UKRAINIAN MASQUERADES, OR THE DEFENCE OF HORPYNA
The article deals with a vision of Ukraine as a meta-space of adventure that has been very popular among Polish writers and artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the authoresses argue that it is not only, or not primarily, the 'adventure' which is at stake in those widespread literary pictures of Polish knights and noblemen riding horses and winning battles against the 'wild' Cossacks and Tatars but that to a much greater extent they concern the ideological, national or cultural dimensions of such plots. In order to prove this thesis, they analyse two texts: the first, 'With Fire and Sword' (1884) by Henryk Sienkiewicz, belongs to the Polish literary canon and deals with the Ukraine as a political order, a challenge, a phantasm, and a strictly political 'problem', while the other is a short story little known although deserving attention - 'Honeymoon in Ukraine' by Eugeniusz Malaczewski (1921). The latter is directly connected with Sienkiewicz's work for it uses and reverses the scheme of 'the Beauty and the Beast'. The heroine's name is the same as that of Sienkiewicz's ambiguous 'witch' - Horpyna, and furthermore, its style continues in the tradition of the 'noble tall story'. In relation to feminism, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and post-colonial criticism, the authoresses demonstrate the grounds of such constructions as the Ukrainian 'anti-family', native female 'witches', the subversive social order remaining on the one hand the negative idea of 'anarchy' as well as a sabbath (i.e. the confusion of gender roles in Sienkiewicz's novel and the presentation of the year 1918 as a 'feminine' political, sexual, and simultaneously ethnic revolution by Malaczewski), and on the other hand, of the primordial nature-friendly and pre-industrial 'matriarchy'. These questions coexist with the omnipresent, superficially 'innocent' and mostly amusing motif of masquerade which allows to look at the Ukrainian landscape in terms of a transgressive and transgression-generating space: the one liberating, luring, encouraging to cross the sexual and gender boundaries imposed on a person in their own (Polish, West European, Latin) culture. The paper is an attempt to re-read and re-interpret Polish 'colonising' tendencies that have for a long time found their expression not only in political and economic actions taken in the so-called Eastern Borderlands, but also, or above all, in our collective imagination where they still seem to be firmly rooted for emotional reasons.
CEJSH db identifier