Of Legacies, Larcenies, and Litigants (I)

Of Legacies, Larcenies, and Litigants: Russia, Ukraine, and the Cultural Front (Part 1)

by John Rodden

For Gogol thereafter became a quintessentially Russian writer, albeit also—as Ukrainians emphasize—a vitriolic critic who reaffirmed his outsider status with his withering mockery of Russian society.”

Like hundreds of millions of people around the globe who found themselves transfixed in February 2022 by the scenes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, my attention was riveted on the military campaign and the horrific consequences for the Ukrainian people, including thousands of casualties and millions of displaced persons. That continues, quite properly, to be the chief concern for both the Ukrainian populace and international observers. As the war proceeded through the spring, however, I became aware of a “second front,” as it were: the cultural front. I became absorbed by reports in the European press—notably, the developments were only spottily covered in the Anglophone media—of one sector of that second battlefront, namely what I have come to understand as a Slavic “Battle of the Books.”

By that expression I refer not to some Slavic update of the genteel literary joust conducted in Augustan England between Jonathan Swift and his literary colleagues, but rather to the deadly serious “canon war” between Russia and Ukraine. Although the cultural ministries in Kyiv and Moscow have advanced rival claims to Ukrainian-born writers who wrote in Russian for more than a decade, the issue has recently escalated to the level of official state policy. Curricular “reforms” are underway in thousands of schools both in Kyiv-controlled Ukraine and Russia-occupied Ukraine to cancel each other nation’s authors and stake firm claim to one’s own.

Yet which authors do Ukrainians and Russians call “my own”?

Among the disputed writers is the satirist and comic genius Nikolai Gogol, about whose contested patrimony I wrote two pieces of literary journalism in the summer of 2022. Yet Gogol is just one of the authors about whom Ukrainian and Russian officials are arguing. That is one reason that I feel compelled to return to “the Gogol zone” yet now with a fuller appreciation of its location on the front lines of the Russian-Ukrainian canon war, which has many theatres of operation that reflect the challenges of nation-building and of fashioning a literary heritage.

These matters warrant serious reflection, even as it needs re-emphasis that our metaphorical usage of “warfare” to characterize a literary dispute is not meant to distract from a bedrock fact: the primary and horrible “scene” that commands our notice—not the “literary scene.” To stress that the nightmarish experience of the military conflict is the overwhelming, dominating reality for millions of Ukrainians does not, however, preclude our acknowledgment of the cultural dimension of the conflict. For the heated debates among educators and cultural officials over the “ownership” of numerous Slavic literary greats possess vast and significant implications for understanding the cultural and linguistic differences between these Slavic neighbors and the historically vexed issues of identity that join and divide them. Indeed, from this fresh angle of the easily overlooked “cultural front,” our examination of these ongoing debates offers powerful insight into both the baffling complexity and emotional intensity of the Russo-Ukrainian war, while also illustrating the ambiguity of the literary as well as geographical borders between the two “brother” nations.

Put another way, my concern in the following essay is the intersection between the cultural politics of entwined literary traditions and the politics of literary reputation. That latter phrase is also the title of a full-length study I wrote more than three decades ago that addresses these issues, above all in the case of George Orwell and his ambiguous, much-debated heritage. I was particularly concerned in The Politics of Literary Reputation (1989) with how rival parties stake literary claims to a distinguished figure for two purposes: to establish intellectual pedigree and to buttress ideological positions. Each camp aims to secure these goals by having the claimed figure “on my side.” This practice of “claiming” highly reputed authors for political purposes extends, of course, far beyond the literary scene—to statesmen, entertainers, and even sports figures. Yet men and women of letters furnish the plaintiffs with an extensive documentary record that they can cite chapter and verse—and, like the devil, cite secular scripture to their purpose… (as a contemporary re-staging of The Merchant of Venice could well have Antonio remark of the revered playwright himself).

