Bahriany, Ivan

Image - Ivan Bahriany (1940s photo).

Bahriany, Ivan [Bahrjanyj] (real name Lazoviahin), b 2 October 1906 in Okhtyrka, Kharkiv gubernia, d 25 August 1963 in Saint Blasien, Germany. (Photo: Ivan Bahriany.) Writer, political leader. At first Bahriany was known as a poet connected with the Kyiv writers' group MARS. His poems began to appear in 1926 in such journals as Hlobus, Chervonyi shliakh, and Zhyttia i revoliutsiia. In 1927 he published the poem Monholiia (Mongolia) and, in 1929, Ave Maria. His first collection of poetry, Do mezh zakazanykh (To the Forbidden Limits), appeared in 1927. His poetry ranges from elegiac, lyric poetry and philosophical meditation to biting satire and bitter invective. His first collection of short stories, Krokvy nad taborom (Rafters over the Camp), was published in 1931. In the following year Bahriany was arrested, and his works were forbidden in Soviet Ukraine. In 1944, as a refugee in Germany, he became active in Ukrainian political life: he assumed the leadership of the Ukrainian Revolutionary Democratic party (URDP). In 1947 he became vice-president of the party. In 1954 he was elected acting president of the Ukrainian National Council. At the same time he returned to writing, and in 1946 he published a collection of poetry - Zolotyi bumerang (The Golden Boomerang). Ten years later his satirical novel in verse, Anton Bida - heroi truda (Anton Bida – Hero of Labor), came out. But his creative energies were devoted mainly to prose: in 1944 he published an adventure novel, Zvirolovy (Animal Hunters), which was revised and published in 1946 under a new title, Tyhrolovy (Tiger Hunters). The novel was translated into Dutch (Vlucht in de Taiga, 1959), English (The Hunters and the Hunted, 1956), and German (Das Gesetz der Taiga, 1961). In 1948 he published Rozhrom (The Rout) and in 1950 the novel Sad Hetsymans'kyi (The Garden of Gethsemane), dealing with the Yezhov terror in Ukraine, which was translated into French under the title Le jardin de Gethsemani (1961). Vohniane kolo (The Fiery Circle, 1953) deals with the battle of Brody in 1944, in which the Ukrainian Division Galizien was crushed. Marusia Bohuslavka (1957) is a novel about young people under the Soviet regime. The novel Liudyna bizhyt' nad prirvoiu (A Person Runs at the Edge of a Precipice) was published posthumously in 1965. The plays Morituri (1947) and Heneral (The General, 1948) exposed the Soviet system of terror in Ukraine. Of Bahriany's journalistic works the brochure Chomu ia ne khochu povertatysia na rodinu (Why I Do Not Wish to Return to the ‘Homeland,’ 1946) was particularly popular. A compendium of Bahriany's writings, Publitsystyka (Publicist Writings), edited by O. Konoval, was published in Kyiv in 1996. That same year a biography, by M. Sporadets, appeared in Kharkiv.

Ivan Koshelivets

[This article was updated in 2003.]

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