Chyzhevsky, Dmytro

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Chyzhevsky, Dmytro [Чижевський, Дмитро; Čyževs'kyj; Čiževskij, Čiževsky, Tschyževskyj], b 4 April 1894 in Oleksandriia, Kherson gubernia, d 18 April 1977 in Heidelberg, Germany. Prominent Slavist, leading authority on Ukrainian literature and intellectual history. Chyzhevsky studied at Saint Petersburg University (1911–13) and Kyiv University, from which he graduated in 1919. His first interest was philosophy, and his teachers were N. Lossky, V. Zinkivsky (Vasilii Zenkovsky), and H. Chelpanov. Gradually he became an avid student of philology and literature. During the Revolution of 1917 he was involved in politics and was a representative of Poltava gubernia in the Central Rada. In 1921 he left for Germany, where he became a student of Karl Jaspers, Edmund Husserl, and Martin Heidegger. Chyzhevsky’s doctoral thesis on Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Russia was published in 1934. He began his teaching career in 1924 at the Ukrainian Higher Pedagogical Institute in Prague, where he was also a lecturer of the Ukrainian Free University. From 1932 to 1945 he taught Slavic linguistics and literatures at the University of Halle and from 1945 to 1951, at Marburg University. In 1951–6 he taught as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, and then returned to Germany to become a professor at Heidelberg and, from 1968 on, at Cologne as well. He was a co-founder and served as the first president (from 1957 to 1964) of the Ukrainian Shakespeare Society. He was a member of numerous scholarly societies and academies and held several honorary degrees.

In his multifaceted scholarly activity Chyzhevsky showed great erudition and originality. His contribution to scholarship embraces literary history and criticism, philology, esthetics, and philosophy. He was equally at ease in Russian, Ukrainian, Slovak, Czech, Polish, and German fields and produced seminal studies of the literary baroque, Slavic comparative literature, and the general Slavic Geistesgeschichte. Among his publications are Logika (Logic, 1924), Dostoevskij Studien (1931), Gegel’ v Rossii (Hegel in Russia, 1939), Štúrova filozofia života (Štúr's Philosophy of Life, 1941), Geschichte der altrussischen Literatur: Kiever Epoche (1948; English trans, 1960), Outline of Comparative Slavic Literatures (1952), On Romanticism in Slavic Literatures (1957), Das heilige Russland (1959), History of Russian Literature from the Eleventh Century to the End of the Baroque (1960), Russland zwischen Ost und West (1961), Russische Literaturgeschichte des 19 Jahrhunderts (1964), and Comparative History of Slavic Literatures (1971). He made signal contributions to the study of John Amos Comenius, Nikolai Gogol, and Hryhorii Skovoroda.

His scholarly endeavors in Ukrainian studies were prodigious. He was the author of books on Ukrainian literature and philosophy Filosofiia na Ukraïni (Philosophy in Ukraine, 1926), Narysy z istoriï filosofiï na Ukraïni (Essays on the History of Philosophy in Ukraine, 1931), Ukraïns’kyi literaturnyi barok (The Ukrainian Literary Baroque, 3 vols, 1941, 1944), Istoriia ukraïns’koï literatury vid pochatkiv do doby realizmu (History of Ukrainian Literature from the Beginnings until the Era of Realism, 1956), Skovoroda: Dichter, Denker, Mystiker (1974), A History of Ukrainian Literature (1975), and hundreds of scholarly articles. Two festschrifts in his honor appeared, in 1954 and 1966. In 1994, on the occassion of the 100th anniversary of Chyzhevsky’s birth, a series of scholarly conferences entitled Naukovi chytannia pam’iati Dmytra Chyzhevs'koho: Dialoh kul'tur (Scholarly Readings in Memory of Dmytro Chyzhevsky: The Dialogue of Cultures) were initiated in Ukraine (in Kirovohrad, Oleksandriia, and Kyiv). In 2005, a four-volume edition of Chyzhevsky’s philosophical works (Filosofs'ki tvory) was published by the Smoloskyp Publishers in Kyiv.

George S. N. Luckyj

[This article was updated in 2019.]

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