These issues in cultural politics—and especially “the politics of literary reputation”—have continued to preoccupy me to the present day, and I have written about the cases of numerous other writers and intellectuals besides Orwell (e.g., Nietzsche, Camus, and Lionel Trilling) who have been the object of warring claims between intellectuals of the Left and Right.

The Russia-Ukraine battles for Gogol and others are, however, utterly unprecedented. That fact must be underscored. As we shall see, they have been conducted not just between ideologically opposed adversaries in literary periodicals and intellectual quarterlies. Rather, they have been matters of official dispute in the cultural ministries—and even the presidential offices—of the two leading nations of the Slavic world. Moreover, they involve fascinating issues of both translation and cultural transmission, since—in every instance—the authors in dispute wrote in Russian, yet often did so because Ukrainian was either officially proscribed or deemed little more than a subliterary dialect of “the peasants.”

For me, therefore, an investigation of the cultural politics of the “canon wars” in Russia and Ukraine represents a step into terra incognita. As the following two-part essay will evince, a claim to Nikolai Gogol—and several of the other writers in dispute—is not just a matter of critics and professors trading blows in a little magazine or cultural review. It rises to the level of an official matter of state cultural and educational policy that aims to “win the minds of men,” as the old Stalinist slogan trumpeted—that is, to radically redesign not only the literary maps but also the mental furniture of generations of Ukrainians and Russians to come.

Part One, presented below in this issue of Hopscotch, focuses on the larger issues in the Slavic “Battle of the Books” and on the work of Gogol, the central figure at issue. Part Two, which will appear next week, devotes specific attention to Vladimir Nabokov’s stance toward Gogol and to the disputants’ rival claims to several other major writers, including Nikolai Bulgakov and Anton Chekhov.

Part One

Writers “Well Worth Stealing”?

Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol: Was he Russian or Ukrainian? How about Mikhail Bulgakov? Even Anton Chekhov? How about Jewish writers born in Ukraine? Isaac Babel? Vasily Grossman? Sholom Aleichem? Or those with Ukrainian connections: Anna Akhmatova? Boris Pasternak?

What is the patrimony of these world-renowned literary figures who wrote in the Russian language and have been known throughout literary history as “Russian authors”? Have they been the historical victims of a Russian cultural takeover? Not just recently—but ongoing for centuries? More and more Ukrainians are now alleging exactly that.

Born in Ukraine and often portraying Ukrainian society and folk life in their writings, some of the greatest Russian-language authors “belong to us,” millions of Ukrainians have begun to insist. In the eyes of Ukrainian cultural authorities, the current military incursion conducted by Vladimir Putin’s armies has sharpened awareness of the literary land grab—or the Anschluss [annexation], as some enraged Ukrainians call it, borrowing Adolf Hitler’s euphemism for his takeover of Austria and other neighboring “Teutonic” lands that came to form “Greater Germany.” (In early October, the historical analogy became uncannily exact, as President Putin moved to formally annex four Ukrainian territories, which were affirmed overwhelmingly by voters in staged referendums. In an eerie echo of Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich, Putin announced: “The residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are becoming our citizens. Forever.”)

Putin, who fancies himself an intellectual of sorts, is on record as having expressed admiration for several writers now disputed by Ukrainian cultural authorities—and most especially Gogol, a “velikii russkii pisatel,” in the hallowed, traditional encomium to Russia’s literary immortals: a “Great Russian Writer.” Yet Gogol is not just any G.R.W. He is “the father of Russian letters.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian political leaders such as the third president of Ukraine, a predecessor of Volodymyr Zelensky—Viktor Yushchenko—proclaimed during the Gogol bicentennial in 2009: “We have no doubt that Gogol was Ukrainian because his roots go back to the Ukrainian Cossacks,” averring that “he belongs to Ukraine without a doubt. Gogol wrote in Russian, but he thought and felt in Ukrainian.”

