Hnatyshak, Mykola

Hnatyshak, Mykola [Гнатишак, Микола; Hnatyšak], b 5 December 1902 in Peremyshl, d 8 November 1940 in Liebstadt, Germany. Literary scholar. He received his PH D in Slavic philology from Charles University of Prague in 1927 and then worked as an assistant in the Ukrainian Scientific Institute in Berlin (1927–30). In 1931 he moved to Lviv, where he became an editor of the Ukrainian Catholic weekly Meta and the journal Khrystos—nasha syla. He also contributed to the journal Dzvony. He emigrated to Czechoslovakia in 1939. In 1940, shortly before he died, he became a lecturer at the University of Vienna. Hnatyshak is the author of numerous articles on literary topics in periodicals and of a history of Ukrainian literature, volume 1 of which was published in 1941. In his history he formulated a new periodization of Ukrainian literature: he divided it into five old and five new periods according to predominantly formal and aesthetic styles—the Old Ukrainian, Byzantine, Late Byzantine, Renaissance, and Cossack-Baroque periods in the old, and the Pseudo-Classical, Biedermaier, Romantic, Realistic, and Modern periods in the new. His literary theory is based on roughly three principles: Oleksander Potebnia’s notion of a structural relation between the text and the word, emphasis on literary form, and an ideological aestheticism derived from national, Christian ethics. Although he was somewhat influenced by the structuralist school in Prague, he departed from its tenets in stressing the importance of the influence of the environment on the author and hence on the literary work. He judged literature by applying not only formalistic principles but also socially acceptable aesthetic norms. Because for him these norms were colored by national and Christian ethics his approach can be referred to as ‘national realism.’

Danylo Husar Struk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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