Saturday, 14 July 2012

an erased town

the history of Ukraine has mostly been a sad one.  I have been there twice, both times as election observer, at two of the three elections which took place in 2004.  I was in Kyiv first, observing the election in a village outside the city, and the second time in Odessa, a city I am keen to visit again.  Those elections produced, in the end, the Orange party, which resulted in much misplaced euphoria.  The country's politics has not much improved, if at all, since then.  The memories of that country's communities have been systematically erased over time, and it can seem as though the cemeteries are the most living places there.  But don't read me on this, read Alexander J. Motyl, a writer and blogger i have recently discovered who is of Ukrainian origin himself.  Excellent.

Erased memory is part of the theme of a little collection of stories have written, and which is about to appear.  And indeed it touches upon something that Motyl touches upon in the piece I have linked to, in connection with the 20th-century history of Poland and Ukraine, and the role emigration and memory play in taking that history forward.  Or something like that.  Anyway, more soon on my stories, but do read Motyl.


Anonymous said...

Interesting to see you say Ukraine.
A few weeks ago in one of the papers someone asked why it was referred to, uniquely, as The Ukraine.

Jane Griffiths said...

well, it isn't, or not correctly. Any more than we say "The Congo" for the name of the country rather than that of the river, these days. It interests me however that Russian and Ukrainian, which do not have articles in their languages, are exercised on this point. "Ukraine" is an anglicisation of (some Ukrainians might want to beat me up here, violence has already happened in the Ukrainian parliament during a debate on language law) "on the edge" or "on the border" i.e. the border of Russia, i.e. not a proper country. So, given that Ukraine is a proper country, there is no article to its name. Or should not be. I could start on the use of prepositions in Russian to refer to Ukraine but I would bore you very quickly, so I won't. Suffice to say that people can turn very ugly on these matters. "Ukraine" it is.