From the point of view of most Ukrainian educators and cultural officials, Russia has treated Gogol as “a writer well worth stealing,” as George Orwell phrased it in the arresting opening line of his great essay on Dickens. And they add: “Chekhov too! And Bulgakov and Babel and all the rest!” (That’s before they catch their breath and switch from the author list to the roster of composers, starting with world-famous figures such as Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. Igor Stravinsky is often thrown in for good measure. Then we may segue to dance for Nijinsky, topped off by painting with the abstract artworks of Kiev’s Kazimir Malevich[1].)

Russian cultural representatives say the same—about the literary “larcenies” of the Ukrainians, of course.

So which is it? Russian or Ukrainian? What is the fatherland of “the fathers”?

A literary paternity suit is underway. The litigants are battling fiercely, and the case is being argued in the courts of national—and even international—opinion.

Of “Brotherlands”—and Sibling Rivalry and Fratricide

Is all this just some rarified, elitist spat among intellectuals? So it might seem—after all, the carnage and slaughter of this war has already displaced a quarter of the Ukrainian population: more than 13 million Ukrainians, five million of whom have fled to other countries. American war analysts estimate that up 90,000 Russian and allied troops have been killed or wounded. Add to that at least 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers and perhaps double that number of Ukrainian civilians.

Yet the war on the cultural front is not just some highbrow literary contretemps—as acknowledged by the German and French media, which have more closely covered the issue. Admittedly, it seems a strange little brouhaha to Americans. When was the last time you heard Joe, let alone the Donald, duke it out with Boris over whether the New Yorker Henry James and the royalist Anglo-Catholic T.S. (“Tom”) Eliot of St. Louis are “American” or “British” authors? Or, for that matter, cross swords with Emmanuel Macron over whether that hero of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette, was French or American? (Returning home in 1781, he remained a lifelong French citizen and participated in the French Revolution, though the lavish official U.S. ceremonies honoring his death in 1834 contrasted with a muted farewell in France.)

No, you probably can’t quite imagine Joe and the Donald squaring off with European leaders on those topics. American society pays homage to the current glitterati, not the literati and historical relics. Politicians in Russia, on the other hand, like to imagine themselves capable of engagement with advanced intellectuals on serious political, literary and/or economic matters.

In Russkiy mir (“the Russian world”)—Vladimir Putin’s endlessly reiterated phrase for his hawkish doctrine of Russia’s expansionist “sphere of influence”—the battles on the culture front matter. Indeed: they matter both for Russians and Ukrainians. Putin himself is a history buff. His 5,000-word July 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” argues that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people,” which “the West” is attempting to divide by profiling a Janus-faced image of Ukraine as “anti-Russia.” The significance that Putin attaches to the battle for people’s hearts and minds may be gauged from a simple fact: his essay is now mandatory reading in Russian military training. To an American, the essay reads almost as if it were a call-to-arms written by a megalomaniacal would-be Lincoln aiming to prevent Confederate secession and “safeguard the hallowed Union.” The essay offers a revealing glimpse into Putin’s conviction that Ukraine is an integral unit within the Orthodox Christian civilization of “the Russian world.” (The phrase is widely associated with the Russian philosopher-pundit Aleksandr Dugin, an aggressive pro-Putin imperialist who crusaded tirelessly for both the Ukrainian invasion and the recent annexations of Ukrainian territories.) Putin’s essay repeatedly refers to Ukraine’s inclusion within “Russian cultural space” and is frequently cited in the Russian media. All this is strategic: much of the impetus for the Russian invasion has to do with appeals to history. Putin argues that Russia and Ukraine are “brotherlands”—with the proviso that Ukraine, even though independent since 1991 and the breakup of the USSR, is the “little brother”—not so different from its diminutive “Little Russia” status of yore.

