On November 28 Donetsk held the Fifth International Scholarly-Theoretical Conference “Vasyl Stus’s creative word in the contest of Ukrainian and world literature.” Over 100 people have volunteered to take part in the event, including scholars from Kyiv, Luhansk, Lutsk, Lviv, Ternopil, Khmelnytsky, as well as Russians, Austrians, Serbians, and Poles.
Important topics of Stus studies were discussed at the meeting, including the innovation and problem of author’s dictionary of the poet, national-aesthetic concepts of his creative work, and his epistolary and translation oeuvre.
Prof. Volodymyr Mokry, Chair in Ukrainian Studies, Faculty of International and Political Studies at Jagiellonian University in Poland noted: “Stus has helped me a lot when I felt uneasy: I have read his poetry alone or with my students. Vasyl Stus knew and asserted the most important Biblical values, and the evil starts when the hierarchy of these qualities is ruined.”
Scholars and litterateurs sometimes oppose Taras Shevchenko to Vasyl Stus. The head of the Taras Shevchenko All-Ukrainian “Prosvita” Society, winner of the State Shevchenko Prize Pavlo Movchan noted in this concern: “This is not a struggle, this is specification of meanings. Stus and Shevchenko are significant personalities, who outlined Ukraine’s spiritual field, and to some extent they rhyme with each other; the act of reburial, a kind of resurrection, is connected with both of them. Time will come and they will be canonized. At the moment Stus’s word is implemented insufficiently – not only his literary works, but letter as well. The poet never apostatized from himself; so, Stus is above all conscience for me.”
The book Vasyl Stus: Poet and Citizen. Book of Recollections and Contemplations was launched at the conference. The edition includes recollections of over 70 people who knew Vasyl Stus. The book was published in August this year; it was compiled by former political prisoner, member of Ukrainian Helsinki Group Vasyl Ovsiienko, who used to be Stus’s cellmate in the 1980s.
At the moment the work on the 12-volume collection of Stus’s works has been suspended: the Institute of Literature of NAN of Ukraine was in charge of this project. “We are going to return to this work. At the moment the institute is finishing to compile the Shevchenko Encyclopedia and complete academic collection of Shevchenko’s works; this is a huge and complicated work. We have to publish the academic collection of Vasyl Stus’s works, but, unfortunately, we have neither strength, nor possibilities at the moment,” commented the Head of the Institute of Literature of Ukraine Mykola Zhulynsky.
The first scholarly meeting dedicated to Vasyl Stus’s life and creative work took place in the Donetsk National University in the early 1990s. Academic of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, former rector of the Donetsk National University recalls: “Much time has passed since then, but the problem of Vasyl Stus remains, and the Donetsk National University is in the center of it, for Stus was produced by this institution. We need tradition. World-renowned people are always commemorated in their alma maters.”
However, Volodymyr Mokry is full of optimism: “I stood near the Shevchenko Monument and sang together with everyone ‘Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished’ at Euromaidan in Donetsk. I believe that the Donetsk University will be named after Vasyl Stus.”