Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions: First Postindependence Wave 2019005922, 2019007703, 9781351022187, 9781351022163, 9781351022170, 9781351022156, 9781138496316

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Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions: First Postindependence Wave
 2019005922, 2019007703, 9781351022187, 9781351022163, 9781351022170, 9781351022156, 9781138496316

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of Figures
Note on Translation and Transliteration
1 Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions
2 Nationalist–Masochist Woman, Impotent Man, and Counter- Erotics: Pol'ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns'koho seksu [Fieldwork in Ukrainian sex]
3 A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure: Pokalchuk’s Taxonomies
4 Carnivalesque Mystifications, National Icon, and Orientalist Dreams: Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] as Historiographic Metafiction
5 The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell: Shevchuk’s Neo-Baroque Angst
6 Indecent Transpositions and Displacements of the National Imaginary by the Kapranov Brothers
7 Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon: Poderviansky the Bricoleur
8 Postscript

Citation preview

Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions: First Postindependence Wave

This work explores the aggressive sexualization of the Ukrainian cultural mainstream after the collapse of the USSR as a counterreaction to the Soviet state’s totalitarian, repressive politics of the body. While the book’s introduction includes concise sections on pornified cultural forms such as advertising, mass media, visual art, and film, its major focus is on textual production that has contributed significantly to the literary explosion in Ukraine, which began in the 1990s. Drawing on cultural, postcolonial, feminist, and gender theories, the book examines transgressive potentials of the erotic under postcolonial, postcommunist, and post-totalitarian conditions. It offers insight into the convoluted dialectics between the imported conventions of Western “porno-chic” and the received oppressive Soviet gender and sexual ideologies. Within a broad historical and cultural framework, the study considers writers’ engagements in dialogues with their own tradition and colonial legacy, as well as with a variety of transcultural flows. By bringing together diverse erotomaniac fictions, Maryna Romanets charts the ways in which they are embedded in the processes of Ukraine’s cultural decolonization. Maryna Romanets is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of Anamorphosic Texts and Reconfigured Visions: Improvised Traditions in Contemporary Ukrainian and Irish Literature and coeditor of Beauty, Violence, Representation.

Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

52 Unlocking the Poetry of W. B. Yeats Heart Mysteries Daniel Tompsett 53 Collage and Literature The Persistence of Vision Scarlett Higgins 54 Connecting Moments in Chinese and European Modernisms Chunjie Zhang 55 The Stability of Laughter The Problem of Joy in Modernist Literature James Nikopoulos 56 Altered Consciousness in the Twentieth Century Jake Poller 56 Henry James and the Media Arts of Modernity Commercial Cosmopolitanism June Hee Chung 57 Hermeneutic Ontology in Gadamer and Woolf The Being of Art and the Art of Being Adam Noland 58 Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions: First Postindependence Wave Maryna Romanets

For more information about this series, please visit:

Taras Polataiko, Eadweard Muybridge, Human Locomotion Plate 356/5, 2005. C-print, edition of 5. 36ʺ x 24ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Taras Polataiko.

Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions: First Postindependence Wave Maryna Romanets

First published 2019 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 Taylor & Francis The right of Maryna Romanets to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Komolova-Romaneëtìs§, Maryna, author. Title: Ukrainian erotomaniac fictions : first postindependence wave / Maryna Romanets. Description: New York : Routledge, 2019. | Series: Routledge studies in twentieth-century literature | Includes bibliographical references and index. | Identifiers: LCCN 2019005922 (print) | LCCN 2019007703 (ebook) | ISBN 9781351022187 (Ebook) | ISBN 9781351022163 (ePub) | ISBN 9781351022170 (Pdf) | ISBN 9781351022156 (Mobi) | ISBN 9781138496316 (hardback : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781351022187 (ebk) Subjects: LCSH: Ukrainian literature—20th century—History and criticism. | Sex in literature. | Sex in mass media. | Literature and society—Ukraine—History—20th century. | Ukraine— Civilization—Western influences. Classification: LCC PG3916.2 (ebook) | LCC PG3916.2 .K5745 2019 (print) | DDC 891.7/9093538—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-138-49631-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-02218-7 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by codeMantra

In memory of my parents Liudmyla and Oleksa Romanets


List of Figures Acknowledgments Note on Translation and Transliteration

xi xiii xv

1 Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions 1 2 Nationalist–Masochist Woman, Impotent Man, and Counter-­Erotics: Pol′ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns′koho seksu [Fieldwork in Ukrainian sex] 24 3 A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure: Pokalchuk’s Taxonomies 43 4 Carnivalesque Mystifications, National Icon, and Orientalist Dreams: Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] as Historiographic Metafiction 61 5 The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell: Shevchuk’s Neo-Baroque Angst 79 6 Indecent Transpositions and Displacements of the National Imaginary by the Kapranov Brothers 98 7 Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon: Poderviansky the Bricoleur 117 8 Postscript 139 Bibliography Index

161 181

List of Figures

Frontispiece  Taras Polataiko, Eadweard Muybridge, Human Locomotion Plate 356/5, 2005. C-print, edition of 5. 36ʺ x 24ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Taras Polataiko 1.1 Yuri Solomko, Regeneration (Baba Yaga), 1999. C-print, edition of 5. 29.5ʺ × 29.5ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Yuri Solomko 9 8.1 Vlada Ralko, from Khlopchyky i divchatka [Boys and girls] series, 2010.  Acrylic and marker on paper. 9.8ʺ × 5.9ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Vlada Ralko 141


For encouragement and insights, I would like to thank Heather Coleman, Adam Cullum, Anthony Harding, Dee Horne, Oleh Ilnytzkyi, Goldie Morgentaler, Tetiana Mykhed, Maryna Polataiko, Roman Senkus, and Serhy Yekelchyk. I am particularly grateful to Marta D. Olynyk for reading the entire manuscript with care and enthusiasm, and Michelle Salyga and Bryony Reece for their work in shepherding it to publication. Special thanks are owed to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for its generous funding of the project, and to the University of Northern British Columbia for awarding me a publication grant at the final stage. Portions of this book appeared previously as journal articles and book chapters in edited collections. I am grateful to the editors and publishers for permissions to rework and reuse the following: “‘Orients’ of the Mind: Deviance, Sexual Enlightenment, and True Love in Fredericks’s Degenerate Empress, Vynnychuk’s Zhytiie haremnoie (Life in the ­Harem), and Parker’s Roxelana & Suleyman.” Canadian Comparative Literature Review/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée  44, no. 11 (2017): 95–110; “History, Politics, and the Cartography of Sexed Bodies in Yuri Illienko’s A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 56, nos. 1–2 (2014): 135–54, reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Ltd,; “Out of the Soviet Closet: Yurko Pokalchuk’s ‘Erotomaniac’ Fictions.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 53, nos. 2–4 (2011): 361–78, reprinted by permission of Taylor & ­Francis Ltd,; “Roxolana’s Memoirs as a Garden of Intertextual Delight.” In Roxolana in European Literature, History and Culture, edited by Galina Yermolenko, 126–39. Copyright © 2010 Ashgate, reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis UK. Early findings and versions of some ideas, reconfigured, expanded, and dispersed throughout the book, appeared in “Postcolonial On/ scenity: Sexualization of Political Space in Post-Independence Ukraine.” Canadian American Slavic Studies 44, nos. 1–2 (2010): 159–78; Anamorphosic Texts and Reconfigured Visions: Improvised Traditions in Contemporary Irish and Ukrainian Literature, 101–29; 190–91.

xiv Acknowledgments ISBN 978-3-89821-576-3. Copyright © ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart, 2007; “­Ideologies of the Second Coming in the Ukrainian Postcolonial Playground.” In Perspectives on Modern Pornography, 1800–2000, edited by Lisa Z. Sigel, 205–31. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005. Copyright © 2005 by Rutgers, the State University, reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press; “Erotic Assemblages: Field Research, Palimpsests, and What Lies Beneath.” Journal of Ukrainian Studies 27, nos. 1–2 (2002): 273–85 (, currently East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, I would also like to thank Taras Polataiko, Vlada Ralko, and Yuri Solomko for permission to reproduce their artwork. Maryna Romanets, Prince George, October 2018

Note on Translation and Transliteration

All translations of quotations from Ukrainian sources, except those from Halyna Hryn’s translation of Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, are mine. Quotations from Ukrainian sources scattered throughout the book appear in translation; when creative writing is quoted, the Ukrainian original is placed in a note. In the body of the book, the Modified Library of Congress (LC) system is used for proper names. In formal references to sources, however, the Strict LC transliteration system has been applied.

1 Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions

“We shall abolish the orgasm,”1 the political imperative that proclaims a bleak dystopian future in 1984, materialized into the obscene reality of the Soviet regime, and became invested with a tremendous, concentrated state power. If in Orwell’s nightmarish, totalitarian world, it is neurologists who are tasked with obliterating excessive orgasmic “­dysfunction,” the refurbished Russo-­Soviet Empire, from the early 1930s onward, successfully exterminated unregulated, hedonistic, and “bourgeois” individualistic orgasm through unfailing instruments of “social engineering” such as forced labor camps, artificially engineered famines, political repressions, unrelenting surveillance of the population by the secret services, and crowded communal living, to name just a few. Integral to the state’s invincible control over its subjects, dictatorial body politics and repressive sexophobia “systematically and ruthlessly eradicated everything related to sexuality, whether it was sex research, sex education, erotic art, or erotic literature.”2 It is noteworthy that, in keeping with restrictive state regulations and official discourses, Soviet reference literature published from the 1960s through the 1980s contains no articles on sex. A 1983 biological encyclopedic dictionary stands alone as an exception since it includes entries on “sexual reproduction,” “­sexual maturity,” “sex dimorphism,” “sexual cycle,” “sex hormones,” “sex ­organs,” “sexual reflexes,” and “sex chromosomes.” There, humans are treated in strictly biological terms as any “other animals,”3 essential for the reproduction and functioning of the system. Deployed by means of militant moralism and prudery promoted by the state for its own political purposes, the strategically delimited domains of Soviet-­style bodily “pleasure” were scrupulously policed by Communist Party committees as the sole custodians and caretakers of a “communism builder’s moral code.” This decades-­long, methodical repression unwittingly reached its enunciatory climax during one of the first USSR–USA TV-­bridges that took place amidst Gorbachev’s perestroika in the 1980s, when it was declared famously, “There is no sex in the USSR.” This declaration, encapsulating a unique communist Geist, thus epitomized the radical exclusion of the sexual from the firmly established identity of the quintessential Homo sovieticus.

2  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an arena of intense discursive and conceptual activity aimed at liberation from different forms of oppression, the systematized social repression of the body being one of them. The proliferation of discourses on sexuality and the upsurge and incorporation of sexually explicit imagery and iconography into wide-­ranging popular cultural forms were concomitant with the rise of a new social identity that was being shaped in accordance with the changing social structure. The employment of symbols, codes, and signifiers, largely appropriated from Western culture, in the newly emerging, multifarious representational field was instrumental in counteracting and subverting the prescribed prudery of sanitized Soviet society and the ideological “kenosis” that was persistently promoted by socialist realist cultural politics. Both profoundly eroded, in the sphere of representations constituting social identity, any comfortable sense of the body. Manipulated, split, desexualized, and contorted, the body of Soviet citizenry was constituted through historically distinct technologies of power, since, according to Michel Foucault, the body is “directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immense hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs.”4 Furthermore, when theorized in postcolonial terms, the body as a site of struggle and discursive contest is always “simultaneously (if conflictually) inscribed in both the economy of pleasure and desire and the economy of discourse, domination and power.”5 With the body eliminated from the picture for the benefit of the “soul” for a lengthy period of time—taboo in the official socialist realist canon, it was also excluded from Ukrainian dissident cultural production, which was preoccupied above all with political issues—Ukrainians seemed to subscribe to the definition of a “spiritual” nation. As such, Ukrainian society was deeply disoriented by the overwhelming plethora of Western sexualized signs and images that had invaded its cultural space after the ­ urtain in 1989. Befall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron C ing one of the constitutive dilemmas of contemporary culture in general, the confusion that was brought to Ukraine together with freedom coincided with the conflicting attitudes and fierce debates about sexuality, censorship, and pornography that rocked Western cultural life, pushing pornography, as the issue of feminism, to the “ruling place in the sexuality debate.”6 The Western feminist pornography debate, also dubbed the “sex wars,” split its actors into anti-­pornography and pro-­pornography factions that viewed pornography, respectively, as an instrument of patriarchal oppression that causes violence against women and harms them, or as an important form of sexual expression that has liberatory potential for women’s sexual agency.7 However, in the case of postcolonial and largely sexophobic Ukrainian society of the late 1980s–1990s, the binary logic of conservative and liberal attitudes toward “scandalous” subject matter was complicated by the fact that the systems of codification of

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  3 Western postmodern culture were often misread and misinterpreted in the process of their decoding by Ukrainian traditionally conservative, patriarchal, misogynistic, and almost premodern minds, affected by the cultural shock of the post-­Soviet era. Ukrainians seemed to be equally dazzled by porno-­spectacle, which offered a radical discourse of permissiveness, and repelled by it because it was conceived as alien to the Ukrainian national ethos and mentality by adherents of conservative, traditionalist views on morality, including a certain number of intellectuals. Among the ongoing postindependence debates about Ukraine’s future, the body did matter, and this issue became inscribed in the then current political discourse. Thus, Mykola Tomenko, a Ukrainian political scientist recognized as the best political analyst of 1998 and 1999 in UNIAN (Ukrainian National Information Agency) public opinion polls,8 deliberates on the ethnopsychological and sociocultural traditions of Ukrainianness in his Teoriia ­ukraïns′koho kokhannia [Theory of Ukrainian love] (2002). Juxtaposing them to the expansion of mass culture that “is destroying cultural values and ethics of human relationships,” he writes: “Ukrainians have never been cynics; that is why today’s ‘erotization’ of the nation through mass culture either from the East or from the West is not only anti-­political or anti-­aesthetic; it is unnatural.”9 Whether being influenced by external factors, such as Western commodification of sex in the media or the literary vogue for “erotomaniac” fictions that captured its fin-­de-siècle culture in the process of recurrent contestation, rearticulation, and redefinition of gender norms, roles, and boundaries, or internal ones exposing the fictionality of existing moral codes, the “unnatural erotization” had already arrived. Despite the apprehension of the corruption of public morals, Ukrainian erotic heteroglossia could come into play as a force that is capable of undermining certain hierarchical formations inherited from the previous authoritarian regime. In the face of society’s alleged growing acceptance of titillation, and apparently summing up protracted and muddled legislative deliberations that commenced in 1998–1999,10 Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada [­Parliament] finally ratified, in 2003, Law No.1296-­I V, which criminalizes, among other offensive practices, the manufacture and distribution of pornography, and delegates the power to determine whether certain materials are pornographic to the National Expert Committee of Ukraine on the Defence of Public Morals.11 Although the law includes the definitions of “pornography,” “pornographic production,” and “erotic production” (limited to its “aesthetic effect”), the classification of “erotica” itself is omitted. “Pornography” is defined by an assortment of specific adjectives, such as “vulgar and naturalistic,” “cynical,” “obscene,” “offensive,” and “unethical,” which are applied to sexual acts, human dignity, and instincts. It also refers to “sexual deviations”12 that, quite predictably, are applicable to a specter of the least “normative,” hence the most “offensive,” representations of sexuality that ultimately become

4  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions the primary targets of censorship. This law has undergone a number of adjustments since it was adopted by Parliament, none of which, unfortunately, have clarified matters: its key concepts continue to be rudimentary and vaguely defined and thus can be applied quite deliberately. On the one hand, they offer weak protection against charges of pornography because what is assumed to be pornographic is not necessarily so but is, more often, a projection onto the images of viewers’ own repressions, cultural preferences, political views, etc., an iconic example being Justice Stewart’s “definition” of pornography in the J­ ucobellis v. Ohio (1962) obscenity case: “I know it when I see it.”13 On the other hand, the abovementioned vagueness allows one to find cracks in the pornography law in order to support such “international publishing projects” as the now defunct Ukrainian–Spanish–Czech magazine Flash that was replete with pornified subject matter categorized as legitimate erotica, according to the earlier taxonomic description approved by the Cabinet of Ministers,14 which evidently was also taken into consideration when the law “On the Defence of Public Morals” was being formulated. Whether this is pure coincidence or not, it is not surprising that amongst all this verbal and visual mystification around formerly illicit cultural technology, combined with constant bombardment by images of unbridled sexual excess, an issue of PiK [Politics and Culture], one of the most reputable Ukrainian weekly newsmagazines of the time, advertised Playboy on its back cover, while a quality television channel, Novyi kanal [new channel], featured late-­night porn. Two top glamorous magazines, Ieva [Eve], for women, and Lider [Leader], for men, entertained their readership with glossy, two-­dimensional alternative sexualities confronting the traditional heterosexual orientation with the dilemma of sexual freedoms. Lider [Leader] delights quite conventionally in parading provocative lesbian eroticism, whereas Ieva [Eve] features homosexual encounters between gorgeous males. The latter editorial choice might have appeared to represent, for the outsider, a radical step toward questioning homophobia and heterosexism, the traditional models of male sexuality, and conventional gender hierarchy (similar to the erotic appeal found in Western women’s slash fiction that emasculates TV hard men). One can add another spin by considering these images through the concept of gaze, thus referring to hierarchical and ideological ways of seeing and to the nature of male gaze directed at images of women. Consequently, the female readership becomes either empowered by the authority of the gaze, which has been conventionally conceptualized as male, or adopts dual identification with both female (passive) and male (active) positions, or engages in a deliberate erosion of gender roles and boundaries. However, I would suggest that, keeping in mind the intended readership, these images are perfectly balanced and naturally follow heterosexual “law” in terms of Ukrainian sexual conventionality masquerading in fashionable discursive garments. Both scenarios, though transplanted into publications that are somewhat “alien”

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  5 to the vocabulary of the genre, are structured on heterosexual binaries: male readers lusting after women and female readers lusting after men. The refocalization that took place in Ukrainian society tended to be channeled toward an almost occult compulsiveness of sex and toward suggestive nudity propagated in different degrees by advertising, popular fiction, TV commercials, and cinema.

The Cartography of Sexed Bodies Yuri Illienko’s Molytva za Hetʹmana Mazepu [A prayer for Hetman Mazepa] (2001), Ukraine’s biggest-­budget feature film since its independence has proven to possess multiple explosive energies, mapping plots of history and sexual politics onto one another and turning the body into a site of political and cultural construction, contested meaning, and radical resistance. The film has faced a semiofficial ban in ­Russia; become a weapon in political disputes at home; and been persistently attacked for its excessive and brutal violence, nudity, and graphic representations of sexual scenes.15 Choosing one of the most turbulent periods of Ukrainian history as his setting, Illienko focuses on the drama of Hetman Ivan ­Mazepa (1639–1709), statesman, military commander, diplomat, patron of arts, erudite, polyglot, and poet whose confrontation with tyranny and intriguing amorous adventures inspired a wide array of works by European Romantic poets, painters, and musicians. Illienko depicts Mazepa’s ill-­fated alliance with Charles XII (1682–1718) of S­ weden against Peter I (1672–1725) of Muscovy and the defeat of Swedish and Ukrainian joint forces at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, which sealed Ukraine’s fate by politically decapitating it and signified its submergence into a supranational, imperial community. For Ukrainians, Mazepa is an emblem of Ukraine’s struggle for autonomy and independence from the Russian Empire, symbolizing, since the nineteenth-­century Ukrainian revival, the “glorious Cossack past, which was emerging as a cornerstone of ­modern Ukrainian historical memory and identity.”16 An iconic traitor for Russians, he was, and still is, anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church and excluded from the disciplined and institutionally regulated forms of imperial and neo-­imperial collective memory. Molytva [A Prayer] starts with an allegorical representation of the map of Europe as a woman, thus channeling the libidinal currents of Illienko’s imaginary geography into a gendered political body.17 While conceptualizing Ukraine as the “sweet womb” of Europe, which was desired by everyone and possessed by everyone,18 he makes the sexual innuendo present in traditional discourses of discovery, exploration,  or the discussion of Illienko’s film, I abridged my article, “History, Politics, and the F Cartography of Sexed Bodies in Yuri Illienko’s A Prayer for Hetman Mazepa,” published in Canadian Slavonic Papers 56, nos. 1–2 (2014): 135–54, reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Ltd,

6  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions invasion, and conquest19 visually and verbally explicit. Mazepa offers the cartographic image of this sexually charged body to Charles XII, his strategic ally, in order to explain geopolitical relations and place Ukraine both literally and symbolically on his fanciful European map. By eroticizing the land and turning it into a double-­valanced site for acquisition and penetration, Illienko persistently enacts the political and colonial suppression and subordination of Ukraine in violent sexual terms. Serving as an enduring paradigmatic trope for colonial relations over the centuries, the conventional Ukrainian symbolic trope of the country represented as a woman ravished by a male aggressor20 once again emphasizes the connection among conquest, colonization, and rape. This allegorical representation becomes a constitutive part of Illienko’s cinematic counter-­discursive historical narrative; driven by the desire for representational vengeance, it follows certain patterns of masculinist, anti-­imperialist discourses in general. He both fixes and destabilizes the inherited gendered power matrix by hybridizing the aggressive myth of both imperial and nationalist masculinities. Having emerged in the nineteenth-­century through the revival of heroic Cossack figures as a manifest symbol of Ukrainian masculinity, the Cossack cult of courageous acts and masculine violence, re-­revitalized in Molytva [A Prayer], carries on this tradition. Illienko’s pornotopic Ukraine—an object of desire to both exterior malefactors and interior benefactors, and thus the symbolic mediator in the struggle between competing virilities—which is inscribed in the coordinates of the map, appears in hallucinations of the dying Mazepa that structure the film as a half-­naked, submissive maiden, a dominatrix, a monstrous executioner in a bloody red apron, and a fortune-­teller with colossal breasts. 21 This essentialized, metamorphosing female body also functions as a homoerotic and homosocial link between Mazepa and Peter, and is portrayed as a symbolic “property” and object of male political desire. Translated into a sensual metaphor for negotiating the bonds and power configurations between the two statesmen, the quasi-­erotic triangle of Mazepa–Ukraine–Peter, which has strong implications for the colonial project that relies greatly on homosocial forms of domination, makes the male relationship even more volatile and ambiguous. Illienko’s scru­ iubov tiny of desiring bodies culminates with the obsessive seductress, L ­Kochubei (liubov is the Ukrainian word for “love”), who has been haunting Mazepa throughout his life, masturbating with her husband’s decapitated head and simultaneously commenting on the developments of the Battle of Poltava. This triangle—Mazepa, his repressed love/sex object, and her husband, who is Mazepa’s political foe executed by the hetman—completes the string of the film’s erotic symbology, turning male political violence and warfare disturbingly into an aphrodisiac for a sexually insatiable woman. No matter how shocking the vividly “pornographized” female body might have been for a traditionally conservative

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  7 Ukrainian audience (still not quite free of the totalitarian iron “chastity belt”), Illienko’s “mapping” of the male body would have ­appeared even more outrageous. One of the reasons why Molytva [A Prayer] has been labeled “strongly anti-­Russian” by some critics22 is Illienko’s representation of Peter I, 23 a celebrated figure in history as well as the subject of ongoing controversy.24 He transforms this emblematic, enlightened monarch of Russian official historiography into a “sadist, a tyrant and a sodomite” (Kyiv Post, July 19, 2002). His outing of Peter was undoubtedly among the factors provoking Russia’s Ministry of Culture to consider banning the film and to declare that it “could damage relations between Russia and Ukraine” (BBC World Service, July 4, 2002). Alongside other “politically incorrect” representations of Ukraine’s imperial “elder brother,” the disclosure of Tsar Peter’s homosexuality must have been quite appalling to some Russians, even though Peter I is commonly profiled among distinguished homosexuals on Western gay websites, and James Neill mentions him in an extensive list of individuals with a “marked homosexual preference”—Michelangelo, Humboldt, Napoleon, Flaubert, ­Rodin, to name just a few—who made “luminous contributions” to and had “pivotal influences” on “human civilization.”25 Since “in popular discourse a ‘real man’ in Russia is heterosexual, homophobic, and hyperpotent (the opposite of impotent),”26 such representations of the Russian tsar’s sexuality could not but spark a wave of indignation in the generally homophobic Russian media—especially since the film opens with the enraged Peter in Mazepa’s burial vault, brutally sodomizing a soldier, a stand-­in for the hetman. Moreover, Peter not only fails in his attempt at “emasculating” and “impaling,” avenging and humiliating Mazepa and thus reestablishing the hierarchical order, but is himself effeminized, cast as a homosexual, and even symbolically castrated by proving to be powerless against his (and by extension the empire’s) dead nemesis. Illienko, with his revisionist impulse, blends art with sex and violence to produce the film’s manifold shocks that have the potential to shake up the historically amnesiac Ukrainian audiences. Molytva [A Prayer] represents one more facet in the ongoing post-­Soviet “battle of histories,” to rephrase the famous book title of Mazepa’s contemporary, Jonathan Swift, 27 as Illienko contorts the straight line of inherited imperial mythologies into vicious circles in order to expose both their fictionality and the political dogmas surrounding them. However, the director’s transgressive and sexually explicit infusions were used, with a boomerang effect, against his devotees during the parliamentary election campaign in the spring of 2002. Since the film received exceptionally generous funding from the government of Victor Yushchenko, TV channels hostile to the reform-­oriented prime minister and his party repeatedly aired some of the most graphic and disturbing pornified scenes from the film “in a clear attempt to embarrass [Yushchenko’s] supporters and discredit the

8  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions bloc” (Kyiv Post, July 19, 2002). In this context, Illienko’s eroticization of history highlights the importance assumed by sex in political operations in Ukraine in the new millennium. Yuri Solomko’s fascination with cartography parallels Illienko’s creative mapping of a gendered political body. Since the early 1990s, the artist has been employing inscribed maps, “overwriting” them with a plethora of erotic bodies (predominantly female) to explore the spatial realities of the human habitat. Combining the abstract, visual language of cartography, and corporeal morphology, his ongoing series, Planeta liudei [The human planet] (1991–), mirrors the sensibilities of certain 1980s visual artists in the West who sought to reengage with life and its eventualities and for whom a map was a “signifier of ‘real’ space and its actual existence as a flat surface on which to display abstract forms provided artists with a means to resolve the ‘crisis of representation’ that has arisen with the end of Modernist agenda of total abstraction.”28 However, Solomko, who went through the Soviet system of art education, rejected the strictures of mimetic socialist realism in favor of abstraction. Furthermore, his body-­maps seemingly rework the conceptual aspect of European cartographic iconography, which emerged at the end of the sixteenth century, with Sebastian Münster’s map of a feminized Europe (1588) that signified a paradigmatic change in cartography: gendering the “body of the world” and explicitly “imagining a geographic space as female,” thus deployed with a “host of qualities articulated by the signifier ‘woman’ in a patriarchal culture—passivity, fertility, penetrability…”29 Solomko’s cartographic endeavors may also reflect, even if unconsciously, the clandestine, seventeenth-­century European tradition of mapmaking, in keeping with which Europe was represented as a naked woman whose body encompasses countries, with the territory of the political rival placed in the genital area—depending on the mapmaker’s country of origin.30 In his anthropomorphizing of strict geometric grids, the artist moves from superimposing bodies and suggestive genre scenes, appropriated from world masterpieces, onto physical, political, topographic, and weather maps, to recalcitrant bodies bursting through cartographic flat surfaces, to projecting maps on disabled bodies. By granting nonnormative body visibility and thus vesting it with sexual, political, and corporeal signification, Solomko forces viewers to face anxieties and inhibitions both about their own corporeality and the body in general. His involvement with the body, which the ableist culture regards as abject and damaged (Soviet society was especially ruthless in this respect), develops into a series of photographs titled Reheneratsiia [Regeneration], featuring a nude amputee model (Figure 1.1). The viewer is confronted with the rear view of the body, seated on a black mirror surface and adorned with a traditional Ukrainian floral crown, white blank full-­face mask, and military insignia (front view). Her torso elusively alludes to one of Man Ray’s most renowned photographs, Ingres’s Violin (1924); however, Solomko’s woman is not “limbless” but

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  9

Figure 1.1  Y  uri Solomko, Regeneration (Baba Yaga), 1999. C-­print, edition of 5. 29.5ʺ × 29.5ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Yuri Solomko.

implies a spread-­legged pose that is somehow “disabled” by the fact that the viewer can see only the mid-­calf of one limb. In the context of other photographs, the other leg is amputated mid-­thigh and thus is invisible here. Similarly, invisible and imaginary is the space that conventionally draws the viewer’s gaze to the area between the model’s parted legs. Both disturbing and mesmerizing, the image epitomizes woman as a “beautiful” object of male interpretative desire, and problematizes societal views of disabled identity as incomplete, defective, shameful, and desexualized by staging the erotic “abnormal,” but infinitely desirable and seductive, body.

The Banality of Sots Art As opposed to creative projects rejecting cultural dependency on the former metropole, some Ukrainian artists began drawing on Soviet art practices, specifically on dissident Sots Art. Appearing in the  aterial used in the Sots Art and Cyberporn sections originally appeared in my esM say “Ideologies of the Second Coming in the Ukrainian Postcolonial Playground.” In ­Perspectives on Modern Pornography, 1800–2000, edited by Lisa Z. Sigel, 205–31. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005. Copyright © 2005 by Rutgers, the State University, reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press.

10  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions late 1970s–1980s as a parody of official socialist realism, this Soviet version of Pop Art played with symbols, clichés, staple motives, and ­i mages—the “bankrupt tools of propaganda”31—of totalitarian culture, decontextualizing its signs. The most successful artists of the Sots Art movement are Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, both of whom immigrated to the USA in the late 1970s and gained recognition on the wave of the rising Western interest in the changes taking place in the “Evil Empire.” Their pastiche of socialist realist aesthetics in the 1980s Nostalgic Socialist Realism series includes The Origin of Socialist Realism, Stalin in the Mirrors, Stalin and the Muse, and other Stalin(ism)-themed paintings executed in glossy academicist style. Subversively  representing Marxist-Leninist versions of reality, Sots Art illustrated, according to Matthew Jesse Jackson, that “oppositional dissidence in the Soviet Union was unnecessary since criticism of the Soviet system could be articulated just as readily in officially approved languages.”32 This dialogue with state-­approved creative methodologies and imagistic systems, which took place in the 1980s, went on to become a new prescriptive cliché in the 1990s. Although the Soviet state was obsolete, certain artists seemed to be more comfortable with recycling its dead signifiers, which they conveniently laced with an abundance of eroticism for a transgressive ring and public appeal, than with pursuing new art forms and ways of “seeing.” The Ukrainian pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale, for example, featured a piece by Valentyn Raievsky, Blattopter BRD-­1: Project Preventive Measures (1999), an assemblage of military accessories, nudes, and cockroaches. The title of the installation refers most likely to a “new” fictional species, blattopter sapience, 33 from the 1990s cycle Zapreshchennaia real′nost′ [Forbidden reality] by Vasily Golovachev, a Russian author of an alternative history fiction blended, according to one Russian critic, with the genre of “patriotic novel.”34 I will not debate the bizarre choice of counterfactual narratives, with their peculiar fandom and limited public resonance, as a point of the artwork’s reference, or the artist’s choice that distinctly divulges the identification with culture whose source and norms are situated elsewhere, to borrow Jacques Derrida’s expression, in the “Capital- ­City-Father-­Motherland,”35 the former imperial center, whose phantomlike centrality will always magnetize postcolonial artists who subject themselves to derivative provinciality. Noteworthy here is Raievsky’s attempt to titillate viewers with as much nudity as “decency” allows, apparently following the sex-­sells formula, which makes any art product more exciting, alluring, and marketable. A Soviet-­style kitschy version of the Surrealist “mechanical bride,” with all its sexist implications, 36 Blattopter conceives the female body as a “machine-­like aggregate of detachable, interchangeable parts”37 to be paraded for male visual pleasure. This body is also factored into

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  11 one of the central totalitarian orthodoxies—the glorification of martial strength embodied in phallic tubes of military equipment—gearing the above free-­market formula into a more inclusive sex-­and-violence-­sell one. While unsettlingly imitating “the West” and adding an enticing touch to the installation, Raievsky exploits a vastly popular, in the closing decade of the twentieth century, code of S&M sexual imagery by cladding his nudes in high leather boots, belts, and helmets. Here, recalibrated visual vocabulary imported from the West operates on a purely superficial level; it has nothing to do with an artistic inquiry into deep-­ seated beliefs concerning gender, power, sexuality, violence, and role-­ playing in postcolonial, post-­totalitarian, and post-­Soviet society, their reformation or transformation. Female flesh conflated with male machinery is structured strictly according to masculinist binary logic, and is designed as a public turn-­on device of sorts. What is interesting about Raievsky’s piece is that, having nothing to say, he operates on the level of what is expected or recognizable as representative of “over there,” in the land of Western promise, whose compulsive attraction seemed even to strengthen after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Blattopter is played out in accordance with a supply-­and-demand scenario that is generated by a depleted, speculative, manipulative, and desperate imagination, with Sots Art as the only familiar operational mode that once used to be commercially successful in the West. Similarly to Blattopter’s corporeal visual strategy, the female nude as a delectable element of decor became an almost indispensable element of Ukrainian web design, regardless of the website’s content, including a vast variety of rampantly explicit sexual material situated on an extreme point of the visual spectrum. Although Blattopter, with its Soviet type of visual idiom, paradoxically made it to one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions, a bastardized and blatantly market-­oriented ideology of its source of creative inspiration resurfaces in one “nationally” specific porno-­site, Ukrainian Schoolgirls, www.ukrainianschoolgirls. com/cgi-bin/click.cgi?supdiva. A kind of Sots Porn, it boasts daily updates in its “exclusive content” section featuring the “sexiest…amateur schoolgirls,” whose authenticity is repeatedly emphasized visually and in the titles of the links: girls masturbate, girls hardcore, girls movies, sex stories, girls pics, etc. Ukrainian nymphets are dressed in typical Soviet school uniforms: dark-­brown dresses and white aprons, commonly worn on ceremonial occasions, and red Young Pioneer ties. Since the Young Pioneer League was a political organization created in the Soviet Union for the ideological upbringing of children from ten to fourteen, the models on the site are deliberately assigned to an underage group, although they look somewhat more mature than their outfits suggest. To make the declaration of every implication even more explicit, “daddy’s babes” congregate around a male pedophile figure who is old enough both to appreciate their perverted innocence and to relate to defunct

12  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions tokens of a “happy Young-­Pioneer childhood” under the Soviet regime. This nostalgic transgression by several degrees—including the violation of legally acceptable norms of the Western pornography industry—is aimed at intensifying excitement and satisfying the more “unconventional” tastes of the website’s fantasy-­ridden, subpotent, “mature” clientele. The consumer issue is interesting here, as the language of the site is English. Is this a sign of fashion, inevitable globalization, an agency for “hard-­currency” prostitutes, or trafficking in porno-­commodities packaged as forbidden fruit through virtual reality, which replicates the ongoing transnational sexual slave-­marketing of Ukrainian women, who allegedly are willing to do more for less?38 In general, Ukrainian cyber pornography of the period feeds on a visible segment of predictable international codes and resembles its Western counterparts. It does not diverge from the supranational mainstream representing the commodifying power of sex, which has become a consumer object: standardized, mass-­produced, glossy, and spotless. The employed procedures of representation are also based on canonical pornographic practices and on dominance-­oriented strategies of objectification in which women are reduced to the parts of their bodies and assigned the role of voluntarily responsive objects. By focusing on stripped erogenous zones—breasts, vagina, and mouth—heterosexual pornography, with its mechanical objectification of signs, fetishizes woman in the most obvious manner, turning her, as Jane M. Ussher argues, into a hole to be penetrated.39

Cyberporn Meets Socialist Realism Another case of peculiar cultural crossbreeding, in which new, “imported” subject matter was applied to well-­established and familiar Soviet literary practices, can be found in the virtual pornographic fiction that invaded the websites of various Ukrainian electronic libraries, where they were unobtrusively labeled as “erotica,” “romance,” or even “fiction about love.” It seems to be symbiotically connected with the inherited socialist realist tradition and has turned, quite unintentionally, into one of its most ardent proponents. I will focus on the “erotica” section of one such e-­library,, which is pretty generic in reflecting the supply–demand relationship in the mass literature market. Its porno-­goods look very much like source guides and friendly manuals that offer their readers sexual possibilities that are open to them and which aspire to satisfy all possible types of erotic curiosity. The amount of detail provided depends on the author’s enthusiasm and expertise in the area. This “pedagogical” stance of the site is also indicated by the fact that among the effusion of “creative” opuses, one finds incidental, miscellaneous fragments from the Kama Sutra, the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795), and