The ongoing war, however, has been Ukrainians’ brutal, horrific nightmare experience in a nationwide Ministry of “Truth,” and they are rapidly unlearning to “love ‘Big Brother.’” The rhetorical “siege of Gogol” and other Great Russian/Ukrainian Writers since 1991—and especially since Putin’s invasion of February 2022—is part of an ongoing historical debate conducted within the sphere of literary history. It too involves the topics of “Russian greatness” and Ukraine’s “decolonization” movement.

This movement has recently come to include aggressive measures to “de-Russify” the Ukrainian literary curriculum by dropping the works of the very greatest Russian writers, including Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. The movement is not just literary but also linguistic. Ukrainians have long bristled at the “imperial” Kremlin attitude that the Ukrainian tongue is just a folk language—and in fact not a separate language at all, merely a “southern dialect” of Russian— “the Little Russian dialect,” in Nabokov’s snide phrase. (That goes too far: the two languages differ as much as French and Portuguese, or at least German and Dutch.) Aiming to make “separate and equal” official policy, the city council in the southern Ukrainian city of Nikolayev recently set foreign observers reeling with a still more stunning decision: the upcoming school year in September would proceed with a total ban of the Russian language. Will other cities and regions soon follow?

So this updated, intra-Slavic “Battle of the Books” is serious business. Given the signals from the top, from Putin and his Ukrainian counterparts on down, it is clear that it is the process of being coordinated with the more aggressive forms of propaganda, having to do with the military campaign and the conditions in Russia-occupied Ukraine. The “canon wars” represent the more elevated, “high” road of propaganda. “Winning” in this sphere of the propaganda battle empowers you to proudly proclaim intellectual pedigree. Distinguished ancestors inaugurate and burnish a literary tradition—which is partly why Ukrainian cultural authorities embrace Gogol—just as, say, Dostoevsky hailed Pushkin. Establishing “title” to a world-class writer such as Gogol amasses cultural capital, promotes national heritage, and elevates international standing. Politics is politics—and cultural politics can inspire minds, move hearts, and fire emotions. And political leaders such as Putin, Yushchenko, and Zelensky know that they are waging campaigns not just on the map but in the mind, and that wars are fought and won not just with the body but also with the soul.

So the stakes for Gogol and the other authors are real. They legitimize a specifically Ukrainian tradition of art and accomplishment. Outraged patriotic Ukrainians also point to Putin’s remark just weeks before the Russian invasion last winter that Ukraine was simply a part of “the Russian cultural space.” The remark, they say, makes it clear that Putin’s aggressive efforts to deny a specifically “Ukrainian” cultural tradition—and to patronize Ukraine as a backwater of Russia—explains why Russian cultural functionaries want to steal “Hohol.”

What’s in a Name?

Let us start with Gogol (1809-52), the oldest and very biggest jewel in the pan-Slavic literary crown, an author who has been treated for generations by Ukrainians as well as Russians as a velikii russkii pisatel. Because he wrote about Ukraine and spent his youth there, Gogol also represents Ukraine’s most unproblematic claim to a literary figure of world stature. Less well known in the West than the other members of the Big Five in the nineteenth-century Russian literary pantheon, he is nonetheless a writer regarded in the Slavic world as the equal of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Turgenev.

Is it Nikolai Gogol? Or “Mykola Hohol,” his Ukrainian birth name? That is now the usage in all official Ukrainian cultural documents and education materials—and even, recently, many press reports. Ukrainians do not dispute Gogol’s greatness, but they increasingly dispute his “Russianness”—their “Hohol” is a Great Ukrainian Writer, let us say: a G.U.W. That view is now widespread, though it has been building steadily since the Gogol bicentennial of 2009. Indeed, as Russian-Ukrainian relations have steadily deteriorated during the last decade—and most sharply since the anti-Russian protests during the so-called Maidan Revolution of 2014—Ukrainians have grown ever more irritated, even enraged, with the traditional view that Gogol is a Great Russian Writer. During the last dozen years, the question of Gogol’s national affiliation has repeatedly appeared on a list of contested topics between Ukraine and Russia.

