Itinerant tutors

Itinerant tutors (мандрівні дяки; mandrivni diaky). In 17th- and 18th-century Ukraine wandering graduates or older students of theological seminaries or brotherhood schools and, occasionally, clergymen without positions who supported themselves by private tutoring or short-term school teaching, and by entertaining the common people with humorous verses, comic skits, or vertep plays. The common people also called them pyvorizy (beer guzzlers). The works written by itinerant tutors include mostly burlesque poems, versified travesties, parodies, satires, humorous dialogues, vertep dramas, and lyric poetry. As a transitional stage from religious to secular literature, they occupy an important place in the development of Ukrainian literature. Relatively few works of this type—eg, the autobiography of Illia Turchynovsky, the poem about Rev Nehrebetsky, and the poem about Kyryk—and authors’ names—Illia Turchynovsky, Mykola Mazalevsky, Klymentii, Zynovii's son, and Vasyl Hryhorovych-Barsky—have come down to us.

The itinerant tutor appears as a literary persona in the intermedes of Mytrofan Dovhalevsky, and later in the works of Nikolai Gogol, Vasilii Narezhny, Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko, and Ivan Karpenko-Kary. The language and style used by itinerant tutors influenced such writers as Ivan Nekrashevych and Ivan Kotliarevsky, as well as Kotliarevsky’s imitators in the early 19th century. The works of itinerant tutors have been studied by Ivan Franko, Mykola I. Petrov, Pavlo Zhytetsky, Petro S. Yefymenko, Oleksander Biletsky, and Pavlo Popov.

Zhytets'kyi, P. ‘Eneïda’ Kotliarevs'koho v zv’iazku z ohliadom ukraïns'koï literatury XVIII stolittia (Kyiv 1919)
Bilets'kyi, O. (ed). Khrestomatiia davn'oï ukraïns'koï literatury (Kyiv 1949)

Dmytro Chyzhevsky

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

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