The Riddles of the Shevchenko Cult

In: Great Immortality

This chapter focuses on the emergence of the Shevchenko cult among Ukrainians in the second half of the nineteenth century under adverse circumstances: the vast majority of Ukrainians were illiterate, the small intelligentsia was largely Russified, and Ukrainian was not a codified standard language at the time. Shortly after the poet’s death, imperial Russia curtailed Ukrainian-language education and publishing. To unravel the mystery of how a writer’s cult could develop under such conditions, the chapter focuses on the amalgamation of Shevchenko’s biography and poetic works by his contemporaries, examines Russian censorship and its loopholes, and traces the spread of cultic Shevchenko veneration under Russian and Austrian rule.

Great Immortality

Studies on European Cultural Sainthood

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