Growing up in the city of Poltava, Gogol left central Ukraine for St. Petersburg at the age of 19. There he penned his first collection of stories, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka (1831-1832). The tales represent a humorous, boisterous, often self-deprecating evocation of the superstitious village life that the young émigré, now a Russian urbanite, rhapsodized and immortalized. “Do you know a Ukrainian night?” Gogol asks in “May Eve, or the Drowned Maiden” (1831)? What follows are the best-known lines in the work of the early Gogol, which were given new significance when a Ukrainian soldier posted a defiant “message to the Russian invaders” on February 25, just hours after the invasion commenced. Urging the Russians to cease raining down bombs and shelling through the Ukrainian night, the soldier praised “Hohol” and later alluded to the famous opening to Part Two of the Gogol tale, which continues as follows:

No, you do not know a night in the Ukraine. Gaze your full on it.
The moon shines in the midst of the sky;
the immeasurable vault of heaven seems to have expanded
to infinity; the earth is bathed in silver light; the air is
warm, voluptuous, and redolent of innumerable sweet scents.
Divine night! Magical night! (Claud Field translation, pp. 1-2)

Yes, “a magical night”—and day, too. Gogol’s tales represent a form of what could be termed Slavic “magical realism,” written almost a century and a half before the Latin American Boom writers. In stories such as “Christmas Eve,” a magical wintry night unfolds that witnesses a blacksmith’s encounter with the devil and an audience with Catherine the Great and Potemkin, who bestows the blacksmith with Cinderella-type slippers. Published in 1832, less than four decades since Catherine’s death, it also illustrates well the worshipful attitude typical of a Ukrainian peasant toward the czarina and her leading soldier-statesman:

“Is it the Czar?” asked the blacksmith….

“The Czar! a great deal more; it is Potemkin himself!” was the answer….

Then only did the blacksmith venture to raise his eyes, and saw before him a lady, not tall, somewhat stout, with powdered hair, blue eyes, and that majestic, smiling air, which conquered every one, and could be the attribute only of a reigning woman.

“His Highness [Prince Potemkin] promised to make me acquainted to-day with a people under my dominion, whom I have not yet seen,” said the blue-eyed lady… “What do you ask for, then?” demanded Catherine, in a solicitous tone of voice.

“Now’s the time! the Czarina asks what we want!” thought the blacksmith, and suddenly down he went on his knees. “Imperial Majesty! Do not show me thy anger, show me thy mercy! Let me know (and let not my question bring the wrath of thy Majesty’s worship upon me!) of what stuff are made the boots that thou wearest on thy feet? I think there is no bootmaker in any country in the world who ever will be able to make such pretty ones. Gracious Lord! if ever my wife had such boots to wear!”

The empress laughed; the courtiers laughed too. Potemkin frowned and smiled at the same time.

“Stand up!” said the empress, kindly. “If thou wishest to have such shoes, thy wish may be easily fulfilled. Let him have directly my richest gold embroidered shoes. This artlessness pleases me exceedingly.”

“Gracious Lord! what ornaments!” cried he, overpowered with joy, grasping the shoes. “Imperial Majesty! if thou dost wear such shoes upon thy feet (and thy Honour, I dare say, does use them even for walking in the snow and the mud), what, then, must thy feet be like? —whiter than sugar, at the least, I should think!”

The empress, who really had charming feet of an exquisite shape, could not refrain from smiling at such a compliment from a simple-minded blacksmith, who, notwithstanding his sunburnt features must have been accounted a handsome lad…. (George Tolstoy translation, online)

Nineteenth-century Russians were enthralled with such stories, which were imbued with Gogol’s open love for his Ukrainian homeland and transported them to an exotic world. Gogol’s tales unleashed a brief mood of “Ukrainomania,” as Joseph Roth would term the vogue for Ukrainian music and dance in post-World War I Germany. More recently, generations of Ukrainians as well as Russians have grown up enraptured by The Night Before Christmas (the usual English title), a Russian children’s film based on “Christmas Eve.” Released in 1961, it is a beloved holiday treat regularly broadcast both on Russian and Ukrainian television.

