The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of by Serhii Plokhy

By Serhii Plokhy

Within the years following the Napoleonic Wars, a mysterious manuscript started to circulation one of the disenchanted noble elite of the Russian Empire. Entitled The historical past of the Rus', it grew to become essentially the most influential historic texts of the fashionable period. Attributed to an eighteenth-century Orthodox archbishop, it defined the heroic struggles of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Alexander Pushkin learn the e-book as a manifestation of Russian nationwide spirit yet Taras Shevchenko interpreted it as a quest for Ukrainian nationwide liberation and it should motivate hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to struggle for the liberty in their place of birth. Serhii Plokhy tells the attention-grabbing tale of the text's discovery and dissemination unravelling the secret of its authorship and tracing its next impression on Russian and Ukrainian ancient and literary mind's eye. In so doing he brilliantly illuminates the connection among historical past, fable, empire and nationhood from Napoleonic instances to the autumn of the Soviet Union.

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Peter and Paul Fortress could clearly see the gruesome ritual taking place on the ramparts of the fortress. First, to the accompaniment of drumbeats, dozens of young and middle-aged men were led out of the fortress, most of them dressed in dirty and worn-out officers’ uniforms. They were then divided into smaller groups and brought in front of the military detachments, summoned to the scene, in which they had once served and that some of them had led into battle. They listened calmly as the verdict of the court was read out, sentencing them to years of hard labor and exile.

On Ryleev, see Patrick O. Meara, K. F. , 1984). K. F. Relaieff, Voinarofskyi and Other Poems, trans. T. Hart-Davies (Calcutta, 1879), p. 102. 125 on Sun Dec 23 05:34:37 WET 2012. 004 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press, 2012 18 The mystery When Ryleev first read this verse to his friend Mikhail Bestuzhev, who, along with his brother Nikolai, led the first rebel detachments to the Senate Square on December 14, 1825, Mikhail was shocked. ” Ryleev was fully aware of the significance of his words.

It appeared that he was also involved in writing history, and not history of any kind, but of a caliber that could fire the imagination of freethinkers conspiring to kill the emperor himself and change the political order of the empire. The introduction to the History explained Konysky’s role in producing the text. The archbishop, claimed the introduction, had edited the text of the work, which he sent to Hryhorii Poletyka, a former student of his at the Kyivan Academy. Poletyka, also a native of Ukraine, represented the Ukrainian nobility at the Legislative Assembly convened by Catherine II in 1767 to reform Russian laws in the spirit of the Enlightenment.

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