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  13 Oriental medieval erotic literature (I will refrain from commenting on the quality of translations), as well as solely pragmatic writings on “sex in human life,” “the art of marriage,” “men’s sexual happiness,” and other practical topics. I agree with Brian McNair that the educational aspect of pornography may play a useful role in disseminating information about the mechanics of sex in general, as well as about other sex-­related issues,40 especially in a country that missed the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s; a country where abortion was the most effective, if not exclusive, means of birth control for decades; and whose current adolescent pregnancy and birth rates are five times higher than in the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Sweden “due to insufficient sexual education.”41 Ukrainian cyber literary porn has attempted to explore new territory, but very much like in the case of porno-­sites, it relates current sexual practices, mimicking Western models, in a blatantly minimalistic manner. Moreover, it grotesquely mixes temporal and spatial markers, representing both familiar, everyday life, with easily identifiable realia, so that readers can relate to what seems to be happening next door, and the alien and exotic, in order to cater to more selective tastes of those who yearn for galvanizing adventures in faraway lands. Apartment buildings and summer houses that are indicative of native setting appear alongside Hawaiian bungalows, German family mansions, mysterious and solitary quasi-­G othic places à la de Sade, accommodations for high-­class orgies in the manner of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), and saloons of wrecked ships to remind the reader of the thrills and horrors of Titanic (1997). Sometimes, the veneer of this cosmopolitan chic cracks and an irresistible and gallant male with impeccable manners shows up in training pants for an elegantly served breakfast. (Those familiar with the Soviet and post-­Soviet mode of life will appreciate this detail.) However, setting is not the point here and can be disposed of easily. Predominantly anonymous authors (quite in line with authorial obscurity in pornographic classics, but names would not mean anything anyway) compete at piling up descriptions of excessive mechanical copulation. The portrayal of “old-­fashioned” heterosexual intercourse between two partners seems innocent and chaste in comparison to sex parties that usually involve a minimum of three players. If it happens to be a traditional duo, it tends to be jazzed up with miscellaneous extras; for example, coitus with a gigantic soft cat in a heroine’s dream, foreshadowing her sexual encounter with a human partner, becomes a helpful device. Group sex, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal penetration, lesbianism, masturbation, incest, rape, bestiality, defloration, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, and homosexuality are the staple ingredients of the texts and are mixed in various configurations, in keeping with the principle, “the more the better.” All this is compressed into a short

14  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions fiction format that does not allow for pensive poses or retardations; there is no time to stop—everything moves fast, like on an assembly belt, toward the end of the production line. This fantasy world offers itself as reality, structuring its sexual scene around obsessional simulation, where women are invariably represented as voracious, ravenous, incessantly craving sex, with unlimited availability. Graphic depictions of readily accessible women being penetrated in every possible orifice and in every conceivable posture blur into an endless coitus syncopated by ecstatic screams and moans transparently denoting utmost pleasure and delight. Pornographic heroes, unfailing paragons of erection, with larger-­than-life-­sized penises, are sex machines able to resume vigorous, penetrative sex right after ejaculation (preferably with different partners), thus proving themselves as the ideal counterparts of the Soviet proverbial “shock workers of socialist labor” and “multi-­machine operatives” at industrial enterprises. It is in this contest with reality that pornography, which persistently glosses it, draws on the operational mode of socialist realism. One can argue, therefore, that any pornographic work is axiomatically based on such essentials and that the socialist realist method is pornographic. Fixated on reality and the imperative to supplant traditional objectivity with “an ultra- or supra-­realism,”42 socialist realism starts with an ideal image to which the existing reality has to be adapted,43 thus creating pure appearances that are, ironically, too real. This absorption of reality into hyperreality also takes place in pornography. As Jean Baudrillard argues, porn signifies the end of illusion and imagination, for the sexual appears so close to the subject that it confounds itself: “One gives you so much…that you have nothing to add, that is to say, nothing to give in exchange. Absolute repression: by giving you a little too much one takes away everything.”44 Sexuality is not on display in pornography. Rather, pornography breaks down the sexual scene and foregrounds the obscene, representing desire in the absence of desire. Its simulacra of sexuality leave no place for weakness, failure, or inadequate performance, the features consistently exhibited by the similarly utopian and purposeful Soviet positive hero on his road to communism (the hero is invariably male). Such regimes of representation are typical of contemporary Ukrainian porn from, whose textual strategies strip its protagonists of any complexities by exposing their exclusively physical pleasure, constructing everything in full view, and putting it on display. Typologically, everything is centered around male erection and ejaculation. The titles of the stories unequivocally delineate their discursive space, and convey the laborious, reductive, and mechanical tedium of the genre. They are organized in the following thematic clusters: recollections and diaries of young girls, often adolescent; loss of virginity; “fallen” women; “demonic” sex; sexual gratification; group sex. What is noteworthy is that these narratives draw on an endless stream of

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  15 weary myths and traditional misogynies. To construct titillating images of perilous sex, authors often resort to depicting sexually subservient females for whom humiliation is always infused with sexual pleasure and is an essential moment in enhancing their sexual heat. A far cry from exploring woman’s masochistic desire in the manner of, at least, say, Anne Rice’s self-­proclaimed “elegant sadomasochism,”45 these scenarios draw on fantasies that are crudely articulated for the male consumer. Although many of the stories describe situations of consensual captivity (not unlike in numerous Story-­of-O types of narrative), the brutality and aggression of heterosexual males are appalling, and in this world of pleasure slaves, women end up being presented as nymphomaniacs whose unbridled lust is aroused by ever-­increasing debasement and sexual assaults. It parallels violence, immanent to socialist realism, as the source of pleasure of its mandatory heroism,46 which often results in mutilation or death, in both cases acting as a remedial instrument to compensate for man’s sexual anxieties and fears concerning the former, and for his sense of subordinate manliness regarding the latter. Alongside misogyny, Ukrainian cyberporn also reflects society’s homophobic attitudes; the collection Vulkan erotychnykh fantazii [Volcano of erotic fantasies], consisting of fourteen stories, includes only one with homosexual subject matter; it is set on unlit night bus to make it inconspicuous. Clearly intended to deliver sexual pleasure, these cultural ­commodities— “a means of individual masturbation,”47 in McNair’s words—still caused a crack in inherited political, social, and cultural injunctions to silence on the issues of sexuality. The decisive break with the authoritarian ideologies of the fallen Soviet regime, which sought to control and restrict the “expression of sexuality amongst the ‘people,’ correctly understanding it to be the anarchic and potentially subversive force in human action,”48 was signaled by an outpouring of “quality” l­iterature—I call it “erotomaniac”49 —which employs, to different degrees, the medium that advocates free and diverse sexual self-­expression most vocally. While releasing repressed experiences and desires into the discursive field, erotomaniac fiction is violating conventional taboos and interrogating social structures that support and encourage negative attitudes to any form of sexuality.

“Deviant” Modernism Explicit representations of sexuality in Ukrainian literature have a brief and interrupted tradition going back to the 1920s, a short-­lived period of cultural revival, which came to be known as the “executed Renaissance” [Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia]. Launched by the Soviet repressive machine in the early 1930s, this first round of persecutions on an unprecedented scale targeted “intellectuals, professors, museum curators,

16  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions writers, artists, priests, theologians, public officials and bureaucrats.”50 Preceding the date of the so-­called Great Purge (1936–1938), it coincided with the politically instigated, devastating Holodomor [Famine-­ Genocide] in 1932–1933 that heralded, according to Anne Applebaum, “Stalin’s War on Ukraine.”51 Among the constellation of modernist writers, who initiated the paradigm shift in modes of representation by exploring, among other innovations, the corporeal and its appetites, and who were excoriated during their lifetime as “pornographers,” are representative figures of the Ukrainian avant-­garde such as Mykola Khvylovy (1893–1933), Valerian Pidmohylny (1901–1937), Valerian Polishchuk (1897–1937), and Volodymyr Vynnychenko (1880–1951). By using sex and the erotic body to experiment with and redefine notions of subjectivity, corporeality, and autonomy under multiple pressures of tremendous social change, they opposed the prevailing ascetic revolutionary ideal, condensed by Eliot Borenstein to a “men-­without-women” formula. In constructing the myth of a new, masculinized society, postrevolutionary Russian literature of the 1920s associated the values of the new world with the “hallmarks of a traditionally masculine ethos”—production, historical process, construction, and “the struggle”52 —which constituted the foundational principles of the socialist realist doctrine adopted at the First Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934. Being utopian, on the one hand, and offering the Soviet people some perfect version of reality, socialist realism was punitive, on the other, pitilessly repressing any “wrong” image of the Soviet system. 53 Ukrainian modernists got the gist of Soviet reality totally “wrong.” First, although the Soviet Union, created in 1922, was de jure a federal state, de facto it was unitary, and its founding republics were completely subordinate to the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet government in Moscow. 54 Based on their misconception of Ukrainian “sovereignty,” they defended their right “to autonomous artistic creation under conditions of tightening state control,”55 violated the code of self-­censorship accepted by Soviet revolutionary writers in general, and were critical of mainstream ideology and state politics. Their motto “Away from Moscow!” did not embrace the required emulation of the coercive Russian literary model promoted by the party, and therefore they were deemed guilty of adhering “slavishly” to “bourgeois” ideology, which was hostile to communist values. However schematic this summary is, the Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia [Executed Renaissance] was indeed “brutally crashed by the Stalinist repressions of the 1930s.”56 Khvylovy committed suicide in 1933, the only way for him to protest the terror and famine that was sweeping through Ukraine. Pidmohylny and Polishchuk, arrested in 1934 on fabricated charges of counterrevolutionary, anti-­Soviet, and terrorist activities, were murdered, together with other 1,111 prisoners of the Solovky special prison camp, among whom were “several hundred” Ukrainian intellectuals; their executions lasted from 27 October until 4 ­November of

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  17 1937 and marked the “celebration” of the twentieth anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution (BBC News, Ukraine, November 3, 2017). In addition to political charges, Polishchuk was accused of pornography. He pleaded not guilty to the former, and guilty to the latter, thus becoming the “first Ukrainian poet who suffered for pornography.”57 Vynnychenko, the last Ukrainian “pornographer” of the Soviet era, ended up in exile in France, a rare gift of fortune because Ukrainian literature was virtually wiped out by the Stalinist repressions: while in 1930, there were 259 actively publishing writers in Ukraine, by 1938, this number had shrunk to 26.58 Physical extermination was accompanied by a blackout of all “anti-­Soviet” authors from literary history and criticism—a powerful safeguard against any dissent for generations to come. Repressions of the Ukrainian cultural elite continued until the collapse of the USSR, as the hunt for Ukrainian “bourgeois nationalists” never subsided;59 the last literary victim of the totalitarian regime was born in the year that the Stalinist purges supposedly ended. Vasyl Stus (1938–1985), the dissident poet, public intellectual, and human rights activist, died in a Soviet strict-­regime concentration camp in Russia the year that Gorbachev launched glasnost and perestroika (Stus’s family and friends received permission to transfer his remains to Ukraine only in 198960). As for the authors of the Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia [­Executed Renaissance], some of them were rehabilitated, the majority, posthumously, after Stalin’s death. Nevertheless, their works were repressed almost until the proclamation of Ukrainian independence, and began reappearing after half a century of nonexistence and oblivion simultaneously with works by the new generation of writers. It was as though the latter picked up the end of the violently broken line laid down by their modernist predecessors, who revolutionized ideas about literature and art, charting routes for contemporary, experimental cultural theories and practices, and kept it going.

Erotomaniac Fictions Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions explores the ways in which the transgressive potential of the erotic, which reemerged from its occlusion by oppressive Soviet gender and sexual ideologies during the “explosive” 1990s, is embedded in the processes of Ukraine’s cultural decolonization. My investigation into the aggressive sexualization of the Ukrainian cultural mainstream, positioned within a growing body of critical work that examines controversial genres of cultural productions dealing with explicit representations of sexuality, draws on a variety of analytical approaches. In addition to interconnecting postcolonial, gender, sexuality, intertextuality theories, and cross-­cultural analysis, I employ some aspects of psychoanalysis, specifically in its dialectical tensions with feminism, instrumental in “dephallicizing” complex social power relations.

18  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions Supplemented by the eclectic and flexible utilization of history, folklore, mythology, philosophy, and fine arts, this heterogeneous critical equipment allows me to avoid the dictatorial power and ultimate authority of a monotheory and narrowly pre-­theorized reading of profoundly diverse textual material. I also engage with a broader conceptualization of explicit sexual representations by employing the postcolonial perspective, an interface that is conspicuously scarce in the postcolonial field61 and essentially nonexistent in newly emerging porn studies.62 Furthermore, by taking Ukrainian literature as its object, Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions continues to expand postcolonial debate by shifting intellectual focus from established disciplinarian geographic boundaries to cultural formations that have been conceived as chronically marginal, supposedly inferior, or even invisible. Moreover, the fact that Ukraine is on the periphery of Eurocentric ideology further problematizes the paradigm of homogeneous Eurocentricity, still utilized by a considerable part of postcolonial critique. I also am not convinced that Ukrainian culture should be assessed exclusively in the context of an incessant postcolonial seesaw within the metropole–periphery template, since its textual systems evade such firmly fixed hierarchical structuring, having their own cores and margins, meandering patterns and conventions, and therefore require more nuanced strategies. In the area of Ukrainian Studies, scholarly interest in corporeality coincided with the creative reappropriation of the body, with all its organs, by erotomaniac writers. Experimenting with newly available theoretical frameworks and approaches, Ukrainian feminist scholarship, which emerged as the most dynamic and influential player in the postindependence critical arena, propelled the revamping of literary criticism, bogged down in the conservative mind-­set of Marxism-­L eninism as the only acceptable and manipulatively “elastic,” all-­disciplines-inclusive methodology in the USSR. While employing feminist critical idiom and political positioning conventionally directed at issues of gender, sexuality, and identity, prominent Ukrainian academics focused on the recovery of the violently “lost” modernist oeuvre. Although neither selected texts nor scholars were specifically engaged with “erotomaniac” subject matter, I would still like to acknowledge, among their substantial contributions, Solomiia Pavlychko’s Dyskurs modernizmu v ukraïns′kii literaturi [Discourse of modernism in Ukrainian literature] (1997), in which she conflates early twentieth-­century debates about gender politics and representations of sexual desire to explore the makings of Ukrainian modernism, similarly drawing on the nexus of nationalism, sexuality, and Orientalism in her critical biography of Ahatanhel Krymsky,63 the prominent modernist writer and Orientalist scholar. Tamara Hundorova’s 1997 book on the discourse of early modernism investigates, along with a number of other major authors, Olha ­Kobylianska,64 the first woman in Ukrainian literature to acknowledge the existence of

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  19 female sexual body, who reappears as the sole object of study in Femina melancholica (2002). Another strategically feminist project reconceptualizing and rereading already canonized women writers, Vira Aheieva’s Poetesa zlamu stolit′ [A poetess at the turn of the century] (1999) combines feminist and postmodern critical lenses, while placing Lesia Ukrainka in the context of fin-­de-siècle European modernism, and continues to reassess the feminist discourse of modernism in Zhinochyi prostir [Women’s space] (2003). Also working in this area is the Polish scholar Agnieszka Matusiak, whose research concentrates on the discourse of masculinity, symbolic images of women, and literature and the body, and draws on the intersection of psychoanalysis, anthropology, and sociology of culture in U koli ukraïns′koï setsesiï [In the circle of the Ukrainian Secession] (2006) and Khymernyi Yatskiv [­Chimerical Yatskiv] (2010). More closely related thematically, albeit not strictly academic, is Erotoslaviia. Peretvorennia Erosa u slov’ians′kykh literaturakh [Erotoglory. The transformation of Eros in Slavic literatures] (2015) by Dejan Ajdačić, a Serbian folklorist and literary scholar. This collection of miscellaneous articles, ranging from the oral tradition to contemporary literature and cutting across European geographies, is predominantly about Balkan Slavic authors, but includes two articles on contemporary Ukrainian writers. The contemporary literary scene is also the subject of one chapter in Vitaly Chernetsky’s Mapping Postcommunist Cultures (2007), which explores the gendered body in relation to nationalism under Ukraine’s postcolonial condition. However, it is Marko Pavlyshyn’s brief, groundbreaking 1993 essay, “Ukrainian Literature and the Erotics of Postcolonialism,” that is most relevant for my work. I will be returning to the latter two publications in more detail in the course of my discussion. Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions has two discrete and important aims. First, I seek to explore the emergence of sexuality as the subject of aesthetic experimentation in postcolonial and post-­totalitarian cultural scenes, and to chart another, virtually untouched, area of cultural decolonization by claiming it as an object of scholarly attention. Second, my book examines sexually explicit (“pornographic”65) representations as a phenomenon that has become pervasive in the West in an essentially different context of a peripheral European culture, which is multifariously “post-”: postcolonial, postcommunist, post-­totalitarian, and postnuclear.66 Compound traumas inflicted by antecedents of these multiple “posts-,” which unfolded in parallel with an array of political, economic, and social changes, profoundly influenced state, collective, and personal identities in the time of transition. In terms of gender and sexual aspects of identity, the years following forced discursive “celibacy” fashioned some bizarre and sometimes incompatible configurations and public mythologies: educated, progressively minded Ukrainian women vehemently rejecting feminism, seemingly emancipated men clinging

20  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions obstinately to misogynistic theories of women’s biologically determined inferiority, promiscuous fuckers exhibiting remarkable chastity by refusing to talk about any sex-­related issues, and “gender” being considered a dirty word that ruins traditional family values. I am interested in how the tightly knit knot of various factors plays out in erotomaniac fictions that place the sexual body front and center, while mapping a new economy and politics of desire, whether they transgress or reinforce existing sexual order and power differentials, and whether or not they reconfigure normative boundaries of masculinity and femininity. In addition, I explore the channels of cultural psychohistory they draw on, how they intersect with national and international cultural flows, and call into question the procedures of representation implemented by the socialist realist tradition. In examining multifaceted regimes of explicit sexual representations, I am far from the celebratory treatment of this type of textual production as axiomatically liberating and politically progressive. If the case were self-­evident, there would be no need for an entire book to prove it. Neither do I attempt to present a comprehensive survey of the Ukrainian “pornographic scene,” but I am navigating the area in different directions in a contrapuntal manner. Each chapter of the book explores various lines of flight in inventing and reinventing Ukrainian definitions and configurations of desiring bodies, which are routed through political and cultural discourses. Selected authors range, according to critical assessments of their work, on a spectrum between “high-­calibre” and “popular” literature, and have contributed significantly to Ukraine’s literary explosion after the achievement of independence. It is worth noting that there is an apparent gender imbalance between female and male authors in the book: there is only one woman among the six writers. However, this choice reflects gender dynamics in Ukrainian literature after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is further narrowed by being specifically related to explicit representations of sexuality within a pioneering first wave. It is important to point out, though, that it is a woman, Oksana ­Zabuzhko, who occupies a strategically prominent position in my analysis, as she is the principal paradigm shifter, who gives the female sexual body physical and tropological centrality, while inscribing it in the economy of pleasure, domination, and power. I believe that, among the selected representative writers of the period, she is the most impressive and intellectually formidable presence. Furthermore, my conclusion delineating further developments on the Ukrainian sexual scene features four women writers of the second—I term it porno-­chic—wave. These authors include Mariia Matios, Yevheniia Kononenko, Irena Karpa, and Sofiia Andrukhovych. Thus, I start with Zabuzhko’s “fieldwork in Ukrainian sex,” exploring how her narrative of desire moves into the discursive void of Ukrainian sexuality through the violence of recent Ukrainian history

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  21 to reveal the debilitating identity politics under colonial and totalitarian rule, the mechanisms by which cultural models of domination and subordination are formed and projected onto heterosexual gender roles, and the conflation of eroticism and violence that factor into articulation of her protagonist’s subjectivity. Unlike Zabuzhko’s corporeal inscape, Yurko Pokalchuk turns the private body into a public spectacle, while forging his Ukrainian “foundational” pornography as an essential genre for the postindependence literary process. This chapter investigates his representations of sexuality, strategically employing the dual discourse of erotic desire and transgression and focusing on a link between sexual transgression, the transgression of conventional discursive norms and regimes, and the subversion of social values, all of which work against social and cultural fixities. In Chapter 4, I move to Yuri Vynnychuk’s playful postmodern “historiographic” pastiche, looking into a vast and diverse repertoire of Orientalist discourses, including the Imperial Harem as a masculine arena of exotic sexual fantasies, Eastern erotic guides, generic captivity narratives, and the life-­writing genre, among others. They all offer a variety of routes for excursions into his imaginary land of sexual delight, subverting Ukrainian cultural symbols and the professed “objectivity” of socialist realism. Chapter 5 deals with Valeri Shevchuk’s neo-­Baroque, transhistorical eroticism. Since the sexuality of his demonically pornographized women borders on anomalousness, I examine the texts through the lens of the monstrous-­feminine, with attention to traditional Christian misogynistic doctrines, to demonstrate how his evocation of Baroque legacies introduces both a different view on the history of cultural expression in Ukraine and formerly stigmatized subject matter. The Kapranov brothers’ transgressive “re-­emplotment” of Ukrainian nineteenth-­century classics is discussed in Chapter 6, where I analyze their intertextual strategies, such as paratextuality, illustrations, utilization of pornographic textual markers, and sub-­dialogues with folkloric tradition, which fundamentally restage readers’ horizon of expectations, while devising strictly gendered politics of pleasure. I conclude with Les Poderviansky’s macabre and bizarre scenarios, whose pornographic characters are creatures of brutal, sexualized reality based on the paragons of socialist realist, imperious Major Texts. My analysis proceeds by juxtaposing the writer’s dystopian nightmare against a utopian fantasy created by Soviet authors, showing that his work not only represents an iconoclastic break with the Soviet era and socialist realism as its ideological tool, but also signifies the degeneration of both. All the included texts are culturally symptomatic. They have all grown out of a culture that traditionally has cultivated male supremacy and in which eroticism becomes violent and violence erotic in heterosexual relationships. All expose, if not confront, inherited totalitarian gender relationships. All strive to reject multiple repressive legacies and express a certain disillusionment with the postindependence order. All emerge

22  Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions from the clash between the restrictions of the past and the dizzying choices of greater freedom. All demonstrate, to varying degrees, disorientation in increasingly transnational cultural spaces. All enter into conflicting dialogues with imperial as well as their own cultural and literary myths. And, most significantly in the framework of this book, all chart the Ukrainian social, political, cultural, and sexual bodies through the infusion and conceptual displacement of pornographic discourse whose function is expanded, turning it into shock therapy.

Notes 1 Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-­Four, 280. 2 Kon, The Sexual Revolution in Russia, 1. 3 Ibid., 129–30. 4 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 25. 5 Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 96. 6 Segal, “Introduction,” 3. 7 See Strossen, Defending Pornography. 8 Dovzhenko, “Mykola Tomenko: ‘Ukraïna oliharkhichna derzhava’”. 9 Tomenko, Teoriia ukraïns′koho kokhannia, 11. 10 See Huban, “Rozvytok zakonoproektiv,” 17–22. 11 Zakonodavstvo Ukraïny, Zakon vid 20.11.2003, No. 1296-­I V, “Pro zakhyst suspil′noï morali,”­15 (accessed August 4, 2018). 12 Ibid. 13 Quoted in Hall, Supreme Court Justices, 367. 14 Vors, “‘Polunapriazhennyi orhan’ vitchyznianoï presy.” 15 See Iurii Shevchuk, “‘Molytva za het′mana Mazepu’ v Harvardi” and “‘Molytva za het′mana Mazepu’: frahmenty vidhukiv.” 16 Plokhy, Ukraine and Russia, 70. 17 It is also worth mentioning that the “intersection of history, visual plotting, and ideology has recently been identified in cinema as a mapping process” (O’Riley, Cinema in an Age of Terror, 17). 18 Molytva za Het′mana Mazepu. 19 See Sanford, Maps and Memory in Early Modern England, 54–57. 20 The most iconic example is Taras Shevchenko’s poem “Kateryna” (1838), which was visually translated into his eponymous painting (1842). 21 Ol′ha Briukhovets′ka briefly discusses Illienko’s representations of women in the section entitled “Myth 6. The Ukrainian woman and sex, or in the search of the national unconscious”) of her article “Iak molytysia molotom, abo (De)konstruktsiia mifiv.” 22 See Grob, “‘Mazepa’ as a Symbolic Figure,” 94. 23 Briukhovetsʹka, “Iurii Illienko. Porakhunky z imperatoramy.” She is also the author of Kinosvit Iuriia Illienka (2006); unfortunately, I was unable to access this book. 24 Lee, Aspects of European History, 203. See also Riasanovsky, The Image of Peter the Great. 25 Neill, The Origins and Role of Same- ­Sex Relations, 73. 26 Phillips, Disability and Mobile Citizenship, 183. 27 The Battle of the Books was published as part of the prolegomenon to his Tale of a Tub (1704). 28 Cabeen, “Maps, Mapping and the Visual Arts,” 354.

Introduction to Erotomaniac Fictions  23 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 4 4 45 46 47 48 49

50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

62 63 64 65 66

Klein, Maps and the Writing of Space, 36. Lewis, Nudes from Nowhere, 129. Hillings, “Komar and Melamid’s Dialogue,” 49. Jackson, The Experimental Group, 126. Blattopter is the Russian derivative of Blattoptera. See Shnirel′man, Ariiskii mif o sovremennom mire, 153–57. Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other, 41–42. McNair, Mediated Sex, 140. Lupton, Mechanical Brides, 9. Malarek, The Natashas. Ussher, Fantasies of Femininity, 158. McNair, Porno? Chic!, 118–19. “Ukraine’s High Teenage Pregnancy Rate.” Gutkin, The Cultural Origins of Socialist Realism, 4. Tertz (Sinyavsky), The Trial Begins, 200. Baudrillard, Seduction, 30. Ramsland, The Roquelaure Reader, x. See Dobrenko, Political Economy of Socialist Realism, 217–18. McNair, Porno? Chic!, 24. Ibid., 5. I am not using “erotomaniac” either as a medical term or in its literal meaning but, rather, metaphorically, as reflective of society’s obsession with incessant stimulation and excitement, on the one hand, and an array of authors’ intense preoccupations, including corporeality, sexual drives, erotic desires, and recurrent clusters of practices involving bodily pleasures and anxieties, on the other. Applebaum, Red Famine, xxviii. See ibid. Borenstein, Men without Women, 3. See Emerson, “Russian Critical Theory,” 270. Magosci, A History of Ukraine, 526–27. Hryn, “The Executed Renaissance Paradigm Revisited,” 67. Ibid., 70. Kotsarev, “Pershyi ukraïns′kyi poet.” Nyzovyi, “Ukraïns′ka knyzhka u peredvoienne desiatylittia,” 136. See Zhuk, “‘Cultural Wars’ in the Closed City,” 74–77. Husar Struk, “Vasyl Stus.” In addition to Malek Alloula’s The Colonial Harem (1981), Darby L ­ ewes’s Nudes from Nowhere: Utopian Sexual Landscapes (2000), Marcus Wood’s Slavery, Empathy, and Pornography (2002), and Greg Thomas’s The Sexual Demon of Colonial Power: Pan-­African Embodiment and Erotic Schemes of Empire (2007), Joseph Allen Boone’s The Homoerotics of Orientalism (2014) is specifically focused on the erotics of homosexuality through the Orientalist lens, and John Wallen’s New Perspectives on Sir Richard Burton: Orientalism, the Cannibal Club and Victorian Ideas of Sex, Race, and Gender (2016) contains a chapter on Burton, Said, and postcolonial theory. See Linda Williams’s survey of the field in the 2014 inaugural issue of Porn Studies 1, nos. 1–2: 24–40. Since then, only one article related to this question has appeared: Mulholland, “‘The Pathological Native,’” 34–49. Pavlychko, Natsionalizm, seksual′nist′, oriientalizm. Hundorova, ProIAvlennia slova. I apply the term rather liberally to works that are sexually explicit enough to be discussed in the same terms as pornography. Zabuzhko, “Enter Fortinbras,” 90.

2 Nationalist-Masochist Woman, Impotent Man, and Counter-­Erotics: Pol′ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns′koho seksu [Fieldwork in Ukrainian sex] Oksana Zabuzhko, a poet, prose writer, essayist, scholar, public intellectual, often “provocatively described as simultaneously the enfant terrible and the femme fatale” of contemporary Ukrainian literature,1 and one of the most controversial contemporary Ukrainian writers, has opened a Pandora’s box of dormant psychosexual and erotic explorations by her Pol′ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns′koho seksu [Fieldwork in Ukrainian sex] (1996). This novel, about a tempestuous relationship between a poet and her artist lover, provoked an immediate outburst of ardent admiration and righteous indignation that ensured its scandalous success and propelled the author into the limelight of the Ukrainian cultural scene, 2 making her an instant celebrity, hailing her as the avatar of Ukrainian feminism, 3 and stirring the critical establishment. Acclaimed as a groundbreaking achievement for female self-­expression, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork] became the first postindependence national bestseller, has been recognized as one of the “most influential books to be published in Ukraine since independence,”4 and translated into a number of European languages. 5 Zabuzhko’s narrative of desire, leaping back and forth across the Atlantic, moves into the discursive void of Ukrainian sexuality through the dark abyss of recent Ukrainian history under the Soviet totalitarian regime, its convoluted psychohistory, and literary tradition, thus intersecting multiple spaces and historical temporalities. Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork] noticeably draws on a long-­term, cumulative Ukrainian trauma—enormous human losses as a result of the artificially engineered Holodomor [Famine-­G enocide], the Great Terror of Stalinist repressions in the 1930s, the devastation of World War  II (1939–1945), the persecution of dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s, Russia’s persistent and blatantly discriminatory policies concerning the Ukrainian language and culture, and Ukraine’s destiny of becoming the “missing people,”6 to use Gilles Deleuze’s expression, who did not get to parade in the imperial progressive march of history and whose own history was erased only to resurface as symptoms on the colonized body politics to be reread, reinterpreted, and rewritten. Defined  by Cathy

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  25 Caruth as “unexpected or overwhelming violent events that are not fully grasped as they occur, but return later in repeated flashbacks, nightmares, and other repetitive phenomena,”7 the traumas that underlay the personal anguish of Zabuzhko’s narrator, caused by a drastically disintegrating relationship with an artist, are manifold, cutting across familial, collective, and national experiences. Although the protagonist herself has not witnessed every event that resurfaces from the repositories of the collective imaginary in the process of her “fieldwork,” she has an almost genetic memory of the oppressive past, whose “traumatogenic effects…do violence to the soul and spirit.”8 The writer explains, in her conversation with Halyna Hryn, that the most tantalizing task she has faced in tracing the “pathogenesis” of the erotics of Ukrainianness “was to examine precisely how that massive, dark, and powerful mainstream of history affects, quite surreptitiously, people’s most unconscious behavior, words and gestures produced in bed.”9 This problem was first addressed, with due attention, by Milan Kundera, but from a quintessentially male, patriarchal perspective. In her contestatory dialogue with Kundera, Zabuzhko seeks to expose the troubled management of sexuality under an oppressive politics of the body and to constitute, through signifying textual practices, Ukrainian sexual subjectivity.10 Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork] is the first work in Ukrainian literature written by a woman exploring the “dark continent” of post-­ totalitarian and postcolonial sexuality that violates perennial taboos enforced by a bizarre cultural mix of sexism and puritanism of Ukraine’s recent Soviet past. Zabuzhko’s search for the power of self-­articulation by positioning herself as an autonomous subject of erotic desire is presented through a fictionalized account of real-­life events, which blurs the line between the genres of novel, confessional literature, and life-­ writing by its sophisticated manipulation of reality into fiction.11 It is also a discourse on what Freud calls “common unhappiness,”12 the experience that informs women’s writings and lives at large. In one of her interviews, Zabuzhko discusses how her Ukrainian female readers aged twenty-­five to sixty identify with her heroine—as if she “somewhat mystically” has given voice to many thousands of specific living beings who suffered and largely remained silent, as if they did not exist at all: all that is not expressed in words very quickly sinks into oblivion. By giving voice to something, you allow it to exist.13 Thus, the narrator’s personal psychodrama (her unflinching honesty about herself, her family, lovers, sex, and art) opens up a discursive space to narrate female corporeality.14 Moreover, as Zabuzhko emphasizes, half of the nation could not read in its own—Ukrainian—language about its dramatic, traumatic, crisis-­ridden experiences, and has been

26  Nationalist-Masochist Woman left facing its existential dramas alone.15 These remarks reflect an implied construction of readership, which runs counter to the production of audiences by the imperial center that reinforces and reproduces its power through literature, while relegating women further to the margins of an already peripheral culture of the colonized. With its contrapuntal segues into history that challenge an inherited metropolitan model, the writer reveals a wider societal scheme of repressive control imposed through discipline and punishment, and the obscene underside of an abusive institutional power. Zabuzhko’s representation of the crippling effects of contorted power dynamics on people’s most intimate relations unmistakably imbricates colonial ideologies that inscribe a vicious symbolic circle in which sexual and socioeconomic dominance reflect and authorize one another. While relying on normative tropology of gendered disjunctions, marginalization, and taxonomies, this strategy is particularly focused on colonized men and the denial of their manliness. Since, in the working of empires, imperial and colonial enterprise is gendered as masculine and is constitutive of ideologically significant hegemonic masculinities, the subordinate manhood of the colonized, shaped by forces of exclusion and demotion,16 is feminized, and men are often labeled, as an intended insult, effeminate or homosexual.17 In her analysis of the homology between sexual and political dominance in imperial discourses, Revathi ­K rishnaswamy states that the “goal of feminization is effeminization—a process in which colonizing men use women/womanhood to delegitimize, discredit, and disempower colonized men.”18 During her retrospective wanderings through the hell of Soviet reality, Zabuzhko fairly consistently identifies the state’s brutal regulatory tools that are aimed at the inevitable subjection of human bodily experiences and which become a specific arena of operations in her intensely political and historically conditioned exploration of sexuality and desire. She sees the roots of women’s subjugation both in the “general conservatism and misogyny of Soviet society inherited from the Stalin and Brezhnev eras”19 and in Ukrainian men’s dual subservience under the Russo-­Soviet colonial and totalitarian rule, which emasculates and thus subsumes them into already existing gender roles. Under the sign of humiliating and pathologized “femininity-­in-masculinity,” and while attempting to reclaim their lost manhood, Ukrainian men hold women back in refurbished patriarchy, redirecting authoritarian oppression toward women and thus duplicating exactly both the colonizers’ practices and the colonial script of mastery and submission. Furthermore, Zabuzhko’s narrator places her own compliance with her lover’s violence and with their abusive relationship in the context of sociocultural experiences that are shared collectively by that particular stratum of women who identify with Ukrainian subalternity, as opposed to the ideologically concocted and zealously promoted “Soviet people” into which all the constitutive nations of the

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  27 USSR were methodically homogenized. These Ukrainian women are trapped in an uninterrupted damaging cycle: raised by men “fucked from all ends every which way,” and later screwed by the same type of guys, who replicate “what others, the others, had done to them.”20 By accepting and loving these deeply disturbed men so as to avoid taking the side of the others, women find themselves in an impossible position, because their only choice “was and still remains between victim and executioner: ­between nonexistence and existence that kills.”21 Zabuzhko pushes this scenario grounded in gendered power relations further, to the metaphor of same-­sex rape, where the colonized male functions as a violated sex object, thus epitomizing the vile realities of Soviet socialism in action. Cultural and symbolic associations of being penetrated with “feminine” passivity are well forged, as are associations of passivity with the loss of male political and social power. As Ann J.  Cahill explains in her argument against a certain tendency to desexualize rape and consider it solely as an act of violence, a “crucial aspect of the shame of man-­on-man rape is the implicit womanizing which occurs upon the victim, who is placed in the role of the sexually submissive and helpless. He is, at that moment, a ‘social woman.’”22 The metaphor of rape also features prominently in colonial sexual ideology, as it is used in the construction of narratives that promote colonial agency and rule, representing “one of the most opaque practices in colonial discourse” and serving as the most persistent trope for colonial relations. 23 Moreover, as a concept metaphor for imperialism, “rape is not so much about the penetration and possession of a female body as it is about the emasculation of the male one.”24 Multiple referentiality and symbolic signification of sexual violence against males aimed at dishonoring and debasing them also include rape, sexual assault, and sex slavery in the prison context, which is extremely relevant in the light of the inhumane Soviet technologies of punishment practiced in the vast network of institutions of internment that stretched over all twelve time zones of the USSR. Firmly inscribed in an overall “violent ritual of erotic dissolution,”25 as Ali Behdad aptly conceptualizes colonialism, the ­Gulag is a generative site for a vortex of violence that consistently catches up with the lives of Zabuzhko’s characters. Its haunting presence is not surprising since—with its origins in the Russian 1917 Revolution up to its collapse in the late 1980s in the glasnost era—the labor camp system “accommodated” over eighteen million people only under Stalin, between 1929 and 1953. 26 Thirty years later, when the narrator was in her early twenties, the 1983 US State Department’s Report to Congress on Forced Labor in the USSR noted that “four million Soviets are performing forced labor in 1,100 camps.”27 In one of the dark poems, “HULAH—tse koly” [GULAG—is when], that punctuate her novel, Zabuzhko reflects on the violence of the Gulag through a shocking image of rape—an empty half-­liter bottle driven between woman’s legs.

