The 1960s as a landmark of Ukrainian literary emancipation (American and French comparative aspects)

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Yuliia Kulish


The term “global sixtieth” has persisted in historiography since the 2000s denoting the revolutionary movements united by common discontent with political, socioeco­nomic, and cultural status quo. Although its national literary manifestations differed, they appear to be interconnected regarding the attempts to establish other political and aesthetical orders. The comparative literary research under J. Ranciere's concept of disagreement explores the liberation effect the 1960s manifested in Ukrainian literature contrasted to American and French. It is stated the former pursued double emancipation through popular poetry – from the imposed ideological system, and centuries of national oppression.

In the Free Bloc of ostentatious civil liberty, the 1960s literature is marked as aesthetically and ideologically modernized. American literature expands towards the colonized voices (Black Arts Movement), the gender spectrum (B. Friedan, S. Plath, G. Greer), and the anti-establishment alternatives (Ken Kesey, R. Brautigan, T. Wolfe). A European counterpart is represented by avant-garde tendencies (Tel QuelOulipo, Le théâtre de l'absurde) complemented by feminist and postcolonial as well (écriture féminine, Afropessimism, Négritude reinterpretations). Such “erotics of art” advanced countercultural direct opposition to the dominant faith and ultimate values of the pre-revolutionary era.

In Soviet Ukraine, deprived of the freedom of speech and direct action, the literature field becomes a battlefield for evasive maneuvering. Instead of countercultural gestures, Ukrainian poets (M. Vingranovskiy, L. Kostenko, V. Symonenko) initiate new popular literature, different from the demands of socialist realism. It promotes engaging genres as lyric poetry and romance, approaching popular leitmotifs as national self-awareness and personal values – themes, deafened under the totalitarian reign of the USSR. Thus, what is called to reestablish the partition of the perceptible is, paradoxically, popular poetry. As the aesthetical spectrum of the coevals was reached only 30 years later, popular literature played an ambivalent role of making literary Ukrainian 1960s a decade of both cultural retardation and liberation through intentional latency.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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