Pidmohylny, Valeriian

Image - Valeriian Pidmohylny Image - Valerian Pidmohylny Image - The members of MARS (Lanka): from left: B. Antonenko-Davydovych, H. Kosynka, M. Halych, Ye. Pluzhnyk, V. Pidmohylny, T. Osmachka.   Image - Valeriian Pidmohylny

Pidmohylny, Valeriian [Підмогильний, Валеріян; Pidmohyl’nyj, Valerijan], b 2 February 1901 in Chapli, Katerynoslav county, d 3 November 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia, RSFSR. Writer and translator. He graduated from high school in Katerynoslav in 1918 and then continued his studies at Kyiv University. In 1921 he began working with various publishing houses and joined the editorial board of Zhyttia i revoliutsiia. The first of his short stories to be published were ‘Vania’ and ‘Haidamaky’ (Haidamakas), which appeared in 1919 in Sich, a journal in Katerynoslav. He also contributed to the almanac Vyr revoliutsiï (1921). He was a member of the literary organization Lanka (see MARS). His published collections of stories include Tvory (Works, vol 1, 1920), V epidemichnomu baratsi (In the Quarantine Ward, 1922), Povstantsi i ynshi opovidannia (The Insurgents and Other Stories, 1923), Viis’kovyi litun (Army Pilot, 1924), and Problema khliba (The Problem of Bread, 1927, 1930). He also wrote the novelette Ostap Shaptala (1922). Pidmohylny's early works focus on various pre- and postrevolutionary realities, such as the Famine of 1921–3. His most notable work is the novel Misto (The City, 1928), one theme of which captures the relationship between the city and the village against the backdrop of the New Economic Policy. His last published work was Nevelychka drama (A Little Drama), a novel about people in the ‘era of socialist reconstruction,’ which was serialized in Zhyttia i revoliutsiia in 1930 but first released separately in Paris in 1956. It appeared in translation as A Little Touch of Drama (trans by George Stephen Nestor Luckyj and M. Luckyj, 1972). Pidmohylny's translations, particularly those of the works of Honoré de Balzac, Denis Diderot, Anatole France, Guy de Maupassant, and Stendhal, significantly influenced the development of Ukrainian literature in the 1920s. Pidmohylny's early works were subjected to severe official criticism. Some were even attacked for ‘romanticizing Makhnovism’ (see Nestor Makhno) (Andrii Khvylia). The novel Misto was also denounced. Pidmohylny was expelled from his editorial position in 1930 and was arrested in 1934. He was incarcerated in various prisons and concentration camps until he was shot, along with many other Ukrainian writers, during the mass executions of political and other prisoners marking the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917. He was rehabilitated in 1956. Misto and some other stories were republished in Ukraine in 1989. A selection of stories, including some previously never published, appeared in 1991 as Istoriia pani Ïvhy (The Story of Mrs Ivha).

Tarnawsky, Maxim. Between Reason and Irrationality: The Prose of Valerijan Pidmohyl’nyj (Toronto 1994)
Melnyk, Volodymyr. Suvoryi analityk doby: Valer’ian Pidmohyl'nyi v ideino-estetychnomu konteksti ukrains’koï prozy pershoï polovyny XX st. (Kyiv 1994)

Bohdan Kravtsiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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