28  Nationalist-Masochist Woman This trope epitomizes the Gulag penal legacy, which distorts victims’ identities for generations. I will return to it when I discuss the genealogy of the narrator’s monstrous double. By highlighting the confluence and continuity between the political, homosocial, and forced homoerotic orders, Zabuzhko conceives them through the insidious male fear of powerlessness, both sexual and social. The artist-­lover’s anxiety, which is triggered by colonial symbolic emasculation, is compensated by his unequivocally macho posture in a twisted effort to reassert his power and agency. Defensive about his male supremacy correlative with conventional norms of hegemonic masculinity, he resorts to violence toward the narrator, gradually turning into an estranged and ultimately rejected that man in their ambivalent, conflictual, and compromised relationship. The latter becomes stained by an ongoing contest, antagonism, mutual reflective dependency, and ambiguity of subject–object positions between the two, as though each is trying to appropriate what the other so jealously guards. Their first lovemaking establishes both the artist’s self-­centeredness and disregard for the pleasure and autonomy of the woman with whom he is infatuated. The narrator observes later that even then she could have seen that he was not a partner, but an emotionally dysfunctional solipsist. During their first sexual encounter, he experiences an initial erectile problem. However, when he finally performs, his attitude becomes hypermasculine, aggressive, and dominating, and the act itself turns into the assertion of his sexual prowess, thus assuming a para-­neurotic cruelty and sadism, and she is physically hurt by this deliberately painful intercourse. From this point onward, the narrator gets caught up in a futile repetitive pattern, as pain runs through their joyless sex life, during which her agonizing pain of being torn apart appears to stand in for orgasm. Combined with the infliction of pain, which gratifies her lover’s desire to wield physical force, is the narrator’s submission—from the very first time they were together—to his demand, at first arousing and passionate but soon just matter of fact, for oral sex, even the memory of which makes her nauseous. Being forced to engage in the “deep throat” scenario rather than preferred penetrative intercourse is, as Breanne Fahs argues, rape and in this coercive experience, “the divide between pleasure and pain, eroticism and domination, and sex and violence becomes incredibly blurry.”28 Similarly brutal is the artist-­lover’s expectation to be sexually accommodated, regardless of whether the narrator desires it or feels discomfort, which means that he indulges in a power game. Her submission matters more to him than pleasure, and he prioritizes an egotistical satisfaction of his impulsive whims over her right to agency and erotic subjectivity. The eroticism emanated by the narrator is perceived by her lover as threatening and destructive because his maleness cannot accept it. For him, lovemaking is strictly genital and excludes any amatory foreplay,

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  29 presuming his orgasm to be the end of her pleasure, too. Therefore, under his pornographic eye, the totality of the narrator’s unified corporeality is dispersed into separate erotogenic zones, among which he selects exclusively her sexual organ, which surrealistically acquires autonomy from the narrator and her body, and to which he refers to “she.” This focus strategically limits the artist’s attempts at maintaining domination to recurrent frenzied assaults solely on “her” during their quasi-­ gynecological sex acts. Since he sees the vagina both as a conduit for his pleasure and a reproductive machine that exists and functions separately from the rest of her body, as well as a contending counterpart to his penis, her genitalia become subject to castration. He also experiences severe anxiety, which is attached to the male fantasy of insatiable female sexuality; he comments that it would take an infantry platoon to bring the narrator to orgasm, explaining that this is meant as a compliment, and he suggests that she should try a threesome. This anxiety is supplemented with another one—about the toxicity of bodily fluids, which makes him jump up right after he climaxes in order to wash himself. All this consolidates and amplifies the artist’s resentment toward female sexuality, of which he has only a rudimentary idea and which he does not even try to understand; he only knows that it must be contained and controlled. The representation of violence in Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork] works to expose the mechanisms of what Slavoj Žižek differentiates as “subjective” violence inflicted by a clearly identifiable perpetrator and “objective” violence that is further divided into “symbolic,” fundamental violence pertaining to language and the “imposition of a certain universe of meaning,” and “systemic” violence, which is related to the “often catastrophic consequences of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems.”29 While situating constitutive violence within its political, ideological, and historical mediations, the novel renders the systemic violence of colonization and repressive gender orders visible through its representation as interpersonal, subjective sexual violence. A gambler with her own pain, the narrator finally stops bothering with euphemisms and describes her body as raped. This body turns into a theatre of war for the masculine display of contested power, resulting in a “psychogenic impotence”30 of sorts, as the artist’s sexual behaviors appear to comply with some of its symptoms, such as being inflexible and “highly resistant to alteration or adaptation to new circumstances.”31 From the psychoanalytic perspective, his identity is defined by the phallic and heterosexual economy of lack both on the psychological and physical, performative level (I explore the aspect of how the Soviet man was “unmade” in the chapter on Les Poderviansky). This impaired masculine potency is also symbolic because it reflects the castratory impact of colonization resulting in the dispersed and dislocated subjectivities of the colonized.

30  Nationalist-Masochist Woman While it is ironic that the narrator encounters neither a manly knight nor an epic-­like hero-­dissident of her dreams, but an almost metaphysically impotent contemporary Ukrainian man, she is also affected by consequences of the repressive Soviet system, as they are double-­edged in terms of gender. Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork] reveals the mechanisms by which cultural models of domination and subordination shape patterns not only of the sexually codified violence to which many women are exposed, but also of the victimization they seem to accept. Thus, the novel is instrumental in understanding “how domination is anchored in the hearts of the dominated,” to use Jessica Benjamin’s expres­ abuzhko’s sion, 32 and why being a woman—especially in Ukraine, as Z narrator emphasizes—automatically fixes her subject position, exacerbated by ­colonial legacy. By defining women along the gender axis, male-­supremacist culture consigns them to submission and acquiescence to brutality. The author represents woman’s dependency in quasi-­ sexualized terms, through the implied missionary position in lovemaking that equates her with the passive receptivity of the soil. She sees woman’s corporeality inviolably linked “with this fucking dependency” programmed into body like a “delayed-­action bomb,”33 and with the need to be dissolved into damp, malleable clay. It is unclear whether she alludes to herself just as the “shapeless, mucous stuff of life substance,”34 or employs the tired patriarchal equation of woman with land and nature, or whether hers is the primordial matter that allows eluding the reign of phallocentrism. It is interesting that similar optics applies when the narrator, after her traumatic breakup with the artist, feels invisible: men in the street, on public transit, and at the university just glide past her as if she were an inanimate object, evidently stripped of the densely charged erotic cloud of her lover’s desire. Similar mechanisms are at work, albeit with the opposite effect, when two attractive Frankfurt airport border guards, who check her out with the healthy curiosity of youth, make her feel alive. Here, the narrator seemingly internalizes the gaze, as though subscribing to the masculinist conceptualization of woman’s “true nature,” which “consists of her very lack of proper nature: she ‘is’ nothing but craving for man, she exists only in so far as she attracts his gaze.”35 Although Zabuzhko’s character is irreducible to the sight of the onlooker, she seems to internalize male objectification, while readily subjecting herself as a sexual object to male “spectators” for validation, and presumably has learned to feel satisfied “even by fantasizing about objectification.”36 Thus, while man is an agent of the identification process, woman’s socio-­symbolic existence is contingent, to borrow Laura Mulvey’s term, on the quality of her “to-­be-looked-­at-ness.”37 Or, maybe, since the novel taps into the slippery and elusive reality of desire, the whole “reflectory” formula boils down to the narrator’s narcissistic image of herself being transferred, as desirable, onto an imaginary empty male ocular screen for reciprocal reflection. Man becomes

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  31 a vital signifier for her desire, both sexual and creative, as the narrator compares woman to a climbing plant whose vibrancy depends on vertical support provided by a real or imaginary beloved. Zabuzhko’s metaphor of vegetation for the creative process, delineated along horizontal (­female) and vertical (male) axes, emphasizing woman’s dependency, transforms into a biological metaphor of procreation, where every poem is an amazing bastard baby, a gift from a dazzling prince. The author’s princely, impregnating muse is appropriated from the male creative repertoire through gender reversal, and although every relationship provides her with a different muse, her typical source of creative inspiration is unswervingly male. Although the narrator seemingly puts up with her lover’s volatile unpredictability because he is a wonderful artist, she changes the coordinates of her desire by moving along freely, and away from, the compliance–control paradigm. The socially conditioned subject–object relations are constantly shifting because of her double-­valenced agency that combines the erotic and the horrific when she is transformed into a formidable and uninhibited witch figure. The proliferation of the narrator’s persona occurs early in the novel. This monstrous alter ego of the lotra—a debauchee, a slut, but if applied to a man, lotr, a villain, a brigand, a pillager, all devoid of sexual connotations—represents her rejected and repressed instincts and desires that are cast out of the self, only to return in the image of a violent double.38 Moreover, it signifies the destruction of a unitary, homogenizing identity imposed on women, as well as their coherent, “objective,” and naturalized status in society. In terms of the postmodern condition, as Laura Brown suggests, the “decentered subject of much of postmodern cultural criticism and art is a victim of culturally imposed trauma.”39 Underlying postmodern challenges are continuous traumas caused by paroxysms of colonial violence in Ukraine, which overlaid historical national identity and resulted in the fragmentation, duality, and even multiplicity of the contemporary one. It is symptomatic, then, that an alarming, bewitching other in the protagonist’s self reveals the vestiges of the totalitarian past, with its implementation of terror for the purpose of political control. For the development of this aspect of her narrator’s character, the writer draws consistently on the topos of zone, which comprises the “panoptical” plot line of the novel. Symbolizing the brutality of the last European empire that imposed “obscene horrors” onto its subjects,40 the zone, embracing the infamous Gulag system in its totality, “stands alone as signifier of senseless state repression, lawlessness, and cruelty.”41 Since the Gulag has often been described as the “quintessential expression of the Soviet system,” and the world outside the barbed wire, replicated by the small zone of the camp, was referred to as “bolshaya zona, the ‘big prison zone,’”42 the narrator’s identity emulates the above-­described interactional, dual

32  Nationalist-Masochist Woman structure, thus making her double emerge from the Soviet collective id of sorts residing in the Gulag. This incessantly bitching, foul-­mouthed, and cynical prison hag with distinctly quasi-­criminal mannerisms is being released by that man, as the narrator says, from the remotest jail cell of her self. Here, Zabuzhko adjusts the spatial conceptualization of human psyche through the metaphor of the house in psychoanalysis, so that it matches the violent unfreedom of the narrator’s generation inherited from the Russo-­Soviet penal state. However, when a round of a passionate verbal warfare of attrition against the artist’s egotistic brutality dies away, the lotra makes room for another aspect of the narrator’s character, which diametrically opposes her fiendish other—an abandoned, whining, little girl. Images of confinement run consistently through the book: a barred window of a freight train packed with future inmates on the way to the Gulag, a hand pushed through a barred window, a note dropped into the void in the futile hope that it will find its way to the addressee. A partition in the visitor’s room of a prison or insane asylum (psychiatric hospitals were used for imprisoning dissidents in the USSR43), the violent squeak of a door closing, the dry clicking of a key being turned in the lock—all these images are used to articulate the characters’ condition of entrapment by one another and by their respective and shared pasts. Cellmates from the same concentration camp yoked by their warped fraternity, they are caught in an endless cycle of inborn violence: the artist’s father was sent off to the Gulag after being liberated from a Nazi POW camp during World War II, a single phrase providing a glimpse behind the conventional, over-­glossed grand narrative of the Great Patriotic War persistently promoted by Soviet propaganda. The father happened to be among those Red Army soldiers who, during the cataclysms of the war, were taken prisoners by the enemy and about whom Amir Weiner writes: “By the end of 1946, 5,415,925 people (including 1,833,567 POWs who survived the German camps) were repatriated to the Soviet Union. 600,000 of them were sent to NKVD special camps.”44 Together with hundreds of thousands of others, he was stigmatized for having “failed” in combat by remaining alive, and this irremovable stigma remained attached to the entire family right until Gorbachev’s perestroika. The narrator’s father, too, spent six years in the Soviet state punitive system as a political prisoner, which twisted his further life into a Möbius strip—a single-­sided figure with no inside or outside to its endless ­surface—of fear of being rearrested that led him to spend the rest of his life voluntarily incarcerating himself within the four walls of his apartment. Furthermore, the narrator’s maternal grandfather was also a prisoner of the Gulag during Stalin’s genocidal famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. The Gulag’s daunting clout, which stretched over a hundred of years, as indicated in Zabuzhko’s earlier quoted Gulag poem (“GULAG—is when…”), is handed down to both characters by their returnee fathers,

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  33 together with all the “psychopathological changes caused by the physical and mental suffering imposed on the victims of repression.”45 The haunting collective memory of continuous suppression, like a curse, impedes the possibility of fulfilling love, openness, and sensuous joy because it has crippled and warped people’s souls, feelings, and bodies and made them immune to happiness. The narrator’s memories of childhood include her family’s flight from a provincial town to Kyiv to escape KGB battues, the search of their apartment by KGB agents, and her relentless suspicions of friendly individuals who attempt to discuss “forbidden” subjects—suspicions that are altogether justified because the Soviet self-­policing state was saturated with informers; a conservative estimate published before the failed coup d’état in August 1991, signifying the final days of the USSR, “put their number at not far short of three million” across the country.46 She remembers her parents becoming increasingly paranoid about actual and illusory dangers. Most importantly, she recalls the omnipresent fearfulness that entrapped her, and her relentless, desperate attempts to break out of the suffocating, prisonlike family “nest.” However, it is not just the narrator’s individual rebellion against parental authority as it reflects the existential condition of Soviet society in general, with its citizens incarcerated in multistoried prisons of the “big zone,” their freedoms, including freedom of mobility within the country further restricted by the state-­imposed doctrine of the Iron Curtain that has sealed off the country—politically, ideologically, and physically—from the “hostile,” demonized West. Breaking through the sick veil of fear also includes gaining dominion over her own body whose transition to womanhood has been ostensibly supervised by her father. Being celibate because of his asexual wife, and admiring Bruno Schulz (1892–1942), though paradoxically detesting any erotica, he monitors the narrator’s sexual maturation obsessively, evoking an obscene feeling of exposure when she finally lifts her nightie for him to see her breasts, finally obeying his concerned and authoritative tone. Her father’s attitude is simultaneously disturbing, pathetically moving, and merging the perversity and innocence of a sexually dysfunctional and repressed adult male; he nurtures and controls his daughter, who has remained, in a distorted Pygmalion-­like sense, the only woman in his life, and in whom he cultivates a sense of daughterly duty, of ultimate feminine submission toward men. Oddly, he dies of cancer of his reproductive system. As the narrator contemplates, her mother could not have been anything other than frigid. A child-­survivor of the “terror famine” of the 1930s, in which Stalin killed “more than 3.9 million Ukrainians”47 and which could not even be mentioned until the collapse of the USSR, she was branded by this tragedy for life with a facial scar left by the whip of a collective farm guard for stealing some sheaves of wheat in a field. Like other Ukrainian Holodomor [Famine-­Genocide] survivors, the mother is

34  Nationalist-Masochist Woman entrapped by an endless loop of victimhood: at the time of the famine, her father—the narrator’s grandfather—was a Gulag prisoner panning for Arctic gold. Fifteen years later, her future husband would be doing the same. Having been subjected to the two most horrific experiments in Soviet social engineering—a man-­made famine and a slave-­labor ­system—and constantly experiencing the state abuse of power carried out systematically for decades, the mother has been conditioned merely for survival. This generation’s vital priority, as Zabuzhko’s heroine observes, has been to satiate their deeply entrenched hunger. Unaware of any other bodily pleasures, these Soviet women were destined never to discover not only what the clitoris is, but even what essentials of women’s hygiene such as menstrual pads are. Innocent as the Virgin Mary, the mother has been performing her state-­regulated role that is limited to the commonly shared “telos of heterosexual reproduction.”48 The exploration of desiring bodies has been left to the next generation of women. By consistently bringing politics into fluctuating permutations of the narrator’s desire, Zabuzhko anatomizes its complexities, for violence and humiliation inflicted on the body are far more invasive and obscene than sexual penetration, thus making the narrator’s sexuality an unconscious psychic legacy of a murderous and oppressive system. Her transformations, throughout the text, from an enduring object of offensive desires into a diabolical emanation from the inferno of the Soviet Gulag culminate in her alliance with traditional castrating females,49 who crucially challenge phallocentric ideas of passive femininity. At the point of no return, when their sexual encounters are reduced to mutual torment, “your cunt’s like a vice,”50 the narrator’s body, all by itself, resists even the thought of intimacy, which now feels more like sexual assault. She ends up embodying castrating vengeance that signifies the return to the oral-­sadistic stage and which is reminiscent of the monstrous vagina dentata of male horror fantasies—a sardonic backlash to the artist’s unremitting insistence on fellatio. Termed the “sadistic temperament” by Ernest Jones, it gratifies women’s “desire to obtain a penis by force and also the impulse to revenge themselves on the man by castrating him.”51 Narrowing the concept down, Barbara Creed sees the emergence of the monstrous image of the castrating female body when a woman is seeking “revenge on men who have raped or abused her in some way.”52 This is exactly how Zabuzhko’s narrator rationalizes her violent desire to castrate the perpetrator, who turned her feminine strength and joy inside out and made it destructive. The brutal impact of this symbolic castration, which is contingent upon negation and rejection—both in place in the novel—lies in the fact that it does not allow the artist to reconstruct his “symbolically beheaded ego.”53 However, as the narrative unfolds to the beginning of the lovers’ relationship, there appears another shard of the protagonist’s fractured self: a good witch who liberates her feelings when she explodes blindly, falling headfirst in love.

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  35 As Julia Kristeva elucidates in her Strangers to Ourselves, the switch between a good and evil double takes place when a troubled self attempts to protect itself “by substituting for the image of a benevolent double that used to be enough to shelter it the image of a malevolent double into which it expels the share of destruction it cannot contain.”54 Here, in the process of the ceaseless construction, reconstruction, and restructuring of her character’s self, Zabuzhko also draws on the type of witch in Ukrainian demonology represented by a young enchantress, iarytnytsia, who is dangerously alluring and engages aggressively in risky amorous pursuits.55 Such metamorphoses accentuate the polymorphous nature of the narrator’s identity and, by extension, female sexuality. The witch figures of the narrator’s passion for radical vengeance spill over and into the artist’s canvases in an endless stream of his haunting visions. The female body as a canvas for the inscription of his desire seemingly adds yet another modification to an impressive volume of male creative production, as if supporting the statement that in the currents of male desire in European culture, to extend Klaus Theweleit’s claim related to literature, desire, “if it flows at all, flows in a certain sense through women. In some way or other, it always flows in relation to the image of woman. (It is far rarer for it to flow aimlessly…)”56 Surrealistic images of witches, with flowing hair and long white linen gowns, are refracted through the narrator’s gaze that registers clashing colors and bodies; twirling in a wild dance, they are spreading seamlessly from canvas to canvas. These forceful, enigmatic bodies perform mystifying, threatening rituals, the meaning of which is obscure and the aim, undecipherable. Their primordial, ungraspable power is visualized in images of gurgling menstrual blood trickling into a bowl, of a rooster struggling under someone’s arm, intrepidly plummeting the viewer into the abyss of the originary locus of the Ukrainian collective unconscious, or culturally fermented mysteries of the presumably matriarchal culture, or an ancient inviolable blood covenant in witchcraft and black magic. This is when the narrator is willing to acknowledge the artist’s imaginative supremacy, since he is digging into the same territory as she does, only deeper, more vigorously and boldly, interrogating representations of potentially multivalent experiences. Here, Zabuzhko visualizes what George G. Grabowicz (Hryhori Hrabovych) sees as the ulterior otherness, the beyond of good and evil, the ability and readiness to transgress this borderline and make the self open to the “metaphysics of the evil.”57 In her description of the artist’s canvases, Zabuzhko gives primacy to women as unknowable, unrepresentable, and prehistoric elements, which is not unlike the glamorization of woman as primitive by some feminist theorists metaphorized, for example, in Hélène Cixous’s “primeval song.”58 Ann McClintock, however, does not see such an equation between woman and the elemental as unproblematic. While exploring the political force of the tropes of “enigmas, riddles and dark continents”

36  Nationalist-Masochist Woman within a double—colonial and gender—framework, she writes: “If, in imperial discourse, women were inferior because they were atavistic, here women are superior because they are atavistic. Nonetheless, the simple inversion of value keeps up the analogy between women and colonized as prehistoric.”59 It is paradoxical that, in Zabuzhko’s novel, these potent and impenetrable, timeless and thus anachronistic women are envisioned by and materialize in the works of the man, thus remaining the objects of looked-­at-ness within masculinist visual discourse, even if perceived through the optics of a woman writer, who seemingly internalizes such modes of representation. The daytime witchery reemerges in the unconscious of the narrator’s dream that consists of an amalgamation of fears, traumas, and forbidden desires. Her often futile attempts to set herself free are translated into a bizarre reverie in which she transmogrifies into a tall, long-­haired, swarthy male Mowgli, as if returning from below and beyond “culture.” He drags an old, repulsive witch—a recognizable female monster from legends and folk tales—into bed, but cannot “take” her. The plot of the dream is reminiscent of the numerous hags in Western tradition who, after making love to a young male contender, undergo extraordinary changes and become beautiful young women, often representing sovereignty and bestowing power and kingship on their prospective consorts.60 Although the narrator’s dream might have had such a potential for transformation and empowerment, the consummation between the aspirant and the hag never happens. This finale of the dream alludes to a Ukrainian version of a young man and an old hag plotline in Mykola Hohol’s (Rus. Nikolai Gogol, 1809–1852) Vii (1835), in which a theology student is mounted and ridden, in a nightmarish “nuptial” escapade, by a mysterious old woman. However, while the Western shape-­shifting formula involves lovemaking, in its Ukrainian counterpart, the hag is turned into a gorgeous fair maiden by a ferocious beating, after which the hero flees in terror.61 However, in an eroticized power-­play scenario of the narrator’s vision, the manifest, interpersonal, and gendered brutality of the suggested precursor text is subdued; yet, her unconscious attempt at escaping societal and familial confinements—through incomplete, messy, ambivalent, and phantasmagoric identities—resolves in discontentment and impotence. An intertextual parallel with Vii extends over the narrator’s fantasy, which also illuminates the artist’s nastiness as both male characters, separated by a century and a half, exercise panicky emotional self-­restraint and physical force to control the situation. Furthermore, the nineteenth-­century theology student is pursued and ultimately destroyed by the violated female fiend, a scene that makes Vii, among other things, a tale of chillingly executed vengeance of the feminine element rejected by masculinist order. This avenging demon is driven by psychic sources not unlike those that provoke the furious attacks of Zabuzhko’s castrating witch on her lover.

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  37 Another dream in the narrator’s stream of phantasms features the artist walking away on a narrow, descending footbridge, and she is plunged suddenly into a crowded erotic nightmare. Besieged by numerous, invisible, groping hands that are persistently fondling her from all sides, she finally breaks free and finds herself in a huge, empty hall, where she witnesses the commencement of an eccentric ceremony. Accompanied by the rustling sound of wings and cloaks, the Nobility of Darkness arrives from all directions, and above the commotion there looms an enormous black figure, the Grand Prince himself. The hallucinatory gathering of monsters suggests another parallel with Hohol, this time with a congregation of supranormal forces—presided by a terrifying, supreme creature of preternatural primordial evil, Vii—which invades a church, where the theologist reads prayers at the coffin of his undead female adversary, and destroys him. However, the contemporary assembly is a carnivalesque replica of the respective intertext, as the monstrosities here are benign and friendly, and it is reminiscent of a Brezhnev-­era party meeting.62 Like Hohol’s character, who reads Christian scriptures to protect himself from evil spirits, the narrator dutifully recites the Lord’s Prayer, crosses herself, and the monsters obediently turn into clouds of a neon-­ blue vapor and valiantly take to the air with a pyrotechnic hiss. The departure of the demonic conclave leaving the protagonist in an empty hall marks the point of her return from the journey into the hidden, malicious otherness of her self. She has discovered her disturbing alter ego, what Kristeva calls “that ‘demon,’ that threat, that apprehension generated by the projective apparition of the other at the heart of what we persist in maintaining as a proper, solid ‘us,’”63 and manages to expel it by making peace with her loss. The narrator’s dreams, consisting of a mélange of erotic mental fragments, follow the laws of desire, which is not given in advance, but has to be constructed, “and it is precisely the role of fantasy to give coordinates of the subject’s desire, to specify the object, to locate the position the subject assumes in it.”64 The narrator’s fantasy in Zabuzhko’s novel becomes a space for liberation from a destructive dependency on her love for the artist. To escape from her emotional entrapment and numb the pain of the collapsed relationship, she pictures indiscriminate sex with strangers: going out into the night, with face hidden deep in a hood, getting into strangers’ cars, giving into the feverish rumbling of her blood, and merging with the pulsating rhythms of male bodies. While venturing into anonymity in search of curative carnal gratification, and thus seeking to transgress rigid sexual compartments in her erotic vision, the narrator assumes a submissive role in the encounter with a male consumer, as if complying with culturally serviceable views about masculine agency and feminine passivity, embedded in normative heterosexuality. At the same time, she is an erotic dissident violating conventional morality, and one who strips sex from its social dimension

38  Nationalist-Masochist Woman by animalizing her imaginary partner. On several occasions, the narrator regards her erotic fantasies and bodily urges as something deviant by equating them with prostitution, hence designating free expressions of woman’s sexuality outside the limits of the permissible. In this way, the author paradoxically both challenges and reinscribes existing gender definitions and boundaries. By portraying the volatile female body, Zabuzhko desexualizes men and resexualizes women. The text simulates a research presentation to a scholarly audience, so that the narrator is in absolute command of the account of her relationship with the artist. In his discussion of the language of erotic freedom in Sade, Roland Barthes sees control of language as a sign of authority: The master is he who speaks, who disposes of the entirety of language; the object is he who is silent, who remains separate, by a mutilation more absolute than any erotic torture, from any access to discourse, because he does not even have any right to receive the master’s word.65 By shrinking her novelistic space to a monologue, Zabuzhko leaves the artist virtually devoiced. She has the creative power to convert instantaneously, as she bitterly acknowledges, an “unsuccessful fuck into a tragic love.”66 Moreover, it is the narrator who demonstrates an enviable expertise in male sexual phobias, and is also empowered by psychoanalytic discourse (a traditionally male instrument of objectification), with all its phallocentricity and culturally situated chauvinism, using it as a template for asserting her own subject position and becoming a Cixous–Irigaray–Kristeva exponent.67 Zabuzhko situates sexuality at the point of intersection of her narrator’s confessional narrative and “scientific” discursivity. As a result of her “fieldwork,” which is a far cry from “normalizing utilization” sought in the ideal of a medicalized healthy sexuality, or in the humanist aspirations toward wholeness and thriving sexuality, or in the “lyricism of orgasm and the good feeling of bio-­energy,”68 she arrives at certain conclusions. They summarize the author’s “clinical dissection of the mechanisms of postcolonial psychological dependence and the crippling effects it has had on generations of people.”69 The narrator sees infection by fear as the most detrimental factor in the formation of Ukrainian social identity, thus conceiving, as Steven Helmling writes, fear as a humiliation, a non-­elective ordeal imposed on us by the brutality of our historical circumstances, a suffering that may or may not elicit heroism from some of the sufferers, but that is sure to damage and debase, not to ennoble, most of its victims.70

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  39 Moreover, Zabuzhko considers this contagious disease to be hereditary, provoking what is called victim behavior in psychiatry. Without limiting herself to diagnosing society, the narrator defines her own psychic condition by combining the sexual and the political. She is a “sexual victim of the national idea,”71 since her lover is the first Ukrainian man she has ever fallen for, with whom she shares the same language and with whom she does not have to be a professional Ukrainianizer. Although the narrator is adamant about not being a masochist, she admits that he is the first man to whom she has been ready to surrender because he is the first victorious Ukrainian man (two things that are seemingly incompatible). As if following Žižek’s sarcastic injunction, “enjoy your symptom,”72 she diagnoses both parties: she is a natsional- ­m azokhistka [­nationalist-masochist] and he is an autychnyi man’iak [autistic maniac]. The novel’s minimalist plot provides a strategically limited space for Zabuzhko’s narrative of desire in which desire is obstructed, drained, and left unfulfilled. The writer makes the bond that links desire to pain and numbness unconditionally explicit. In the aftermath of her love affair, the narrator is left in a state of trancelike indifference, as if pain and fixation always end in the emptying of the self. Her hollowed frame turns into a human canvas for the inscriptions of a brutal, power-­obsessed artist, representing the humiliation and violence inflicted on the Ukrainian body. It becomes a multicolored archipelago of scars, cuts, and burns that visualize their nine-­month-long “mad love.” A sadistic draftsman, he produces a graph of dominance-­seeking masculinity in which violence becomes the other face of power, as well as a violent topography of “colonial eroticism.” His is the desire, pushed to the extreme, which rips apart the communion between the lovers and exposes, as Georges Bataille contends, “the true violent nature of eroticism.”73 The novel showcases the symbiotic relationship between intimate violence, the calamitous violence of Ukrainian history, the cult of suffering, and pain in literary tradition—one should take courses in Ukrainian romanticism “in the psychiatry departments!”74 and the masochistic neuroticism of Soviet “injustice collectors.”75 Zabuzhko fills in massive gaps by reinstating female and, by extension, human body effaced by the totalitarian regime in order to explore sexual identity, bodily pleasure, and the relationship of violence to subjectivity and society in the postcolonial condition. Furthermore, by representing pain in her sexual quest, Zabuzhko retaliates powerfully against the century-­old view that masochism is natural to women.76 Yet, her narrator is caught up in the servility and subjection in which Soviet society has been schooled so well by the authoritarian state. Paradoxically, under the Soviet regime, the whole country had been engaging in masochistic activities for decades, as if having signed a tacit social contract based on the Deleuzian definition of masochism, according to which the rights of one party and the obligations of the other are neither disputed nor subject to revisions;77

40  Nationalist-Masochist Woman moreover, the most profound characteristic of this social “agreement” is that “slavery [has been] instituted within a contractual relation.”78 It is a revolt against the legacy of Russo-­Soviet thralldom that provides the drive for change. This drive, which acknowledges intensity, tensions, and contradictions of desire, channels Zabuzhko’s text against repressive constructions of human subjects and their gender and social relations. Her representation of women’s erotic agency invades the discursive territory previously officiated by neutered, sexless, male practitioners of socialist realism, who allowed women into their pantheon of unattainable virtues exclusively as satellite characters, and by their immediate postindependence beneficiaries into Ukrainian literary boys’ club, with their latent or manifest misogyny, whose members view women as either emblematic custodians of family values and national identity, or disposable instruments of male pleasure. By conducting her “fieldwork,” the writer turns representations of the explosively desiring female body into a volatile cultural site of politically radical transgression.

Notes 1 Chernetsky, Mapping Postcommunist Cultures, 254. 2 On the controversial reception of the novel, see Aheieva, Zhinochyi prostir, 291–96. 3 Rewakowicz, Ukraine’s Quest for Identity, 102–103. 4 Hrycak and Rewakowicz, “Feminism, Intellectuals and the Formation of Micro-­publics,” 325. 5 Hungarian (1999), Czech (2001), Russian (2001), Polish (2003), Bulgarian (2005), German (2006), Swedish (2006), Italian (2008), Romanian (2008), Dutch (2009), English (2011), Croatian (2015), and French (2015). 6 Deleuze, Essays Critical and Clinical, 4. 7 Caruth, “Traumatic Awakenings,” 20. 8 Brown, “Not Outside the Range,” 107. On trauma in Zabuzhko, see ­Chernetsky, Mapping Postcommunist Cultures, 258–60; Hundorova, “Postkolonial′nyi roman heneratsiinoï travmy,” 37–44; Paoli, “‘Let My ­People Go,’” 161–74. 9 Hryn and Zabuzhko, “A Conversation with Oksana Zabuzhko,” 17. 10 Zabuzhko, “I znov ia vlizaiu v tank,” 395. She argues here that with the development of Internet and porno sites, a “hypermegafactory of sexual fantasies,” comprising over two-­thirds of the World Wide Web’s content, it has become possible to obtain a statistically based sexual profile of a country, which draws on preferences of national domains’ users. 11 See Iryna Panchenko’s interview with Oksana Zabuzhko, “Oksana ­Zabuzhko: posle 40—prosto super!” 12 Hinshelwood, “Psychoanalysis as Natural Philosophy,” 325. 13 Zabuzhko, “Where There Are No Knights.” 14 On the spatially constructed female subject in Zabuzhko, see Sywenky, “Geopoetics of the Female Body,” 197–213; Blacker, “Nation, Body, Home,” 487–501. 15 Stus, “Oksana Zabuzhko: ‘V ukraïnsʹkii kulʹturi.’” 16 International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, 73. 17 Sands, “Homosexuality, Religion and the Law,” 5.

Nationalist-Masochist Woman  41 18 Krishnaswamy, Effeminism, 3. 19 Marsh, “Introduction,” 6. 20 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 158; “обйобані як-­тільки-можна з усіх кінців;” “те, що інші, чужі мужики робили з ними” (Zabuzhko, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 140) 21 Ibid.; “єдиний наш вибір, отже, був і залишається—межи жертвою і катом: між небуттям і буттям-­яке-вбиває” (Ibid.) 22 Cahill, “Foucault, Rape, and the Construction of the Feminine Body,” 45. 23 Krishnaswamy, Effeminism, 1. 24 Ibid., 115. 25 Behdad, “Eroticisn, Colonialism, and Violence,” 201. 26 Satter, It was a Long Time Ago, 2. 27 Johns, “Seventy Years of Evil,” 22. 28 Fahs, Performing Sex, 200. 29 Žižek, Violence, 2. 30 See Bodie, Beeman, and Monga, “Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction,” 273–93. 31 Schoenberg, “Other Causes of Erectile Impotence,” 173. 32 Benjamin, The Bonds of Love, 5. 33 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 13–14; “із цією блядською залежністю, закладеною в тіло, як бомба сповільненої дії” (Zabuzhko, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 18). 34 Žižek, Enjoy Your Symptom!, 150. 35 Ibid., 149. 36 Fahs, Performing Sex, 258. 37 See Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” 14–28. 38 Zabuzhko returns to the theme of a malevolent double in “Ia, Milena” [I, Milena] (1997), in which the main character’s personality split results in the resurfacing of a lascivous and unscrupulous liarva (coll.: whore), who eventually takes over her life and ultimately causes her demise. The protagonist, a popular TV show hostess, defines this oversexed and lewd creature as bandersha, a slang coinage that denotes a woman who runs a combination of a brothel and thieves’ den. Not unlike in Pol′ovi dislidzhennia [Fieldwork], the double here also belongs to the criminal world; however, as compared to the novel, the eroticism of Milena’s Dopplegänger is grotesquely excessive, and the author unambiguously unites sexuality, power, and hyperreality created by the media, which becomes more real than reality itself (Zabuzhko, “Ia, Milena,” in Sestro, sestro). 39 Laura S. Brown, “Not Outside the Range,” 120–21. 40 Žižek, Enjoy Your Symptom!, 82. 41 Kate Brown, “Out of Solitary Confinement,” 68. 42 Applebaum, Gulag, xxix. 43 See Ibid., 547–51. 4 4 Weiner, “Saving Private Ivan,” 332. 45 Alder, The Gulag Survivor, 37. 46 Soviet Analyst, vols. 20–21 (1991): no page numbers. 47 Applebaum, Red Famine, xxvi. 48 McClintock, Imperial Leather, 194. 49 On witchcraft, fear of castration, and psychogenic impotence, see Bever, “Witchcraft Fears,” 573–90. 50 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 42; “як обценьками стисло,” (Zabuzhko Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 43). 51 Jones, “The Early Development of Female Sexuality,” 142. 52 Creed, The Monstrous-­Feminine, 123. 53 Kristeva, New Maladies of the Soul, 89.

42  Nationalist-Masochist Woman 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, 184. Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 601. Theweleit, Male Fantasies, 272. Hrabovych, Teksty i masky, 291. See Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics, 114. McClintock, Imperial Leather, 194. See Mac Cana, Celtic Mythology, 94–95. Gogol, “Viy,” 200. The eighteen-­year-long rule of Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982), General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was characterized by an aggressive foreign policy aimed at the expansion of Soviet spheres of influence, and is known as the period of economic and social stagnation. Other aspects of Brezhnev’s regime are discussed in the chapter on Poderviansky. 63 Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, 192. 64 Žižek, Looking Awry, 6. 65 Barthes, Sade/Fourier/Loyola, 31. 66 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 131; “невдатну блядку на трагічну любов” (­Zabuzhko, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 117). 67 The works of Hélène Cixous, Julia Kristeva, and Luce Irigaray contributed significantly to the reevaluation of psychoanalysis from a feminist perspective. See Waugh, Literary Theory and Criticism, 332–37. 68 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 71. 69 Sywenky, “Geopoetics of the Female Body,” 200. 70 Helmling, “During Auschwitz,” par. 25. 71 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 115; “сексуальна жертва національної ідеї” (­Zabuzhko, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 103). 72 See Žižek, Enjoy Your Symptom! 73 Bataille, Erotism, 167. 74 Zabuzhko, Fieldwork, 47; “на психіатричних відділеннях” (Zabuzhko, Pol′ovi doslidzhennia, 47). 75 Rancour-­Laferriere, The Slave Soul of Russia, 2. 76 This nineteenth-­century myth, theoretically substantiated by Freud’s concept of “feminine masochism” and developed by a number of his successors into the straightforward assertion of women’s biological predisposition to masochistic behavior, has been instrumental in homogenizing women into a category and assigning them invariant social functions. By rationalizing and “medicalizing” the prevailing sexual division of social roles and the supporting myths of women’s passivity in social and sexual relations, the psychiatric profession has promoted the existing models of sexuality, gender, and power. In this framework, masochism has become a central ideological construct in the production of a feminine stereotype that provides a zone from where conflicting male fantasies and phobias are evicted—a site for pleasure and anxiety (Noyes, The Mastery of Submission, 16–17). 77 See Deleuze, “Coldness and Cruelty,” 91–93. 78 Deleuze, Desert Islands, 134.

