Yevshan, Mykola

Yevshan, Mykola [Євшан, Миола; Jevšan] (né Fediushka; other pseuds: Lebedyk, Yavir), b 19 May 1890 in Voinyliv, Kalush county, Galicia, d 23 November 1919 in Vinnytsia. (Photo: Mykola Yevshan.) Literary critic. Yevshan studied German and Ukrainian at Lviv University and supported his studies by employment in the Shevchenko Scientific Society's [NTSh] library, as the society's secretary and as personal secretary of Mykhailo Hrushevsky. After being expelled from Lviv University for political reasons he continued his studies at the University of Vienna. His scholarly career was interrupted by the First World War. He served in the Ukrainian Galician Army and died from typhus during the Ukrainian-Polish War in Galicia, 1918–19.

Yevshan began his critical writings very early and soon was a regular contributor to Ukraïns’ka khata and to Literaturno-naukovyi vistnyk, of which he became a coeditor. His critique of Ivan Franko in Bdzhola (1908) brought him notoriety, but it was his insistence on the esthetic values of literature that made him appear on the side of the nascent ‘modernist’ tendencies and in opposition to the populism of the established literary masters. Although accused of propagating ‘art for art's sake,’ Yevshan was a follower of the esthetic philosophy of Jean-Marie Guyau as espoused in Guyau's Les problàemes de l'esthétique contemporaine (1884, translated into Ukrainian in 1913). In his major critical work, Pid praporom mystetstva (Under the Flag of Art, 1910), Yevshan follows Guyau in stressing that humans possess a creative altruistic life force, and that to create the beautiful and the ennobling is their need and imperative. Yevshan thus denigrates literary writing without esthetic values to the level of publicistic pamphlets and praises authors, such as Vasyl Stefanyk, in whose writings he sees the true merging of social purpose and esthetic form. Yevshan's other critical writings were few; they consisted of various articles in journals as well as the more substantive pamphlet Kudy my pryishly (To Where We Have Come, 1912) and a monograph on Taras Shevchenko (1911).

Danylo Husar Struk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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