Sentimentalism. A literary current in the literature of the late 18th century that emerged as a reaction against the of the Enlightenment rationalism and the traditions of Classicism. Its adherents stressed the importance of emotion, extolled nature, and made heroes of the common people. Early sentimentalism was influenced by the works of English writers, such as T. Gray, S. Richardson, and J. Thompson. It resulted in the development of new genres in prose and focused renewed attention on elegies, idylls, and folk tales in poetry.
In Ukrainian literature sentimentalism is evident in the plays of Ivan Kotliarevsky (eg, Natalka Poltavka), in the tales of Yevhen Hrebinka, and, particularly, in the stories of Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko, which were sentimental in both subject matter and motifs. Oleksander Doroshkevych, Ahapii Shamrai, and Mykola Zerov have attributed the sentimentalism of Kvitka-Osnovianenko's works (eg, Marusia, Shchyra liubov [Sincere Love], and Serdeshna Oksana [Poor Oksana]) to the influence of scholastic and folk oral literature. Dmytro Chyzhevsky, however, has argued that sentimentalism was not prominent in Ukrainian literature.
The influence and elements of sentimentalism are evident in the development of melodrama in Ukrainian theater of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in the works of Ivan Hushalevych (eg, Pidhiriany [Inhabitants of the Foothills, 1869]), Sydir Vorobkevych (eg, Hnat Prybluda  and Uboha Marta [Poor Marta, 1878]), Leonid Manko (Neshchasne kokhannia [Unfortunate Love]), and Oleksii Sukhodolsky (Pomsta, abo Zahublena dolia [Revenge, or the Lost Fate]). Melodrama also characterized certain plays and stagings of Mykhailo Starytsky's and Marko Kropyvnytsky's productions.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]