3 A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure: Pokalchuk’s Taxonomies

Yurko Pokalchuk (1941–2008), an established writer, literary scholar, and translator from many European languages, who has been critically “diagnosed” as the “legendary and incurable playboy of Ukrainian literature,”1 engaged in writing Ukrainian foundational pornographic fiction by turning the private body into a public spectacle. His provocatory project aims at filling one of the numerous, gaping holes in the Ukrainian literary tradition, unbinding its operational area, and expanding the functional field of the Ukrainian language, which has been subjected to centuries of discrimination and outright persecution in Ukraine by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, having been either banned from the public sphere by the colonial state power or relegated to sociocultural peripherality by the power of imperial cultural hegemony. 2 As if enacting Volodymyr Vynnychenko’s semiserious, semi-ironic, and widely cited statement, made at the beginning of the twentieth century, that he would be confident in the survival of the Ukrainian language if it were to be spoken by criminals and prostitutes, 3 a group of Ukrainian writers, including Pokalchuk, organized a public action called “Ukrainian Books for Ukrainian Whores,” to popularize Ukrainian-language literature by distributing their books to the priestesses of the Ukrainian sexland located on one of the highways leading to Kyiv on March 7, 2007 (Hazeta po-ukraïns′ky, March 9, 2007). Pokalchuk started writing erotic stories in the 1970s, at a time when “there was no sex in the USSR,” and his ongoing preoccupation with clandestine fantasies materialized into a collection of short fiction, Te, shcho na spodi [What lies beneath], in 1998. It immediately sparked a vast, contentious, and critical response: out of fifty-six reviews, about twenty were negative.4 A decade later, more than twenty years of his exploration of “forbidden” subject matter culminated in the publication of his eight-hundred-page-long Kama sutra (2007), which includes his earlier  his chapter is an expanded version of my article, “Out of the Soviet Closet: Yurko T ­Pokalchuk’s ‘Erotomaniac’ Fictions,” published in Canadian Slavonic Papers 53, nos. 2–4 (2011): 361–78, reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Ltd, www.­

44  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure published “erotomaniac” oeuvre, and whose title alludes ambitiously to the oldest and most important text of Indian erotology, Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra or Treatise on Erotic Pleasure (ca. 300–400). Although in the popular imagination this work seems to be “little more than a catalogue of the different positions for sexual intercourse (along the lines of popular self-help sex manuals),”5 it is, as James Giles contends, a treatise on the sexual dimensions of the human condition, which “discusses the nature of erotic pleasure (in both its male and female manifestation), sexual desire, the sexual process, sexual typology, sexual techniques (including positions), ways of increasing pleasure, courtship, adultery, and aphrodisiacs.”6 Thus, Pokalchuk strategically borrows the title of a famous erotic precursor text to serve several pragmatic purposes: to control the reception of his work, locate its major source of signification, establish a host of intertextual resonances, and legitimize it, not only as a compendium of erotic practices, but also as his philosophy of human sexuality and human nature.7 What Chernetsky views as Pokalchuk’s “quest for a new supposedly uninhibited and prejudice-free Ukrainian discourse on sexuality” that failed because the end product is a mixture of pornography and socialist realist stereotypes,8 I see as an experiment conducted in the contact zone of the received Soviet tradition and the still undifferentiated routes of its violation in order to devise representational strategies for satisfying, expanding, and shaping mass consumer sexual fantasies. Thus, I am interested in how the writer’s depictions of sexuality are articulated through the dual discourse of erotic desire and transgression, focusing on the link between sexual transgression, violations of conventional discursive norms and regimes, and the subversion of social values, all of which work against various social and cultural fixities. Pokalchuk’s transgressive cultural productions represent an attempt to break free of societal constraints by going beyond the margins of acceptability, as his characters are consistently engaged in “crossing the limits and boundaries of the permissible and searching for assertion in a Soviet mentality disfigured by the jail bars created out of various prohibitions.”9 In his study on transgression, Chris Jenks explains that human life is the “constant experience of limits” that are necessary to render people social.10 However, restraint is forced on individuals not exclusively from outside; it is, to a greater or lesser extent, also self-­ imposed. Jenks describes the dialectics of limit and transgression as interrelated. Rule and breach thereof are entwined, as every boundary, limit, or threshold contains its own rupture, permeability, or compulsion to challenge. Since the transgression is a constitutive part of the rule, “excess is not an abhorration nor a luxury, it is rather a dynamic force in cultural reproduction—it prevents stagnation by breaking the rule and it ensures stability by reaffirming the rule.”11 A profoundly reflexive act of denial and affirmation, transgression is not an equivalent to disorder;

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  45 by opening up chaos, it reasserts the necessity of order. Furthermore, an awareness of collective laws and norms regulating public behavior is necessary to transcend them. In the Soviet Union, such a collective order within gender relations was controlled through the myth of the USSR as a country of virtuous virgins, righteous mothers, and self-disciplined fathers, which became central to the totalitarian ideology and was instrumental in the successful policing of sexuality. The establishment of these rigid parameters by which society asserted, defined, and qualified its characteristics and limits also resulted in the absence of discourses about bodily pleasures, let alone “illicit” desires, and in the exclusion of sexuality from the constitution of social identity. Pokalchuk’s sexually overt representations consistently infringe upon a boundary defined by societal norms because, as Foucault argues, if sex is repressed, censured, and silenced, then the “mere fact that one is speaking about it has the appearance of a deliberate transgression.”12 Although Helen Hester warns against flawed conceptualizations of pornography as a “straightforwardly dissident realm” that automatically confronts mainstream representational regimes,13 Pokalchuk’s literary prurience does resist and challenge the images of the ideal woman and man, which, in the inherited Soviet literary tradition, make up the depressingly monotonous stream of “positive” characters, whose sexual desires were channeled exclusively into the construction of communism. Pokalchuk is continually exploring communal fringes and, by extension, marginal groups, such as teenagers, dysfunctional families, juvenile delinquents, criminals, prisoners, prostitutes, and dependent women, and their relationship to social discourses about the normal and the deviant. Even though his characters’ behaviors, motivations, and life choices vary considerably across social and historical spaces, his preoccupation with sexual transgression is reflected in a recurring erotic script, in which women in their thirties have sex with male teenagers. In this regard, the author offers a perspective on the potential reconfiguration of sociocultural relations and the creation of anti-­ normative forms of sociality. Although it is seemingly an older woman who is the transgressor breaking multiple taboos, the situation is actually less straightforward. As Judith Surkis writes, while analyzing the gendered positions inscribed in Bataille’s theory of transgression, the woman, according to the French philosopher, “is thus always only a symbol that expresses or denotes transgression to the masculine partner.”14 In her iconic role, she becomes a mediator and conductor of his “textual and experiential access to the limit situation…conditioned by the woman’s imaging of his desired self-absention.”15 Pokalchuk’s fascination with mature women’s sexual tutelage, which runs through Kama sutra, translates quite predictably into female characters who are teachers in “Zaboroneni ihry” [Forbidden games], “U nediliu rano”

46  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure [Early Sunday morning], “Madam,” and in numerous pages16 of inlaid textual “clippings” from newspapers about trials of female teachers in the US charged with the seduction of minors in “Mama Roma i patsany” [Mama Roma and the guys]. As one of Pokalchuk’s young characters says, he has always dreamed about being mysteriously whisked off by an older woman to her place, where he would undergo his rapturous rite of passage to manhood.17 In his review of Te, shcho na spodi [What lies beneath], Taras Koznarsky regards the middle-aged-woman figure exclusively as a lens for male voyeurism and her adolescent partners as disposable material.18 Nevertheless, as the initiator into enhanced enjoyment of the sexual act, she is assigned textual agency and thus assumes assured sexual privilege; at the same time, she has no control over this act because she is always devoted to male heterosexual satisfaction. Pokalchuk’s “disposable” male teenage auxiliaries, who are inexperienced virgins on the brink of engaging in sexual adventures with mature, voracious women, take over their skilled associates right away, complying perfectly with prevailing porn scripts of erectility and verticality. The apotheosis of Pokalchuk’s resourcefulness is reached in the account of what may be loosely termed as team lovemaking in the titular story “Te, shcho na spodi” [What lies beneath]. Here, the mechanistic assemblage of the woman’s sexual insatiability and her multiple, adolescent partners’ utilization of varied sexual practices concurrently, their ability to exhibit undiminishing hardness for hours on end and to resume vigorous, penetrative sex immediately after ejaculating an impressive number of times, and the group’s multiple communal orgasms border on the grotesque. Enjoying anal and vaginal penetration, the female character experiences unsurpassable sensations as both penises of her juvenile sexual associates “were moving synchronically inside her, even more—now she was moving between both penises, feeling gigantic pleasure from both of them inside her.”19 Her ecstasy is further enhanced when she is penetrated orally by another desirous penis joining the trio to complete a “single human mechanism,” which works “like a machine that humankind has not yet invented and which might have given an individual the fullest pleasure.”20 The pornotopic scene predictably resolves in an explosive and simultaneous climax. Another expert female in “Madam” is “gangbanged” (copulation by several persons in succession with the same partner) of her own accord by five teenagers, the oldest being fifteen, the youngest, thirteen; a scenario that draws explicitly on an assortment of typical male sexual fantasies. As Michael S. Kimmel maintains, men are “far more likely to fantasize multiple and/or anonymous partners” than women. 21 Although her behavior is provoked by her boyfriend’s infidelity, she experiences, despite her trauma, elated sensations caused by transgression. “Madam” describes fetishist, compulsive, and deeply pointless sexual acts in almost

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  47 identical terms, as if following taxonomies, with correspondingly attached vocabularies established by the author in his compendium of erotic scripts. Thus, the reader encounters again the metaphor of a “human machine” that produces the most important of all energies, the energy of life. 22 The writer seems to be continuing, albeit unconsciously, the tradition of libertine fiction, repeating the gestures of the novel of initiation by not questioning female pleasure but, rather, taking it as an “unproblematic given.”23 As in the above-cited “Te, shcho na spodi” [What lies beneath], the characters’ orgasmic pleasure is qualitatively differentiated; the first time they climax quickly; this is followed by long lovemaking invariably culminating in an explosive orgasm—­v ybukhaty [to explode] becomes a key word running throughout almost all the stories, with both parties invariably “cuming” simultaneously. For ­Pokalchuk, the mature female body becomes a tool for boosting male narcissism or assuaging male fears. He explains his authorial choices by personal preferences, declaring that only a woman of around thirty can give a man “his greatest ‘macho’ happiness” and that he likes women in whose feelings toward men there is something maternal, 24 reiterating more emphatically in another interview: “A young man’s first woman is his second mom.”25 Thus, the construction of masculine sexual identity proposed by the author ultimately undermines his assertion of male sexual mastery by explicitly revealing its infantile basis. As if pushing the limits of the permissible in the representations of the defined son–mother-figure duo, Pokalchuk supplements his line of older seductresses by “reworking” Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex and thus breaks the incest taboo. “Edip narodyvsia v Drohobychi” [Oedipus was born in Drohobych]—very much like Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1866 Don Juan von Kolomea—attaches itself to a well-known intertext and thus to an “archetypal” human condition. In the collection Te, shcho na spodi [What lies beneath], which, like Kama sutra, is lavishly adorned with erotic visual art, this story is illustrated by Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy (1981), a painting of an adolescent boy voyeuristically viewing a woman’s (his mother’s) genitalia and naked body up close. Bad Boy is said to have made the artist’s career and “turned the painter into a symbol of macho power.”26 However, while in Fischl’s painting the perversion is implied in the voyeuristic transaction, Pokalchuk’s “Oedipus” actually narrates the incestuous relationship in shocking and superfluous detail, revealing its abusive nature. The story reads as an attempt at the liberation either of repressed desires or from the chains of Oedipal categories in Freudian theory. 27 It is worthwhile mentioning that almost all of Pokalchuk’s descriptions are focused on women’s ecstatic and orgasmic responses to multiple trakhannia [fucking], to use the author’s consistent name for sexual encounters, as if he is trying to challenge the normal rules of physiology. In this, his stories become a paragon of masculinist, orgasm-obsessed

48  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure culture in which “male sexuality marks the female body in such a way that his pleasure is inscribed on her.”28 All of his women seem to have hit the elusive, semi-mythical G-spot, and experience the most intense orgasms imaginable, regardless of whether they are willing participants in sexual acts or violated victims of rape. Thus, in “Molytva” [The prayer], a teenager attacks a woman in her apartment and threatens to kill her if she does not comply with his sexual demands, which include a photo session. At the end, it turns out he is the son of her lover and is trying to prevent the ultimate collapse of his family, which has been drifting apart because of his father’s affair. Compromising pictures, he hopes, will induce his father to give up his extramarital relationship. While Pokalchuk provides motivations for the behavior of the disturbed teenager, who is engaged in a twisted revenge-rape plot, the woman’s response during scene one (fellatio) and scene two (presumably missionary-position intercourse) is disconcerting. Although paralyzed with fear, both times she experiences orgasmic satisfaction, which is methodically described. This is followed by scene three, in which the boy penetrates her from behind, she “cums” three times, and at the end both feel a “wave of great voluptuousness.”29 Similarly, a female character in “Khram Poseidona” [Poseidon’s temple], when she is being raped during an interrogation at the Gestapo headquarters, also surrenders to unruly jouissance, feeling hatred, disgust, but above all pleasure.30 In both cases, Pokalchuk employs what Stephen Maddison calls “generically familiar depiction of rape” in hardcore pornography, where the victim of the assault “becomes a willing participant” in the course of genital acts.31 Although in the first story violation can be seen as a “private” act and in the second one the act becomes literally “public” because the scene takes place in an institutionalized space and the protagonist is subsequently raped many times by military men lining up for their turn, in both stories, punishment and humiliation are concurrently the vehicle and the goal of rape. In this regard, as Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg writes elsewhere, “rape, an act which is both predicated upon and stages the impulse to ‘degrade and destroy a woman based on her identity as a woman,’ is paradigmatic” of torture.32 While Pokalchuk’s male characters are aware of their power and exercise it effectively as a repressive and punitive mechanism, both women are disoriented and confused, acting out their submission on a purely biological level and enjoying it masochistically. Through this characterization, Pokalchuk establishes an unbridgeable gap in traditional culture/nature and subject/object gendered binaries, and recycles one of Freud’s most damaging myths: that women are inherently masochistic.33 This scenario also reveals the perception of sadomasochistic violence as something rooted in the national imaginary inherited from the Soviet system, which coercively

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  49 implemented an attitude of submissiveness to authority and predisposition to self-defeating patterns of behavior through the political technologies of victimization.34 The same representational mode of women as ever-responsive nymphomaniacs is also in operation when women do not find themselves in life-threatening situations, but are engaged in the “professional” sphere as prostitutes in the “exotic” group of stories set in Central and South America, and Asia. Drawing on other cultures and fantasizing about them, Pokalchuk constructs a world of ultimate freedom devoid of the prohibitions of Soviet society. The narrator explains the lure of sin by his desire to infringe various official injunctions, including KGB instructions that Soviet citizens abroad uphold high moral standards by religiously implementing the there-is-no-sex-in-the-USSR rule. Under the moralistic scrutiny of the Communist Party, those whose transgressions were exposed faced serious repercussions, as their lives and careers could be ruined. In “Smak hrikha” [The taste of sin], for instance, there is a male world of professional duty, camaraderie, and danger, as the events depicted in the story take place in postrevolutionary Nicaragua, where the USSR was supporting the coalition government led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which replaced the pro-American Somoza dynasty. The narrator, who is sent to Central America as an interpreter, is rather skeptical about this assistance, though, because he has been observing the steady sovietization of the revolution, whose corruption by the Soviets he compares to that of a young girl who, having been taught “to fuck in all orifices,” grows up to become a professional whore.35 The gendered, quasi-imperial metaphor functions here as an insistent figure for social, political, and economic conditions and conflicts. This trope also becomes literally implemented in the protagonist’s everyday life in Managua, where he roams the nightlife of the “city of sin” and ends up sleeping with a prostitute for the first time, thus transgressing multiple prohibitions. While in “Smak hrikha” [The taste of sin] the issue of skin color is not specifically emphasized, in “Pamorochlyvyi zapakh dzhunhliv” [The intoxicating smell of jungles], set in Indonesia, the protagonist’s sexual desire involves interracial contact, another spin on boundary crossing, as the taboo enforcing the racial border is violated, especially in the light of pronounced racist attitudes in the USSR, which are still present in today’s Ukraine. In both stories, the narrator’s transgressions both reaffirm his limited being and open up a zone of limitlessness into which he is introduced, becomes intimately familiar with, and rigorously enjoys this female world. It is noteworthy that in both stories, the narrator is only able to escape from behind the then still almost impenetrable Iron Curtain because of Soviet expansionism that resulted in the “global bipolar conflict between superpowers,”36 a period when the USSR “emerged as a major supplier

50  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure of aid to newly independent Third World states” and “was active first in Asia and the Middle East and then also in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.”37 Paradoxically, it is the expansion of Soviet spheres of influence that allows for the narrator’s mobility, and the reduction of state control over his body depends upon the countries of his exotic fantasies becoming an appendage to Soviet strategic plans. Pokalchuk’s “tropicalist” cluster of stories is a mixture of conventional narratives of travelers and explorers of faraway wonderlands, imperial civilizing- and helping-the-natives discourses, the use of an exotic setting for sexual exploration characteristic of pornography, and escapist tales driven by the desire to break away from the exigencies of unsatisfactory reality. To depict the protagonist’s sinful secret life, Pokalchuk manipulates exoticist codes of cultural representations that fetishize the female body. Inquiring into the colonial exotic, Graham Huggan writes that its fantasy-structures “draw on the relationship between the exotic and the erotic to set up narratives of desire for, and partial containment of, the culturally ‘othered’ body.”38 For the narrator, any other woman but a Soviet one turns into both a symbolic figure of liberation and a device for transgressing various taboos, and is therefore “explicitly designated as an object-woman,”39 to use Tzvetan Todorov’s definition. The male character’s sexual emancipation becomes a political gesture that subverts social conventions and constraints back home. The writer recapitulates the exotic myth of an ethnic other as an “object of dangerous erotic desire,”40 and implicitly revamps a popular gendered stereotype of the sexually promiscuous exotic female, “an immodest, active creature of sexual pleasure who held the key to a myriad of mysterious erotic delights,”41 and who is therefore responsible for the sexualization and exploitation of her body, turned into a sexual commodity. Readers of these stories might expect to be titillated by the vicarious experience of extraordinary sexual practices. However, strangely enough, what is happening in the supposedly sensational, impoverished, exotic “boudoirs” is not radically different from other sexual scenes in Pokalchuk’s work. The anticipated tension between estrangement and familiarization is not at work here; everything is surprisingly recognizable, as the descriptions migrate from story to story. The only exceptions can be found in a fleeting episode from “Tam za rikoiu—Rio-de-­Zhaneiro” [Across the river—Rio de Janeiro], in which a very beautiful girl, whom the narrator, upon closer inspection, identifies as a transvestite, approaches him only to have her services declined, and when the narrator breaks his personal taboo by overcoming his repulsion at female genitalia and, swept away by passion, indulges in cunnilingus in “Smak hrikha” [The taste of sin].42 Although Pavlyshyn argues that as a scholar of Latin American literature, Pokalchuk, as far as his “tropicalist” stories are concerned, engages in carnivalesque textual strategies, being “well aware of the potential of carnival to challenge received meaning and values,”43

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  51 in the “erotomaniac” department, all of his female characters, regardless of their age, race, and geographical location, are ahistorically over-­ sexualized and thus fixed, static, and boundaried. His prostitutes, who belong to one of the most disenfranchised social groups, and the encounter with whom is a commercial transaction, are no less implicated in ecstatic explosions experienced simultaneously with their clients than privileged, middle-class women who are having sex exclusively for pleasure and performing pornotopian multiple orgasms with their chosen bedfellows. In a number of stories, Pokalchuk chooses a woman-centered type of sexual representation. Women become the narrators and thus are directing the sexual scene and using men to gratify their desires in “Madam,” “Iaka ia ie…” [The way I am…], “Treba” [Must], and “Te, shcho na spodi” [What lies beneath]. Although in this regard Pokalchuk appears to be reversing the sociosexual conditions conventionally experienced by men and thus questioning the male-defined eroticism of power, he does not attempt any exploration of what it might be like for a woman to articulate her sexual desire separate from a male figure. Koznarsky, while focusing on subject/object relations in Pokalchuk’s narrative matrix, interprets the writer’s strategy of employing a woman-narrator as a symbolic revenge against Zabuzhko’s Pol′ovi doslidzhennia [Fieldwork],44 in which she sees Ukrainian men’s sexuality as deeply disturbed and crippled by years of colonization. Without questioning this proposed dialogic dimension of the text in what is viewed as the battle of the sexes on the Ukrainian literary scene, I would suggest that it is an unconscious intertextuality that is primarily at work here. Pokalchuk is apparently following such “longstanding practices” as female first-person narration, by which male “pornographers have sought to achieve” the desired authenticity in their mediated representations of sex,45 as well as making his designated female narrators clearly enact and recount the sexual fantasies of masculinist discourses that unavoidably include female compliant receptivity and male heterosexual triumphalism. Furthermore, by adopting the mode of what Elizabeth Susan Wahl calls “narrative transvestism”46 (the fictionalized female voice created by male pornographers), Pokalchuk contributes to a densely populated pageant of traditional pornographic texts that typically involve, according to John Fiske, a “fantasized identification with the sex object of the opposite sex”; this identification is instrumental in perpetuating the “myth of the female voluptuary who accepts her subjection in order to give full rein to her lasciviousness.”47 In one of his interviews, Pokalchuk expands on his essentialist views while answering the question of whether the phenomenon of a particular Ukrainian sexuality really exists. He unequivocally dismisses even the suggestion of any such specificity as ridiculous. Yet, there is a twist to this universalist assumption that there is no distinct Ukrainian sexual identity, as Pokalchuk goes on to say that there are, of course,

52  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure some peculiarities that, oddly, apply only to women: “You see, constrained first by religion and then by communist consciousness, the sexuality of our woman is somewhat distorted.”48 It is interesting that an intuitively “essentialist” Pokalchuk apparently applies a “constructivist” approach only to women, thus gendering identitarian deformity (as demonstrated figuratively by his representations of a sizable horde of orgasmically convulsed female bodies used for producing male narcissistic pleasure) and implicitly assigning men a normative, “natural,” sexual identity. As far as men are concerned, in this male/female dichotomy, the writer evidently leaves power relations and societal factors out of the picture. In line with his traditionalist views, Pokalchuk’s characters are placed squarely within the heterosexual matrix. His first “erotomaniac” collection includes only one story, suggestively titled “Blakytne sontse” [Azure sun] (“azure” is a Ukrainian slang term for “gay”), which deals with homoerotic desire. Interestingly enough, in this particular piece, Pokalchuk’s regime of representation switches to understatements and avoidance of frank descriptions of sex as opposed to those stories that depict heterosexual relations. By contrast, Kama sutra demonstrates several departures from conventional heteronorms, as though offering another transgressive gesture signifying the author’s movement away from the traditionally homophobic mind-set of Ukrainian society toward more inclusive representations of sexuality. One section of the volume, “Zhorstokist′ i kokhannia khulihaniv” [The cruelty and love of hooligans], draws on Pokalchuk’s real-life interactions with juvenile delinquents in a correctional facility located in the north-central Ukrainian city of Pryluky. In 1987, as a charismatic and well-known writer, journalist, and world traveler, he was invited to the reformatory to give a talk that mesmerized the young offenders. During his successive visits to the prison, he came up with the idea to engage the teenagers in a “pathographic”49 project of sorts, which resulted in the production of a handwritten magazine that later turned into a quarterly, Horyzont [Horizon], in which the inmates published their confessional life writing and creative work. 50 In 2007, together with director Maksym Surkov, Pokalchuk made Zona osoblyvoï uvahy [A zone of special attention], a film based on the inmates’ stories, poems, and songs (UNIAN, March 29, 2007). Situating his prison narratives against the background of social deprivation, dysfunctional families, single parenthood, drug and alcohol addiction, crime, prostitution, molestation, and child neglect and abuse, Pokalchuk sees adolescent homosexuality as being forced by societal factors, never as an innate sexual identity presumed to be of somatic origin. These conditions take on the form of a “pathological public sphere,”51 pointing to how crime and societal systems work. Moreover, since the protagonists in this set of stories function in a violent and coercive single-sex environment, they comply with the sexual culture of

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  53 prison (duplicating that of the street), where stronger and older abusive inmates mercilessly use weaklings and “pansies” as sexual objects. For example, in “Mama Roma i patsany” [Mama Roma and the guys], one of the characters, Erik, ends up in prison for tricking a younger boy into engaging in oral sex. There, he himself is forced into fellatio, continuously raped, and then used by four inmates on a regular basis, becoming firmly immersed in “penal pederastic life.”52 The writer here outlines the scenario of what, since the mid-twentieth century, has been termed “situational homosexuality” to “describe same-sex practices produced by circumstance, architecture, and environment,” as distinguished from “genuine” homosexuality.53 Pokalchuk evidently shares the ideology that heterosexuality is the only natural form of sexual orientation, since in the stories that do not belong to the prison cycle men become homosexuals exclusively as a result of personal traumas. In “Blakytne sontse” [Azure sun] and “U nediliu rano” [Early Sunday morning], adult males are attracted to teenaged boys because both are betrayed by and feel disillusioned with women. The widespread assumption that men are “naturally” sexually oriented only toward women and vice versa is evident in female samesex setups as well. In “Mama Roma i patsany” [Mama Roma and the guys], Roma and Inga become sexually involved and eventually fall in love with each other because both have been used and abused by men. Roma, a neglected child from a brutal household, starts having sex when she is twelve, figures out she can use her body to make money, and becomes a sex worker. Inga, an innocent young girl, marries an older man, finds out he is unfaithful, leaves him, aborts their baby, and becomes a strip dancer and prostitute. Not unlike in the same-sex male scene in “Blakytne sontse” [Azure sun], the portrayal of female lovemaking here is exceedingly chaste, being limited to tactile and olfactory sensations, and references to reciprocal orgasms and intertwined bodies. 54 Such elusiveness clearly points to the author’s unease with representing sexual manifestations outside of the heteronormative framework. Roma and Inga’s lesbian relationship is seen as being solely provoked by the commodification and dehumanization of their bodies in a male-­ dominated world, which means that, as Adrienne Rich infers when she speaks about heterocentric views prevalent in society, the “lesbian is simply acting out of her bitterness toward men”55 and that “women who have chosen women have done so simply because men are oppressive and emotionally unavailable.”56 While dealing with a subject that has been taboo for a long time, the author, nevertheless, does not appear to critically transgress ideas about the abnormality of same-sex interactions. Rather, Pokalchuk seems to draw on views straight out of the nineteenth century, which were developed in Richard Krafft-Ebing’s (1840–1902) pioneering studies in sexual psychopathology, Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), and forged attitudes toward various sexual “deviations.”

54  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure The nineteenth-century medicalized and pathologized composite picture of a “degenerate masculinity…in total violation of assumptions about ‘normal males’”57 seems still to be in operation, as negative social attitudes toward homosexuality remain widespread in Ukraine (Foreign Policy, January 15, 2015). Pokalchuk’s pornoproduction also involves darker aspects of Ukraine’s past, as in “Kinets′” [The end], which recounts the sexual maturation of a gymnasium student through numerous erotic exercises with a thirtyyear-old servant in his parents’ household, combined with his fantasies about the subliminally beautiful, red-haired Lorelei. In the denouement, he is sent by the author to die as a conscript in a Ukrainian student resistance volunteer unit in Kyiv during the short-lived period of Ukrainian independence proclaimed in 1917. The unit was supposed to block the 1918 Bolshevik advance on the capital but never participated in the hostilities, and its prospective fighters were captured and castrated by the Russians before execution. 58 Here, the author utilizes, as acknowledged in the epigraph to the story, the events portrayed by the Russian film director Stanislav Govorukhin in his documentary Rossiia, kotoruiu my poteriali [The Russia we lost] (1992). 59 In his characterizations of the degraded warriors of the Russian Revolution, Pokalchuk also follows Govorukhin in emphasizing the sadistic inhumanity of the lumpenproletariat, which was the primary force in implementing Lenin’s Red Terror policy, claiming that Russian history since the October coup d’état “has been written by its murderers.”60 Pokalchuk brings to the fore the relationship between power, violence, and the phallic framework of castration (emasculation as a political punishment), thus politicizing the sexual and positioning his story against the glorifying master narratives about the Great October Socialist Revolution and dismissive representations of Ukraine’s struggle for independence as bourgeois-nationalist in official Soviet historiography. Another story that centers on the traumas of Ukrainian history is “Khram Poseidona” [Poseidon’s temple], set during World War II. The writer develops two plot lines that intersect at the end of the war in a Displaced Persons camp in Augsburg controlled by the United States. A gymnasium graduate of exceptional beauty marries a handsome Red Army officer, who arrives in her native city in western Ukraine after its annexation by the Soviets in 1939 under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Shortly after the Wehrmacht’s offensive against the USSR in 1941, she is arrested by the Gestapo, is raped, becomes a sexual plaything for officers, and, as the prima donna of a brothel organized later, flees to the West with the retreating German troops. This extensively developed female plot line is heavily invested with representations of abject eroticism, as the protagonist’s life is reduced to interminable entrapment within a tangle of male bodies. Halia feels that she cannot make choices, and is deprived of agency and haunted by vertiginous memories of a wide

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  55 assortment of penises. She is hollowed out and reduced to an indifferent, yet somehow uncontrollably responsive hole to be penetrated: Each of them was different, talked to her differently, begged, demanded, entered her depths and gave her all of itself, gave it all up to her, took her in a different way—and she was giving herself up, embracing, caressing, kissing them, and climaxing differently with each of them.61 Here, Pokalchuk represents a semantically legible female body that becomes the decipherable locus of female pleasure, which, though powerfully laced with disgust, makes the prostitute’s impersonal sexual acts paradoxically intimate. “Khram Poseidona” [Poseidon’s temple] delivers what Rich calls the “most pernicious message relayed by pornography” that women are “natural sexual prey to men and love it, that sexuality and violence are congruent, and that for women sex is essentially masochistic, humiliation pleasurable, physical abuse erotic.”62 In the camp hospital, Halia makes the transition from a whore figure to that of a guardian angel by choosing, out of indifference to her own safety, to look after a terminally ill typhoid patient. This is how she meets the dying Fedir and brings him back to life. While Halia is represented through her bodily experiences, the male narrative line operates within a masculine discourse of warfare and sacrifice. Fedir, a professional military officer, joins the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), and after its westward retreat finds himself in a Displaced Persons camp of the Anglo-­ American Allies in Germany. His fragmented story punctuates Halia’s sexual trials. In the denouement, the narrative leaps across the decades to a present-­day scene of two middle-aged people on a cliff in Greece, identified, in the last sentence of the story, as Halia and Fedir. Pokalchuk’s textual strategies in this piece are similar to those in ­“Kinets′” [The end], since sexually explicit representations are inscribed in historical settings, evoking aspects of history that were either silenced or banned from official Soviet discourses. Focusing on a character who would have been termed a “German shepherd-bitch”63 in the Soviet Union is a decisive move away from the socialist realist legacy of intrepid Soviet partisans and members of underground organizations in the enemy rear, or no less intrepid female nurses and wireless operators on the battlefront in grand narratives about the Great Patriotic War. Moreover, featuring a UPA combatant is part of the process of the recovery of Ukrainian history and memory, which were abusively controlled and manipulated for ideological purposes under the Soviet rule. Soviet ideologists vilified these fighters for Ukrainian independence as bourgeois nationalists, cutthroats, and Nazi collaborators64 because the UPA, the “most formidable anti-Soviet movement,”65 fought against the Soviets from 1942 to 1952, mostly in western Ukraine. It is also noteworthy

56  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure that in the immediate post-WWII years, “Soviet propaganda obsessively conflated Ukrainian nationalism with Nazism, demanding that justice be unmercifully meted out against its adherents,”66 then it suppressed the UPA history, and when it became clear that the collective memory could not be obliterated, it “blackened its reputation and vehemently dissociated if from the ‘new historical community’ of the Soviet people.”67 Despite Ukrainian postindependence historians’ efforts to fill in the blank spots of this convoluted and tragic period of Ukrainian history,68 the process of recovering collective historical memory is not without its problems. The Kremlin has been investing vigorously in aggravating the controversy around the UPA among those Ukrainian pro-Russian politicians and voters who have profoundly internalized dominant Soviet values and discourses, as it persistently recycles, consolidates, and furthers Soviet-era clichés. Moreover, as part of its revanchist imperialism, Russia’s “anti-fascist” rhetoric has been actively employed in its current neo-imperialist war against Ukraine that began with Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014. As Taras Kuzio explains in his Putin’s War against Ukraine: Revolution, Nationalism, and Crime (2017), Russia rationalizes its aggression against the sovereign state because it was “allegedly forced to react to the Crimea and Ukraine because a Western-backed ‘putsch’ overthrew a legitimately elected president and brought ‘fascists’ to power who threatened Russian speakers.”69 By confronting the effects of politics of “excisionary memory” applied to everything that did not fit into the Russocentric, imperialist conception of Ukrainian history imposed by the totalitarian Soviet state, Pokalchuk’s work is instrumental in overcoming multiple layers of historical disjunctions. It questions the solidity of inherited imperial mythology, and promotes an emerging Ukrainocentric historical paradigm, making it literally “sexy.” It is also noteworthy that, while Te, shcho na spodi [What lies beneath] does not include “Khram Poseidona” [Poseidon’s Temple], and “Kinets′” [The end] does not occupy a prominent position in the collection’s structure, the subsequently published Kama sutra strategically opens with both stories, as if to highlight the political aspect of the author’s erotomaniac project and thus “upgrade” it to the status of “serious” literature. This seems to be Pokalchuk’s response to the question that Paul Ricoeur asks in his book on memory and history, “Do the abuses of memory placed under the heading of obligated, commanded memory find their parallel and complement in the abuses of forgetting?” and answers, “Yes, in the institutionalized forms of forgetting, which are a short step across the boundary of amnesia…”70 The loss of historical memory is an inevitable consequence of colonialism that brands a colonized culture as inferior against its own Grand Narratives, and when this inferiority is accepted and normalized by the colonized, they slowly give in to cultural amnesia.71 Although the days of “official” colonial amnesia seem to be gone, Ukrainian postindependence society is still

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  57 relentlessly engaged in the project of constructing and reconstructing cultural and historical discourses in order to process and rethink the colonial experience in all its complexities and contradictions. I assume that it is Pokalchuk’s employment of Ukrainian history, vigorously censored for decades, that factors into Koznarsky’s elaborate critical verdict, approvingly retransmitted in Chernetsky’s book, as its “nationalist” component. The critics consider Pokalchuk’s work to be a “mixture of romantic nationalist populism and pornography,” and claim that his “attempts to combine ‘organically’ the two” with ­socialist ­realist conventions result in “kitsch of the worst kind.”72 Having addressed earlier the issues related to the popularization of repressed Ukrainian history, I would like to point out, in relationship to “kitsch,” that popular culture plays an increasingly important role in contemporary society and does not exist without the consumption of the latter because it “transgresses and reinvents culturally normative codes,” and violates their “binaries such as art/kitsch, natural/artifice, serious/frivolous to reveal the dominant to be arbitrary.”73 Furthermore, kitsch, together with modernism, avant-garde, and decadence, is one of the five facets of modernity, conceptualized as the contemporary form of the Gothic, ­Rococo, or Baroque, which became respectable styles during later decades of the twentieth century. In addition, kitsch has been progressively associated with postmodernism, especially its camp stream. Matei Calinescu notes that the “polymorphous monster of pseudoart” has an enigmatic and deeply entrenched power to please, to satisfy not only the easiest and most widespread popular aesthetic nostalgias but also the middle class’s vague ideal of beauty, which still is, in spite of the angry reactions of various avant-gardes, the commanding factor in matters of aesthetic consumption and, therefore, production.74 In short, both frowned-upon kitsch and pornography contribute to the democratization of society. It is also possible to argue whether Pokalchuk’s oeuvre qualifies as kitsch at all, but I readily accept him, together with his alleged “kitsch,” as a kind of Jeff Koons figure of Ukrainian literature, pioneering, similarly to the artist who works with popular culture subjects and banal objects, “what would become the ever more commonplace cultural flirtation with the form and content of pornography.”75 Furthermore, although Pokalchuk claims in one of his interviews that all his depictions of eroticism are based on his own sexual experiences,76 both Te, shcho na spodi [What lies beneath] and Kama sutra are apparently well informed by current operational pornographic codes and tend to draw, to a noticeable degree, on conventional compensatory fantasies and myths characteristic of the genre. Contributing thus

58  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure to the “democratization of desire,” the collections include the most upto-date pornographic scripts, which abound in transgression of taboos: the conflation of rape with seduction, anorectal eroticism, group and interracial sex, nymphomania, promiscuity, incest, castration, prostitution, pedophilia, homoeroticism, lesbianism, and gangbanging. While Pokalchuk places his sex scenes in wider social and historical contexts and provides psychological motivations for his characters’ actions, most of his narratives return compulsively to the same scenarios that provide as many opportunities as possible for the sexual act to take place. He has written a Bildungsroman of sexuality that turns, at times, into a phallic declaration of potency and power. It often seems as though the repetitive descriptions of sex are designed to act out the author’s fantasies of sexual domination, some of them being profoundly suppressed adolescent erotic dreams. However, Pokalchuk’s erotomaniac fictions, whatever their shortcomings, are capable of invoking transgression through their imbrication of the public and private discourses of power and pleasure, of politics and the erotic. By employing the pornographic—the consumption of which in itself is still widely regarded as a socially transgressive practice—as the engine of transgression, he releases into the representational sphere the sexual bodies that have been kept securely in the closet of dominant ideologies and literary conventions, public morals and societal prohibitions, uncertainties, and self-censorship.

