Kovalenko, Borys

Kovalenko, Borys [Коваленко, Борис], b 25 November 1903 in Khotunychi, Chernihiv gubernia, d 13 July 1937 in Kyiv. Literary critic. A member of the writers’ groups Pluh and Hart in the early 1920s, in 1926 he was one of the founders of the Komsomol writers’ group Molodniak. From 1927 he was a leading spokesman of the All-Ukrainian Association of Proletarian Writers. An orthodox Marxist, Kovalenko promoted ‘proletarian realism’ and was one of the fiercest critics of Mykola Khvylovy and other writers, beginning with the Literary Discussion in 1925. Many of his articles were reprinted in the collections V borot'bi za proletars'ku literaturu (In the Struggle for a Proletarian Literature, 1928), Pershyi pryzov (The First Call-up, 1928), Proletars'ki pys'mennyky (Proletarian Writers, 1931), and Za mahnetobuda literatury (For the ‘Magnetostroi’ of Literature, 1932). From 1931 he worked as a Stalinist publicist in Moscow. In 1934 he was elected to the executive of the new Writers' Union of Ukraine, and in 1935 he was sent to Kyiv to head the Chair of Contemporary Ukrainian Literature at Kyiv University and to teach at a Communist Party institute. Although he played an important part in the Party witch-hunt to ‘root out the remnants of Ukrainian nationalism,’ in 1937 he himself was accused of being a Trotskyist, fascist, and a member of a fascist organization, arrested, and shot by the NKVD. In 1956 he was posthumously ‘rehabilitated,’ and a volume of his articles was published in 1962.

Ivan Koshelivets

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

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