Wassyl Stefanyk

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Wassyl Stefanyk

Wassyl Semenowytsch Stefanyk ( Ukrainian Василь Семенович Стефаник ; born May 14, 1871 in Russiw , Galicia , Austria-Hungary ; † December 7, 1936 ) was a Ukrainian writer .


Stefanyk was born in the village of Rusov, today's Russiw in Snjatyn Raion of the Ukrainian Oblast Ivano-Frankivsk , as the son of a wealthy farmer. In 1883 Stefanyk attended a Polish grammar school in Kolomyja , where he took part in the work of the grammar school youth from the fourth grade. Its members carried out a public-cultural work among the farmers, in particular reading events were organized. It was there that he met Less Martovych . As a high school student, Stefanyk devoted himself to literature; only one poem of his first works was published. Two stories, "Nečital'nik" in 1888 and "Lumera" in 1889, were created in collaboration with Martowytsch.

In 1890, in connection with the prosecution for illegal public-cultural work, Stefanyk was forced to leave the Polish grammar school and continued his education at a grammar school in the Drohobych region . There he took part in public life, became a member of the secret group of young people, met personally Iwan Franko , with whom he later cultivated friendly relations.

He received his higher education at the medical and philosophical faculties at the Universities of Vienna and Cracow , where he met the Polish Impressionists. In 1895 Stefanyk was arrested for membership in a Ukrainian-Russian radical party and spent two weeks in prison.

However, he saw his destiny in becoming a writer and so it didn't work out with his studies. Instead of studying medicine, he immersed himself in the social and literary life of the city of Krakow and joined the association of Ukrainian students, the "Academic Community" (Akademičeskaja Obšina). The majority of the college students were attracted to the radical party. During his student days he read a lot, followed the new publications in literature and got closer to Polish writers.

The young Stefanyk took an active part in the public life of his hometown, expanded creative contacts with the Ukrainian magazines and print media and expanded his activities as a publicist and journalist. After he had published his first article “The Stomachs of our Working Class and Reading Rooms” in 1890 , he wrote a few articles between 1893 and 1899 in the organs of the radical party Narod , Chleborob , Graždanskij Golos , and Literaturno- Naučnij Westnik :

  • Weče holopov mazurskich v Krakove
  • Mazurskoe weče v Ržešove
  • Mužiki i predstawlenie
  • Pol'skie socialisti kak restawratori Pol'ši od motza do morza
  • Kniga za mužickij pišču
  • Molodie popi
  • Dlja detej
  • Poeti i intelligencija

The years 1896/97 were particularly marked by attempts to free oneself from the, in his opinion, outdated descriptive and narrative manner of his predecessors. In his first creative phase he combined modernity and abstract poetics. In the same years Stefanyk wrote a number of prose poems and tried to publish them in book form, with the title "S Oseni". However, the book did not find much interest among the public and the author destroyed his writings. Some prose poems that remained with his friends were only published after his death, including: Ambicii, Volšebnik, Ol'ge posvjaščaju, V vozduchach plavajut lesa, Gorodčik bogu ridal, Noč'ju.

The first real novels by Stefanyk were printed in the newspaper "Trud" in 1897 - "Vivodili iz Sela", "Pis'mo", "Nabožnaja" and others. They drew the attention of the literary community to his new artistic genius with profound interpretation of the problems from the life of the common people. However, not everyone immediately understood and accepted Stefanyk's new style and manner. When the author wanted to publish new novels in the magazine "Literaturno-Naučnij Vestnik", he received a letter stating that the content of his art essentially led to the non-recognition of Stefanyk's customs.

On March 11, 1898, Stefanyk wrote a reply to the publisher. It was a kind of "literary creed" of Stefanyk, his really innovative, ideological and aesthetic programs. The first collection of novellas "Sinjaja Knižečka", published in 1899, brought Stefanyk general recognition. The leading literary figures expressed their joy, including those of Ivan Franko , Lesja Ukrajinka , Mychajlo Kozjubynskyj and Olha Kobyljanska . The collection of short stories became an important milestone in the development of Ukrainian prose. The author drew attention to himself before showing the peasant tragedy.

In 1900 Stefanik's second anthology came out - "Kamennyj krest" (The Stone Cross), which was also recognized as a great literary event. His main guide, which runs through the entire volume, is a subject that has troubled Stefanik all his artistic life - the lonely senility, the tragedy of superfluous eaters in poor farming families. Works from the "Blue Book" ("Sama-odinechon´ka", "Angel", "Osen", "Škola") and novellas from anthologies "Kamennyj krest" ("Svjatoj večer", "Deti" ), "Doroga" ("Snop", "Vestniki", "Ozimye"). He is also interested in the second part of his literary work, but from a different perspective (“Synov´ja”, “Ded Griša”, “Rosa”, “Granica”).

In 1901 came the third volume by Stefanik - "Doroga", which symbolized a new step in his artistic principles. It is a kind of poetic biography of Stefanik (“Doroga”) and includes a lyrical confession “Confiteor” (in the revised version - “Moe slovo”) written a year before. In the third volume, non-subject, lyrical-emotional works predominate (“Davnost”, “Vestniki”, “Mai”, “Son”, “Ozimye”, “Vor”, “Palij”, “Klenovye list´ja”, “Pochorony ").

