From its inception just before World War I to its demise during the Stalinist repression of Ukrainian culture in the 1930s, Ukrainian Futurism was much maligned and poorly understood. It has remained so into the late twentieth century. Professor Oleh Ilnytzkyj seeks to rectify the misinterpretations surrounding the Futurists and their leader Mykhail Semenko, providing the first major English-language monograph on this vibrant literary movement and its charismatic leader.
This study places Ukrainian Futurism within the context of other major Ukrainian literary movements of the time and examines its relationship to Russian and West European Futurism; it also includes critical analyses of the major works of the leading figures within the Ukrainian movement.
Ilnytzkyj’s great achievement is to demonstrate that Semenko’s followers were in fact part of the mainstream attempt in the first quarter of the century to transcend the rural basis of Ukrainian identity and create a new, vibrant and more ’modern’ sense of self.
[Ukrainian Futurism] will be a landmark in Ukrainian literary history since it offers, for the first time, a critical and historical analysis of this neglected subject. It will also receive high marks for meticulous research and balanced, well-argued conclusions. The best way of acquainting the Ukrainian reader with it would be to translate and publish [it] in Ukrainian, for it is very doubtful that a critical work of comparable acumen will be published any time soon… To read Ilnytzkyj’s book is to savor the many strands of the rich Ukrainian cultural tapestry in the critical post-World War I epoch.
- Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
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