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Keywords: duma, epos, cantilena, bylina, hyperbolism.
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Rosovetsky S.K. Epic Specificity of Ukrainian Folk Dumas. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 1, pp. 282–301. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-1-282-301

Author: Stanislav K. Rosovetsky
Information about the author:

Stanislav K. Rosovetsky, DSc in Philology, Professor, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Shevchenko, 14, 01033 Kiev, Ukraine.

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Received: November 20, 2017
Published: March 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №1
Department: Literature of the Peoples of Russia and Neighboring Countries
Pages: 282-301
DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-1-282-301
UDK: 398 (477)
BBK: 82.3(4Укр)


The article examines the epic specificity of Ukrainian dumas. It does it by demonstrating the originality of the verbal form of dumas, the musical elements of its texts and their performers, blind musicians, and by discussing the place of the genre among similar epic phenomena in the world literature. While S.N. Azbelev considers dumas to be a pre-epic form correspondent to the hypothetical “lyrico-epic cantilena” (A.N. Veselovskiy), B.N. Putilov relates them to the later, “post-classic” stage in the epos development, or, namely, to “post-epos.” The essay claims that only the dumas about Khmel’nichchina were composed “on hot tracks of historical events,” but even these works brought their plotline to a more general level. One can trace the features of the “classic” type of epos in the heroic “core” of dumas: their heroes, while shown as ordinary people in the everyday life, nevertheless demonstrate epic hyperbolism as warriors. Such are ataman Matyash the Old and Ivan Konovchenko, Vdovichenko. The captivity dumas reveal certain hyperbolism as well. These dumas often use a “two-level” structure that is usual for the “classic” epos; they feature traitors and contain signs indicating the beginning of cyclization around certain characters. At the same time, they have no “epic center” nor they have an “epic ruler” variant; they do not have such typical plots as unfair incarceration of the epic hero by the epic ruler, or heroic courtship, or the fight between father and son. The essay explains these gaps by the fact that the genre of dumas emerged and their plot structure developed as complimentary to an older epic form, bylynas that continued to circulate in the 16 th century. The creators of the new genre did not have to compose their dumas because songs on the same themes already circulated at that time and belonged to the generic form of bylina. The author explains transition from bylina to duma within Ukrainian epic tradition by historical changes, “social demand,” and cultural types of the performers.


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