The topics of mother and child, victims of mothers, parental love appear in Stefanik in connection with other topics in the volume "Sinjaja knižečka" ("Mamen'kin synok", "Katjuša", "Novost") and in the volume "Kamennyj krest ". In the “Literary-Scientific Messenger” from 1900, the reader also discovered the novella “Klenovye list'ja”, which has become a pearl in the “Doroga” volume.

Group picture at the opening of a monument to Ivan Kotlyarevsky in Poltava in 1903. From left to right: Mychajlo Kozjubynskyj , Wassyl Stefanyk , Olena Ptschilka , Lesja Ukrajinka , Mychajlo Staryzkyj , Hnat Chotkewytsch , Volodymyr Samijlenko

In 1905 came the fourth volume by Stefanik - "Moe slovo" (My word). Then the novella “Sud” (“Court”) was published, which closes the first phase of Stefanik's “Creation”. The author's literary works have been translated into German, Russian and Italian. In 1903, at the opening of a monument to Ivan Kotljarewskyj in Poltava, he met some Ukrainian writers from the Russian Ukraine, including Mychajlo Kozjubynskyj and Lesja Ukrajinka . In 1904 he married and had three sons. His wife died in 1914. In 1910 he received parental inheritance in his home village, to which he moved and where he lived until his death.

After the Reichsrat election in 1907 he was a member of the Russian-Ukrainian Radical Party in the XI. and XII. Legislative period (1907 to 1918) Member for the district of Galicia 58 in the House of Representatives of the Austrian Reichsrat .

During the First World War , the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the emergence of the Soviet state , Stefanyk began to write novellas again. The second phase of his creative phase begins, not as intense as the first, but with the same great success. The novella “Detskoe priključenie” (“The Child's Adventure”) (written in autumn 1916, published in early 1917) could be taken as a chronological beginning.

In 1916 he wrote the novella "Maria", which he dedicated to Iwan Franko . Then Stefanik published another six novellas, which together with two works already mentioned ("Detskoe priključenie", "Maria") form the fifth volume - "Ona - zemlja" ("She - Earth") from 1926.

In the period from 1926 to 1933 Stefanyk published more than ten other novellas.

After the First World War, his “Zemlja” collection and the “Proizvedenija” anniversary edition were published. In 1928 Stefanyk was awarded a personal pension by the Soviet government, which he refused in 1933 in protest against hunger and oppression in the USSR.

In the last years of his life Stefanik also wrote autobiographical novellas and fictional memories. These include works such as “Nitka”, “Bratja”, “Serdce”, “Slava Jsu”, “Ludmila”, “Kamenščiki”, “Volčica”.

During his stay in western Ukraine under the rule of Poland , Stefanyk lived, almost without changing residence, in the village of Rusov, where he wrote his last works when he was free from farming. Until his death Stefanyk did not lose the will to “tell people something strong and beautiful that has never been said before”. And in his life he knew the happiness of an artist - he said what he wanted and said it the way he wanted it.

Special features of the notation

He wrote mostly short stories about the life and customs of the Galician village . In the whole series of short stories ("Palij", "Sud", "Klenovi listki", "Novina", "Kamennyj krest", "Mai", "Zlodij", "Leseva familja", "Strativsja", "Vivodili z sela" ”) Stefanik showed the everyday life of the oppressed working peasantry under the conditions of capitalist reality, expressions of the“ idiotism of village life ”, hopeless existence under the grueling labor. Stefanik's protagonists bear the mark of fatalistic hopelessness. Stefanik often also showed the “biological” beginning in a person, as well as various pathological manifestations (“Basarabi”) or manifestations of deep loneliness (“Zlodij”). Works that were written during the imperialist war have a pacifist flair . Stefanyk, along with Marko Tscheremschyna and Less Martowytsch, is considered to be the " Pokutian triad " ( Покутська трійця ). The writer's artistic method is the mixture of expressionism and naturalistic tendencies.

Memory of the author


  • "Sinjaja Knižečka" Obrazki, Chernivtsi , 1899
  • "Kamennyj krest", Lviv , 1900
  • "Doroga", Lviv, 1901
  • "Moe slovo", Lviv, 1905
  • "Opovidannja", Sankt-Peterburg , 1905
  • "Vybrani tvory", DVU, 1927
  • "Tvory", DVU, 1929, 3rd edition
  • "Povne zibrannja tvoryv u 3 tomach", 1949-1954


  • "Enciklopedija ukrajinoznavstva. U 10 tomach" Ed. Volodimir Kubijovič. - Paris; New York; "Molode Žittja", 1954-1989.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk. Literaturna characteristics" B. Lepkij, 1903.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk. Sproba kritičnojcharistiki" O. Gricaj, 1921.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk. Kritiko-boigrafičnyj narys", S. Križanivs´kij, 1946.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk. Bibliografičnyj pokažčik" O. Kušč, 1961.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk - majster novely" V. Lesin, 1970.
  • "Wassyl Stefanyk - spivec´ukr. Zemli" L. Luciv, New York; Jersey City; 1971.
  • "А Study of Vasyl 'Stefanyk: The Pain at the Heart of Existence" D. Struk, Littletown 1973.


  • "Kamennyj krest" ("The Stone Cross"), 1968 (based on novellas "Sud", "Kamennyj krest")

Director Leonid Osyka

Web links

Commons : Wassyl Stefanyk  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files