Notes 1 Bondar, “Kheminguay-Hemingway.” 2 See Smal′-Stots′kyi, “Do povnoho obrusieniia,” 2–3. 3 Zabuzhko, Khroniky vid Fortinbrasa, 124. 4 Pokal′chuk, “Tvory po elementakh, erotychnykh.” 5 Giles, “Indian Erotology,” 493. 6 Ibid., 494. 7 For an analysis of Pokalchuk’s “moral philosophy,” see Koznarsky, “A shcho pid spodom?” 8 Chernetsky, Mapping Postcommunist Cultures, 252. 9 “[п]ереступання меж і границь дозволеного і пошук ствердження в упослідженій гратами з різних заборон совєтській ментальності” (­Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 282). 10 Jenks, Transgression, 7. 11 Ibid. 12 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 6. 13 Hester, Beyond Explicit, 34. 14 Surkis, “No Fun and Games,” 22. 15 Ibid., 23. 16 Pokalʹchuk, Kama sutra, 634–38, 768, 770–71, 773–74. 17 Ibid., 376. 18 Koznars′kyi, “A shcho pid spodom?,” 28. 19 “обидва стрижні у ній рухались синхронно, навіть більше—зараз рухалась вона між обома стрижнями, тепер вчуваючи велетенську насолоду від обох зразу в собі” (Pokal′chuk, Te, shcho na spodi, 242).

A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure  59 20 “єдиний дивний людський механізм;” “як машина, якої ще не довинайшло людство і яка могла б давати особистості найповніше задоволення” (Ibid.). 21 Kimmel, The Gender of Desire, 47. 22 “людська машина” (Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 140). 23 Steintrager, “‘Are You There Yet?,’” 36. 24 “найбільше його ‘мачівське’ щастя” (Karpinsʹka, “Pokal′chuk: ‘Ia nikoly ne obmaniuvav zhinok’”). 25 “Перша жінка юнака—друга його мама” (“‘Hola pravda’ vid Iurka Pokal′chuka”). 26 Scobie, “Inside Man.” 27 Similarly, in “Iunistʹ Don-Zhuana” [Don Juan’s youth], Pokalchuk employs another celebrated character recurring in various European literatures for nearly three centuries: Don Juan. It is ironic that, in addition to an extensive network of precursor texts, the name also evokes an association with a medical condition, satyriasis, also known as Don Juan syndrome, which is defined as excessive, uncontrolled sexual activity by a man with little or no emotional involvement (“Satyriasis”). 28 Steintrager, “‘Are You There Yet?,’” 33. 29 “хвилю великого розкошу” (Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 65). 30 Ibid., 8. 31 Maddison, “‘Choke on it, Bitch!,’” 48. 32 Goldberg, “Living the Legacy,” 449. 33 See Noyes, The Mastery of Submission, 16–17. 34 Rancour-Laferriere, The Slave Soul of Russia, 5. 35 “трахатись у всі дірки” (Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 193). 36 Spenser, “Revolutions and Revolutionaries in Latin America,” 380. 37 Boden, “Cold War Economics,” 112. 38 Huggan, The Post-Colonial Exotic, 18. 39 Todorov, On Human Diversity, 316. 40 Ibid., xiv. 41 McLeod, Beginning Postcolonialism, 45. 42 Ibid., 180. 43 Pavlyshyn, “Ukrainian Literature and the Erotics of Postcolonialism,” 120. 4 4 Koznarsʹkyi, “A shcho pid spodom?,” 26. 45 Hardy, “The New Pornographies: Representation or Reality?,” 5. 46 Wahl, Invisible Relations, 218. 47 Fiske, Television Culture, 186. 48 “Розумієте, затиснута спочатку релігією, а потім комуністичною свідомістю, сексуальність нашої жінки є дещо викривлена ” (Pokal′chuk, “Tvory po elementakh”). 49 The term “pathography” was coined by Anne Hunsaker Hawkins in her studies of patients’ biographical accounts of illness—Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography. 50 Liakhovych, “Iurko Pokal′chuk: Zaboronenykh tem nemaie.” 51 Seltzer, “Murder/Media/Modernity,” 20. 52 “тюремно-педерастичн[е] життя” (Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 794). 53 Kunzel, “Situating Sex: Prison Sexual Culture,” 253. 54 Ibid., 647. 55 Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality,” 13. 56 Ibid., 17. 57 Fout, “Sexual Politics in Wilhelmine Germany,” 275. 58 Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 35–36. 59 Rossiia, kotoruiu my poteriali (dir. Stanislav Govorukhin). The director describes the Bolsheviks’ suppression of a revolt that took place in 1917 in two

60  A Guide to the Art of (Post-)Soviet Pleasure

60 61

62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76

military schools in St. Petersburg, whose participants were castrated and forced to hold their severed genitals before being shot. Ibid. “Кожен був інший, говорив до неї по-іншому, просив, вимагав, входив у її глибини і віддавав їй себе і своє, віддавався їй, брав її по-іншому—і вона віддавалась, обіймала, пестила, цілувала їх, і кінчала вона з кожним поіншому” (Pokal′chuk, Kama sutra, 17). Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality,” 20. A contemptuous name given in the Soviet Union to women who, during World War II, lived in German-occupied territories and who allegedly sexually “collaborated” with the enemy. See Semiriaga, Kollaboratsionizm. Weiner, “Saving Private Ivan,” 323. Erlacher, “Denationalizing Treachery,” 295. Ibid., 290. See Hrytsak, Narys istoriï Ukraïny; Kyrychuk, Narysy z istoriï ukraïns’koho natsional′no-vyzvol′noho rukhu. Kuzio, Putin’s War Against Ukraine, 2. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 452. See Nath, “Cultural Amnesia,” 190. Chernetsky, Mapping Postcommunist Cultures, 252. Stepien, “Introduction,” 1. Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity, 230. McNair, Striptease Culture, 65. Stanchak, “Blits-interv’iu z Iuriiem Pokal′chukom.”

4 Carnivalesque Mystifications, National Icon, and Orientalist Dreams: Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] as Historiographic Metafiction In addition to being critically acclaimed as “one of the groundbreakers of the erotic genre in contemporary Ukrainian literature”1 and playfully termed, in recognition of his creative productivity, its “symbolic phallus,”2 Yuri Vynnychuk is the founder and first editor of the erotic magazine Hulvisa [Lovelace]—the Ukrainian counterpart of Playboy— published in Lviv in the 1990s, which signified a fundamental break from Soviet-style editorial policies and literary practices. In experimenting with diverse elements of thematic, genre, and stylistic repertories, including fantasy, roman noir, detective story, historical novel, literary mystification, parody, and pastiche, to name a few, and strategically mongrelizing them in assorted combinations, Vynnychuk consistently displays creative and whimsical anarchy by juggling different conventions and cultural codes, new and old alike, thus scandalizing readers and critics alike.3 His Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] (1996), historiographic metafiction of sorts, exemplifies a challenging rereading and revision of the past by demythologizing and demystifying one of the Ukrainian cultural icons of heroic womanhood reinvented during the nineteenth-century Ukrainian cultural revival4 through its crossbreeding with conventional Orientalist fantasies of Western libertine pornography. Vynnychuk fabricates a pseudo-autobiographical manuscript of a historical figure, Roxolana (Nastia Lisovska) (ca. 1504–1558), the most cherished concubine of Süleyman the Magnificent (1494–1566), who legally married the sultan and became the first truly powerful woman in the Ottoman dynasty. In fact, it is the rise of Roxolana’s political power “that many historians (Westerners and Turks alike) pinpoint as the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire.”5  arts of this chapter were originally published in my essays “Roxolana’s Memoirs as a GarP den of Intertextual Delight.” In Roxolana in European Literature, History and Culture, edited by Galina Yermolenko, 126–39. Copyright © 2010 Ashgate, reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis UK; and “‘Orients’ of the Mind: Deviance, Sexual Enlightenment, and True Love in Fredericks’s Degenerate Empress, Vynnychuk’s Zhytiie haremnoie (Life in the Harem), and Parker’s Roxelana & Suleyman.” Canadian Comparative Literature Review/ Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 44, no. 11 (2017): 95–110.

62  Carnivalesque Mystifications The sensational story of Roxolana, who was captured by Ottoman vassals during their slave raid into Ukraine in 1520 and donated to the imperial harem by a nobleman (he had bought her at a slave market and was greatly impressed by her knowledge of Greek and Latin),6 has captured the imagination of Ukrainian writers, composers, and artists, who have been busy creating, especially throughout the last century, the male cult of an eminent Hurrem Sultan.7 The growth of the Roxolana myth, which turned into virtual “Roxolanomania,”8 was marked by a twentysix-part TV mega-serial.9 Based, in the best-case scenario, on five pages of fifty-year-old factual material,10 this soap opera encapsulated the efforts of literary Roxolaniads to produce an incongruous crossbreed of romantic, sexualized patriotism and establish a conspicuous Roxolana stereotype. As Zabuzhko has observed, none of these works focus on Nastia Lisovska’s versatile and truly Renaissance personality as an outstanding diplomat, intrigante, benefactor, and reformist,11 who prefigured the powerful women of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.12 Leslie P. Peirce writes that the sixteenth century, termed an age of kings, was also an “age of queens—among them Anne Boleyn, Margaret of Navarre, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Médicis, and Mary Queen of Scots. The Ottomans, too, produced a ‘queen’ in Hurrem Sultan,”13 who rose to a position of great prestige and influence and whose unprecedented alliance with the sultan indicated a more fundamental change within the dynasty involving the issues of monarchy, family, and power. It is with Roxolana that the period known as the “Sultanate of Women,” during which women of the Topkapi Palace gained unparalleled access to political power and which lasted for over a century, began.14 Following in the footsteps of Roxolana, royal women of the Ottoman Empire crafted powerful roles in politics, “while serving as advisors to their sons and, in the seventeenth century, ruling as regents.”15 Furthermore, as Hsu-Ming Teo contends, her name has become emblematic of female empowerment, as “Europe had a two-century-long tradition of associating strong harem women—often European—with variations of the name Roxane or Roxelane.”16 Instead, hypnotized by Süleyman and Roxolana’s love story, Ukrainian authors fetishized her romantically as an object of imperial desire, as though forging their own responses to the sexual opportunities of empire. Such a symbolic role assigned to their female compatriot implicitly involves, among other things, the impact of the colonizer–colonized allocation of power during more than three centuries of Russian domination in Ukraine. Zabuzhko argues that the fact that Roxolana’s status as a love slave could generate a surge of patriotic feelings points toward Ukrainian males’ acceptance of their own subservience in their relationship with the Russian Empire,17 which consistently implemented a widespread colonial homology between sexual and political dominance.

Carnivalesque Mystifications  63 In  addition, the importance of Roxolana’s symbolic role and her special status are conceived rather peculiarly in the Ukrainian collective imaginary. For example, Valeri Shevchuk’s fundamental work on the Ukrainian ­Baroque contains an explanatory reference to Süleyman the Magnificent as primarily the “husband of our famous Roxolana” and then as “one of the most outstanding and wise Turkish sultans.”18 In addition to its circulation in the cultural domain, Roxolana’s iconic eminence was also appropriated for commercial purposes; thus, Roxolana Marriage and Travel, a business in Ukraine that offered marriage, dating, and escort services in the late 1990s, advertised “Beautiful Ladies from Sevastopol, Crimea” on different websites for foreign consumers.19 In a sardonic twist to this enterprise, during the Süleymanic period ­(1520–1566), which was marked by Ottoman territorial expansion, Ukraine became a principal supplier of slaves harvested for the Sublime Porte through systematic Crimean Tatar slave raiding. 20 Moreover, one of the largest slave markets of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and later, which provided, in addition to a work and military force, odalisques for harems in the Ottoman Empire, was located in the town of Kaffa (now Feodosiia) in the Crimea placed under Ottoman suzerainty in 1475. 21 Although the idea of trafficking is probably not the one that the agency intended to highlight, by featuring Roxolana as an illustration of the natural charms and attractions of Ukraine’s specifically gendered human resources, it quite transparently offered Ukrainian women’s bodies, coding them as exotic objects of desire, for economic and erotic consumption by affluent Western men. To a certain extent, all of the aforementioned factors figure in Vynnychuk’s Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem]. Using Roxolana, who has been admitted into the Ukrainian national pantheon of heroes, in the harem setting that she truly enjoys, Vynnychuk plays with the cult of Ukrainian cultural symbols. Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem], which the author considers his most brutal book, 22 is another eccentric page of his “imaginary history” of Ukraine, wherein by attributing authorship to a legendary figure, he both generates the credibility of the text and restores, through the use of forgery, what he believes to be a lost sexual counter-strand in the national narrative. Vynnychuk recalls how he decided to turn this project into a literary mystification. Prior to the publication of the novel, titled “Zhytiie haremnoie prez Nastasiiu Lisovsku z Rohatyna, zhe iu Roksolianoiu prozvano, pravdyvo spysanoie v roku 1548” [Life in the harem, faithfully recorded in 1548 by Nastasia Lisovs′ka of Rohatyn, called Roksoliana], 23 in installments in the now-defunct Lviv newspaper PostPostup [Post-Progress], an article appeared about the discovery of Roxolana’s diary, sparking a public scandal around the “immoral” subject matter of the recovered manuscript. The Ukrainian Women’s Union wrote an open letter to Vynnychuk, printed in the daily Molod′ Ukraïny [Youth of Ukraine], in which they

64  Carnivalesque Mystifications called for an immediate halt to the publication of the diary. The enraged patriots argued that the dissemination of the discovery was detrimental to Roxolana’s illustrious image, and they supported their adamant claim with numerous quotations stating that Roxolana’s sole mission in the harem was to enlighten the sultan about Ukraine. 24 Vynnychuk’s fake diary has become a place where literature and ideology are inseparably intertwined, thus provoking a slanted approach to historical events infused with misplaced “patriotism.” In perusing the discursive field within which the Roxolana myth continues to operate, Vynnychuk turns the Imperial Harem into a space for playing out a combative, dialogic relationship with an array of texts, many of which have become canonical, and changes their invariant meanings to something modifiable and endlessly open. Interestingly enough, this was not Vynnychuk’s first project aimed at disorienting publishers, readers, scholars, and, by extension, the system. In the 1980s, at the dawn of Gorbachev’s perestroika, he fabricated an epic entitled Plach nad hradom Kyia [Lament for the city of Kyi] (1984), supposedly written by an Irish monk named Rianhabar, who survived the siege and pillaging of Kyiv by Batu Khan’s Mongol–Tatar armies in 1240. Vynnychuk’s “translation” from the original Gaelic was published in the then reputable literary newspaper Literaturna Ukraїna [Literary Ukraine] and the no less highly regarded journal Zhovten′ [October] (no. 9, 1984), 25 and was mentioned in scholarly publications and Ukraїns′ka literaturna entsyklopediia [Ukrainian literary encyclopedia]. 26 In addition to forging an epic with a distinctly Macphersonian gesture, as if flippantly attempting to place it along such “national mystifications” as the Scottish Poems of Ossian, the Czech Královédvorský manuscript, or the Finnish Kalevala, 27 he also invented one Anna Liubovychivna by composing a “translation” of the seventeenth-century love verse “Pisnia svits′ka” [Secular song], purportedly written in Middle Ukrainian. This bogus literary project was ironically motivated by the issue of gender equality as, by Vynnychuk’s own admission, there were virtually no women among ­seventeenth-century Baroque poets28 approved for critical attention in the USSR. Although the seventeenth century was the period when Ukraine experienced the most spectacular burst of cultural development, the Ukrainian Baroque was systematically downplayed in Soviet literary and cultural studies as ideologically alien to communist ideology. 29 Therefore, Vynnychuk took it upon himself to fill in this ideologically induced and gender-specific lacuna in a carnivalesque manner. As a token of success, his literary hoax was included in the collection of love poetry Pisni Kupidona [Songs of Cupid] (1984), 30 mentioned in an article on acrostic poets in Ukraïns′ka literaturna entsyklopediia [Ukrainian literary encyclopedia] (1988), 31 and anthologized later in Slovo mnohotsinne [The multiprecious word] (2006). 32

Carnivalesque Mystifications  65 Vynnychuk’s scholarly canonized “translations,” being an exquisite aesthetic gesture of elusively political dissent, signified an intellectual revolt against both the suffocating atmosphere of Soviet cultural dogma and Soviet historiography, which was preoccupied with purposeful and ideological “objectivity” and “scientism” and whose glossed myth of the “reunification” of Ukraine with Russia in 1654 was actively promoted and persistently reduplicated in officially sanctioned heroic narratives as the beginning of Ukrainian history and culture proper. At the same time, Vynnychuk’s counterfeits, floating free of fetishistically venerated originals, use, abuse, and manipulate symbols of the collective past, thus parodically recodifying collective memory. In one interview, the writer points out that many of the most significant texts in world literature are more parodic than realist, 33 as if expounding on Linda Hutcheon’s theoretical premises for parody and metafictional paradox as a cornerstone of postmodern textual practices, 34 and thus questioning the orthodox concept of the novel as a mimetic genre that validates its literary value. In Vynnychuk’s subversive version of Roxolana’s life and Ukrainian erotomaniac history, the writer clearly articulates and develops those aspects of her career that obviously captivated his Ukrainian predecessors and contemporaries, but which were carefully self-censored and suppressed. He complements and completes the silences of his precursor texts by amplifying and manifestly verbalizing their sexual overtones. Vynnychuk’s erotic manual, which transgresses the “sacred boundary” of quality literature and its moral stance, mounts an open attack on repressive social codes and heavy-handed morality, in the process, however, betraying his particular brand of post-Soviet masculinity. In so doing, the author enters into an intertextual liaison with a storehouse of Western Orientalist characters and themes that include the “figure of the powerful concubine exemplified in the French Roxane/Roxelane tales of the eighteenth century, whereby the irresistible concubine Roxelane tames and makes monogamous the sultan Soliman.”35 Furthermore, as a reflection of European prejudices about the sexual attraction of courtesans, “throughout the eighteenth century in English writing the name ‘Roxana’ served as a synonym for ‘whore,’ thus equating the ottoman seraglio with the European brothel.”36 Having left a special trace in European cultural memory and imagination as a once-seductive Orientalist fantasy accumulated over four centuries, Roxolana’s story resurfaces in David Fredericks’s Degenerate Empress (1968) at the time of the 1960s sexual revolution, which signified the expression of sexual beliefs and practices that were more susceptible to radical shifts than economic and social structures in the West, as well as in P. J. Parker’s Roxelana & ­Suleyman (2011), reflecting the rapidly changing current sexual scene that demands both revisiting foundational mythologies of erotic pleasures and their reinscriptions on desiring bodies.

66  Carnivalesque Mystifications While riding this potentially progressive vector, Vynnychuk further develops an already established convention by incorporating the narrative strategy known as life-writing, which proliferated in the form of confessional letters, diaries, and memoirs in nineteenth-century master texts. Because of its perceived immediacy and authenticity, the first-­ person narrative has become, as Steven Marcus asserts in his influential study, The Other Victorians, a persisting convention of pornography at least since the end of the eighteenth century. 37 This generic narrative structure is supplemented with carefully stylized language that integrates an obsolete Ukrainian lexis, following the stylistic criteria and semantic structure of the cultural milieu of the period and thus simulating the “authenticity” of the sixteenth-century text in a very self-conscious manner. At the beginning of the memoir, Roxolana explains: I have read writings about love transcribed from Greek women and also from Saracen women, but never have I heard about a Ruthenian female writing such things. That is why, with my memory sound and my reason intact, I want to do a favor for all those who find joy and delight in love, so that later they will refine lovemaking and not look at it askance (that is, regard it as licentiousness).38 While profiling Roxolana as the first Ukrainian grand dame of sexual liberation, Vynnychuk seems to replicate, in passing, albeit unconsciously, feminist projects of the discovery and reconstruction of women’s literary tradition (possibly inspired by his unproblematic appropriation of the female voice through the invention of Anna Liubovychivna), and further empowering his narrator via a discussion of taboo subjects. Concurrently, his narrative runs counter to those produced since the beginning of the eighteenth century, when European travelers’ tales about voyages to the Middle East became a popular genre, and images of despotic sultans and desperate slave girls comprised a central part of an emerging liberal feminist discourse featuring the harem as an “inherently oppressive institution.”39 In addition, Roxolana’s fake diary uncannily emulates attempts of twentieth-century women writers to use one of the most pervasive pornographic plots in Western culture to explore “female sexuality and create new language of heterosexual, female-centered erotica in the wake of sexual liberation and the second-wave feminist movement,”40 though appropriated by and reflected through a male gaze conventionally adopted by male pornographers. Furthermore, Roxolana’s story becomes both an erotic confession of her personal experiences and a set of lovemaking instructions for public use, utilizing the conventions of the bāhnāme, “part-medical, part-erotic treatises covering a wide range of subjects from taxonomies of genitalia, to catalogues of sexual positions, aphrodisiac recipes to risqué anecdotes, contraceptive measures to means of ensuring conception.”41 However, the ironic

Carnivalesque Mystifications  67 playfulness of Roxolana’s self-revelations also suggests associations with a pornographic treatise by the Ottoman poet, legalist, and courtier Deli Birader Gazali, The Book that Repels Sorrows and Removes Anxieties, which has been called a “send-up of the genre of the erotic instruction manual.”42 These Turkish erotic guides gained popularity in Europe in the nineteenth century, along with the Indian Kama Sutra and the ­A rabic The Perfumed Garden. It is also noteworthy that Vynnychuk himself refers to Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] as a manual for a happy family life, and highlights its “educational” value by mentioning a female reader for whom the book was an eye-opener after twenty years of married life.43 Having laid the scene in the Imperial Harem of Süleyman the Magnificent, the writer does not attempt to present it as the locus of power in the Ottoman Empire, with its highly organized system of administration and hierarchy. Instead, by positioning himself in relation to the imagined conceptual frameworks attributed to the “ideal harem of the generic stereotype,”44 Vynnychuk turns it into a lascivious sexual playground, in which subordination is broken, and concubines delight in lesbianism and indulge in erotic games with eunuchs. He enacts sexuality as a ritual with a highly elaborate code in the place that has become one of the biggest mystifications of Orientalism as, by mirroring Western psychosexual needs, it enabled projections of illicit eroticism. In the imaginary of the dominant Orientalist discourse, the harem is a polygamous arena on which relationships of subjugations emerge: despot over women, eunuchs over women, mistress over slave, and favorite over rival. It is a nexus of excess and perversion reflected in throngs of women and the lustful tyrant, and in the “barbarity of polygamy, the violence of castration, the sapphism of the women locked up without ‘real’ men and the illicit affairs carried out behind the despot’s back.”45 As Rana Kabbani writes in her analyses of European translations of Oriental texts, the mesmerizing, overamplified powers of the great seraglio entrenched in the European imagination arrested the “perception of even the most gifted scholars,” as its “shadow fell heavily on the landscape they traveled through, so that they hardly saw anything at all of the details before them.”46 In fact, however, as Peirce argues in an examination of major myths about the Ottoman Empire, sex was not the fundamental dynamic of the harem, which was ruled rather by family politics. She adds that, according to the more perceptive and better informed European observers, the “imperial harem was more like a nunnery in its hierarchical organization and the enforced chastity of the great majority of its members.”47 While playing with this most pervasive myth of the West, with the harem as its central symbol conceived as a “garden of delight,” Vynnychuk constructs his genealogies of Ukrainian female sexuality and represents it in the traditionally masculine Orientalized erotomaniac manner. In

68  Carnivalesque Mystifications addition to generic Orientalist tropes, Roxolana’s memoir alludes to numerous captivity narratives that, from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century, provided increasingly detailed accounts of Europeans held captive in the Middle East, America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.48 In a warped way, because it revolves entirely around bodies, Vynnychuk’s text seems to follow almost unfailingly the main characteristics of the genre outlined by Joe Snader: an emphasis on empirical inclusiveness, a broad range of experience, and everything “witnessed or heard reported from other captives.”49 The first chapter of the novel recounts Roxolana’s arrival in Constantinople, a city vested with exotic mystery; her first impressions of the sumptuously decorated interior of the imperial palace; the spectacular appearance of the chief eunuch in luxurious apparel; her subjection to a thorough physical examination, including a painful virginity test at the hands of the eunuch; her bath in an enormous pool, an indispensable element of Oriental ritual; a supper consisting of exotic fruits; and her blissful dive into sleep. The next chapter contains a no less meticulous and naturalistic description of the internal cleansing of Roxolana’s body, the removal of hair from her legs and pubic area, a head-to-toe massage with aphrodisiac, aromatic oils, and the bleaching of her teeth with a strange substance. All this is crowned by a makeup session featuring eyebrow plucking and tinting and the application of lipstick and blush, all of which procedures highlight her beauty and are instrumental in conjuring her erotic persona. In these textual segments, in which Süleyman has not put in an appearance yet, the author alternates the description of unfamiliar, wondrous curiosities with a recounting of Roxolana’s abject experiences as she is disgraced and debased by being turned into a passive object, assertively and violently acted upon by the harem “beauticians.” Shame and humiliation are powerful, negative emotions that partially structure Roxolana’s account here. Vynnychuk seems to capture the mind-set conceptualized by some feminist scholars as abjection, which “marks out a landscape of feelings by and about women that places them before, below, and beyond culture—almost outside what can be represented within it.”50 Roxolana is propelled into the world of the abject, a state that, according to Kristeva, disrupts identity, disturbs order, and destabilizes systems. Abjection is caused by “[w]hat does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite.”51 Existing at the margins of the self, neither subject nor object, the abject consists of those elements, particularly of the body, which contravene and threaten the sense of propriety and are deemed impure for public display and discussion. Having been placed at the threshold of the imaginary boundary into the realm of the author’s pornographic fantasy, Roxolana’s narrative both obliterates the confining codes of femininity that form part of the patriarchal ideology, and turns her into the locus for the projection of male sexual angst. Perfumed,

Carnivalesque Mystifications  69 bejeweled, dressed in Eastern garments, and trembling with anticipation of unknown pleasures, Roxolana is ready for her first encounter with the sultan. Vynnychuk introduces the figures of Orientalist female musicians to provide a backdrop for an amorous scene that evokes a sense of cultivated beauty and pampered isolation. He makes Roxolana gasp at Süleyman’s arrival. The latter, in his turn, is struck by her stunning appearance, which surpasses all his expectations. By playing out this reciprocal—at first glance—infatuation, Vynnychuk follows Ukrainian and Polish sources that “extoll Roxolana’s beauty that conquered the powerful Sultan,” as opposed to Venetian reports that “she was not particularly beautiful but rather small, elegant, and modest.”52 The ensuing dialogue between the two soon-to-be lovers is brief. Here, Vynnychuk attempts to preserve the memoir’s “authentic” ring and explains that Süleyman addresses Roxolana in Slovenian, a language that Roxolana has no difficulty understanding, thus lending further verisimilitude to the sultan’s use of a Slavic language by clarifying that his mother is Bosnian. 53 The next several pages of the novel depict Roxolana’s sexual arousal, as Süleyman kisses, fingers, and penetrates her. An inexperienced virgin, she readily succumbs to the sultan’s caresses. Vynnychuk’s representational strategies of lovemaking seem to be borrowed from pornographic movies. The presence of the musicians implicitly enhances the mood and provides the embedded rhythms that complement the movements of the lovers’ bodies, and Roxolana’s involuntary moans of delight add an extra level of sensory perception to the pleasures depicted. Her “confessional frenzy,” to use Linda Williams’s expression, 54 might embody the will to knowledge and power, on the one hand, but, on the other, it turns her into a sexual spectacle under the author’s gaze. Roxolana focuses on Süleyman’s compulsive rounds of her erogenous zones, his concentration on her breasts, attention to her clitoris with lingual stimulation, and penetration of her vagina. His virtuoso sexual performance, accompanied by an unidentifiable fire rushing through her limbs that makes her tremble, complies perfectly with the conventions of the genre, 55 alongside Roxolana’s unassailably ecstatic and orgasmic response to the sultan’s passionate acts. She also discovers the peculiarities of the male sexual anatomy, and, in accordance with pornographic scenarios, it is the sultan’s penis that both frightens and attracts her, a sensation that is instrumental in escalating Roxolana’s uncontrollable sexual desire to the point of fainting. The accumulation of all these sexual numbers that should culminate in a metaphorical “money shot,” which, according to Berkerley Kaite, is the “site/sight of male orgasm signaling not only narrative closure but the mirror reflection of phallic secular logic”56 and necessary to ensure the chapter’s resolution, is deliberately delayed because Süleyman is called away to attend to urgent matters of state; the convention is thus violated.

70  Carnivalesque Mystifications The following chapter resembles a vignette from popular Oriental genre scenes and conjures up an erotic ideal personified by seven voluptuous odalisques from Macedonia, Bosnia, and Serbia, who invite Roxolana to a party. It is noteworthy that in his representation of the harem occupants, Vynnychuk seemingly reflects Istanbul’s “protean diversity” that encompassed “multiple ethnicities, religions, and populations.”57 It is intriguing to recognize that his construction of harem sexualities is based on a circulating set of tales and references involving religious, linguistic, and biological amalgamation. Yet, within this cross-cultural inclusivity and linguistic multiplicity, he segregates white women (the Slavic factor being an additional axis of separation) from racial others. In so doing, Vynnychuk implicitly combines Western assumptions that the “darker races” were always “desirous of white people”58 with racial concepts that privilege the fair-skinned body in Orientalist representations. 59 The author also superimposes the inherited racism of Soviet society, in which it was deeply rooted, onto the biologically essentialist stigmatization of interracial relations that crystallized during the nineteenth-century French and British colonial expansion into the Middle East.60 In addition, Vynnychuk changes narrative strategies by shifting focalization from Roxolana’s experiences and introducing the inlaid stories of the other occupants of the harem to provide variegated routes for excursions into Ottoman sexscapes, on the one hand, and to distance Roxolana from “inappropriate” sexual indulgences, on the other. This narrative structure replicates, for example, the paradigmatic The Lustful Turk (1828), with its stories of Genoan aristocrat Honoria Grimaldi, Adriati, the Grecian slave, and other inhabitants of the Dey’s Harem. Vynnychuk’s tale of the Serbian concubine, likewise, incorporates another thematic feature of the captivity genre based on gender and sexual politics, which highlights the chastity of a female captive who defends her honor against the amorous advances of a lusty Oriental villain-ruler.61 Moreover, the story is concurrently related to stock melodramas that invariably involved aspects of female honor or fall from grace in Orientalism.62 In the concubine’s account, the conventions linking sex, violence, and control are laid bare. The Serbian woman is whipped mercilessly for disobeying the sultan’s orders and then raped. However, Vynnychuk, in constructing Süleyman’s insatiable sexuality and brutality, conflates rape with seduction, and by the end of coitus, the odalisque turns into a willing receptacle of the sultan’s desire and longs obsessively for future encounters. When Süleyman seems to lose interest in conventional sex and stops visiting the Serbian concubine, she seeks advice from a Greek concubine. Having been instructed, through a double inlaid story, in anal and oral sex, the Serbian manages to regain Süleyman’s interest by putting her new knowledge into practice and is represented as experiencing unsurpassable sensations. The text thus utilizes centuries-long stereotypes of Oriental libidinal

Carnivalesque Mystifications  71 excess and inclination toward all manner of “deviant” sexual behaviors that are “firmly wedged in the dominant Western imaginary.”63 It also complies apparently with the conventional formula of women’s insatiable sexual servitude, when concocting images of overindulgence that, to use N. M. Penzer’s expression, the “united brain of jealous, sexstarved women could invent for the pleasure of their lord.”64 The party culminates in a bacchanal, with the eunuchs obediently attending to and fulfilling the odalisques’ sexual whims. Unlike the concubines, Roxolana is repulsed both by the smooth faces and bodies of the effeminate, de-virilized men and by her fellow harem residents’ pastimes, regarding them as decadent and degrading. She has difficulty in identifying with the diverse erotic subject positions and desiring diverse objects. In moving from heterosexual scenes to mixed-sex encounters, Roxolana finds lesbian delights unacceptable and perceives same-sex lovemaking as forced, the result of neglected female sexual needs. Vynnychuk’s strategy of appropriation and erotic reinscription of pleasure, which explores the possibility of different erotic exchanges in the harem setting, thus draws on heterosexual and homophobic articulation of lesbian identities and inevitably reinforces outdated stereotypes of lesbianism as linked to deviance. Similar treatment of homoerotic desire as debasing and offensive is illustrated by the vâlide sultan, Süleyman’s reigning mother. As the appointed avatar of compulsory heterosexuality, she calls the Turkish rulers’ love of boys an “ancient Greek disease,”65 and emphasizes that her son is the first sultan who is not interested in boys. It is worth noting, however, that the historical Süleyman’s half-century reign dominated what is known as the Age of the Beloveds in the Ottoman Empire, and this period, in turn, was “dominated by the shadowy subtext of the sultan’s love”66 for Ibrahim, Süleyman’s childhood friend then Grand Vizier, and Hurrem/Roxolana. These two lovers represented the progression of what Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpaki call the “life-stages-of-love”—a movement from a “very virile, manly period, in which the erotic focus is on the masculine, toward a more effeminate period, in which the erotic focus is on the feminine and a man turns to a more contemplative, sedate, and inactive life.”67 Thus, contrary to Orientalist homoerotic fantasy, which has been deemed transgressive within the European erotic imaginary, homosexuality was not regarded as deviant in the Ottoman world of the time, and, according to scholars like Dror Ze´evi, “homoerotic or pederastic passion did not bear the stigma of abnormal behavior that it came to bear in modern Western cultures.”68 Furthermore, bāhnāmes often made at least passing references to homosexuality, “particularly male, and some were exclusively homoerotic.”69 As Joseph Allen Boone demonstrates by drawing on numerous historical and literary examples, “erotic—and often homoerotic—abundance,” yoked to the empire’s diverse plenitude, was featured in “Ottoman representations of its vibrant culture over a

72  Carnivalesque Mystifications period of several centuries.”70 This normalcy of homoerotic desire can profoundly problematize conservative norms of masculinity, with its provenance of heteronormativity; because of this potential disruption of post-Soviet male beliefs, Vynnychuk categorically excludes any homoerotic innuendoes. Although Ukraine was the first among the former Soviet republics to decriminalize homosexuality, homophobia remains a challenge in Ukrainian society.71 While Vynnychuk’s erotomaniac diary has radically expanded and reconfigured the discursive space of the emerging Ukrainian corporeal landscape, his narrative of carnal desire is very cautious about non-­ heteronormative sexual practices, as he either disclaims them or totally disregards the possibility of their existence. His revolutionary Roxolana is firmly heterosexual as compared, for example, to her representation in Fredericks’s Degenerate Empress, mentioned earlier. Reenacting the eroticized, pornographic Orient of colonial discourse, which luxuriates in forbidden sexual practices, Fredericks’s novel replicates ­nineteenth-century “representations of Oriental sexuality as perverted and deviant.”72 To showcase this deviancy, the author introduces performances of sexual “non-conformity” staged by Ibn Ben ad-Zaid, who arrives from Arabia, the “cradle of erotica, where rampant sensuality and every carnal deviation, every weird variation of wanton lust known to man was born.”73 Although both authors describe a wide variety of sexual numbers (heterosexual, anorectal, fellatory, cunnilingual, lesbian, homosexual, orgiastic, etc.), Fredericks pushes his carnal fantasy farther than Vynnychuk does by including incest, sadism, and bestiality, which violate taboo subjects to different degrees, as, for example, incest occurs in pornography “with about the same frequency as marriages occur at the end of English novels.”74 Thus, these scenarios performed by specially trained Arab girls, young men, and animals satisfy Roxelana’s demoniac cravings, supporting and enhancing the Orientalist stereotype of the Arabic world as a site of inconceivable sexual excess and violence. While Vynnychuk apparently draws on available historical sources, combining them with his erotic fancies, Fredericks’s representations of aberrant Arab sexuality can be traced back to numerous translations of The Thousand and One Nights—there was a Soviet translation into Russian too, but, I assume, it was substantially expurgated—that kept the European imagination spellbound since the eighteenth century. Both writers clearly draw on Orientalist literature featuring the harem, which obsessively conjured up images of sultans overindulging “in every conceivable kind of vice,” flanked by seductive and desirous women.75 However, Fredericks inverts the formula of women’s sexual servitude, adopted by Vynnychuk to portray Roxolana’s fellow concubines, by making his empress a spectacle of sexual excess. Unlike Fredericks’s compliance with the nineteenth-century Orientalist literary tradition in which women, according to Edward Said’s

