter.com/Література/19845/Я-Романтика

Khvylovy played a key role in the life of literary organizations. Khvylovy was a superb pamphleteer and polemicist. His polemical pamphlets provoked the well-known Ukrainian literary discussion of 1925–8. In the first series of pamphlets, published in the supplement Kul’tura i pobut to Visti VUTsK in April–June 1925 and later that year separately as Kamo hriadeshy? (Whither Goest Thou?), he raised the decisive question ‘Europe or “enlightenment”?’ using the term ‘enlightenment’ to refer to Ukraine’s provinciality and backwardness under Russian oppression. And his reply was, ‘For art it can only be Europe.’

In a letter to Kaganovich, Stalin warned against adopting Khvylovy’s Western orientation and condemned it as ‘bourgeois nationalism.’

Thenceforth Khvylovy was subjected to unrelenting persecution and was forced to move gradually from an offensive to a defensive tactic. From December 1927 to March 1928 Khvylovy lived in Berlin, Vienna and in Paris. In January 1928, before returning to Ukraine, he sent an open letter from Vienna to the newspaper Komunist renouncing his slogan ‘Away from Moscow’ and recanting his views.

By the early 1930s Khvylovy’s every opportunity to live, write, and fight for his ideas was blocked. Since he had no other way to protest against Pavel Postyshev’s terror and famine genocide Holodomor that swept Ukraine in 1933, he committed suicide. This act became symbolic of his concern for the fate of his nation.

Immediately after his death, Khvylovy’s works and even his name were banned from the public domain. Even after the post-Stalin thaw, when many other writers were ‘rehabilitated’ and selected works of some were published, the ban on his works and ideas has been enforced.