This video exposes, to some extent, individual responses to the literary figures, and serves as an example of the countless possible illustrations of the social functions of literature. It combines the two stories of the two monuments, two writers, and two cultures in one city, representing a nice harmony between monument, human and culture. Fast-moving and humorous the video captures the manipulation of public opinion, but also informs viewers of the two great authors whose texts provide cathartic relief in times of stress.
Cultural notes. Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, is located aproximately 40 km from the Russian border, and it is a part of the Russian-Ukrainian historical borderland. Here, in Kharkiv, two languages and two cultures coexist, however Russian is a language most frequently seen and heard in the city. As an educational center Kharkiv still is Russian-dominated, although now the university professors who spent much of their career as traditional Russian-speaking professionals are willing and really do make efforts to achieve the linguistic comptence to teach in Ukrainian.
The Kharkiv National University has been a center of education in Slobodskaya Ukraine since its foundation in 1805. The scholars of the humanities from Kharkiv University, such as O. Potebnya, D. Ovsyanyko-Kulikovsky, I. Sreznevsky L.Bulakhovsky, Yu. Shevelyov had worked in the fields of general linguistics, Russian and Ukrainian langauge, ethnography, psychology of creativity, pshycolinguistics and made a significant contribution to the world philology. Represantatives of Kharkiv School of Psychology conducted research within the framework of Lev Vygotsky’s theories.
The best Russia’s poet Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin (1799-1837) was born in Moscow. On his mother's side, notoriously, there was a great-grandfather, an African page from Cameroon, purchased in Constantinople's slave market as a gift for Peter the Great, who grew up to marry a Swede and become a general. Graduating from the privileged school near St.Petersburg, Pushkin served as a collegial secretary of the 10th rank at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Having been educated according to the best standards of West European culture, Pushkin strove for new social forms of life. He was involved in groups where political liberals debated reforms and constitutions. In 1820, when several of his anti-authoritarian poems came to the attention of Tsar Alexander I, he was sent to exile to South Russia, under the guise of an administrative transfer in the service. With the aid of influential friends, he was transferred in July 1823 to Odessa. In 1831, Pushkin married to Natalia Goncharova, arguably the most beautiful woman in Russia, and settled down in St. Petersburg. In 1837, amidst rumors that his wife had started a scandalous affair, Pushkin challenged her alleged lover, his brother in-law Georges d’Anthes, to a duel, which left Pushkin mortally injured. He died two days later. Judging by his critical articles, historical works and his letters, nothing seemed to escape his notice, or to be beyond his grasp. Pushkin’s brilliant intelligence, sharpness of his opinion and versatility of his poetic talent are demonstrated in a number of his masterpieces – in early romantic poems, such as Caucasian Captive (1820-21) and the Fountain of Bakhchisarai (1821-23), Poltava (1828), play Boris Godunov (1824-25), also in his later works Mozart and Salieri, Avaricious Knight, the Bronze Horseman (1833). Pshycological realism of his prose in Shot (1830), unfinished Dubrovsky (1832-33), a romantic story Queen of Spades (1830) has been estimated both in Russia and in the West. The diversity of indomitable figures of Russian history is presented in his historical novels, such as his unfinished Moor of Peter the Great (1828), History of the Pugachev’s Rebellion (1833-34), Captain’s Daughter (1836). And, of course, no one better than Pushkin in his poem Eugene Onegin (1823-31) discovered and measured all the depths of desparate, gleeful, suffering, generous and confused Russian soul.
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852), known as one of Russia’s greatest comic writers and master prose stylists, was born in Ukraine. In 1828, he moved to St. Petersburg; and after a short term work as a minor civil servant and failure as an assistant lecturer of world history at the University of St. Petersburg Gogol became a full time writer. Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, published in 1831-32, promoted him from obscurity to a position as one of the nation's leading young writers. In this collection, Gogol melded his Cossack background with the fantastic and macabre. Next, he published the collection Mirgorod (1835), which includes the novella Old-World Landowners about the decay of the old way of life and the famous historical tale Taras Bulba based on the sketches of Ukrainian Cossacks. The cycle of short stories that were collectively called The St. Petersburg Tales showed Gogol as a mature writer shaping the outlandish fantastic elements of his earlier stories into a more subtle and effective depiction of the strangeness of an inhuman urban environment. Chief among them is The Overcoat (1842), the doleful story of an impoverished government clerk who saves to buy a new winter overcoat only to have it stolen the first day he wears it as he walks home from a party honoring his precious acquisition. In 1836, Gogol composed the play The Inspector General based upon an anecdote allegedly recounted to Gogol by Alexander Pushkin. The play tells the simple tale of a young civil servant, Khlestakov, who is mistaken by the local officials in a small provincial town to be a government inspector visiting their province incognito. Khlestakov happily adapts to his new role and exploits the situation. With this simple plot, Gogol masterfully creates a satirical phantasmagoria of Tsarist Russia. Shortly after the premier of his play Gogol fled Russia. Except for short visits, Gogol lived abroad for thirteen years. He visited Germany, Switzerland, and France and then settled in Rome. There, he wrote the first part of his major work, Dead Souls. Gogol claimed that the plot for Dead Souls (1842) was again suggested by Pushkin in a conversation in 1835. The novel, which brilliantly satirizes the greed, corruption, falsity and general banality of upper-class Russian provincial life, depicts the adventures of Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov. Having arrived in a provincial town to buy “dead souls” –serfs who had died but were still counted as living until the next census, Chichikov met with local landowners and schemes to buy their deceased serfs from them so he can apply for a government bank loan using the "souls" as collateral. Gogol spent a few years fitfully working on part two of Dead Souls but despite repeated efforts, he failed to complete it. He died in Moscow in 1852.