La lirica di Vasyl' Stus: Modernismo e intertestualità poetica nell'Ucraina del secondo Novecento

Translated title of the contribution: The Poetry of Vasyl' Stus: Modernism and Poetic Intertextuality in Late-Soviet Ukraine

Alessandro Achilli

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review


This book explores the poetry of Vasyl’ Stus (1938-1985), a major Ukrainian writer and intellectual of the second half of the 20th century. The volume aims to present the evolution of Stus’ poetic oeuvre from his beginnings in the late 1950s up to his mature poetry of the 1970s. Moreover, it analyses the complex intertextual network of Stus’ dialogue with German, Russian and Ukrainian literature and puts these intertextual relations in the context of the history of modernist poetry. The first chapter includes a brief sketch of Stus’ biography, a discussion of the cultural setting of his human and artistic growth, as well as a critical survey of secondary literature on Stus’ life and work. Stus’ move to Kyiv at the beginning of the 1960s coincides with the final phase of the Thaw. The historical and literary specificity of the Ukrainian šistdesjatnyctvo, which promoted a fundamental and manifold renewal of Ukrainian culture in the Soviet framework, is at the core of the chapter. The history of Stus’ reception shows how his complex and highly intellectual modernist literary legacy has not been hitherto aptly studied. The second chapter deals with Stus’ literary essays and letters, with particular attention to his frequent remarks on literature. Stus’ dissatisfaction with several trends in the development of Ukrainian literature clearly shows his willingness to contribute actively to its modernisation. His many observations on the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Boris Pasternak and other writers confirm his deep interest in their work and justify the search for intertextual links with them in his own production. The third chapter analyses Stus’ juvenilia, which include his first literary endeavours, his early collections Delo №13 / BE1339 and Kruhovert’, and his ungathered poems of the 1960s. Stus’ early productions shows the strivings of a young and talented poet in search of his own poetic voice among several stylistic and thematic influences, among which his dialogue with his most important literary models is already recognisable. The fourth chapter focuses on Zymovi dereva and Veselyj cvyntar, Stus’ collections of the late 1960s. The strong differences in inspiration and style between the two collections, composed after Stus’ first with clash with the Soviet authorities in 1965, are a demonstration of the striking variety of Stus’ art in its central period and of the relative independence of Stus’ poetics from his biography. The fifth chapter offers an analysis of Stus’ masterpieces, Čas tvorčosti / Dichtenszeit and Palimpsesty, both composed in the 1970s after Stus’ first arrest in 1972. The study of the differences and similarities between the two collections provides a key to understanding the complexity of Stus’ mature modernist art. The sixth and last chapter discusses Stus’ modernist poetics in the context of the history of European and Ukrainian poetry of the 20th century. This implies a synthesis of the intertextual connections analysed in the preceding chapters, with the aim of identifying the main features of Stus’ dialogue with his preferred interlocutors, such as Rilke, Pasternak, Goethe, Cvetaeva and Ševčenko.
Translated title of the contributionThe Poetry of Vasyl' Stus: Modernism and Poetic Intertextuality in Late-Soviet Ukraine
Original languageItalian
Place of PublicationFlorence Italy
PublisherFirenze University Press
Number of pages398
ISBN (Electronic)9788864538143 , 9788864538150
ISBN (Print)9788864538136
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameBiblioteca di Studi Slavistici


  • Ukrainian literature
  • Ukrainian Studies
  • Poetry
  • Modernism
  • Comparative Literature

Cite this