Nikolai Leskov’s Kyiv Text 

Ani Abrahamyan 

Indiana University Bloomington, IN, USA.

ORCID ID 0000-0001-8112-4811


Keywords: Nikolai Leskov, the Kyiv Text, city as text, memoir genre.

Abstract. In 1849, eighteen-year-old Nikolai Leskov moved to Kyiv, where he would spend the next ten years of his life. Some thirty-four years later, he wrote a vivid memoir titled Pecherskie antiki (1883) in which he recounted Kyiv’s architecture, culture, and inhabitants. This article examines Leskov’s text—set in Kyiv and about Kyiv—beyond its autobiographical relevance. When viewed through the prism of historical and mythopoetic images of Kyiv circulating prior to and during Leskov’s stay in the city, the memoir reveals a hierarchy of signs, images, and archetypes. This hierarchy, as well as the role of Kyiv in its formation and proliferation, has been studied and theorized by scholars of Ukrainian literature, who termed this cultural phenomenon the Kyiv Text. Some of the attributes of the Kyiv Text are the oppositions of high/low, sacred/profane, form/amorphousness. Having a lifelong fascination with Kyiv, Leskov contributed to the literary tradition of the Kyiv Text through exploring additional oppositions, such as change/tradition and official/popular. His memoir Pecherskie antiki thus offers new historical and cultural insights into the Kyiv Text.

Author Biography.

Ani Abrahamyan, Graduate student (Russian Literature), Department of Slavic and East European Languages & Cultures, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.


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PDF (English).

Published: July 15, 2022.

Vol 22 No 2 (2022).