The November–December, 2018 issue of Krytyka opens with an article on “Maidan: Looking Back Over Five Years” by Volodymyr Popenko, Associate Professor at the National Technical University of Ukraine ‘Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute,’ who specializes in the architecture of information systems and in mathematical economics, and who volunteered to serve in 2015–2016 in the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the 53rd Special Mechanized Brigade in the rank of senior lieutenant, most of the time in the ATO zone. Popenko, who spent almost all his nights on the Maidan from November 24, 2013 to February 21, 2014 challenges some current notions: that the Maidan was illegal; that most people did not support the Maidan; that it was useless and ultimately did not achieve much. In his essay he addresses various different topics: current events, various fights, the importance of musical accompaniment, the attitude towards alcohol, the extreme right and so on. The main thing for him is that everything on the Maidan became real: doctors became doctors, citizens became citizens, the National Anthem became a civil promise, the Constitution became a document to be read and implemented, and Ukraine started to become a state for citizens, albeit slowly.
The Maidan theme continues in the review “The Responsibility of Testimony; The Testimony of Responsibility” on the book Maidan. Testimony. Assistance to the Victims. International Solidarity (eds. Leonid Finberg, Iryna Berland, Olena Andreieva, Kyiv: Dukh i Litera Publishing, 2018) by Yuliia Yemets-Dobronosova, writer, essayist, philosopher and Associate Professor at the National Transport University (Kyiv). This book covers assistance to the victims by physicians (Ukrainian and foreign) and volunteers, representatives of civic organizations, initiatives, missions, foundations in Ukraine and other countries, and those who provided legal, psychological or social assistance. Yemets-Dobronosova argues that the main achievement of the book is the mastery of the preservation of individual peculiarities of speech, stylistics and intonations of various testimonies-memoirs. Each story in the publication is a personal look and experience. Most authors do not pretend to general conclusions, but everyone has the opportunity to tell their own story.
“The Right to Interpretation” by Kateryna Iakovlenko, scientific expert of the Pinchuk Art Centre Research Platform and postgraduate student of the Department of New Media of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, who studies Soviet visual culture and propaganda, as well as women’s history, writes about her experience as a viewer at the Donetsk National Ukrainian Theatre. She analyzes various unwritten theatrical traditions in Donetsk and concludes that they all rely on a certain ‘social agreement’ where the rules of putative respect hinder the development of journalism, of artistic critique, and of a deeper interpretation of artistic phenomena. Her conclusion is sobering: the loss of the ability to interpret an artistic work (theatrical performance, film, book, music, art exhibition) is at the same time a loss of the ability to interpret contemporaneity and history.
Tamara Hundorova, literary scholar, corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, head of the Department of Literary Theory at the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, Associate Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and executive director at the Krytyka Institute, in her “Volodymyr Vynnychenko: Revolution and Life” analyzes the behavior of Volodymyr Vynnychenko (1880–1951), during the Ukrainian Revolution, of which he was also one of its leaders. Focusing on his reflections and internal biography she examines various models of revolutionary behavior and political action. She also reflects on the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921 as a psychological and moral predicament in light of the philosophy of life that Vynnychenko professed.
The Ukrainian composer Oleksandr Shchetynsky has received awards at various international composer’s competitions. His work list includes compositions in many forms ranging from solo instrumental and chamber music to orchestral and choral pieces, as well as operas. In his “Virko Baley: Reflections on the Occasion of His 80th Anniversary” he examines the life work of one of the most prominent American musicians of Ukrainian descent. In his overview Shchetynsky focuses particularly on Baley’s contacts with Ukrainian musicians and on various ideological barriers that impeded contact and communication. Baley’s creativity, like all his many other activities, forms a unique bridge between the broader musical world and Ukraine.
Ostap Slyvynsky is a Ukrainian poet, translator, literary critic and literary scholar. His essay “Herbert, Who Looks at the Cathedral Tower,” which recently appeared in English (New Eastern Europe, 2018, Issue 5), is devoted to the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert (1924–1998) and his Lviv childhood – ‘A chapter,’ as the poet said, ‘that never ended.’