A society is changed fundamentally and permanently in all aspects only when people’s minds change. This is the irreversible reform in the sphere of intellect and spirit. Everything else is secondary. At the same time, we do not want to belittle the importance of material factors in society’s life, especially now, when the harsh reality of Ukrainian life seems to be deliberately proving the correctness of the old Marxist thesis “being determines consciousness.” It is true. However, we should not forget that history mercilessly punishes nations who neglect the eternal gospel truth: man shall not live by bread alone. And the punishment is very specific: intellectual and moral degradation, exhaustion of economy, “devastation” in people’s minds.
And in order to carry out this basic internal spiritual reform, we definitely need allies, especially given the complexity of the situation within society and the fact that a part of it is disoriented. Who can become such an ally? Outstanding Ukrainians, who were solving similar problems a few generations before us (even though there cannot be a full analogy there, but what can be more stupid than neglecting the experience of wise and free people, the treasure that was left for us), they offer us all something in 2013… What do they actually offer? No, they do not offer ready answers or a list of dead quotes to suit all occasions. Shevchenko and Dontsov, Stus and Petliura, Shevelov and Hrinchenko, Sheptytsky and Lina Kostenko guide the way to an inner light, the light of freedom, human dignity and national self-sufficiency, the light of honor, after all. The honor that a person and a nation must preserve above all. Is not this the way out of the damned “Ukrainian labyrinth” of today?
This focus on our prominent predecessors, and on the intellectual heritage of the past in general, is a long-standing, powerful, and stable tradition of The Day. This tradition is not declared on paper, but is really implemented in life. The best proof of this is the new series “Subversive Literature” by our library project, which was presented on September 13 at the Lviv Publishers’ Forum.
Luckily, the atmosphere in the elegant and aristocratic Mirror Hall of the Potocki Palace, where the event took place, was not officious at all. On the contrary, it was a meeting of colleagues, friends, like-minded people, who are dedicated to Ukrainian cause and culture (these two things are very closely intertwined). The audience of the packed hall (many guests had to stand) understood the meaning and content of The Day’s publishing projects, and “Subversive Literature” in particular. That is why the words of the event moderator and director of the International Institute of Education, Culture and Contacts with Diaspora at the Lviv Polytechnic National University Iryna KLIUCHKOVSKA that “a unique project of a unique newspaper with a unique editor and unique authors” is presented, did not seem an exaggeration to anyone but, on the contrary, were met with an outburst of applause.
“It is also very important that the newspaper is consistently bridging the gap, the isolation of society and youth from culture, about which head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) talked these days,” added Kliuchkovska.
The Day’s editor-in-chief Larysa IVSHYNA thanked the sponsor of the series Yevhen CHERNETSKY, authors of forewords to the 15 books of the series (Volodymyr Serhiichuk, Volodymyr Boiko, Bohdan Tykholoz, Petro Kraliuk, Ivan Dziuba, Yevhen Sverstiuk, Volodymyr Panchenko, Oxana Pachlowska, Stanislav Kulchytsky, Yevhenia Sokhatska, Ihor Hyrych, Serhii Hrabovsky, and Viacheslav Briukhovetsky). She emphasized that everyone who read The Day was a personality already, because we offer to rethink problems, facts, phenomena, events of the past, present, and future.
“We are often asked: what are these publishing projects for, including ‘Subversive Literature’ series?” Ivshyna continued. “We answer that there are a lot of people who are still living ‘back in the USSR,’ so the goal of our project is to overcome this situation. As our regular and respected author, professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, culturologist Oxana Pachlowska said these days, ‘Subversive Literature’ is a dropping bottle for our sick national organism.” And this is true.