Written about Ukraine, yet written in Russia—and in Russian (and made famous by Russian critics and literary colleagues)—these stories represent the specifically literary grounds for the Ukrainian claim to Gogol. Or rather “Hohol,” a name utterly unknown even today outside the borders of Ukraine, which was colloquially termed “Little Russia” in Gogol’s day and throughout much of the twentieth century. “Hohol” is also, of course, a name that the writer never used as an author, even when he wrote his Ukrainian tales, since he never published a line in the Ukrainian language. (Starting with Peter the Great, czarist Russia proscribed publication in Ukrainian; even though Ukrainian was an official language in the Soviet Union, the USSR also discouraged the practice, with certain exceptions such as the nineteenth-century Ukrainian poet-patriot Taras Shevchenko. Until publication regulations loosened on all fronts during the Gorbachev era, Ukrainian remained chiefly a “language of the people,” rather than a literary language.)

For Gogol thereafter became a quintessentially Russian writer, albeit also—as Ukrainians emphasize—a vitriolic critic who reaffirmed his outsider status with his withering mockery of Russian society. Russian literary historians have long valued him, however, as an eminent representative of the Russian satirical genius and a direct influence on the succeeding generation of literary geniuses, Dostoevsky above all. Gogol’s scathing satires of Imperial Russian society have exerted a far-reaching impact on Russia’s literary tradition. For instance, his comedy The Government Inspector (a.k.a. The Inspector General) lambastes the greed and graft of Russian officials, who cower in the feared expectation that a government inspector is arriving to report them—and a faux inspector bamboozles the town. The absurdist waiting-for-Godot plot line concludes with the delicious twist that the jig is up: a real inspector general has just arrived and heads will roll.

Not only do Ukrainians enjoy Gogol’s attacks on Russian corruption; Ukraine’s struggle for self-determination has also drawn inspiration from some of his other works, especially the novella Taras Bulba, which he published a year earlier in 1835, then republished in a more pro-Russian version in 1842. The novella is an ode to romantic nationalism. But to whose nationalism? Ukraine’s in the 1835 original? Or Russia’s, in the expanded, or altered, edition of 1842? Turned into a Hollywood epic in 1962 starring Yul Brynner, Gogol’s story recounts the exploits of a legendary warrior, a Cossack who puts patriotic ideals before paternal feelings. “The Cossack history is the foundation of the Ukrainian national identity,” a professor in Kyiv announced during the 2009 Gogol bicentennial, noting that the anti-Russian mass protests of the Maidan Revolution of 2014 were associated by millions of Ukrainian nationalists with the heroic stories of Taras Bulba.

That invocation to “Cossack history” echoes the already cited appeal of President Yushchenko to Gogol’s “Cossack roots” at the 2009 bicentennial, though the quasi-official statement generated a backlash that induced him to qualify it. Squirming in the apprehension that he might have ventured a tad too far in his insistence “without a doubt” that Gogol “belongs to Ukraine” despite scholarship and worldwide cultural tradition that has treated him as “Russian” for two centuries, Yushchenko conceded: “I consider all these proprietary arguments pointless and humiliating in a way.”

Nonetheless, momentarily “humiliating” or not, the “point” had been made. In fact, the gauntlet had been thrown down—and from the very top: Gogol “belongs to Ukraine.”

Gogol himself agonized over his loyalties, his identity, and his mission. Ultimately, he came to see his vocation as a spiritual one. His sphere of action would be pan-Slavic, even universal, a calling far greater than that of a mere author and within a far vaster “spiritual” territory, a transcendent plane that dwarfed the states of Ukraine and Russia. Like Dostoevsky, he agonized over the portentous responsibilities of the Slavic thinker.

