Mova, Vasyl

Mova, Vasyl (pseuds: Vasyl Lymansky, Myhutsky, Myhuchenko), b 13 January 1842 at a khutir near the Cossack village of Starodereviankivska, Kuban, d 13 June 1891 in Katerynodar (now Krasnodar), Kuban. (Photo: Vasyl Mova.) Writer. After graduating from Kharkiv University (1867) he worked in Katerynodar as a teacher, court investigator, and, later, justice of the peace. Because of the critical social content of his writings Mova suffered tsarist persecution. To avoid further harassment he chose to live in Ust-Labinsk and Yeisk in the years 1876–85. In 1886 he returned to Katerynodar.

One of Mova's earliest poems appeared in the Ukrainian journal Osnova (Saint Petersburg) (1861, no. 4). During his lifetime he published fewer than 15 poems on social themes, most of them after 1880 in the Lviv periodicals Zoria (Lviv) and themonthly S’vit because publishing in Ukrainian was forbidden in the Russian Empire (see Ems Ukase). His narrative poem ‘Na stepy’ (To the Steppes, 1883) is the first literary depiction of the plight of Ukrainian settlers in the Kuban. Mova's posthumously dramatized novel Stare hnizdo i molodi ptakhy (Dramatychni obrazy) (An Old Nest and Young Birds [Dramatic Images], 1907) masterfully portrays the tragedy of denationalization and social and moral degradation among the descendants of the Kuban Cossacks in the 1850s. Mova appears to have been influenced by Taras Shevchenko and Panteleimon Kulish but is more than their epigone. At a time when ethnographic realism and Romantic idealizations of the Cossacks dominated in Ukrainian literature, he presented sober, critical (yet patriotic) views of the past and present in a unique style marked by macabre, grotesque exaggerations and a novel, expressive poetic lexicon combining folkloric and vernacular elements and daring neologisms. He can be considered the precursor of expressionism in Ukrainian literature. Mova left behind 50 manuscript notebooks of poetry, prose, and drama. The vast majority of his works were never published and have been lost. A bowdlerized edition of his poems appeared in Kyiv in 1965. A complete edition of his previously published prose, poetry, and letters was edited by George Yurii Shevelov and published in Munich in 1967.

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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