Carnivalesque Mystifications  73 observations, are creatures relentlessly exhibiting “unlimited sexuality,”76 Roxolana’s autonomous “female brain” in Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] enables her, in Peirce’s words, “to best the competition within the harem and to achieve the hitherto unknown roles of favourite and then wife and queen.”77 In addition to her education in lovemaking through peer-sharing that helps her grasp the sexual dynamics of the imperial harem, Roxolana is tutored in how to make the power of sex instrumental in upward, hierarchical mobility within the segregated female space of the harem by the vâlide sultan. Süleyman’s mother, who always made a careful selection of those who would be offered to the sovereign as possible consorts,78 instructs the novice, whom she has supposedly assigned to the role of the sultan’s future confidante and advisor, in the art of mastery, submission, and manipulation. ­A lthough, according to certain historians, Hafsa Sultan was among a handful of people who might have dissuaded her son from an unprecedented marriage with Roxolana,79 Vynnychuk’s vâlide sultan positions herself as Roxolana’s ally and, moreover, plans the transference of her own power to the young concubine. Her directives inspire Roxolana’s seductive enterprise and, upon the sultan’s arrival, she demonstrates enviable sexual resourcefulness. The representation of her increasing sexual enjoyment is structured through parodic displays of sexual excess, and the scene charged with frenzied erotic energy culminates with mutual fisting and spectacular orgasm. Having become a subject of erotic desire, Vynnychuk’s heroine confronts, albeit unwittingly, the oscillating poles of gendered identities and the role of power within them, and her initiation into sexual enjoyment is concurrently a rite of passage into the corridors of power. Vynnychuk also imparts a “literary” element to Roxolana’s memoir when he brings his protagonist to the arbor of love, decorated with statues of a garlanded penis and bejeweled vagina. Here, Vynnychuk makes use of Arabian erotology as, in a condensed intertextual gesture, he has the sultan reading Roxolana a poetic glossary of names for sexual organs, thus replicating the movement of three chapters of Sheikh Nafzawi’s sixteenth-century manual, The Perfumed Garden, in which the sheikh lists a series of words that “designate the organs of generation.”80 Likewise, Roxolana impresses Süleyman with her vivid imagination by inventing an extraordinary number of names of her own, thus compiling a Ukrainian erotic lexicon. Besides, Süleyman recites erotic poetry by al-Suyūtī, a prolific Arab religious scholar and author, who also wrote several treatises on erotology,81 and concludes their reading session with frivolously diverse descriptions of vaginas of Byzantine, Spanish, Indian, Finnish, Iraqi, Syrian, Persian, Nubian, Turkish, and Balkan women, and one Bedouin’s scatological observations for comic relief.82 In addition to these borrowings and allusions, the poetic aspect of the relationship between the sultan and Roxolana as portrayed by

74  Carnivalesque Mystifications Vynnychuk is rooted in history, since, on a more serious note, Süleyman’s passionate love to Hurrem “shines” in his poetry, especially in the “well-known verse letter written under the sultan’s pen name, Muhibbi (the Affectionate/Lover).”83 Roxolana’s imaginary history ends with a chapter aptly titled “O tim, iak ia stala hasseki hurem (tsarytseiu haremu)” [How I became haseki hurrem (queen of the harem)] at the point where she eliminates her major competition, a Circassian woman, who is the mother of Mustafa, the firstborn. Here, Vynnychuk closely follows the 1553 report of the Venetian ambassador Bernardo Navagero, which reveals Roxolana’s “ability to manipulate the protocol of the harem to her advantage” and explains how she won the sultan’s affection.84 According to the ambassador, Roxolana was attacked by the jealous Circassian, and she refused to appear before Süleyman after the assault because of her marred appearance. Repulsed by the Circassian’s violence and her defiant claim of supremacy over the other women, the sultan redirected “all his love” to Roxolana.85 Vynnychuk recounts this dramatically tense episode as a triangle of appropriative rivalry, after which the Circassian adversary is banished from the imperial palace, and Roxolana rises to a position of uncontested power. In addition to the Western Orientalist dimension in Vynnychuk’s literary counterfeit, a Ukrainian one also exists. It is linked to Ahatanhel Krymsky (1871–1942), an eminent Ukrainian Orientalist, writer, linguist, polyglot fluent in over thirty languages, literary scholar, folklorist, and translator, whose extensive learned output on the Orient includes two histories of Turkey (published in 1910 and 1924). Krymsky’s studies of the Ottoman Empire during Süleyman’s reign embrace a Slavic and particularly Ukrainian element that addresses, among other issues, the role of Roxolana in Turkish history. Krymsky’s attitude is ambivalent or, rather, antipathetic toward this historical figure, who combines a powerful mind and charisma with ruthlessness toward her political adversaries.86 His unprejudiced representation of his famous countrywoman runs counter to the already established reverential portrayals of Roxolana by current Ukrainian critics and scholars.87 Moreover, Krymsky’s histories of the East, which are characterized by an interdisciplinary approach and vast range of topics, also include an inquiry into erotic and pornographic Oriental literary traditions as well as sexual practices and customs. According to Pavlychko, his “History of Turkey abounds with references to the sexual mores of sultans’ courts, janissaries, and so on. Krymsky became interested in Eastern sexuality long before it became a separate subject of research in Western scholarship.”88 It is notable that his focus on issues associated with sexuality—in the best case, they were perceived as marginal, in the worst, labeled “bourgeois” and “obscene”—is quite unconventional—even unthinkable—in light of class-oriented and bastardized Marxist methodology, the only

Carnivalesque Mystifications  75 analytical tool that was admissible in the Soviet Union. Quite unsurprisingly, Krymsky was arrested by the NKVD in 1941 on charges of ­anti-Soviet and nationalist activities and died in prison shortly after. Beside Krymsky’s academic production, his earlier creative writing also reveals a preoccupation with sexuality. His 1890s work, “Vyryvky z memuariv odnoho staroho hrikhovody (Materialy dlia diahnozu psychopathiae sexualis)”89 [Excerpts from the memoirs of an old sinner (Materials for the diagnosis of psychopathiae sexualis)] clearly points to his familiarity with and interest in Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis. Thus, Vynnychuk’s Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the harem] seems to carry on this particular strand of Ukrainian erotic fiction. It is also worthwhile mentioning that, in his mystification game, Vynnychuk evokes the ghost of the Orientalist scholar, explaining, by way of a paratextual preamble to the publication of the scandalous “manuscript,” that it was Krymsky who brought Roxolana’s diary from Istanbul to Ukraine, but could not find a publisher. According to an elaborate context forged around the manuscript’s retrieval, after Krymsky’s arrest in the summer of 1941, the arresting NKVD officers, who were fleeing from the rapidly advancing German army, dumped his archive in an abandoned apartment. Vynnychuk’s next paratextual move places Oswald Burghardt (1891–1947), a Ukrainian Neoclassic poet, literary critic, and translator, who wrote under the pseudonym of Yuri Klen, at the scene.90 Klen’s German descent, his immigration to Germany in 1931, and his compulsory enlistment as a translator in the Wehrmacht forces during World War II in occupied Ukraine91 made him a perfect candidate for recovering the manuscript and passing it on to the madam of a brothel in Lviv, so that she could entrust the publication to PostPostup [Post-Progress] after the breakup of the Soviet Union.92 It is true that to appreciate Vynnychuk’s intricate canvas woven of diverse cultural productions, their radical utilization, and circularity of references, one should be familiar with a wide range of descriptive systems, themes, social mythologies, and histories, and other texts. However, readers without this background and whose horizon of expectations is clear will still enjoy the universally recognizable codes, stylistic charm, irony, and eccentric nuances in Vynnychuk’s dynamic prose. His playful parody and pastiche, in which he joins, to use Oleksander ­Halenko’s phrase, the “male harem”93 of Roxolana’s admirers, is a deviant postcolonial endeavor wherein everything is inverted with postmodern zest and gusto. As Hutcheon writes elsewhere, postmodern parody is a “value-­problematizing, de-naturalizing form of acknowledging the history (and through irony, the politics) of representation.”94 While reading, misreading, reassembling, and misinterpreting the system of hereditary and learned texts, Vynnychuk self-consciously lets the machinery show. He thus demonstrates the fictitious and constructivist nature of any discourse by opening up the closed socialist realist symbolic

76  Carnivalesque Mystifications horizon to the play and energy of heterogeneity. Since Ukraine, as part of the totalitarian USSR, “missed” the 1960s phase of sexual liberation and made up for lost time in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet regime, Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the Harem] exposes, not without a touch of sensationalism, the hypocrisies of the Soviet state, and awakens society, which had accepted its hideous conditions of servitude by subjecting itself to repressive totalitarian body politics, among other numerous forms of oppression.

Notes 1 “Iurii Vynnychuk,” Potiah 76, 131. 2 Bodnar, “Zamist′ peredmovy,” 5. 3 He authored the labyrinthine Mal′va Landa (2004), saturated with grotesque eroticism; Vesniani ihry v osinnikh sadakh [Spring games in the autumnal gardens] (2005), in which he claims to have turned all the women he loved into literature; Tanho smerti [Death tango] (2012), with its giddying plotlines; and Aptekar [The pharmacist] (2015), set in Lviv in 1646 (the latter two novels won the BBC Book of the Year Award). Vynnychuk also published novellas, short stories, fairy tales, and numerous works of nonfiction. 4 For the emergence and consolidation of this narrative, see Halenko, “How a Turkish Empress Became a Champion of Ukraine,” 109–123. 5 Turhan, The Other Empire, 51. A more recent publication by Galina ­Yermolenko counterbalances this negative attitude toward Roxolana by introducing an Eastern European perspective featuring her as a national symbol. See “Roxolana: ‘The greatest empresse of the East,’” 231–48. 6 Makhun, “Slaves in the Sublime Porte.” 7 Roxolana’s life has also inspired a number of Western narratives. In earlier works, she was portrayed as one of the characters in Fulke Graville’s Mustapha (1603), William D’Avenant’s Siege of Rhodes (pt. 2, 1659), and Roger Boyle’s Mustapha (1668), and referred to by Francis Bacon in his “Of ­Empire” (Essays, 1597–1625). For more details, see Yermolenko, “Roxolana in Europe,” 23–55. 8 Halenko, “Vytivky ukraïns′koho oriientalizmu,” 12. 9 Roksolana, TV series. 10 Halenko, “Vytivky ukraïns′koho oriientalizmu,” 13. 11 Zabuzhko, Khroniky vid Fortinbrasa, 168. 12 Imber, The Ottoman Empire, 90. 13 Peirce, The Imperial Harem, 58. 14 Andrews and Kalpaki, The Age of Beloveds, 244. 15 Peirce, Empress of the East, 4. Delighted by the publication of Peirce’s Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire (2017), I was dismayed to see that the first chapter of the book is titled “The Russian Concubine.” Although Peirce writes that Roxelana “came from Ruthenia… today a broad region of Ukraine,” she explains Ruthenia as “Old Russia,” while it was, in fact, part of Kyivan Rus′. While I realize that Peirce’s area of expertise is the Ottoman Empire, I expected, perhaps unrealistically, a renowned scholar to be more sensitive to such important details. 16 Teo, “Eroticizing the Orient,” 32–33. 17 Zabuzhko, Khroniky vid Fortinbrasa, 168.

Carnivalesque Mystifications  77 18 Valerii Shevchuk, Renesans: Rannie baroko, 237–38. 19 See, for example, “Foreign Women Megasite,” www.­foreignwomenmegasite. com/links/link1.html; “Mail Order Brides,” europe.html; “Foreign Brides,”; “Date-World,” All accessed March 14, 2007. 20 Kryms′kyi, Istoriia Turechchyny, 183. 21 Davies, Warfare, State and Society, 24–25. 22 Pavlyshyn, “Ukrainian Literature and the Erotics of Postcolonialism,” 121. 23 PostPostup 1(15)–12(26) (1992): 10. 24 Dyshkant, “’Ukraïns′ki pys′mennyky ne zhyvut′ z literatury.’” 25 Ibid. 26 Dotsenko, “Irlands′ka literatura.” 27 Grabowicz, “National Poets and National Mystifications,” 7–24. 28 Daryna Kyrychok, “Iurii Vynnychuk na Rivenshchyni.” 29 See Makarov, Svitlo ukraïns′koho baroko. 30 Shevchuk, ed., Pisni kupidona, 228–29. 31 Shevchuk, “Akrostykhovi poety.” 32 Shevchuk and Iaremenko, eds. Literatura vysokoho baroko, 768–69. For more on Vynnychuk’s literary mystifications, see Kovbasa, “Mistyfikator Vynnychuk.” 33 See Stasinevych, “Realizm u literaturi.” 34 See Hutcheon, Narcissistic Narrative, 24. 35 Teo, Desert Passions, 7. 36 Ballaster, Fabulous Orients, 61. 37 Marcus, The Other Victorians, 204. 38 “Читала юж-єм писанія о коханню од грекинь списані, од сарацинок також, іно нігде не чула, жеби русинка тоє писала. Прето будучи в зуполной пам’яті і цілому розумі, сим хочу прислугу вчинити для всіх, которії в коханню знаходять радість і втіху, ажеби надалі то єще кунштовній справовали і не гляділи на тоє спросно (себто не вбачали розпусту)” (Vynnychuk, Zhytiie haremnoie, 6). 39 Zanana, “The Sultan and the Slave,” 594. 40 Teo, Desert Passions, 4. 41 Artan and Schick, “Ottomanizing Pornotopia,” 157. 42 Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism, 113. 43 Kyrychok, “Iurii Vynnychuk na Rivenshchyni.” 4 4 Lewis, Rethinking Orientalism, 183. 45 Ibid., 182–83. 46 Kabbani, Europe’s Myth of Orient, 66. 47 Peirce, Imperial Harem, 6. 48 Snader, Caught between Worlds, 16. 49 Ibid. 50 Glover and Kaplan, Genders, 7–8. 51 Kristeva, Powers of Horror, 4. 52 Yermolenko, “Roxolana: ‘The greatest empresse of the East,’” 234. 53 Vynnychuk, Zhytiie haremnoie, 23. According to several historical accounts, she was either Serbian (Makhun, “Slaves in the Sublime Porte”) or the daughter of the “Khan of Crimean Tatars” (Bridge, Suleiman the Magnificent, 110). During the reign of the historical Süleyman, Serbian was used in official documentation and diplomacy of the empire (Kryms′kyi, Istoriia Turechchyny, 179–81). 54 Williams, Hard Core, 122. 55 Williams’s book contains a guide for the would-be pornographer compiled by Stephen Ziplow (126–27).

78  Carnivalesque Mystifications 56 7 5 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94

Kaite, Pornography and Difference, 6. Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism, 114. Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, 134. MacKenzie, Orientalism, 46. Teo, “Eroticizing the Orient,” 45–46. Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, 129. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts, 63. Boone, “Vacation Cruises,” 91. Penzer, The Harem: Inside the Grand Seraglio, 13. “давня грецька хороба” (Vynnychuk, Zhytiie haremnoe, 79). Andrews and Kalpaki, Age of Beloveds, 238. Ibid., 244. Ze´evi, Producing Desire, 2. Artan and Schick, “Ottomanizing Pornotopia,” 158. Boone, Homoerotics of Orientalism, 115. Martsenyuk, “The State of the LGBT Community,” 52–53. Teo, “Eroticizing the Orient,” 18. Fredericks, Degenerate Empress, loc. 743. Marcus, Other Victorians, 245. Penzer, The Harem: Inside the Grand Seraglio, 13. Said, Orientalism, 207. Peirce, Empress of the East, 6. Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire, 86. Ibid., 62. Bouhdiba, Sexuality in Islam, 147. Ibid., 144. Vynnychuk, Zhytiie haremnoie, 94–95. Andrews and Kalpaki, Age of Beloveds, 243. Peirce, Imperial Harem, 59. Ibid., 60. Kryms′kyi, Istoriia Turechchyny, 204–8. Pavlychko, Natsionalizm, seksualʹnistʹ, oriientalizm, 178. Ibid., 180. Kryms′kyi, Vyryvky z memuariv, 37–61. Vynnychuk, “Descho z istoriï Zhytiia haremnoho,” 135. See Svarnyk, “‘Naimolodshyi z p’iatirnoho hrona,’” 177–219. Vynnychuk, “Descho z istoriï Zhytiia haremnoho,” 135. Halenko, “Vytivky ukraïnsʹkoho oriientalizmu,” 11. Hutcheon, The Politics of Postmodernism, 94.

5 The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell: Shevchuk’s Neo-Baroque Angst

Valeri Shevchuk, one of the most reputable grand men of letters on the Ukrainian literary scene, whose books have been translated into over twenty languages, engages in an enactment of that stratum of the national history and culture which, being firmly in the grip of the Soviet ideological dogma of selection and prohibition, had been either reduced to a liminal role or completely erased. Having been turned into an effective instrument of communist ideology and social control, Soviet literary studies and the literary canon drew exclusively on socialist realism, a theory and style that “could exist only under specific institutional conditions: a repressive system of censorship; a government monopoly on ideology; and absolutely rigid Party control.”1 Shevchuk challenged the confines of this prescribed method by consciously engaging with the golden age of Ukrainian Baroque as a creative writer, authoring, for example, the award-winning novel Try lystky za viknom [Three leaves outside the window] (1986), 2 literary critic, literary historian, and editor and translator of numerous Ukrainian Baroque philosophers and poets. His Baroque subject matter itself subverts the Soviet canon, in which entire series of historical novels portrayed history as an endless concatenation of popular rebellions against oppression. Since the content of literature was judged and appraised from the ideological point of view, those Ukrainian Baroque writers—peripatetic churchmen-scholars and professors of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, the leading center of higher education in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ukraine, which exerted a “significant intellectual influence over the entire Orthodox world at the time”3 —who were concerned with “theological issues…and learned disputations,” as well as their “flowery panegyrics,”4 spiritual verses, love and erotic poetry, epigrams, and parodies characterized by stylistic complexity, 5 were deemed detached from life and the masses and thus inevitably rejected. Another “breed” of Ukrainian Baroque authors, represented by graduates of the Academy who became “Cossack officers or chancellorists,” was primarily interested in history, and “composed the so-called Cossack chronicles,”6 historical accounts of the Cossack wars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These were even more

80  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell inconvenient for the Soviet ideology-ridden historiography that rigorously regulated publications on Ukrainian history. During the period known as Khrushchev’s “Thaw,” which began after Stalin’s death in 1953, allowing some freedom of information, partial easing of censorship laws, and liberalization of political life, during which Ukraine enjoyed cultural revitalization known as the shistdesiatnyky [generation of the sixties] movement, the Archaeological Commission of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences managed to issue Litopys Samovydtsia [Eyewitness chronicle], a work of Ukrainian Cossack historiography covering events from 1648 through the year 1702. However, publications of this kind were cut short,7 and, instead, the “Thaw” now over, the official version of history enforced the celebration of Ukraine’s “reunification” with Russia under the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654, mentioned earlier. This fateful alliance, which the Cossack Hetmanate concluded with Muscovy during the rule of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1595–1657), has been mythologized and politicized for over three centuries, first in the Russian Empire and then its Russo-Soviet successor. Although no original copy of the treaty is known to exist, and regardless of the fact that this temporary military coalition of two states ultimately resulted in the total subjugation of Ukraine, the master “reunification” narrative was authoritatively endorsed for representation in literature. Furthermore, Ukrainian Baroque was closely associated with the name of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, discussed in the Introduction, whose twenty-two years of rule “coincided with the most spectacular cultural outburst of the age.”8 Together with the demonization and anathematization of Mazepa,9 who has come to epitomize the “treacherous desire of all those ‘evil forces’ who wanted to separate from an ‘indivisible mother Russia,’ whether a Soviet or a non-Soviet Russia,”10 Ukrainian Baroque culture—a large-scale “portrait” of the Mazepist epoch—was also assigned an ideologically subversive role. For example, in 1800, Tsar Paul I prohibited building cathedrals in the “Ukrainian Baroque style,”11 and in the 1930s, the Soviets methodically destroyed Baroque buildings because such architecture “carried out anticommunist work.”12 Moreover, even Mazepa’s portraits were “systematically hunted down in Ukraine and destroyed.”13 And, finally, the utter “deletion” of Ukrainian Baroque culture ensured that it would not cast doubt on the validity of Russia’s “civilizing mission” (just for comparison, Kyiv Mohyla Academy was founded in 1615, while Russia’s first university in Moscow appeared in 1755) and thus did not “corrupt” designated colonial monuments of achievement, because colonized cultures “must always remain uninscribed,” and “their cultural acts of self-definition and resistance” must be “written out of the record.”14 Having started his literary career as a member of the 1960s generation, Shevchuk contributed significantly, during the late 1980s Ukrainian cultural revival just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, to a project

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  81 of collective remembering that involved the production and reconstruction of cultural and historical discourses in order to rethink, fill in the blank spaces created by the colonial eradication of Ukrainian history, and conceptualize the complex and conflicting colonial experiences. In one interview, the writer comments on his fascination with Ukrainian Baroque and how he came to question the long-standing official view that Ukrainian literature began with the philosopher, thinker, and poet Hryhori Skovoroda (1722–1794) by looking into the virtually unknown seventeenth- and eighteenth-century cultural stratum, which was quintessentially Ukrainian and, at the same time, a constituent part of European Baroque: “I got carried away by this literary movement and started with translations. Today I have a whole shelf of published research on the pre-Skovorodian period, starting with the Ukrainian epic and ending with a monograph on Hryhori Skovoroda.”15 Thus, he translated into contemporary Ukrainian a Cossack chronicle by Samiilo Velychko (1670–1728), which described the events of 1620–1700. It was published under the title Litopys Samiila Velychka [Samiilo Velychko’s chronicle] in installments by the literary magazine Kyiv, which took “advantage of the loosening of censorship in Ukraine” during the cultural “Thaw.”16 Within the framework of his scholarly involvement with the Baroque, the last period of Ukraine’s extended political autonomy before its absorption into the empire,17 Shevchuk authored Kozats′ka derzhava: etiudy do istoriï ukraïns′koho derzhavotvorennia [The Cossack state: essays on the history of Ukrainian state building] (1995) and a fundamental two-volume study of Baroque literature, Muza Roksolans′ka [The Roxolanian muse] (2004–2005), and edited a collection covering three centuries (sixteenth–early nineteenth) of Ukrainian love poetry entitled Pisni Kupidona [Songs of Cupid] (1984), as well as two volumes of heroic poetry from the tenth to the early nineteenth centuries, Marsove pole [Field of Mars] (1988–1989), among others. Shevchuk’s creative detours into the past, though, are not limited to the historical Baroque. His imaginary reconfigurations are in some way in tune with Deleuze’s claim about the philosophical universality of the Baroque, in which “classical reason [is] toppled under the force of divergences, incompossibilities, discords, dissonances.”18 His textual strategies reveal aesthetic possibilities that transcend the particularities of the historical Baroque. What is more, after the downfall of the Soviet totalitarian regime, he published a collection of neo-Baroque novellas, Bis ploti [Devil in the flesh] (1999). With this publication, Shevchuk further transgresses the received Soviet socialist realist tradition by combining his ivory-tower preoccupations with the projective cultural past and an exploration of the newly discovered territory of sexual bodies. I intend to explore here the erotomaniac dimension of Shevchuk’s textual space, thus conceptualizing the body as a site of political and cultural construction and contested meaning. Since in Baroque culture

82  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell the body is “highly sensitized to the fact that it is a body always in the state of becoming—endlessly transmutable, unstable and transgressive of any permanent identity,”19 it is capable of turning into a contemporary instrument of cultural revision and renewal. Inasmuch as it has become almost commonplace among literary scholars in Ukraine to discuss Shevchuk’s oeuvre in the framework of khymerna prosa [chimerical prose] as a Ukrainian version of magic realism, with its mingling and juxtaposition of the realistic, fantastic, or bizarre, which, according to some scholars, draws on Baroque aesthetics, 20 my interpretative lens offers a different angle on Shevchuk’s involvement with the Baroque. As a “conceptual technology” that “provokes new forms of historical conceptualization and interpretation,”21 it conflates monstrosity, a central issue of the Baroque, and its gendering by Shevchuk into a transhistorical monstrous-feminine, complete with traditional Christian attitudes, wherein women, sex, and sin went hand in hand, and which invested women with alarming stature symptomatic of the fear of unbridled erotic desire that threatened to nullify the Christian formula to be fruitful and multiply. In her examination of the construction of woman-as-monster in contemporary culture, evolving from the dreams, myths, and artistic practices that have been haunting mankind for centuries, Barbara Creed contends that such representations are “grounded in ancient religious and historical notions of abjection—particularly in relation to the following religious ‘abominations:’ sexual immorality and perversion; corporeal alterations, decay and death; human sacrifice; murder; the corpse; bodily wastes; the feminine body and incest.”22 Created through dark and macabre imagery, the monstrous-feminine signifies the disruption of categories and the elimination of boundaries, as it consistently exceeds any coherent system of identification. Suggesting numerous societal and identitarian splits and fractures, it reveals the archetypal terror of the alien and the unidentified in spaces where disturbingly sexual bodies question and challenge representations of the communicable experience. Shevchuk’s female characters are endowed with properties that are simultaneously sacred and profane, religious and sinful, pure and impure. Thus, the character of Yustyna in Rozsichene kolo [The dissected circle] (1996), who dedicates her life to prayer, concentrates on the salvation of the soul, declares herself a bride of Christ, and is described by the narrator of the novella, who is madly in love with her, in the idiom of The Song of Songs, does not reciprocate his feelings and openly despises him. Tormented by unrequited love and haunted by obsessive thoughts about the girl, which are intermingled with hallucinatory visions of a tiny devil that is being miraculously transformed into a tiny cupid, the rejected suitor asks his uncle, a philosopher and hermit, for help. Yielding to his nephew’s insistent appeals, the uncle agrees reluctantly and prepares a magic love philter to gain the girl’s affection. But something goes wrong, and the devoted maiden turns into

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  83 personified transgression, thus crossing the line between being possessed by the Holy Spirit and being inhabited by a demon. This collapse of binaries reenacts certain beliefs in European lore of possession, which describe how the devil delights in overcoming pious servants of God, including monks, nuns, and priests. Such descriptions abound in “many notorious accounts of various convents that became overrun by devils,” often incarnated as their pastors. 23 As if replicating frenzied, lewd acts of possessed seventeenth-century brides of Christ, the girl appears naked in her window, while the literal darkness of night merges with the darkness of her diabolical desire, and urgently calls to the narrator, who tries every night to catch a glimpse of the unattainable maiden’s silhouette. Having become a double agent—both the victim of possession and the devil’s envoy, attempting to seduce an innocent, amorous young man— she pleads with frantic passion: “Come here! Oh, I can no longer endure this! Oh, I want you to chase away the devil, because he is here! And she grabbed her private parts and pulled them apart.”24 In identifying the site of her evil possession, Shevchuk seemingly follows images of conventional iconography because, as Creed explains, in the European tradition, the “uterus was frequently drawn with horns to demonstrate its supposed association with the devil,” and hell, in Christian art, was often “represented as a womb…where sinners were perpetually tortured for their crimes.”25 And as abruptly as Yustyna breaks the boundaries of sexual conformity, she disappears with a horrified shriek behind the window curtains, making the scene—duplicated several times—either an unconscious enactment of repression that speaks of sexuality’s need for recognition and freedom, or a representational male fantasy of dangerously powerful female carnality. Yustyna’s vacillating personality makes her body open to transformations, as it operates within the Baroque economy of overexposure in which excess and lack converge, and of pernicious emotional and psychological indulgence. It also runs counter to the post-Baroque idea of a unified body, which aimed at suppressing the unruliness of sexual drives in the process of articulating unified subjectivity. Furthermore, after Yustyna’s untimely death, brought about by her sufferings induced by the devil who infected her flesh with forbidden desires, the fiend migrates into another girl, who looks very much like Yustyna, whom the narrator courts and marries, and who turns his life into a living hell. During a magistrate hearing of their dispute over the wife’s alleged damage of the narrator’s property and its theft, the woman’s testimony, although countering accusations regarding property, also addresses some sexual problems in their marriage: the narrator’s sterility, which, according to him, is the result of demonic possession—the prowling devil that has infested his wife’s body kills his sperm. At certain points, the devil, who has seemingly departed with the narrator’s wife, returns and starts tormenting the man in his dreams, torturing and cutting off his body parts. Shattered and exhausted by his nightmarish

84  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell existence, the narrator decides to follow his learned uncle’s path and becomes a hermit and a heretic. While Yustyna’s unruly behavior goes out of control for brief moments, during which the location of her personal devil is identified, the character of Todosiia in Bis ploti [Devil in the flesh] is reportedly a witch 26 possessed by the devil, and consistently reveals, as Bojana Kunst writes elsewhere, the “monstrosity endemic to the field of in-­ between,”27 between the human and animalistic, natural and perverse, normal and abnormal, virtuous and lascivious. Explaining the shift, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, from the male body to concentration on the female body solely in the images of witchcraft, Lyndal Roper writes: “Fascination with boundaries, control and the substances within the body allowed one to imagine and indeed experience the loss of boundaries altogether, the filling of the body with evil substances…. These terrifying specters nourished the corporeal imagination of witchcraze.”28 The identity of the girl, whose alarming liaison with the devil is announced in the title, is constructed in subjugation to evil and invested with uncanny, almost supernatural, powers and rampant eroticism. Invited by her parents to perform an exorcism, Klymenti, a peripatetic philosopher and cleric, feels at once enticed and threatened, as well as attracted and repelled by the sound of her wonderful voice and the flashing, dark fire in her eyes. Since for Klymenti the body is contained in a closed theological context, he struggles with the relationship between flesh and spirit, body and soul, sorcery and the demonic. It is on the body of Todosiia, the possessed, that the drama of exorcism unfolds, turning it into a battleground of demons. Ruled by a terrifying sexual logic, the woman’s body is viewed as more vulnerable and prone to the “snares of the Devil” and his invasion of her body because of her “susceptibility to superstition and biology.”29 The cleric performs a rite that traditionally includes prayers, repentance of the “possessed,” and Bible readings, calls upon the demons to depart in the name of Jesus Christ, 30 and then asks the possessed whether she can still feel the devil within herself. He follows then-current assumptions that the “devil might enter the soul in the theological sense,” that the person was inhabited in some way by the “actual presence of the devil,” and that the devil could actually leave a person’s body.31 In illustration of another common belief that the devil was literally inside the body, 32 the girl answers in the affirmative and goes on to identify the devil’s whereabouts by lifting her shift and exposing her vulva: “It burns here, here, Father…And when it burns, my mind becomes foggy and I don’t know what I am doing. There, at the bottom, everything seems to be boiling, and nothing can be done.”33 Expressed in the “satanic” sexual idiom, her erotic desire is insatiable and indiscriminate; it is an illicit sexual drive, as she cannot find any man to live up to the demands of her hell, which circumstance clearly points to the coalescence of female sexuality, malevolence, and

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  85 deviancy. Todosiia is tormented by the fact that she cannot find a safe haven from her devil and his phallic temptations. Having failed to expel the devil in the flesh with prayers, and as the girl starts screaming at the top of her voice, Klymenti orders her father and brother to tie her up, according to conventional exorcist scenarios that involve a physical struggle in order to produce a spectacle of pain that reflects the struggle with demons. During her violent resistance Todosiia’s garments ruck up and Klymenti sees her genitals again: red and wide open, as if enveloped in blazing flames. It is noteworthy that the writer’s representational mode here is explicitly pornographic, as the female body is most graphically exposed, and there is excessive focus on the sexual organ in a series of verbal “close-ups,” in which the girl becomes an aggressively exhibitionistic subject, voyeuristically objectified by a group of men. More accurately, she occupies a liminal space, being “both subject and object, producer and product of the same desiring production,” whose indeterminacy eludes reason. 34 Attempting to construct the image of female arousal, the author employs the image of a red-hot vagina, as opposed to the vaginal-wetness element of standard porn, or to another of its icons, that of the “splayed vagina revealing pink glistening flesh—reassurance that there is nothing to recoil from here; no teeth to bite.”35 However, if in standard porn the next step involves the penis and penetration, here the fearlessly burning sexual flame becomes an all-encompassing signifier of unruly sexual urge and potentially devouring sexuality, both of which undermine the idea of safety. Moreover, Shevchuk repeatedly makes his carnal and sensual female characters gesture toward their vaginas, expose them, and talk about them, without touching themselves, thus signaling a demand that has to be satisfied, but is aborted by their male counterparts. The exorcism procedure described by the author follows conventional developments of sacred dramas of possession, which, according to diagnostics in the nineteenth century, a period that was engaged in medicalizing, classifying, taxonomizing, and commodifying bodies, consisted of four distinct phases. The epileptic one in which the patient experienced seizures. The second was the period of contortions in which the patient engaged in dramatic physical displays, often accompanied by intermittent shrieking.…The third stage, which occurred mainly in female patients, was the entrance into erotic ecstasy. The final or terminal stage included the experience of delusion and hallucination. 36 It was the nineteenth century that termed Baroque possession as “grand hysteria,” thus branding it as a specifically female malady. By positioning sexuality as the central aspect of the possession experience, Shevchuk turns the act of exorcism into what Henri Weber labels “baroque

86  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell spectacles,” as it has many ingredients of modern drama, “including sex and violence.”37 It becomes clear during this “performance” that the girl’s diabolical desire can never be exorcised because “all women may fall prey to their own natures.”38 Having been literally exposed to sexual temptation, which terrifies him, Klymenti aligns his angst with the especially powerful fears that assail men who have chosen a life of celibacy.39 The immediacy of Todosiia’s exhibitionist feat is an alarming materialization of his disturbing, recurring sensual visions that have been haunting him in his dreams. The cleric’s experience shares certain similarities with erotic dreams in hagiography, as he thinks the dreams involve demonic intervention.40 As Eve Levin explains in her study of the ecclesiastical image of sexuality, even if a man exercised self-­restraint, the devil could entice evil desires during sleep; the “evidence of this unconscious temptation, according to Orthodox authors, was the nocturnal emission of semen. The Devil, they believed, sent images of women to sleeping man in order to probe sinful thoughts.”41 While the fantasized woman of his dreams is the embodiment of sexomania, the man epitomizes deprived sexuality, and the semen ejaculated in his sleep signifies futility and panicky sexophobia. In Klymenti’s dreams, a girl with whom he was in love but to whom he never revealed his feelings appears as a hellish temptress in the devil’s service to seduce him into sin. Moreover, in the highly charged erotic atmosphere of demonic possession, seduction, and romantic love, K ­ lymenti perceives woman as a threat to his heavenly reaching subjectivity. His dreams replay an invariable pattern in which she arouses him and he climaxes in an explosive orgasm, as if he were being torn to pieces and dying over and over inside her. He wakes up in a dreadful panic, thinking that the devil in the flesh has inhabited him. In Klymenti’s erotic reveries, woman’s body is depicted as monstrous-feminine, with the vagina as a danger zone that threatens male potency and evokes apprehension about female power, reflecting, according to Freudian interpretation, castration anxieties: “[D]isappearing inside the vagina, as the penis does during hetero-sex, the man literally loses himself, and fears he will lose his manhood in the process.”42 This fear of castration translates into different tropes and multiple contours, crossing centuries, such as anxieties about teeth or snakes hidden within the female organ and attacking unsuspecting men during intercourse; fear of hymenal or menstrual blood; fear of syphilis as a secret, silent weapon against enemies; fear of being ‘lost’ inside a woman; the penis captivus myth,43 all representing dread of the unknown, of the corporeal territory of the female body, with its mysterious, “hidden” caves and crevices capable of unmaking or unmanning the man. However, while he fears female

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  87 sexuality, the cleric exhibits a no less pervasive fear of his own body, construing the natural reflex to release pent-up sperm as a devilish plot to expel him from God’s grace. Toeing the religious line of his time on sexual matters, Klymenti, as well as Shevchuk’s other male characters, perceives his licentious visions as menacing and chilling, induced by an external, malevolent agent. Similarly, the female temptress incarnated either in Yustyna or Todosiia becomes the exponent of Baroque eroticism, which is opposed to sexual reproduction and contrary to all notions of sexual economy, as it transgresses the useful, “natural” act geared toward procreation. Such a woman becomes a monster: Yustyna is transmogrified into a repulsive fury, and Todosiia is possessed by an abhorrent desire; she violates boundaries and is herself a violation of the norm as an active, phallic woman. What is noteworthy in Shevchuk’s representations of sexuality is that his male characters are profoundly intimidated by lust, and they experience overpowering sex panic. Thus, in order to create a safe zone into which their irrational impulses and nightmarish terrors can be expelled, the author makes the source of eroticism exclusively feminine. Klymenti is divided within himself: body is juxtaposed to soul, and life to spirit, and original sin makes of the body the enemy of the soul. And “since woman remains always the Other” in this Manichean world, as Simone de Beauvoir famously argues, it is not held that reciprocally male and female are both flesh: the flesh that is for the Christian the hostile Other is precisely woman. In her the Christian finds incarnated the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.44 When Father Varsonofi instructs Klymenti, who is tormented by the memory of his dream, he is positively in line with this logic. While simultaneously emphasizing the duality of the erotic encounter, Father Varsonofi’s views seemingly draw on metaphysics of choice in the Baroque philosophy, according to which the question of free will is endowed with great importance because the “highest form of freedom involves willing as one should, namely, having one’s will in step with one’s right values.”45 His viewpoint on sexuality and its relationship with good and evil depend on gender: “For infernal heat resides in the female body, therefore the devil enters that hell and burns up there,” and therefore, in the intimacy with woman, “there are God’s principle and the devil’s principle, and a human being has free will to recognize them and stand on the left or right side.”46 While an agent, who has to make the right choice, is an undifferentiated “human being,” presumably male, it is the woman who is invariably tied to a physical body and is particularly susceptible to the temptation