Gogol’s worldview grew increasingly mystical and esoteric over time. Could he fulfill the divine role apparently ordained for him and his people? Eventually he suffered from an apparent bout of severe depression that some literary scholars have characterized as insanity, and he died at the age of 42.

In his last and perhaps finest achievement, the novel Dead Souls (1845)—of which Gogol completed only the first of three anticipated volumes—the erstwhile antagonist of bureaucratic, czarist Russia closes the story with a nationalistic breast-beating, heralding a mighty Russia of the future. He apostrophizes in the very last paragraph of Book One:

Russia, whither flyest thou? Answer! She gives no answer. The ringing of the bells melts into music; the air, torn to shreds, whirs and rushes like the wind, everything there is on earth is flying by, and the other states and nations, with looks askance, make way for her and draw aside. (Constance Garnett translation, p. 78)

For comparison, consider the lyrical flight that Vladimir Nabokov takes in his translation, which aims, he says, to convey how “beautiful this final crescendo sounds”:

Rus, whither are you speeding so? Answer me! No answer. The middle bell trills out in a dream its liquid soliloquy; the roaring air is turned to pieces and becomes Wind; all things on earth fly by and other nations and states gaze askance as they step aside and give her the right of way (Nikolai Gogol, p. 113)

Gogol envisioned a messianic role for the Russian people: that of a desert prophet. Russia would lead humankind out of captivity, as if by parting the Red Sea. Russia was destined to be the champion of the world, the carrier of the hopes of the future—quite similar to the prophetic vision for Russia and Russian Orthodoxy to which Dostoevsky also subscribed.

Part 2 of this essay will be published on Hopscotch Translation
on Tuesday, November 22, 2022


[1] Throughout the essay, I have cited Ukraine’s capital by the Russian spelling if the reference pertains to events before Ukrainian independence on August 24, 1991. After that date, I have used the city’s Ukrainian spelling, “Kyiv,” which has become standard usage, both in Ukraine and internationally. (“Kiev” still prevails in Kremlin announcements and in the official Russian state media.)

Works Cited:

Gogol, Nikolai. Dead Souls. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Knopf, 1923.

Gogol, Nikolai. A May Evening, or the Drowned Maiden. Trans. Claud Field. Paris: Clap Publishing [1887] 2015.

Gogol, Nikolai. The Night of Christmas Eve. Trans. George Tolstoy. Glasgow: Good Press [1860], 2021). [Accessed online: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Night_of_Christmas_Eve%5D

Langeveld, Arthur. “Gogol seen through the eyes of Nabokov.” In: Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature: Portraits of the Artist as Reader and Teacher. Ed. Ben Dhooge and Jürgen Pieters. Amsterdam: Brill, 2018. 121-34.

Nabokov, Vladimir “The Art of Translation,” New Republic, 105 (5) August 4, 1941, 160-62.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Nikolai Gogol. Norfolk, CN: New Directions, 1944.

Nabokov, Vladimir. Selected Letters 1940-1977. Ed. Dmitri Nabokov and Matthew J. Bruccoli. San Diego, New York, 1989.

Nabokov, Vladimir. “Thirteen Problems of Translation: Onegin in English.” Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida, edited by Paul Valery, 1st ed., University of Chicago Press, 1992, 127–143.

Pushkin, Alexander. Eugene Onegin. A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin. Trans. Vladimir NabokovNew York 1964.

Putin, Vladimir. “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” July 12, 2021. Official Russian Presidential Website.

John Rodden has taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Texas at Austin. His books include The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell (2007), Dialectics, Dogmas, and Dissent: Stories from East German Victims of Human Rights Abuse (2010), Of G-Men and Eggheads: The FBI and the New York Intellectuals (2017), and most recently, The Intellectual species: Exile or Extinction? (2022). He lives in Austin, Texas and can be reached at jgrodden1@gmail.com.

Originally published on Hopscotch Translation
Tuesday, November 15, 2022

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