Biletsky, Oleksander

Image - Oleksander Biletsky

Biletsky, Oleksander [Білецький, Олександер; Bilec'kyj], b 2 November 1884 near Kazan, Russia, d 2 August 1961 in Kyiv. Literary scholar, full member of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR from 1939 (vice-president 1946–8) and of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR from 1958. Biletsky studied at Kharkiv University, and from 1907 he taught literature in Kharkiv. After the revolution he became a professor of literature at Kharkiv University. His numerous writings include works on Aristotle, Juvenal, Ovid, Aeschylus, Dante, William Shakespeare, Goethe, Swift, Lesage, Dickens, Aleksandr Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Ivan Turgenev, and many other Western European and Russian writers. He devoted most of his attention to the history of Ukrainian literature, investigating the works of Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Nechui-Levytsky, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Lesia Ukrainka, Borys Hrinchenko, Pavlo Tychyna, Maksym Rylsky, Volodymyr Sosiura, and many other Ukrainian writers. The following are Biletsky's principal works: Legenda o Fauste v sviazi s istoriei demonologii (The Legend of Faust in Relation to the History of Demonology, 1912), Starinnyi teatr v Rossii (Classical Theater in Russia, 1923), V masterskoi khudozhnika slova (In the Workshop of the Literary Artist, 1923), Dvadtsiat' rokiv novoï ukraïns'koï liryky (Twenty Years of New Ukrainian Lyric Poetry, 1924), Ivan Franko: Zhyttia i tvorchist' (Ivan Franko: [His] Life and Works, 1956; co-authors I. Bass and O. Kyselov), Ukraïns'ke literaturoznavstvo za sorok rokiv (1917–1957) ([Soviet] Ukrainian Literary Scholarship in the [Last] Forty Years (1917–57), 1957), Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko: Literaturnyi portret (Taras Shevchenko: A Literary Portrait, 1958; co-author O. Deich), Shliakhy rozvytku dozhovtnevoho ukraïns'koho literaturoznavstva (The Paths of Development of Ukrainian Literary Scholarship before the October Revolution, 1958), and Ukraïns'ka literatura sered inshykh slov'ians'kykh literatur (Ukrainian Literature among the Other Slavic Literatures, 1958). Biletsky also compiled and edited many anthologies and textbooks of classical, Western European, and Ukrainian literature. In his writings on Ukrainian literature, he stressed its relationship to other Slavic and Western literatures. Because many Ukrainian writers have been proscribed in the USSR, he focussed his work on general studies of the literary process. As director of the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in 1944–61, Biletsky was at the forefront of Soviet Ukrainian literary scholarship and the mentor and teacher of many younger literary scholars. His works were republished as Vid davnyny do suchasnosti (From Antiquity to the Present, 2 vols, Kyiv 1960) and, posthumously, in Zibrannia prats' u p'iaty tomakh (Collected Works in Five Volumes, 1965–6).

Hudzii, M. Oleksandr Ivanovych Bilets'kyi (Kyiv 1959)
Kryzhanivs'kyi, S. ‘Slovo pro vchenoho-literaturoznavtsia,’ RL, 1974, no. 11
Krutikova, N. Realizm. Zbahachennia. Iednist' (Kyiv 1976)

Ivan Koshelivets

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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