88  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell of the devil as the source of sexual desire, her corporeality being polluted and degenerate. At the same time, this religious discourse draws attention to the similarities between spiritual and erotic desires, and by doing so illuminates Klymenti’s theological reflections and his personal ordeals. As Johan Goud observes in his inquiry into spirituality and eroticism, they both are related to an obsession with what appears to be mysterious and unreachable: The two desires are driven by the same fascination with what inspires fear and remains out of reach. This fascination renews itself continually and knows no other fulfillment than its own ­intensification— which increasingly acquires the characteristics of painful passion and suffering.47 In combining Baroque and religious aspects, Shevchuk continues treating female sexuality in the tradition of blaming Eve-in-the-Garden for the “sins of mankind” in Christianity, as well as the Orthodox Church’s “overemphasis on the status of virginity and the impurity of women on the basis of their feminine nature,” which leads to a clear devaluation of women48 and to the need to control and contain female sexuality. Although Pavlyshyn makes the claim that Shevchuk “has more than once undertaken a rudimentary critique of Christianity,”49 he still mainly operates within the Christian positioning of woman and man constructs as natural and incontestable. In this way, the writer demonstrates and promotes the tendency to burden women’s bodies with the great cultural weight of social demonization. However, while positioning eroticism center stage, he counters the iconic use of woman as a signifier of moral purity and sexual innocence promoted by socialist realists as well as by postindependence Ukrainian cultural discourses in which erotization has been deemed “unnatural.” The version of eroticism created by Shevchuk against the then-existing representational void can be termed, in addition to its neo-Baroque dimension, religious pornorotica, which conflates, on the one hand, Baroque “transience, mutability and time’s swift flight,”50 and, on the other, a belief in the rigid, universal human condition. His sexual tableau seems to exemplify what Camille Paglia claims is unchanging human sexual nature (to supplement her earlier reflections on pornography as a socially defined and unquestionably ideologically derived phenomenon). Erupting in periods of personal freedom, pornography shows the dark truth about nature, concealed by the artifices of civilization. Pornography is about lust, our animal reality that will be never fully tamed by love. Lust is elemental, aggressive, asocial. Pornography allows us to explore our deepest, most forbidden selves. 51

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  89 This exploration in Shevchuk’s novellas blends the carnal and the animalistic with the unnatural and the quasi-demonic. One could argue that the monstrous-feminine in Shevchuk’s Baroque cycle reflects the period and its fanciful flights of imagination; moreover, Shevchuk’s language is carefully stylized to make the text look familiar and at the same time “foreign,” because, as a scholar of the Baroque and its translator into contemporary Ukrainian, both literal and metaphorical, he remakes the atmosphere masterfully. Compared to Vynnychuk, who in his Zhytiie haremnoie [Life in the Harem] creates a playful ­sixteenth-century pastiche, Shevchuk does it “for real.” Nonetheless, being firmly positioned in the Baroque setting in Rozsichene kolo [The dissected circle] and Bis ploti [Devil in the flesh], the ­monstrous-feminine resurfaces in a contemporary environment in another of Shevchuk’s novellas, Horbunka Zoia [Hunchback Zoia] (1994), published in the collection Zhinka-zmiia [The Snake Woman] (1998). While Yustyna and Todosiia’s monstrosity reveals itself in random attacks of unrestricted sexual cravings and in the crossing of established lines of familialist procreation, Zoia’s deformity, made even more striking by the fact that her face is extraordinarily beautiful, is announced right in the title, thus hybridizing her into ugly and beautiful at the same time. It is also notable that Zoia transgresses the gender of most monsters in classic literature, who tend to be male, as the “phantasy of a mutilated male creature is central to representation of the male monsters in myth, legend, fairy story, the horror film and Gothic literature,”52 typified, for example, by Zoia’s famed male predecessor from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831). In transposing grotesquerie out of the Baroque historical context, Shevchuk’s textual manoeuver correlates with an approach chosen by Deleuze, who “detaches the baroque from its traditional historic, geographic and artistic origins in seventeenth-century Europe” and, according to whom, it can be understood “as its own trans-historic ‘operative function, a trait.’”53 Furthermore, Zoia’s physical deformity as the source of grotesque monstrosity places her within the Baroque aesthetics of distortion and perversion, expressed in the poetics of “disfiguration of figures.”54 So, regardless of the types of abnormalities, be they external incoherent bodies or moral disfigurements that resist any systematic structuration, the writer’s representations of eroticism remain essentially the same: volatile and dangerous female sexuality that tempts mankind (I use the word this way deliberately) into sordid pleasures remains a constant threat to the purity and salvation of vulnerable men, who are under the spell of the “monstrous” reality of desire. In Horbunka Zoia [Hunchback Zoia], Shevchuk plunges his male characters into delectable and tantalizing bondage with the eponymous protagonist. Zoia draws three young men into a whirlpool of sexual passion in a sheer amoral drive to reproduce, drains their sexual energy, which they all try naively

90  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell to protect by preventing their semen from reaching her gluttonous womb through interrupted coitus, and renders all of them impotent. The young men are infected by the same inextinguishable virus of dreading and being attracted to the feminine. In this, they resemble their literary ancestors from Shevchuk’s “Baroque” novellas, set at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth, and they are susceptible to the same elemental, bewitching female powers. This transhistoricity in the construction of sexuality is emphasized by a number of ancient female symbols employed by the author, as well as by Baroque tropes of desire “represented by grotesque motifs of the ‘beast.’”55 Zoia repeatedly mesmerizes her sexual victims with a snakelike gaze. Her blazing eyes, together with her equally dazzling, conventional erotogenic areas, her breasts and vagina, trigger the male characters’ trancelike state, which makes them surrender to the rapacity of the flesh. The first encounter with Zoia’s red-hot gaze gives a Don-Juan-type character an uncontrollable erection, while evoking an uncomfortable association: “Her eyes had a strange, magnetic effect on me, and maybe on the guys, too—it seemed to me that a snake’s eyes glitter the same way when it hypnotizes its victim.”56 The monstrous female body here incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy. Her grotesque appearance is complemented by shameful actions; the oversexed body when presented, as Justin D. Edwards and Rune Graulund write in their study of the grotesque, “in an aggressive manner, such as violence, sexuality or consumption, is never passive, so that which is transcribed on the body functions actively, inspiring a monstrous effect.”57 Zoia’s culturally constructed, spellbinding powers project the protagonist’s anxiety about uncontrollable and fecund corporeality. Entrapped in an economy of desire from which there is no way out, all three of Zoia’s bewitched lovers lose their sexual potency. As if overwhelmed by his discoveries in the sexual domain, Shevchuk summons Zoia’s double, disguised as a fearsomely demonic Snake Woman in his story “Zhinka-zmiia” [The Snake Woman] (1993). Here, the woman is promoted to the status of the great goddess of fertility, who is repeatedly marked by the deity’s sacred symbols: a snake, a tree, and a full moon. The protagonist’s mating with Snake Woman thus acquires a ritualistic dimension, that of ancient agricultural sacrificial rites. 58 I would disagree with Grabowicz (Hrabovych) that Snake Woman is exclusively a witch figure whose typology is aimed at accommodating his overall conceptualizing of Shevchuk’s (as well as Zabuzhko’s) sexual scene as liaison amoureuse with witches.59 Though I admit that the paradigmatic witch appears in the later phase of the story’s cultural context, the preceding layers of these characters’ connotations invite multiple interpretations. In addition to the fertility aspect, the Snake Woman evokes a distinct Christian allusion when she appears at a deserted, pastoral, and paradise-like lake surrounded by woods. Her dual function,

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  91 combining an Eve facet and that of a serpent, is reminiscent of Masolino de Panicale’s fresco The Temptation of Adam (1424–1425), in which the serpent has Eve’s face, exemplifying a widespread tradition in Christian iconography of a serpent with a “lady visage,” her hybrid form “becoming the standard type of female demon, while her mixed allegiances to official Christianity, ancient legend, and modern monstrosity define woman’s anomalous position in the spiritual hierarchy.”60 As Nina Auerbach explains, the serpent-woman has a more glorious pedigree than that of a “female demon who crawls through Christian iconography,” as she is an oracle of the “earliest universal divinity, a female God,”61 a serpent goddess from the most ancient Sumerian period. There is also the Scythian Dracaena, the foremother of the Scythians, half-woman/ half-serpent, who will be discussed in the next chapter. Both Snake Woman and her proxy, Zoia, share a common element: both of them represent a monstrous digression from the established norm, moving freely beyond reality and openly defying rationality and the laws of nature. Both challenge traditional discourses of motherhood within the framework of the biological, two-parent family, promoted for centuries by religious and social rituals, having historically provided an “illusion of control over unsettling, contradictory, fecund body—warning of the dangers of the monstrous feminine, or prescribing when and how conception can occur….”62 Moreover, their disturbing, self-ruling “bestiality,” whose inhuman intensity culminates in the symbolic elimination of male partners, brings to mind Roger Caillois, who is preoccupied with insects and the femme fatale, and “writes openly, yet philosophically, and at great length, about orgasm, bodily pleasures, lust and sexuality in its many permutations and extremes,”63 mainly in his famous work on the Mantis religiosa, or praying mantis. Drawing on the apparent resemblance of this insect to the human form and on its terrifying nuptial routines—the female mantis consumes the male in the act of coitus— Caillois suggests, as Elizabeth Grosz points out, that the “mantis may serve as an apt representation of the predatory and devouring female lover, who ingests and incorporates her mate, castrating or killing him in the process.”64 Caillois’s conflation of insects’ mating habits and the interaction between women and men highlights, on the one hand, the raw biologism of Shevchuk’s female characters and woman’s insatiable sexual appetite, and, on the other, desire and death drive, as if echoing the last words from Bis ploti [Devil in the flesh]—Love and Death. In “Zhinka-zmiia” [The Snake Woman], the temptress is phantomlike, possessing an omnivorous power and unleashing the forces of destructive Eros. She materializes out of nowhere and disappears mysteriously, as if in a phantasmagorical blurring of the real and supernatural in the protagonist’s quasi-masochistic fantasy. Snake Woman’s personality, while signifying the dissolution of the line between reality and fantasy, fantasy and dream, dream and hallucination, is structured according to certain

92  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell ­ aroque, such as textual modes characteristic of the Ukrainian literary B “wanderings of poetic imagination” between the real and imaginary, the eradication of stable temporal and spatial significations ­creating a wavelike time, a particular cultural, somnambulistic point of view, allusions, symbols, extended metaphors and parables, and the presence of something “dark” in all the spheres of human existence.65 Like Zoia, Snake Woman embodies the Baroque enactment of desire by blending and collapsing the beastly/human, wild/civilized, and magic/real dichotomies,66 but in a more explicit way, because she has an interchangeable “reptofemale” shape. However, regardless of the threatening, dark power of and the protagonist’s vulnerability to the pagan Ukrainian dominatrix, he feels a magnetic attraction to her, which contains a perverse pleasure at being abused. Shevchuk’s self-designated hermit, who runs away from urban life to a secluded place in the woods, is completely confused as to the borderline between the unconsciousness of sleep and the reality of reason, when his anticipated encounter with a mysterious woman, whom he sees several times in the distance performing a provocative striptease routine, ultimately takes place. Having made her way inside his tent as a snake, she transmogrifies into a human shape. Snake Woman starts by taking off her clothes to exhibit her dark and mysterious sex. What comes next is a mixture of seduction, lust, and rape, as she forces the protagonist into what can be viewed as sadistic coitus time after time, declaring her intention to drain him of his virile potency and ultimately emasculating him. What is more, this sexual scene contains further disturbing undertones, mentioned earlier, of castration through postcopulatory, sexual cannibalism, as one of the partners is a carnivorous reptile, thus revealing the link between “cannibalism and sexuality that is present in the monster tradition.”67 In his “Monster Culture,” Jeffrey Jerome Cohen emphasizes that the monster always “signifies something other than itself: it is always a displacement, always inhabits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment into which it is received, to be born again.”68 Although Cohen observes an ever-widening split within the production and reception–consumption cycle, in terms of rebirth of received traditions and their continuity, Snake Woman’s predecessors can be traced back to Hohl’s (Gogol) captivating and daring Ukrainian witches, who are unsurpassable masters of suspense, capable of transforming themselves along temporal (from old hags into young seductresses-­ iarytnytsi)—and species (from humans into animals) axes. Hohol’s fascination with Ukrainian demonology and folklore, exemplified by his descriptions of maddening witch races, which offer an exhaustive account of sweeping metamorphoses in the roles of rider and ridden, abuser and victim,69 appears to have become one of the sources of unconscious intertextuality for his compatriots in the late twentieth century.70

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  93 Surveying Hohol’s “sexual labyrinth,” Simon Karlinsky notes that the writer’s female characters, like their twentieth-century counterparts in Shevchuk’s texts, disrupt the orderly existence of men and are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the catastrophes that befall his solitary male characters.71 Furthermore, Hohol’s oeuvre, with his whimsical style and the grotesque that incorporates the fantastic, the supernatural, and the diabolical, which manifests the continuation of the Ukrainian Baroque tradition,72 may be regarded as one of the cycles of the regeneration of contemporary neo-Baroque prose. Shevchuk’s eclectic view of sexuality, which combines female paganism with male Christian asceticism, places his character’s carnal experience with the pagan goddess of fertility in the framework of both the biblical and personal, existential falls, as she gives him a choice of either chasing her away or submitting to her sexual demands, reminiscent of Father Varsonofi’s conception of free will that underpins the religious notion of sin. Placing the protagonist’s fateful encounter in an Edenesque setting, with Snake Woman as a serpent of seduction, replicates St. Augustine’s reinterpretation of the Fall “as resulting in the betrayal of the will and reason to the tyranny of sexual desire.”73 Both Zoia and Snake Woman are also archetypal succubus figures that acquire a multiplicity of forms and names across a wide range of cultures. Emasculators draining the “life-force from weak-willed men,” they cause them to ejaculate and steal “their emissions to inseminate”74 themselves in order to produce demonic offspring. Mary Ayers emphasizes the combination of seduction and her Evil Eyes as the source of a succubus’s power over men, which is derived from a pact with the devil. By mesmerizing her male victim with her gaze and simultaneously infecting him with evil, she makes a man take her to his bed. Then comes “her brilliant and cruel orgasm”—full “of sadistic, voracious malice”—that “embodies the castration of a man.”75 As mentioned earlier, farther along the monstrous-­ feminine hereditary line, Zoia and Snake Woman are associated with witches well-schooled in the hellish art of metaphorical ligature that inhibits male sexual function by depriving “man of his virile member,”76 according to a comprehensive treatise on witches and witchcraft, Malleus Maleficarum [The Hammer of Witches] (1487), in which sexual temptation plays a major role.77 By exercising one of the most feared powers in witch lore, both women become castrating females who terrify men with their insatiable wombs. Being thus linked to the disturbing and uncanny mythos of vagina dentata, the “hidden mouth of myth and superstition, whose representation warns man about the dangers of female sexuality that is not brought under strict control and regulation,”78 these voracious women extinguish their male victims’ sex drive. In the atrocious hallucinations of Shevchuk’s male characters, woman’s vagina becomes an infernal incinerator; for example, Zoia’s womb is blazingly hot and burns the narrator. Predictably, he “explodes” amidst

94  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell the recurrent “sweltering” images79 that, in this piece, are enhanced by the language of warfare: shells and shell splinters are scattered over a red-hot battlefield of female flesh.80 Although reminiscent of the description in Klymenti’s dream in Bis ploti [Devil in the flesh], as it, too, focuses on the “explosive” energies of male ejaculation, the climactic moment in this novella combines sexual horror and torture, endowing the protagonist’s “second coming” with both an apocalyptic dimension and creation myth: And I felt that there, in hell where my rod was burning, a volcano had erupted, shooting up a cloud of ashes, fire, and melted lava-fire, which is the beginning of the world and life.…And my flesh exploded for a second time; for the second time the earth shook, and my rod burned in fire and scorching lava…81 Similarly to his close attention to female genitalia mentioned earlier, Shevchuk’s focus on male orgasm is also symptomatic of pornographic conventions, as though he is following the rule that the “cum shot,” glorifying an ecstatic moment of sexual performance, is absolutely crucial to erotomaniac productions. Here, representations of spectacular ejaculation as a proof of phallic potency valorize a “trajectory of sexual pleasure that moves unilaterally toward…[its] cataclysmic eruption.”82 It is interesting to note that, although the protagonist is dealing with a predatory pornographic woman who orchestrates the sexual scene, she becomes completely lost in the manifestation of male sensational horror-pleasure. In addition, in his ethnography of the body, which draws on Christian tenets, such as women have insatiable “carnal lust” and are “by nature oversexed, wicked, and therefore dangerous to men,”83 Shevchuk expresses conventional ideas about the basic duality of the human condition—­cultural orders (the masculine) seek to control and subordinate natural passions and desires (the feminine)—when representing relationships between men and women. This duality ostensibly exemplifies the pattern of the Baroque world, which, according to Deleuze, is “organized along two vectors, a deepening toward the bottom, and thrust toward the upper region,”84 albeit upgraded by the author to the gendered designation of “high” (the masculine) and “low” (the feminine). The issue of control becomes explicit when comparing the monstrous-­ feminine in the stylized, Baroque period pieces and its reincarnation in present-day settings. While in the former, monstrosity grows from the sexuality channeled toward bodily pleasure and is oblivious of the reproductive function of sex, in the latter, women become monsters because they use intercourse with men specifically for procreation, but outside of the normative, heterosexual institution of marriage. In both cases, the transgression of idealized femininity—inferior, passive, and

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  95 domesticated—that resists male regulation is positioned as embodied pathology. Shevchuk’s “devil in the flesh” inhibits diverse bodies and embodies long-lasting male mythologies and fantasies: woman as witch, woman as monstrous womb, woman as possessed body, woman as dangerous enchantress, woman as nonhuman, all making incursions into male sexual territory, all dangerous, all destructive, and all subjected to society’s anxieties of generation and reproduction. Regardless of the time period, all are Baroque-like, mixed-up, contradictory, and hybrid entities suggestive of chaos and confusion, and all reflect Shevchuk’s antiquated, regressive view of sexuality. Nevertheless, Baroque excess and continuous flux, its particularly ornate and superfluous language, and its overabundance of signifiers open up a fluid space free of the rigid limitations of the inherited tradition. Shevchuk’s evocation of the Baroque and its legacies introduces both a different view of the history of cultural expression in Ukraine and a formerly taboo subject. His reevaluation of the Baroque highlights its subversive approach to classical genre divisions and literary conventions, and it employs the Baroque, with its unstable, interactive, and interpellative logic, as a kind of revenge on the empire and its canons.

Notes 1 Dobrenko, “Socialist Realism,” 107. 2 The Baroque aspect of Shevchuk’s oeuvre has been explored, for example, in two doctoral dissertations: Nataliia Horodniuk, “Znaky neobarokovoï kul′tury u tvorchosti Valeriia Shevchuka: komparatyvni aspekty” (2003) and Oleksander Solets′kyi, “Valerii Shevchuk—doslidnyk ta interpretator ukraïns′koho literaturnoho baroko” (2008). See also one of the first publications examining Shevchuk’s writings and the Baroque: Pavlyshyn, “Mythological, Religious, and Philosophical Topoi in the Prose of Valerii Shevchuk.” 3 See Pylypiuk, “Kyivan Mohyla Academy.” 4 Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, 196. 5 Magocsi, A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples, 304. 6 Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, 196. 7 Sysyn, “The Cossack Chronicles,” 593. 8 Sydorenko, “Ivan Stepanovych Mazepa,” 187. 9 Shkandrij, Russia and Ukraine, 103. 10 Magocsi, A History of Ukraine, 254. 11 Zalizniak, “Ukraïna—Rosiia,” 6. 12 Makarov, Svitlo ukraïns′koho baroko, 225. 13 Plokhy, Ukraine and Russia, 66. 14 Slemon, “Monuments of Empire,” 5. 15 “Я захопився цією літературною течією і почав із перекладів. Сьогодні маю цілу полицю наукових розвідок у досковородинську епоху—починаючи від українських билин і закінчуючи монографією, що присвячена Григорію Сковороді” (“Vsesvit Valeriia Shevchuka”). 16 Sysyn, “Cossack Chronicles,” 593. 17 Pavlyshyn, “Mythological, Religious, and Philosophical Topoi,” 913.

96  The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell 18 Deleuze, The Fold, 81. 19 Salazkina, “Baroque Dialectics or Dialectical Baroque,” 218. 20 For the conceptualization of the magic realist approach to Shevchuk’s early novels, see Chernetsky, Mapping Postcommunist Cultures, 190–200. 21 Hills, “Introduction: Rethinking the Baroque,” 1. 22 Creed, “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine,” 69. 23 Davidson, Early Modern Supernatural, 113. 24 “Ходи! Ой не можу більше терпіти! Ой хочу, щоб ти прогнав диявола, бо він тут! І вона схопилася за соромне місце й розхилила його” (Shevchuk, Bis ploti, 80). 25 Creed, The Monstrous Feminine, 43. 26 On the witch archetype in Shevchuk, see Viktoriia Kmet, “Arkhetypnyi obraz vid′my.” 27 Kunst, “Restaging the Monstrous,” 213. 28 Roper, Oedipus and the Devil, 26. 29 Ibid., 192. 30 Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology, 77. 31 Davidson, Early Modern Supernatural, 112. 32 Ibid. 33 “Отут, отут мене пече, отче…А коли пече, то голова туманіє і не відаю, що чиню. Там унизу все, здається, закипає, і годі щось удіяти” (Shevchuk, Bis ploti, 254). 34 Hallward, Absolutely Postcolonial, 276. 35 Ussher, Managing the Monstrous Feminine, 3. 36 Levack, The Devil Within, 128. 37 Ibid., 142. 38 Ropel, Oedipus and the Devil, 94. 39 Levack, “The Witch,” 248. 40 See Messis, “Fluid Dreams, Solid Consciousness,” 203. 41 Levin, Sex and Society in the World of Orthodox Slaves, 57. 42 Ussher, Managing the Monstrous Feminine, 6. 43 Szczeszak-Brewer, “Joyce’s Vagina Dentata,” 3. 4 4 Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 156. 45 Vailati, Leibniz and Clark: A Study of their Correspondence, 79. 46 “Бо в жіночому тілі живе пекельна гарячість, отож біс входить у те пекло й там спалюється;” “є начало Боже і начало бісівське, а людина має вільну волю їх розпізнати і стати на лівий чи на правий бік” (Shevchuk, Bis ploti, 233–34). 47 Goud, “Spirituality and Eroticism,” 146–47. 48 Roudometof and Makrides, eds. Orthodox Christianity in 21st Century Greece, 136. 49 Pavlyshyn, “Mythological, Religious, and Philosophical Topoi,” 909. 50 Martin, Baroque, 15. 51 Paglia, “The Return of Carry Nation,” 37–38. 52 Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine, 115. 53 Walton, “’Folds in the Soul,” 197. 54 Modrzewska, Byron and the Baroque, 95–99. 55 Ibid., 104. 56 “[О]чі її…мали на мене, а може, і на хлопців дивний магнетичний вплив— менi здавалося, що так блищать очі змії, коли вона гіпнотизує жертву” (Shevchuk, Zhinka-zmiia, 38–39). 57 Edwards and Graulund, The Grotesque, 45. 58 For pre-Christian symbolism of the serpent, see Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent.

The Monstrosity of Desire and the Delights of Carnal Hell  97 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70

71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79

80 81

82 83 84

Hrabovych, Teksty i masky, 282. Auerbach, Woman and the Demon, 93. Ibid, 94. Ussher, Managing the Monstrous Feminine, 81. Grosz, “Animal Sex,” 280. Ibid., 282. See Makarov’s “Krasa baroko,” 100, and Svitlo ukraïns′koho baroko, 90–95. Modrzewska, Byron and the Baroque, 105. Williams, Deformed Discourse, 165. Cohen, “Monster Culture,” 16. Gogol, Village Evenings near Dikanka, 376–77. For a discussion of the intertextual relationship between Shevchuk’s early short story cycle and Hohol based on Ukrainian folklore, see Pidlisets′ka, “Perekoduvannia modusiv demonolohichnykh personazhiv fol′klorno-­ fantastychnykh novel Valeriia Shevchuka,” 124–35. See Karlinsky, The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol. See Shapiro, Nikolai Gogol and the Baroque. Thornton, Eros, 214. Ayers, Masculine Shame, 4. Ibid. Hoyt, Witchcraft, 50–51. Levack, Devil Within, 187. Creed, Phallic Panic, 87. See Kosareva, “Genderni aspekty interpretatsiï literaturnoï tvorchosti Valeriia Shevchuka,” 66. A lengthy reference to Roman iurby [Novel of the throng], set in the totalitarian USSR and describing a character’s sexual experience, operates within an identical imagistic paradigm. Shevchuk, Zhinka-zmiia, 87. “І я відчув, що там, у пеклі, в якому спалювалося моє вудо, вивергнувся вулкан, зметнувши хмару попелу, вогню і розплавленої лави-вогню, що є початком світу і життя.…І вдруге вибухнула моя плоть, вдруге струснулася земля, і вудо моє згоріло у вогні і розпеченій лаві…” (Shevchuk, ­Zhinka-zmiia, 173). Sostar and Sullivan, “The Money Shot in Feminist, Queer and Mainstream Pornographies,” 197. Barstow, Witchcraze, 135–36. Deleuze, The Fold, 29.

6 Indecent Transpositions and Displacements of the National Imaginary by the Kapranov Brothers

Dmytro and Vitali Kapranov, the “chronically…[in]distinguish[able]”1 twin-writers, publishers, performers, and public figures, made their debut in Ukrainian literature with the publication of Kobzar 2000 ­[ Kobzar 2000] (2001). The novel they had been writing for ten years2 has become, according to Zabuzhko, a “classic of contemporary Ukrainian mass literature,”3 essential for shaping and reconstructing cultural, social, and intellectual life after the downfall of the USSR and for eroding its socialist realist, propaganda-driven cultural categories of high, low, and forbidden. Embracing diverse audiences that establish their own regimes of value, Kobzar 2000, a crossover of romance, drama, thriller, horror, and mystery genres, has undergone multiple editions (the 2010 version includes new chapters), and its authors have been actively involved in the production, promotion, advertising, and marketing of their work. Thrown into domestic or historical spheres, their tales of untold secrets, revenge, intimate betrayal, and mistrust, have won the Kapranov brothers wide popularity; in 2016, their last novel, Zabud′-richka [The river of oblivion], was shortlisted for the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award. In Kobzar 2000, the authors engage in an intertextual exchange with Kobzar [The Minstrel] (1840), the seminal work of Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861). As a medium of cultural memory, Shevchenko’s poetry has contributed greatly to the development of modern Ukrainian national consciousness and has had a profound influence on the country’s cultural and intellectual continua. After his death in 1861, Shevchenko became a symbolic substitute for tradition, overshadowing the Ukrainian literary landscape for over a century. He occupies a unique and exclusive place in the pantheon of Ukrainian thinkers, since the intellectual history of Ukraine has been developing by correlating itself with Shevchenko’s foundational text of the nation,4 especially relevant in the aftermath of epistemic violence inflicted by the colonial rule. It was Shevchenko, as Grabowicz (Hrabovych) states in his discussion of Ukrainian-Russian literary relations, who dispelled Romantic melancholy, “nostalgia for a passing way of life,” and uncertainty about the future of Ukrainian literature in the Russian Empire shared by some

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  99 prominent Ukrainian writers. 5 Although the reviews of Shevchenko’s Kobzar [The Minstrel] were predominantly favorable, the “prospect of Ukrainian literature, especially a literature not merely confined to local color or the low genres (travesty, burlesque, etc.), evoked more reservations than enthusiasm,”6 including rampant chauvinistic criticism by Russian liberal intelligentsia.7 After the reemergence of the Russo-­ Soviet Empire in 1917, Soviet scholarship contained the complexity of Shevchenko’s literary and visual oeuvre by ossifying him into a single rigid and unchanging interpretation. Reduced to being a mouthpiece for the “revolutionary masses,” a zealous defender lamenting the fate of perpetually victimized people, and the disciple of Russian revolutionary democrats, the monumentalized Shevchenko has become a kind of poster figure for the prerevolutionary class struggle against the “oppressive tsarist regime,” an essentially integral theme of socialist realism and Soviet literary criticism absorbed in an unremitting struggle against any deviations from the Communist Party line and manifestations of “bourgeois ideologies.” The latter included “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism,” relentlessly persecuted by the Soviet regime, the fate of whose repressed victims acted as a powerful safety guard against the slightest sign of dissent from the authoritarian, “straight and narrow” path that resulted in a blackout of dangerous writers, themes, and ideas in Soviet Ukrainian critical inquiries. The groundwork for the gradual recovery of Shevchenko Studies from the “protracted inertia of highly politicized and vulgarized normative interpretations”8 has been laid by prominent scholars in the West such as George Y. Shevelov, George S. N. Luckyj, Leonid Pliushch, and George G. Grabowicz, to name a few.9 In Ukraine, a radical revision of the Soviet critical dogma is offered in Zabuzhko’s Shevchenkiv mif Ukraїny [Shevchenko’s myth of Ukraine] (1997), which stands out among the first postindependence readings of the poet’s oeuvre. While tracing Shevchenko’s idiosyncratic myth-making project, Zabuzhko points out that his self-identification as a kobzar [minstrel], reaching out to the archetypal prophetic Roman vates, German mystical thurl, French troubadour 10 underlies a triadic structure of his myth of Ukraine: individual, history, word. Zabuzhko argues that, as the “demiurge of the national mythological cosmos,” kobzar [minstrel] signifies the poet’s existential choice to forge an alternative history of his nation that runs counter to the imperial Russian mythologies and ensures freedom from the colonial containment within subservient cultural provincialism.11 Moreover, the multivalence of the image of Ukrainian kobzari [minstrels] opens up expansive “spiritual” vistas. Both performing at the courts of nobility12 and participating as minstrels in the Zaporozhian Cossacks’ military campaigns, they often voluntarily blinded themselves in order to see with the “eyes of the soul,”13 thus opposing the impediments passed to them in and by darkness to a “monocular vision” of the world of those

100  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements who can physically see. Blindness, either inborn or inflicted in the case of the kobzari [minstrels], ensured freedom from a cognitive confinement within the visible world and generated visionary powers where prophetic vision exceeded those of mortal sight. As Jacques Derrida writes in his Memoirs of the Blind, the blind explore and seek “to foresee there where they do not see, no longer see, or do not yet see. The space of the blind always conjugates these three tenses and times of memory.”14 The figure of a poet, a prophet, and a keeper of condensed collective memories has become symbolic of the Ukrainian cultural rebirth that countered the colonial model of cultural inadequacy of the colonized. While attempting to free Shevchenko from prescriptive and monotonous Soviet one-dimensionality, the revisionist twins, who have also been performing as kobzari [minstrels] themselves,15 claim that Kobzar 2000 is not limited to either thematic or conceptual preoccupations of Shevchenko’s work, but aims at grasping what they see as essential in Shevchenko—contemporaneity, a reader-oriented stance, and Ukrainocentrism.16 Their ambition is to create a suspenseful thriller with intense romantic and erotic relationships involving slippages into an exciting world of Ukrainian demonology populated with witches, sorceresses, succubae, and vampires to attract the heterogeneous reading public. The Kapranovs’ explicit gesture of epigonality points toward their dependence on the discourse and textual possibilities of tradition on the one hand, and carnivalesque inversion of classics, on the other. They focus on replicating Shevchenko’s narrative structure and utilizing a number of the titles of his poems, which function as recognizable cultural codes (some of them borrowed verbatim; some with subtle semantic twists), while leaning toward the folkloresque—a conspicuous synergy of folklore and contemporary popular culture.17 This type of intertextual relationship functions on the level of what Gerard Genette terms paratextuality, which consists of elements such as titles, chapter titles, prefaces, and so on, lies on the threshold of the text, and helps to direct and control its reception. While perusing the threshold—paratext—of the text, readers find themselves simultaneously inside and outside its material boundaries. Located at the threshold, paratext paradoxically both frames and constitutes the text for its readers, consisting, as the ambiguous prefix suggests, of all those things which we are never certain belong to the text of a work but which contribute to ­present—or ‘personify’—the text by making it into a book. It not only makes a zone of transition between text and non-text…but also a transaction.18 Thus, the reception of Kobzar 2000 is deliberately directed to Shevchenko by its title and chapter headings, and in supplementing the classic title with the year, the Kapranov brothers seem to be forcing readers into

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  101 recognizing the historical or diachronic differences between the voice of one literary age and that of another. The individual chapter headings in the novel (technically a collection of stories) sustain the intertextual parallel established in the name of the book; however, Kobzar 2000 shifts from the poetic genre of the precursor text to fiction. In addition, the majority of its chapter headings recall the titles in Shevchenko’s source text, while only some undergo transformations on a quasi-homonymic basis. In addition to intertextual reference to literary tradition and the canon, Kobzar 2000 contains another paratextual element, the design of the cover, which signals its affiliation with contemporary cultural practices that are out of sync with the prophetic figure of Shevchenko connoted in the appropriated title. The book comprises two parts—­Kobzar 2000: Hard and Kobzar 2000: Soft; one has to flip the book to read either of them. The first 2001 edition (issued by Dzherela, Kyiv) contains images by the unrivaled Vladyslav Yerko, the renowned Ukrainian book illustrator, featuring grotesque figures of a witch and a werewolf for the “soft” and “hard” parts, respectively. However, the second, 2004, edition, substitutes Yerko’s exquisite images with trivialized ones that rule out any ambiguity: one of them features a naked woman reading the first edition of the book, with Yerko’s werewolf on its cover, branded as “Hard,” and recommended for men; the other—a naked man also reading the novel with a witch figure labeled as “Soft,” and recommended for women. The design suggests an invariant reading and acts as an important paratextual element associated with the pornographic genre, which has become an almost compulsory site for the deployment of erotic fantasies of sexually “liberated” Ukrainian male writers. Emanating from “what has traditionally been defined as typical or ‘normal’ in heterosexual male sexuality: its phallic ‘hardness’ and aggression,”19 hard-core pornography is characterized by explicit graphic descriptions of a set of “numbers.” They include tireless copulation, vigorous penetration, “chronic” erection, countless orgasms, indefatigable fellatio, but, most importantly, as Williams notes, the “out-of-control confession of pleasure, a hard-core ‘frenzy of the visible,’”20 which invariably involves fetishization of woman’s body. Conversely, soft-core designates a less overt portrayal of sexual acts, often labeled as “erotica” and exemplified by mass-market romance fiction for women. It is ironic that the Kapranov brothers seemingly subscribe to anti-pornography feminists’ utilization of the hard/soft dichotomy “to label men’s sexuality as pornographic and women’s as erotic.”21 By establishing the hard/soft polarizing demarcation line, the authors unreservedly allocate power, control, dominance, and violence to men, while deeming women submissive, virtually powerless, subservient, acquiescent in their brutalization by men, and rarely possessing agency outside of a “demonic” context. Besides, the visual paratext is employed as a promotional strategy that draws

102  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements on the commodification of sexual desire and its pledged gratification, driven by the conventional formula of “sex sells,” and working together with the promise of two for one—two “novels” in one book. In addition to visual paratextual elements, the authors verbally reinforce pornographic associations by utilizing “hard” and “soft” labels, and using these words unambiguously in English to make sure their connotations are not lost—with warning about substandard language. Their marketing tactic also includes brief, gender-differentiated, tonguein-cheek descriptions that draw upon the distinctive division into male and female spheres expressed in the telling metaphor of “Marriage is to the woman what war is to the man,”22 which time and again epitomizes cultural consensus on the issues of dominance of men over women and, correspondingly, masculinity over femininity. The Kapranov brothers’ message for men reads: The world is cruel; that is why every man is born a warrior. He wears his death at his side and is always ready for battle. There are no peaceful times for a warrior. The novel Kobzar 2000: Hard by the Kapranov brothers is about revenge, about courage and betrayal, about war that continues here and now. 23 Correspondingly, the message for women continues to play out this tired patriarchal dichotomy: Only woman knows what genuine love is. Life is dead if the fire of love does not warm it. What can build a voluptuous palace in the desert of soul? Only love. Besides the right to live, every woman has another important right—the right to love. It is secured in the novel by the Kapranov brothers, Kobzar 2000: Soft. 24 Here, the authors’ “consumer engineering” subconsciously follows the essentializing logic of John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1994). The Kapranovs seemingly subscribe to his biologically essentialist views. While describing “Martians,” Gray states that they value power, competency, efficiency, and achievement, and “experience fulfillment primarily through success and accomplishment.”25 “Venusians,” conversely, value love, communication, beauty, and relationships, and “experience fulfillment through sharing and relating.”26 Likewise, in the world of Kapranovs’ men, the latter firmly occupy the public sphere, make money, are successful businessmen, demonstrate intellectual superiority over women, have unlimited extramarital affairs, etc., while women are predominantly relegated to the roles of wife and mother, dependent on men (unless they have not secured their financial situation by marrying a wealthy donor), materialistic, idle, illogical, chatty, emotional, intellectually inferior, etc. Evidently disregarding even the

