Language and Literature

I can no longer play Russian Wordle because it has that nasty, utterly meaningless flag at the top of the page. (One of the reasons why Russia is this way is that it was never fully formed as a nation-state. The flag, the anthem, the two-headed eagle evoke no emotional attachment from the people.)

So I switched to Ukrainian Wordle. It immediately defeated me by offering as its first riddle the word “kebab.” It’s the Great Lent, so I’m trying hard not to think about kebabs. Plus, when I left Ukraine, there were no kebabs, so how am I supposed to know it’s now a word?

Also, I did some research on contemporary Ukrainian literature last night and. . . yeesh. It’s not good. Obviously, people have other things on their minds but, sadly, the Ukrainian literature hasn’t recovered yet from the destruction wrought on it by the USSR.

There is a great Ukrainian novel titled The Cathedral (1968) by Oles Honchar, which marks a symbolic ending to the twentieth century in Ukrainian letters. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, there was nothing. I mean, people published stuff but it’s not what Ukrainian literature can be.

The Cathedral is a great novel, by the way. It’s about people in a small village in Soviet Ukraine trying to protect from demolition a historic cathedral. They are no longer allowed to worship or even think about worship, but they want to save at least the building itself. The novel was written in the USSR, so you can imagine how angry the censors were. The only thing that saved the author was that he was a decorated hero of WWII. You can read it in English here.

And here is the real-life cathedral the novel is based on:

Like the cathedral in the novel, it was erected without a single iron nail. It took the architect, Yakym Pohribniak, from 1772 to 1781, to create this masterpiece. And by the way, the very first church he built was located near Kharkiv because that’s where he was from. The church was destroyed in the late 1930s by the Stalin regime.

I have no idea how I started with kebabs and rambled all the way to this beautiful cathedral. But it’s good to have something that’s not all death and devastation in the thread, so please enjoy another view of the Holy Trinity Cathedral near Dnipro:

This is the interior of the cathedral today, and it’s very different from what it was like during the Soviet era when it was used to store cow feed:

Like in Honchar’s novel, the residents of the town rose up to defend the cathedral from demolition in the 1960s. And they prevailed.

OK, I’ll stop it with the photos.

5 thoughts on “Language and Literature

  1. “The flag, the anthem, the two-headed eagle evoke no emotional attachment from the people”

    I remember trying to make that point on another forum. Letting them compete at the olympics was wrong as they did not think of not using the flag or anthem as any special punishment. They only want to do well there so they can cash in in Russia….
    I was not… believed….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This flag has no historic roots that anybody can recall. People constantly make mistakes with the order of the stripes. In Russia the flag is known as “the Aquafresh toothpaste ad.”

      Successful nation-building takes time and effort, and here it wasn’t done.


      1. “nation-building takes time”

        I remember Soviet athletes mouthing the words to the anthem and wiping away tears on the podium… which is better than what Russia has now…

        I don’t know if they’re regressing backwards or ahead of us all, it seems less like a country now than a feudal kingdom (which is more or less what Klaus and Greta and Justin want for us).

        Liked by 1 person

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