“This series will promote the establishment of Ukrainians with a European type of consciousness,” hopes The Day’s editor-in-chief. “It will happen thanks to our fellow compatriots George Yurii Shevelov, Valerii Marchenko, Lina Kostenko, Vasyl Stus, to whom Mikhail Heifetz dedicated a book of memoirs, and also thanks to James Mace, Jerzy Giedroyc, and Andrei Sakharov, whose literary heritage is presented to our readers as well. It is utterly important that the youth find an additional source of inspiration here. It is about young people gaining valuable experience, and if this happens, we will have someone to pass our cause on to.”
Everyone who was present recalled something intimate, something cherished, while listening to speakers. Among them was Volodymyr Boiko, author of the foreword to James Mace’s works, Volodymyr Serhiichuk, expert on Symon Petliura’s journalism, Bohdan Tykholoz, who presented articles by Dmytro Dontsov, and Petro Kraliuk, who introduced Stepan Bandera’s heritage to the readers. The Day’s journalists noted a very fitting quote, which was said on the eve of our presentation, also at the Publishers Forum, by the brilliant translator of the classical languages Andrii SODOMORA. These words were quoted by Bohdan TYKHOLOZ, deputy dean at the journalism department, Ivan Franko Lviv National University: “Ukrainians are very generous in their aspirations, but they lack continuity. So, the formula of Ukrainian success should be as follows: continuity of the aspirations.”
This formula can become the motto of that minute, long-term, inconspicuous, persistent (and consistent), well-thought through work, which has been carried out by The Day for so many years now.
Yevhen SVERSTIUK, political prisoner, journalist, editor at Our Faith newspaper:
“The series ‘Subversive Literature’ is, first of all, a compilation of relevant essays which are very important. The youth of today does not read much and is not expert in important matters. We, the older generation, went through Borys Hrinchenko’s letters from Dnipro Ukraine, read Sakharov’s speeches at some point in time, studied almost all works by Hrushevsky and Dontsov. And one of the main reasons we read them all was because they were prohibited.
“The ‘Subversive Literature’ series is very relevant today because these are the works of serious authors. Some might choose something that fits their mood better, but it is clear that the choice is there, and nothing has changed, the main, fundamental matters stay in the spotlight. The other thing is that this can be missed by watching cartoons – that is what I call all sorts of shows on TV. But if a person wants to think seriously and find serious ideas, then s/he must look for them in works of prominent writers.
“When they say that a certain thing has lost relevance, it is possible, since some things lose their relevance if they are purely political. For example, Ivan Koshylivets published a book Ukrainian Literature in the USSR in Munich once. It was a devastating, slashing review of Soviet writers, starting with Korniichuk, about whom he said: ‘Korniichuk will be gone on the second day after that regime is gone.’ We were shocked, we thought: oh no, how can Korniichuk disappear when he is so deeply rooted here, he is the author whose plays are staged in many theaters. But Koshylivets was absolutely right, Korniichuk disappeared immediately. This means that things that were irrelevant for people, did lose their relevance. They were relevant for parties only.
“So, the works by outstanding Ukrainian publicists, included in the ‘Subversive Literature’ series, are deep and genuine. This is something to be experienced. This is the acquisition of the human thought, the ladder we should use to rise higher.”
Iryna KLIUCHKOVSKA, director, International Institute of Education, Culture and Contacts with Diaspora, Lviv Polytechnic National University:
“I am very happy that The Day’s series ‘Subversive Literature’ received an award from the Lviv Polytechnic National University. The lecturers who teach students have ready-to-be-used materials, which they can present during educational classes, lectures on the history of Ukraine, the history of culture, and even in foreign languages classes. I think it is crucially important that the new series of The Day’s books presents not only a concentrated version of Ukrainian political essayism. We also have an opportunity to read works by the Polish Jerzy Giedroyc, the Jewish Mikhail Heifetz, the Russian Andrei Sakharov. I am talking about the Ukrainian issue that went beyond the boundaries of the Ukrainian context. I think that ‘Subversive Literature’ gives us a deeper understanding of the international relations with Ukrainians being in the center of them for us, of course. It is the most important for me that in the matters, which are brought up on the daily basis by The Day, and these are very painful matters, we see a strong Ukraine.”