(1901, Pysarivka – 1937, Sandarmokh, Karelia)
Having written his first book of short stories at the age of 19, Valerian Pidmohylny gave it a bold name The Works, Volume I. However, he was not wrong, as his next books would show, including The Hospital Ward, The Son, The Military Skyman and The Third Revolution.
In 1918, Pidmohylnyi graduated from the First non-classical school of Yekaterinoslav and later studied mathematics and law in the University of Yekaterinoslav, but had to leave due to the lack of money.
He moved to Kyiv in 1921 and got married there. Pidmohylnyi’s subsequent life was ever connected to this city. He was a member of the literary group Lanka (Link) that was later renamed to MARS (Workshop for Revolutionary Word). Not unlike VAPLITE, the organization set high standards for its members, demanding writing proficiency and extensive knowledge of the world culture. Pidmohylnyi read a lot of European classics and studied psychology and philosophy on his own. Some scholars consider his work proto-Existentialist. Pidmohylnyi tried to read works of Nechui-Levytskyi in the vein of psychoanalysis.
Pidmohylnyi was also a prolific translator. He had a perfect knowledge of French, translated and edited Ukrainian versions of works by Balzac, Maupassant, and Anatol France. He also translated Diderot, Mérimée, Stendhal, Flaubert, and Zola.
Pidmohylnyi’s most acclaimed novel is called The City. The protagonist leaves his village and comes to Kyiv to conquer it. The novel deals with the iconic motifs of the world literature, seen in Balzac’s Le Père Goriot, Mauassant’s Bel-Ami and London’s Martin Eden. This work was a model of new Ukrainian urbanistic prose rich in psychological and philosophical elements.
Pidmohylnyi was executed in 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia.
Other locations in Kyiv related to Valerian Pidmohylnyi: The City and A Tiny Drama include numerous descriptions of many locations in Kyiv. Pidmohylnyi lived in the vicinity of the Sinnyi Market (now demolished) for a while.
The poet and journalist Roman Romaniuk mapped all locations mentioned in Pidmohylny’s The City.