On Shaky Ground
On Shaky Ground is a modernist novel written in the late 1930s and early 1940s and was originally published in Nazi occupied Kharkiv in 1942. One of the best examples of intellectual fiction of the time, the work summarizes the struggles of the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when totalitarian reality, together with rampant industrialization, started to affect everyday life.
V. Domontovych is the pen name of Viktor Petrov, a historian and archaeologist, a representative of neoclassicism in Ukrainian literature. The novel follows the trajectory of art historian, Rostyslav Mykhailovych, who goes on a work trip from the capital city of Kharkiv to provincial Katerynoslav (today Dnipro), the place where he spent his childhood. In the late 1920s, a section of the Dnipro River became the place of a major industrial project, the construction of the largest hydroelectric station in Ukraine (Dniprelstan), which flooded the rapids over the river and led to serious ecological and social changes in the region. While the main goal of the trip is to save an old church from being turned into a museum, the journey becomes a philosophical reflection on dislocation and loss of connection with one's birthplace, traditions, religion and more globally, a sense of security.
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