Ohonovsky, Omelian

Ohonovsky, Omelian [Огоновський, Омелян; Ohonovs’kyj, Omeljan], b 3 August 1833 in Hryhoriv, Stanyslaviv circle, d 28 October 1894 in Lviv. Philologist and populist; brother of Ilarii Ohonovsky, Oleksander Ohonovsky, and Petro Ohonovsky. He was ordained after graduating from the Greek Catholic Theological Seminary in Lviv (1857), and he taught religion and (from 1863) Ukrainian language and literature at the Academic Gymnasium of Lviv. Continuing his studies at Lviv University (PH D, 1865) and Vienna University (1869–70), he replaced Yakiv Holovatsky as docent (1867) and then professor (1870) of Ruthenian (Ukrainian) language and literature at Lviv University. In 1881 he was elected corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Ohonovsky was the compiler of a Church Slavonic (1871) and an Old Ruthenian (1881) anthology; a Ukrainian rendition, with commentary, of Slovo o polku Ihorevi (1876); Prosvita society booklets about Taras Shevchenko (1876), Saints Borys and Hlib (1876), Saint Panteleimon (1882), and Markiian Shashkevych (1886); Studien auf dem Gebiete der ruthenischen Sprache (1880) and monograph using Franz Miklosich's approach on the etymology of Church Slavonic, Ukrainian and Polish prepositions (both containing a great deal of material on Ukrainian historical grammar and dialects); a secondary-school Ruthenian grammar (1889) based on the Western Ukrainian vernacular and written according to the etymological spelling; articles in the journal Pravda on several of T. Shevchenko's narrative poems; a long biographical introduction to the two-volume 1893 Lviv edition of T. Shevchenko's Kobzar; Polish articles on the main traits of the Ukrainian language and on Church Slavonic, Ukrainian, and Polish prepositions; a German encyclopedia article on the Ruthenians; and German articles on Ruthenian literature and on the language of the Queen Zofia Bible. He also wrote the narrative poem ‘Krest’ (The Cross, in the almanac Zoria Halytskaia [The Galician Star], 1860); the story ‘Dolia-machukha’ (Fate-Stepmother, Otechestvennyi sbornik, 1866, nos 20–27); the dramas Fed’ko Ostrozhs’kyi (1861), Nastasia (1872), and Hal’shka Ostrozhs’ka (1887); and a collection of stories for children (1876).

Ohonovsky's most famous work was his unfinished history of Ruthenian literature serialized in Zoria (Lviv) (1887–94) and published separately in four parts (6 vols, 1887, 1889, 1891, 1893–4). Although its approach was somewhat chaotic and uncritical, it contains a great deal of biographical and bibliographic information and was for many years a fundamental source on Ukrainian writers and ethnographers. Ohonovsky's consistently developed concept of the Ukrainian nation, Ukrainian language, and literature as separate from the Russian was vehemently rejected by Russian critics (eg, Aleksandr Pypin in 1890). His reply to Pypin (1890) and other Russian critics elicited a passionate debate and much support for his views (eg, by Ivan Nechui-Levytsky and Mykola Kostomarov). He was a founding member of the Prosvita society, serving as its pre-eminent president from 1877 to his death, of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and of the populist People's Council. He was an outspoken opponent of Polonization.

Kokorudz, I. ‘Profesor dr. Omelian Ohonovs’kyi: Ohliad ieho zhyttia i naukovoï ta literaturnoï diial’nosty,’ ZNTSh, 5 (1895)
Makarushka, O. Omelian Ohonovs’kyi: Ieho zhyttiia i diial’nist’ (Lviv 1895)
Bryk, I. Omelian Ohonovs’kyi: U stolittia narodyn velykoho hromadianyna (Lviv 1933)
Bilets’kyi, L. Omelian Ohonovs’kyi (Winnipeg 1950)

Volodymyr Radzykevych, Roman Senkus

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

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