Mykola Hohol in Belgian Francophone publications

in Ukrainian

  • Yarema Kravets Department of World Literatura, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
Keywords: Francophone Hoholiana, Professor Eugène Hins, The Overcoat and The Portrait by Mykola Hohol, historical novel, Irène Stecyk, Belgian Literary Encyclopedia in 12 volumes (vol. 11 a), conceptual issues of Hohol studies


The scientific problem of the Mykola Hohol’s lectures on the Belgian frenchspeaking literature is not enough studied though it has a great history. The tradition of reading and translating the works by a famous Ukrainian author, who entered the world literature as a classic of Russian literature, into French has its origins back in the forties of the 19th century. French Hoholiana counts almost 175-year history, with more than 120 years of the Belgian Francophone interpreting. In the context of the said, considerable interest consists in the translation activities of the Belgian Professor Eugène Hins (1839–1923), who not only gave his interpretation of Hohol’s Sorochintsy Fair but also left interesting observations on the functioning of laughter – «an honest character» of the writer’s works. Other valuable studies include One Aspect of Mykola Hohol’s by a Francophone Belgian writer and literary critic Franz Hellens (1881–1972), which he published for the 1952 centenary of the prominent Ukrainian’s death. Franz Hellens paid special attention to the work of Hohol, The Overcoat, «which is both a realistic novel of manners and a sharp satire on morals and manners» and the story The Portrait, in which the author «showed himself a sci-fi writer». Next on the list of Hohol studies works is a monograph by a Belgian literary critic Gilles Nélod’s Panorama of Historical Novel (1969), in which the author, talking about writers who somehow felt the influence of W. Scott as the founder of the historical novel, gave a short reviews of the historical works by Mykola Hohol and Panteleimon Kulish. Special attention, concerning the personality of Mykola Hohol, deserves a novella This Is Mykola Hohol by a Belgian Francophone novelist Irène Stecyk, who is of Ukrainian origin (born in 1937). The text of novella is designed in the spirit of Hohol’s style with constant doubts, sufferings and phantasmagoric visions of imagination. The section «Hohol», with literary critical review and the excerpts from the author’s individual works, was published in vol. 11 of the Belgian Encyclopedia Patrimoine littéraire européen [1999], entitled National Revival and Common Perception. 1832–1885. The publication contained, in particular, the fifth passage of Inspector translated by P. Mérimée. It’s worth paying attention to the foreword on the life and work of Hohol, in which the author, giving an overview of the literary heritage of the writer, stressed upon the conceptual issues of Hohol studies. The importance of the section «Hohol» in the Belgian encyclopedia consists also in the bibliography of important works of the writer, as well as short, concise annotations to each fragment of Hohol’s works, which were published in the encyclopedia and which introduce a reader into the mood of a particular work. The material stated in this article does not exhaust the scientific problem, since it is worth of a separate study assessing the level of translation of Sorochintsy Fair, conducted by Eugène Hins, as well as of the search for the recollections of Hohol’s creativity in the Belgian Francophone periodicals.

Comparative literature