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Pavlo Zahrebelnyi

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Pavlo Zahrebelnyi

  • A fragment from The Wonder

    (Warning: spoilers below!)

    [After the coronation] there should have been a great feast for the Caesar and his band, and the nobility, Yaroslav should have thought the day to be the happiest day of his life, but he well knew that whatever the title the reach is limited, there are obstacles, and no way to avoid the bitterness of defeat. Fatherless, his daughter grew with Shuitsia, his daughter he knew nothing about for Shuitsia would not show his Yaroslava to him, and when he had tried to force her, the girl had escaped and left Novhorod. The same happened in Kyiv. That is the final limit of authority – a free person.

    As he was already a Caesar he ordered to find her and bring her to him. And while she is being sought, none is to give her neither bread for her travels, nor water for her thirst, neither fire for warmth, nor cane to fend off dogs.

    And so it began – the chase across all the land.

    And Yaroslava was fleeing across fields and through woods, hiding in forests and marshes.

    And they never caught her. She escaped. She hid among the people. She bore a son of Syvook. And his son is among us – with his talent and fiery soul.

    And this wonder never ends and never shall it cease.




    (Pavlo Zahrebelnyi. Collected Works: in 6 vol., vol. 2. Kyiv: Dnipro, 1979, p. 568.)

    The Wonder by Pavlo Zahrebelnyi is the first Ukrainian temporal cohesion novel. The book is set in three time periods: there is the life of a mosaicist Syvook in Kyivan Rus of Yaroslav the Wise; the life of a historian Hordii Otava, who tries to save St. Sophia Cathedral in 1941, during the nazi occupation; and the life if Boris Otava, Hordii’s son, in 1960s. All three timelines are interconnected by the protagonist of the novel, the Cathedral of St. Sophia.


    Coronation of Yaroslav – a fictional event. The only Prince we positively know to have had a coronation is Danylo Halytskyi, who was granted the king’s crown from the Pope Innocent IV in 1254. Zahrebelnyi needs the scene in order to show the highest authority and power gained by Yaroslav the Wise.

  • A Fragment from The Death in Kyiv

    At first, Kyiv seems inconspicuous, it does not soar up to the sky with golden churches, it does not throws generous yards, it does not sit around on oak-wood benches in refectories – it is here, all around, it props smokes against the Mount, struts it with the rattle of axes and the thuds of hammers, it goes to sleep and wakes up hungry, it will not surrender its freedom and wishes for no one’s freedom. Kyiv’s voice is not easy to capture. It grows more difficult in the course of time, so that only those of a sensitive ear could hear it. […]

    Kyiv is here, when our Kyiv seethes, when it raises its voice above all churches and mansions, when it thunders with its pure rage, – that is when the world hears the glory of our city! And our words, our rage, and our fits are always caused by needs. For a man must live by needs. A man is born under the sky and so must live, listening to the call of the earth under the stars, the Sun, and the Moon.


    Kyiv, 1970–1972

    (Pavlo Zahrebelnyi. Collected Works: in 6 vol., vol. 3. Kyiv: Dnipro, 1980, p. 46–48.)

    Pavlo Zahrebelnyi received the Ukrainian State Taras Shevchenko Award for his novels The First Bridge (1972) and The Death in Kyiv (1973). The Death in Kyiv is a quasidetective story about the murder of Prince Igor Olgovich in 1147. Zahrebelnyi reproduces the standard ideological pattern with ‘reactionary boyars against a progressive Prince’ (Yuri Dolgorukiy), nonetheless from that premise the author goes on speculating about various models of authority.

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