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  103 possibility of cultural conditioning of gender, and conceiving it as static, ahistorical, and once and for all given by nature, both the American relationship counselor and the Ukrainian authors tend to validate sexism. There are some slippages between paratexts and the text of the novel that undermine the constructed horizon of probable expectations. In addition to a very tenuous—and often formal—connection between Shevchenko’s source text and its contemporary target text, the “hard” and “soft” designations are also partially disrupted by the writers’ representations of sexuality. Although the majority of the chapters contain some erotic subject matter, the Kapranov brothers’ “illicit” wish-­fulfillment fantasies are quite modest. What runs practically through the whole book is the visual delight in the fetishized female body, invariably naked and invariably stunning. Some of the female characters are unaware of being watched, some deliberately put their nudity on display to embarrass the male spectator, who (un)predictably becomes self-conscious, especially in the chapters set at the beach, where naked seductresses invite male voyeurs to strip, too. Regardless of the fact that women here are endowed with agency to manipulate male scopophilic gaze—deriving sexual pleasure from looking—they are still controlled by a social apparatus that ultimately “constructs women as the objects rather than subjects of vision.”27 In one story—“Katerynka” [The music box]— where the woman is the voyeur, the dynamics of looked-at-ness is less straightforward than in man-at-woman scenarios. The bored, stay-athome wife of a successful workaholic husband discovers that the sounds of the music box she received as a gift from Canada have supernatural qualities and can lift her up in the air. The ability to levitate, commonly indicative of a yearning for freedom, takes her on night flights above the city, roaming around and peeping into people’s windows, the flight becoming the protagonist’s aphrodisiac. However, this newly attained freedom is not without a price; during one of her exhilarating flights, she is attracted by a view of a couple making love on the upper floor of a high-rise. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that the man she sees there is her husband. Without saying anything to him, she returns obsessively to the lit screen of the window every night, as if to register every detail of the lovers’ performance, focusing primarily on her rival’s body, its movements, and favorite positions. In assessing her husband’s lover, the wife seemingly internalizes male gaze or, rather, projects it onto her husband’s, this double optics both objectifying the other woman and turning her into the desired object. The rival, therefore, becomes objet petit a, in Lacanian terms, as it can be anything touched by desire, which is always in flux and always out of reach, an “object that the subject separates itself from in order to constitute itself as a desiring subject.”28 It is interesting that in the interim of the husband’s extramarital adventures and, correspondingly, the wife’s flights to observe the sexual spectacle, they watch porn. When the protagonist becomes tired of the

104  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements repetitiveness of the two-actor “reality” porno show, she switches from the role of passive voyeur to the one who “directs” and controls the show by designing a series of vengeful acts that culminate in the violent wrecking of the adversary’s apartment. The denouement is disastrous: the wife visualizes her husband’s lover smoking on the balcony and leaning over the rails, and she flies out, presumably to execute a final act of revenge. Meanwhile, her husband returns home unexpectedly, sees the music box playing on the table, and smashes it, thus subconsciously reciprocating the protagonist’s violent act. While incorporating some elements of conventional pornographic nomenclature into the protagonist’s perverse masochistic and scopophilic drive, the authors infuse the text with folkloric elements, specifically with witch lore. They draw on Ukrainian demonology, where witches’ nocturnal flights through the air to the Sabbath are regarded as part of the responsibilities and obligations accorded to them by their title. 29 The Kapranov brothers establish the protagonist’s matrilineal hereditary line with witches by mentioning that she is the great-­granddaughter of the last Kyiv witch, killed during World War II, and that there was a family tale about an ancient katerynka [music box] that had been passed along by generations of women in the family; the protagonist’s great-­grandmother gave it to her eldest daughter, who immigrated to Canada.30 To levitate, traditional witches had to apply a “flying ointment”—a dangerous herbal concoction that produces psychedelic effects.31 In Kobzar 2000, the protagonist uses technology: a music box manufactured in Japan, however. An engineer by education, she extends the runtime of the box with an engine from her daughter’s toy. Likewise, while observing the conventional rule of flying naked, the protagonist extends the nudist practice to her home and greets her husband when he comes home from work without a stitch on. Although the wife escapes her domestication, limited to wifehood and mothering, by seemingly reclaiming her freedom through the supernatural powers of the music box, the breakout also signifies another facet of entrapment: her autonomy is determined by an extraneous factor and ultimately destroyed by the man. Moreover, she never confronts her husband, the source of the problem, about his indiscretions, and blames the other woman for everything, unleashing her rage on her. Besides “Katerynka’s” [The music box] implied, albeit verbally tweaked and distorted, connection to Shevchenko’s paratextual double, the only shared feature of the two texts is the ultimate destruction of both female characters by their respective male “partners.” Furthermore, the folkloresque aspect of the contemporary text is patched together, in addition to oral tradition, from literary antecedents by evoking levitating and transvectional witches from Hohol, discussed earlier in Chapters 1 and 4, as well as from Orest Somov’s (1793–1833) Kievskie ved′my [The witches of Kiev] (1833). Both of these nineteenth-century texts, in

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  105 tune with the late eighteenth–early nineteenth-century Ukrainian antiquarian movement, were motivated by the melancholic desire to document and register the remnants of what seemed to be an extinct culture, as well as by the vogue for things Ukrainian in Russian Romanticism, whose imperial imagination saw Ukraine as a “Slavic Ausonia.”32 The Kapranovs are neither driven by nostalgia for the past nor by attempts at its remediation, but by a calculated simulation of a sense of “authenticity” derived from “association with ‘real’ folklore” that increases its appeal to popular audiences, 33 thus connecting them to their “genetic” community of sorts. Another chapter from the “soft” part of the novel featuring witches is “Vid′ma” [The witch], which starts with a compulsive witch-­hunter’s description of the last witch—his guide—he murders, because, upon his arrival at a beautiful tropical island for a vacation, he immediately sees her blazing eyes that betray her witchy nature. His first-person account replicates the procedure of hydromancy traditionally implemented during witch trials. Women suspected of witchcraft were subjected to the “ordeal by water” described in the notorious Malleus Maleficarum. It consisted of “cross-binding” the accused by tying hands and feet together and throwing her into deep water: If she floated she was guilty; if she sank, she was innocent. In the latter instance, she usually drowned.…Here is a classic manifestation of the doublethink decreed by drones, which we can summarize in the maxim: If you win you lose, and if you lose you lose.34 Since the first witch encountered by the narrator on the island does not drown when he subjects her to the test, he finishes the job by stoning her. This episode reminds him of his first victim whom he killed when a teenager, the starting point in his serial killing “career,” which ultimately totaled fifteen to twenty women. He distinctly remembers another witch, an older woman to whom he lost his virginity and whom he burned to death later, reflecting that witches have a very powerful sexual attraction. The narrator soon verifies this observation by having breathtaking sex with his new guide, who has to be exterminated, too. He fancies himself a Grand Inquisitor, single-handedly identifying witches, conducting trials, and executing death sentences. It should be noted, though, that in Ukrainian history, witch trials were not as numerous35 as in Western Europe, where, according to some feminist scholars’ estimates, “nine million women may have been destroyed as witches” from the late fifteenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries. 36 Although some researchers reject this figure as inflated, a more accurate, “statistically based figure, though lower, makes the same point: that it was an organized mass murder of women that cannot be dismissed by historians.”37 While Ukraine did not experience mass victimization of women for witchcraft, because

106  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements Greek Orthodox churches in Eastern Europe did not have institutions similar to the Inquisition, 38 nevertheless, women were substantially demonized in the popular belief that girls, especially beautiful ones, often became witches and attracted young men by means of magic, sorcery, or incantation.39 The Kapranovs’ self-appointed Inquisitor seemingly does not identify attractive women as human beings, but regards them as the insatiable devil’s associates and sees his mission as battling them. He plots how to kill the alleged witch and becomes progressively frustrated, because all his plans, punctuated by erotic frenzy to keep her on a short leash, fail, one after the other. At the end, the guide intuits that her client has killed her colleague and friend, takes him on an excursion to an active volcano, and assists him in falling into the sweltering crater when he loses his balance. The authors not only incorporate witch figures in their fiction, but also “theorize” about two types of witches—witches by birth and indoctrinated ones40 whom they term bitches; this may shed some additional light on the chapters dealing with their demonic female characters. Starting with the teasing premise that all Ukrainian women are witches, experientially substantiated by the ordeals of married men, their essay, “Krashche rodyma vid′ma, chym navchena sterva” [Better a born witch than an indoctrinated bitch] (2003), goes on to equate the emergence of indoctrinated witches (bitches) in Ukraine with the advance of Western-style feminism. The Kapranov brothers evidently associate the latter with misandry, confusing the emancipation of woman from the deadlock of being defined exclusively within her relations to man with the rejection of such relations. Based on this misapprehension, they state that feminism has not taken root in Ukraine because Ukrainian women are witches, not bitches.41 I am not detailing their deliberations on women’s secret knowledge that is inaccessible to men—a mixture of Freud’s unsolvable “riddle of the nature of femininity,”42 the immutability of Eternal feminine criticized by de Beauvoir,43 woman’s immanence translated into her prescriptive otherness44 —which accord perfectly with outmoded phallogocentric ideologies. Their conclusion plays out the culture/nature dichotomy quite tellingly: the repository of a sacred enigma, woman is unpredictable because she is “part of Nature and simultaneously Nature itself.”45 The writers expand on their arsenal of “archetypal” female characters by supplementing witches with other creatures endowed with supernatural powers. In the opening chapter of Кобзар 2000 Soft entitled “Rusalka” [The water nymph], a young, devoted, stay-at-home wife engages in a typically feminine enterprise—embroidering beautiful, tiny mermaids on her husband’s clothes as a token of her love. He converts her expression of intimate feelings into a lucrative business strategy by using the mermaid image as a designer label, thereby considerably boosting the sales and popularity of his garment factory. In a short while,

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  107 he breaks up with his wife on the phone and, having lost the only sense of her life, she commits suicide by drowning. This melodramatic ending has a further dark twist: after the wife’s death, corpses of young men, with tiny mermaids on their clothes, appear all around the city. Here, the authors hybridized a Disney-style little, fishtailed mermaid with the rusalka [water nymph] figure from Ukrainian folklore that represents the soul of a drowned maiden, who often takes her life because of the beloved’s betrayal;46 she lures young men into her abode, plays with them, and then tickles them to death. Furthermore, in their mermaid image-symbol that conflates love and death, the Kapranovs use embroidery as a means by which society has been conventionally “educating women into the feminine ideal,”47 but which paradoxically becomes an otherworldly weapon of revenge, as if implicitly demonstrating that societal constraints of femininity are subject to violation by the same instruments that have been employed for centuries to reinforce women’s limitations. There is also a female voyeuristic ghost from “Iak umru to” [When I die then] among the novel’s uncanny emanations, which appears several times to watch a couple that lost its way and is spending the night in the house of a stranger making love. And again: the man is married and has been having extramarital affairs on a regular basis. In the morning, it turns out that it is the ghost of their host’s wife, and she watches them out of curiosity, as the widower explains, because she died a virgin, and he and the deceased were married, according to the local custom, during the funerary rites. The ghostly voyeur is driven by the same desire as the quasi-witch from “Katerynka” [The music box]—a “frisson of the real”48 —though experienced by the undead dead. In an eerie and perverse way, the revenant’s spectral deathlessness echoes the immortality of the poet in Shevchenko’s prophetic testament, whose first line reads: Iak umru, to pokhovaite [When I die, bury me].49 In another chapter, “Porodyla mene maty” [My mother bore me], the narrator, awaiting the birth of his child at a maternity ward, talks to a cleaning lady, who claims that she is a former gynecologist. The macabre account of her extensive professional experience includes abortions performed on women impregnated by house demons and cadavers, and a diabolical couple who blackmail her into abducting a newborn from the hospital in order to substitute their demonic fetus with a human baby. Terrified by the she-devil’s overly capacious, gaping womb, she flees with a baby abducted earlier from a young woman, who unsuspectingly gave birth to twins, and brings the child up by herself. 50 The authors tie the knot of separate plotlines when the narrator learns that his wife’s doctor, who looks exactly like his own father, is the old woman’s son. The theme of abnormal and monstrous female sexuality, a long-­ standing trope of patriarchal culture and a product of male anxieties about femininity and fear of sexually assertive women, continues in the

108  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements “hard” chapter “Divochiï nochi” [A maiden’s nights]. Here, presumably, the authors exhibit their wildest sexual fantasies by showcasing the conventional, pornographic slutty-nurse–horny-patient scenario. Hospitalized with a concussion, the narrator is immediately attracted to an exquisitely beautiful nurse in an impeccable uniform, with perfect bed manners and an impenetrable air of innocence. As opposed to the earlier discussed obsessive female voyeurs, who observe couples engaged in sex and whose pleasure comes from watching, the narrator in the “hard” chapter starts by furtively watching the nurse’s evenly suntanned naked body while she changes. Unexpectedly, instead of being an unknowing or reluctant object of the intrusive male gaze, she notices him immediately, reciprocates the pleasure of being looked at, and they make love. Their first encounter is followed by a quick succession of sexual sessions, initiated by the nurse, who is inventive and whose proactive behavior borders on violence. Oversexed and rapacious, she is totally in command as she performs her own sexual agenda, straddling, fellating, and hurting him, then unexpectedly breaking the stream of their sexual numbers by adding an “abduction” twist to the narrator’s carnal adventure, announcing that he is due for surgery and taking him to an operating room for the whole night. Here, the Kapranovs play out dominatrix fantasies, as the nurse secures the narrator to the surgery table and rides him ruthlessly the whole night. Her irresistible sexual magnetism keeps him going for six rounds of climactic lovemaking. However, in their sexual encounter, power and pleasure are not negotiated between the actors because it is the nurse who scripts, directs, and controls the sexual scene, evoking continuously recharged, fervent responses from the submissive male object of her insatiable lust. This masculine fantasy of sexual transgression—­ missionary-style penetration in reverse—in which the voluptuous nurse is invariably on top is evidently viewed by the authors as too assertive and aggressive. Although at the beginning of this “romance” the narrator is seemingly gratified by being dominated and violated, the sexually overcharged pleasure-and-pain setup is ultimately transformed into pure torture, and, unable to endure it any longer, he faints. The nurse thus turns from the object of his erotic desire into a horrific juggernaut. From now on, he becomes an unwilling victim under the complete control of a quintessentially sadistic subject, who brutally coerces him into sexual submission, taking pleasure in her uncontested power. Furthermore, the narrator’s hallucinatory “morbid dread” of his invasive sexual mate can be explained by the somewhat adjusted concept of infantile sexuality (he is eighteen) based on repression, as formulated in Jones’s On the Nightmare (1910–1911, 1931), which is always sadistic in nature and in which “(1) love reverts to sadism, (2) the event is feared instead of desired, and (3) the individual to whom the wish relates is replaced by an unknown being.”51

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  109 Clearly representing male panic at the sight of erotically dexterous women, who have been “variously figured as succubi, vampires, mermaids, and sirens”52 —and in line with the Kapranov brothers’ fascination with demonology—the nurse is classified as a succubus, or mavka by an older patient, who has been observing the narrator’s mounting enervation. A nocturnal demonic creature of medieval folklore, the insanely lustful and mischievous succubus seeks to have exhausting sexual intercourse with sleeping men, draining their vitality “through the art of seduction and the action of sexual conquest,”53 persuasively demonstrated by the sexually insatiable nurse. Furthermore, as Graham L. Hammill argues elsewhere, the succubus in fifteenth- and sixteenth-­ century manuals on magic is a devil that takes on “female morphology in order to procure a man’s semen” and propagate all sorts of vices54 by presumably impregnating witches at a Sabbath, a Christian subtext that adds gender ambivalence to the Kapranovs’ fiendish character. ­Established in the ­I ncubus Dogma of medieval theologians, the belief that humans copulated with incubi and succubi was first regarded as a forced act of demonic rape, but took an ominous turn with the escalation of the witch craze, when intercourse with demons began to be seen as “voluntary on the part of the humans engaging in that gravest of sins.”55 It is ironic that the narrator of the chapter follows a converse trajectory of the Dogma, first transgressing its principles and pursuing desire, spontaneity, and passion, all that is repressed through Christian faith and represented by women, and readily submits to overwhelming lust. Then, upon experiencing the destructive forces of female sexuality, he devolves into an involuntary casualty of female sexual transgressions. In the Kapranovs’ version of dominatrix pornography, the succubus-­ esque nurse also invites conflation with another mythic character constructed from male subconscious fears, who engages in polymorphous sexual activities—the vampire—as both belong to female genus that “siphons off human vitality through multiform erotic practices.”56 In addition to her appetite for intense genital sex, she inflames the narrator’s desire by remaining indifferent and even cold, when stripped naked and caressed by him, and then unexpectedly shocks him with an injection, using a syringe as a phallic appendage to her body (a medicalized dildo of the pornographic genre of sorts). In a reversal of gender roles, she penetrates his various body parts repeatedly, creating multiple orifices, sucking drops of blood from his perforated skin, and taking extreme pleasure in making the injections particularly painful. The nurse character thus destabilizes the masculine privilege of penetration, and subjugates the narrator into passivity. By casting her in this particular role, the authors seemingly fulfill their fantasy of a phallic woman—a central figure to the Freudian theory of fetishism—analogous to the ubiquitous witch on her broomstick, both castrating and penetrating, twin roles that epitomize the male’s worst fears. In shifting from the Freudian to

110  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements the Lacanian frame of reference—the symbolic order of intersubjective relations—the phallus, according to Grosz, functions as a “symbolic object (an object of exchange or union) between the sexes” and the “signifier of the presence or absence of access to power and self-definition,” and thus “distributes access to the social categories invested with various power relations.”57 The latter have no real connection to biological sex, and therefore point toward a radically anti-essentialist stance. There is another demonological gene in the nurse’s character, as she is also identified as a mavka. Although used as an alternative name for succubus, a mavka (also spelled as miavka, navka, bisytsia [shedevil])—besides, Vasyl Myloradovych equates mavka with rusalka [water nymph]58 —is a seductively beautiful forest nymph from Ukrainian mythology. She predates the succubi in Christian tradition, because the latter were almost certainly demonized forms of nature spirits and other supernatural beings, engaging in sexual relationships with mortals. 59 Representing the souls of girls who died unnatural deaths, these sensuous Ukrainian enchantresses, known for their love for games, dances, and orgies, entice young men, offering them perilous pleasures in exchange for forgetting their earthly sweethearts.60 They can also appear in the guise of the bewitched human’s beloved, and cunningly lure him into a void, where he perishes, or pump out his life force by rapacious lovemaking. Their monstrosity, though hidden behind an alluring façade, becomes visible with the change of the frontal angle; when approached from the back, one can see their intestines.61 This horrifying aspect of the nurse’s demonic prototype is progressively revealed to the narrator in the course of their sexual encounters. It culminates in the ominous image of a nightmarish silhouette flying up and down during her brutal sexual ride, which continues even when he plunges into a delirium, precluding an escape into the “liberating dullness of oblivion.”62 In order to avoid any interruptions of or interference in her sexual congress with the narrator, the nurse, who has professional control over the medicated bodies of her male patients, eliminates, by professionally available means, the other men who share his hospital room by transferring them to other wards, putting them into a coma, overdosing them with sedatives, prematurely discharging them, and causing accidental death. However, the survivor of this killing spree, who first “diagnosed” the nurse as a sexually voracious monster and who has recovered from a coma, sends the narrator an amulet to protect him from the she-devil. This is a traditional Ukrainian zmiiovyk [serpentine coil] (a round disc with the image of a patron saint battling evil on one side, and either Medusa’s head or the Scythian Dracaena/Echidna, the foremother of the Scythians, half-woman/half-serpent, on the reverse63). The gendered eclectic paradoxical logic of the traditional amulet, wherein Christianity is represented by male figures and paganism by timeless female monsters, falls into the earlier discussed paradigm of male and female

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  111 spheres. It is also noteworthy that in the Kapranovs’ novel, the amulet contains only the image of Medusa, thus vesting it with supernatural protective powers against evil that are activated when the holder shows it to the malefactor as the pagan equivalent of the cross. Along with the snake-haired head as an empowering male trophy and apotropaic object, the Medusa figure triggers multiple connotations. Raped by Poseidon because of her extraordinary beauty, transformed into a snake-headed monster by Athena, turning men into stone with her hideous appearance, slain by Perseus, her decapitated body giving birth to Pegasus, the mesmeric Medusa has become an emblematic monster of classical iconography, a symbol of entranced creativity, a muse, a token of women’s empowerment for feminists, and a signifier of insurgency for political theorists. As Marjorie Garber and Nancy J. Vickers state in their summary of her multiplicity and intrinsic doubleness, Medusa is “at once monster and beauty, disease and cure, threat and protection, poison and remedy, the woman with snaky locks who could turn the unwary looker to stone has come to stand for all that is obdurate and irresistible.”64 One aspect that is essential for my discussion here is the interpretation of the Medusa symbol in psychoanalysis, where she is a sign of castration, her decapitated head being a “‘genitalized head,’ an upward displacement of sexual organs, so that the mouth stands for vagina dentata, and the snakes for pubic hair.”65 This castration fear triggers defensive fantasies of the phallic mother or woman. However, if this is the case, then the nurse, as already mentioned, the phallic woman herself, whose power provokes punishment in male-dominated society, is paradoxically neutralized by the image of a mythic phallic woman used by the man. When the demonic creature straddles the narrator for another emasculating ride, he presses the talisman firmly into her pubic area and, screaming, she disappears for good. Although the image on the Kapranovs’ Scythian periapt is not Cixous’s beautiful, laughing Medusa who challenges Freud’s castration anxiety complex, and by extension Lacanian positioning of woman, which is founded on a “lack” within the phallocentric symbolic order,66 its function is conceived as purely protective against evil or danger. The amulet reappears in the chapter “Rozryta mohyla” [The plundered grave] about an archeological expedition studying the remnants of Scythian burial mounds and settlements, and a bizarre story told by an old, solitary homesteader about a whole village that was completely wiped out by a horrible supernatural entity out of revenge for the barbaric demolition of an ancient grave ordered by the Soviet-era head of a local collective farm. The old man is the only survivor of the horror (at some point, the archeologists notice that he is wearing a zmiiovyk [serpentine coil] medallion.67 Used as a metaphor for the destruction of Ukrainian statehood, history, and culture under the Russian Empire in Shevchenko,68 the plundered grave reemerges in the novel within an “archeological” context of an extended

112  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements historical haunting, including the period of Russo-Soviet domination, in retaliation for the multifaceted, constitutive violence of the empire. While in the “soft” part of the novel, woman’s vengeance remains within the framework of her relationship with man and is provoked predominantly by his infidelity, male revenge narratives have distinct historical dimensions, shuttle frequently between the past and the present, and involve motives such as upholding high moral standards, family honor, loyalty in military camaraderie, and male friendship, among others. Unlike female characters, whose hereditary lines are obscure (the only one clearly stated is that of the last Kyivan witch), men’s pedigrees go a long way back in Ukrainian history, to the leaders of the eighteenth-­century Ukrainian insurgency against the Polish nobility’s abuse of power, to the struggle for the abolition of serfdom, and the fatal encounter of their descendants who are serving in today’s Ukrainian Air Force in “Haidamaka”; or to the hypnagogic experiences of a student during a summer ethnographic field school, which sends him into a Galician village in western Ukraine in 1831, where the community burned at the stake several people suspected of being upyri [vampires], who caused cholera69 in “Tarasykova nichka” [The night of little Taras]. Opening with a line borrowed from Hohol’s “Maiskaia noch′” [A May night]—“Do you know a Ukrainian night? No, you do not know the Ukrainian night”— this phantasmagorical horror story combines the frisson of terror and pleasure, and ends with the protagonist’s loss of virginity to an older woman. Or to the history of a duke, one of the leaders of the 1846 Cracow uprising aimed at the restoration of Polish independence, whose descendant is attacked by the offspring of a woman who was cursed for generations for rejecting the duke in “Kniazhych” [The Duke’s son]. In the homosocial order of the Kapranovs’ novel, “historical” men are officers, captains, archeologists, ethnographers, businessmen, bodyguards, assassins, drivers, etc. Either unmarried or cheating husbands, they view women in purely instrumental terms, as interchangeable sexual objects. Moreover, within such constructs of male sexuality, sex is not so much about jouissance as about social control of women, as well as a means of asserting male characters’ masculinity. Positioned against ahistorical women, possessing certain primordial powers, the Kapranov brothers’ men are also connected to the world of Ukrainian folklore as werewolves and vampires. Vovkulaky [werewolves] appear in both gendered sections of the novel. In the “soft” chapter “Petrus′” [Petrus], a young man undergoes a metamorphosis from human to wolf during the full moon. Although in traditional werewolf lore, when a man is transformed into a wolf, he “becomes a dangerous predator who ravages animal and human prey with the monster’s hallmark savagery,”70 in the Kapranovs’ “soft” version, the young man suffers from this transformation, caught in an in-between liminal zone— neither human, nor animal, and unacceptable for both. Emaciated and

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  113 sick after his werewolf phase, he is recognized by his mother’s colleague, the protagonist of the chapter, at a train station. A compassionate single mom in her early thirties, she takes pity on his miserable state, brings him to her nearby home for some tea and warmth, and when he develops a dangerously high fever, she and her young daughter nurse him back to health. When he reveals his passion for her quite unexpectedly, on the road to recovery, she yields to her desire, and they make love. Upon the arrival of a new moon cycle, the young man disappears suddenly, and when his condition is ultimately revealed, she—instead of fearing her young lover’s “bestiality”—finds strength and agency to deal with their extraordinary situation. The exotic love conundrum is resolved in the domestication or, rather, naturalization, of a potentially destructive alliance with the supernatural; she knits an unusual sweater with four sleeves and a zipper on the back. Unlike the young man’s nocturnal escapades in “Petrus′” [Petrus], which pose no danger to people and whose romantic involvement with woman challenges the stereotypical image of the werewolf, the shape-shifting characters’ transformations in the “hard” section of the novel lead to violence and blood lust. Thus, in the chapter titled “Son” [The dream], the narrator is spending his vacation at his grandmother’s home at the seashore, falls for a beautiful girl on the beach (she is predictably naked), confronts her boyfriend and his gang at a local dance, returns home after they give him a severe beating, and falls asleep under the watchful gaze of a wolf pictured in the painting hanging above his bed. The reference to an amateur painting of a lonely wolf by the village hunchback, who died some time ago, is repeated throughout the story. When the young man wakes up in the morning with the distinct taste of blood in his mouth, he hears the shocking news that the guy he got into fight with was attacked and killed by a wolf during the night. When the narrator’s grandmother tells him that the hunchback artist was believed to be a werewolf, he packs hastily and leaves. Along with a reminder to the reader of the violent animal hidden beneath a thin veneer of civilization, the drive to punish the opponent for inflicted humiliation and pain is reconfigured in “Kniazhych” [The Duke’s son]. Driven by the fear of werewolfdom resulting from a family curse and as an act of self-­preservation, one character tries unsuccessfully to contain the contagion by killing the hereditary werewolf, while his opponent, upon ­discovering that he belongs to a cursed lineage, suddenly feels an uncontrollable craving for blood when he observes his sleeping would-be assassin. The acting out of the most violent impulses in the “hard” section, while downplaying sexuality as the expression of the human’s animal nature, also applies to one vampire chapter, “Varnak” [The branded convict]. Although there exists a long history linking vampirism and sexuality, in the relationship between the Kapranov brothers’ upyr [vampire] and his victim, it is the latter who is the predator and

114  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements is destroyed because of his sociosexual transgressions. The avenging, monstrous, undead father inflicts revenge on the man who seduced his gorgeous daughter, took her on a business trip to Turkey, and when he became bored with her, used her as chattel in a commercial transection with his partner. Their business, which advertises auditions and recruits women for international striptease shows, thus making them easily available for male desire and abuse, is in reality a human trafficking ring. The demonic revenge of the white-as-wax and cold girlfriend and her horrific father from the otherworld is placed in an implicit, but tragically real context: “The International Organization for Migration estimate[s] that between 1991 and 1998, 500,000 Ukrainian women had been trafficked to the West,” with Turkey as number one among popular “destination countries.”71 The macabre folkloresque overtones, sinister transformations, and supernatural occurrences in Kobzar 2000, intruding violently upon the mundane realities of everyday life, have contributed to its popularity and vindicated the authors’ conviction that Ukrainian mysticism and tales of the preternatural will always grab readers’ attention.72 This attraction to the monstrous and supernatural is true not only for the Ukrainian readership; for example, in 1980s literature in English, “some 60 werewolf novels appeared in print, with that number doubling in the 1990s.”73 While reconfiguring and modernizing Shevchenko’s canonical intertext or, rather, parodying, according to Hundorova, its role as The Book in Ukrainian collective imaginary,74 the Kapranov brothers’ distinctly ethnocultural narratives combine the paranormal romance genre, containing certain “hard” sexual elements, with the spectacle of violent collisions. It is puzzling, though, that some Ukrainian critics have interpreted the “hard” and “soft,” obviously suggestive, pornographic “innuendoes” in terms of “natural” female softness and male unwavering strength.75 However, while the Kapranovs’ representation of sexual agency signifies liberation befitting counter-repressive ideologies and aiming at overcoming sexophobia, their normative male characters are granted sexual license and seem to be entitled, with rare exception, to sexual access whenever they desire it. In the odd cases when their women violate conservative ideas concerning coital behavior—passive, vaginal, heterosexual, and reproductive—they are demonized and turn into uncontrollable, carnal hurricanes, thus reflecting societal apprehension caused by any attempts at affirming an active female sexuality. Furthermore, in addition to man, hagridden with fear, a transformative monster, positioned outside of the symbolic order’s rationality matrix, reveals that “masculinity, as defined by the symbolic economy, is a fragile concept, one that is rarely, if ever, fulfilled. To undermine the symbolic is to create a disturbance around the phallus, to create a sense of phallic panic.”76 Representations maintaining centuries-long gendered hierarchies in the Kapranovs’ novel betray both the conflictual nature

Indecent Transpositions and Displacements  115 of the existing status quo and an apparent discomfort with the body, if it were to transgress the essentialist, biological “joy” of life, which indicates that the authors are still infected with erotophobia.

Notes 1 Bondar, “Psalm to a Brotherhood.” 2 “My—braty Kapranovy.” 3 Zabuzhko, “Top, bez iakoho nasha literatura doby nezalezhnosty nemyslyma.” 4 Zabuzhko, Shevchenkiv mif Ukraïny, 33. 5 Grabowicz, “Ukrainian-Russian Literary Relations,” 227. 6 Ibid. 7 Rutherford, “Vissarion Belinskii,” 501. 8 Zabuzhko, Shevchenkiv mif Ukraïny, 5. 9 They are included in a representative collection, Shevchenko and the Critics, 1861–1980. 10 Zabuzhko, Shevchenkiv mif Ukraïny, 94. 11 Ibid., 96–97. 12 Iashchenko, Derzhavna zasluzhena kapela bandurystiv, 5. 13 Korniienko, “Les′ Kurbas i zasady ukraïns′koho avanhardu.” 14 Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind, 5–6. 15 Dziuba, “Braty Kapranovy: ‘Liubit′ ukraïnok!’” 16 See Sichkar, “Shevchenkivs′ki aliuzii v suchasnii ukraïns′kii literaturi,” 214. 17 Foster, “The Challenge of the Folkloresque,” 3–34. 18 Genette quoted in Allen, Intertextuality, 104. 19 Williams, Hard Core, 7. 20 Ibid., 50. 21 Ibid., 6. 22 Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 239. 23 “Світ жорстокий, тому кожен чоловік народжується воїном. Він носить свою смерть при боці і завжди готовий до битви. Для воїна не існує мирних часів. Саме про це роман братів Капранових ‘КОБЗАР 2000 Hard’—про помсту, про мужність і зраду, про війну, що триває тут і тепер” (Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Hard, no page number). 24 “Тільки жінка знає, що таке справжня любов. Життя мертве, якщо воно не зігріте вогнем кохання. Що може звести розкішний палац у пустелі самотньої душі? Тільки любов. Крім права жити, кожна жінка має ще одне важливе право—право на любов. Воно закріплене у романі братів Капранових ‘КОБЗАР 2000 Soft’” (Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Soft, no page number). 25 Gray, Men Are from Mars, 16. 26 Ibid., 18. 27 Williams, Hard Core, 45. 28 McGowan, The Real Gaze, 6. 29 Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 434. 30 Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Soft, 12–13. 31 Aradia, The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power, 148. 32 Gippius, Gogol, 28. 33 Foster, “The Challenge of the Folkloresque,” 5. 34 Daly, Pure Lust, 186. 35 Talanchuk, ed., Ukraïns′ki chary, 17.

116  Indecent Transpositions and Displacements 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 4 4 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76

Noddings, Women and Evil, 44. Barstow, Witchcraze, 21. Eliade, Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions, 78. Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 438. They follow here Ukrainian witch lore; see ibid., 431–32. Braty Kapranovy, Zakon brativ Kapranovykh, 192. See Felman, “Rereading Femininity,” 19–21. See Kruks, “Beauvoir: The Weight of Situation,” 59–62. See Kail, “Simone de Beauvoir: Women and Philosophy of History,” 423. Braty Kapranovy, Zakon, 194. Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 413. Perker, The Subversive Stitch, ix. Petterson, “Going On-Line,” 115. Shevchenko, Kobzar, 257. Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Soft, 103–104. Jones, On the Nightmare, 106. Weistock, ed., The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, 614. Shear, “Soft Focus,” 95. Hammill, Sexuality and Form, 119. Masters, Eros and the Evil, xiv–xv. Shear, “Soft Focus,” 95. Grosz, Jacques Lacan, 121. Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 413. Laycock, “Carnal Knowledge,” 105. Voitovych, Ukraïns′ka mifolohiia, 285. Demenchuk, “Spivvidnoshennia uiavlen′ pro pozytyvni i nehatyvni rysy mavok,” 54. “за рятівним мороком безтями” (Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Hard, 115). Voitovych, Ukraïns′ka mifolohiia, 196. Garber and Vickers, “Introduction,” 1. Showalter, Sexual Anarchy, 145. Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa,” 885. Braty Kapranovy, Kobzar 2000: Hard, 198. Shevchenko, Kobzar, 170–172. Ponomar′ov, Kosmina, and Boriak, eds., Ukraïntsi: narodni viruvannia, 512–26. Weistock, ed., The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, 577. Hughes, “The ‘Natasha’ Trade,” 128. “My—braty Kapranovy.” Weistock, ed., The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, 584. Hundorova, Pisliachornobyl′s′ka biblioteka, 50. See Sichkar, “Shevchenkivs′ki aliuzii,” 213; Liutsedars′kyi, “Kobzar mizh ‘hard’ i ‘soft.’” Creed, Phallic Panic, xvi.

7 Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon: Poderviansky the Bricoleur

Les Poderviansky, whose Heroi nashoho chasu [A hero of our time] (2000) has been wittily termed “porno-ethnography,”1 is a visual artist and stage designer. A cult literary bad boy in Kyiv, he is the author of short plays that have been circulated in audio and video recordings for about twenty years. What started as Poderviansky’s readings for a select circle of friends, just for fun, eventually spread to mass readers and listeners, winning him enormous popularity. The fact that his works have been turned into musical remixes—including the debut of his “classical opera” Zviri [Animals] in 2015—indicates Poderviansky’s increasing recognition. His absurdist “epic tragedy,” Pavlik Morozov, which premiered in 2011, and the 2012 production of Sny Vasilisy I­ ehorovny [Vasilisa Iehorovna’s dreams], both under Andri Kritenko’s direction at the innovative KRoT (Kyiv Revolutionary o*** Theatre), have been touring major Ukrainian cities, with scandalous and unfailing success since then. In addition, Heroi nashoho chasu [A hero of our time], which includes twenty-three plays, was issued by the highly fastidious publishing house Kalvaria, a sure sign of the author’s acceptance into the Ukrainian literary mainstream, and his reputation was further consolidated by the publication of his complete works in 2016. Although in his preface to the first collection of plays, the literary critic Ihor Lapinsky heralds Poderviansky as a prophet who reflects the “apocalyptic faithlessness” of the time, the reader is urged to place the book on a “secret shelf,” next to pornographic magazines and videos. 2 Right after its publication, the first critical responses to Heroi nashoho chasu [The hero of our time] placed it squarely in the Ukrainian burlesque tradition, alongside its progenitor, Ivan Kotliarevsky (1769–1838), the author of Eneïda (1794–1820), a travesty of Virgil’s Aeneid.3 Since the key difference among various species of burlesque runs along the stylistic axis—a fairly trivial subject “ludicrously elevated by the style of presentation” against a fairly important one “ludicrously degraded by the style of presentation”4 —most critics have focused on Poderviansky’s use of aggressively obscene language that is injected, more often than not, into standard, sometimes even lofty, Ukrainian. Based on three strictly taboo words associated with sexual organs and copulation, and their

118  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon derivatives, this substandard idiom comprises the lowest register of the Russian language, known as mat [foul language], whose lewdness makes it the “GULag of Russian linguistics.”5 It made its way from metropolitan culture, as an idiosyncratic implementation device of the Russian “civilizing mission,” to the lexicons of non-Russian peripheries, taken root, and stayed. Poderviansky complements this ideologically saturated sociolect, with surzhyk, a highly russified variety of colloquial Ukrainian that resulted from the colonial encounter, centuries of ensuing linguistic transculturation, and systematic russification and suppression of the Ukrainian language both in the Russian and Russo-Soviet Empires. Surzhyk has also become a suitable linguistic medium for rendering the product of the most revolting sociopolitical experiment ever carried out by the Soviet regime—the hybridized Soviet people—and for reflecting the derangement and idiocies of Soviet life. The playwright’s grotesque, panoramic sweep of Soviet existence features an impotent, frequently inarticulate, aggressive, and powerless individual in a perpetual, predominantly alcohol-induced, crisis. By representing the condition, which can be hardly called human, Poderviansky’s essentially “anti-literary” plays, similarly to absurdist drama in general, tend toward a “radical devaluation of language,” as Martin Esslin argues elsewhere.6 Without questioning the burlesque quality of Poderviansky’s plays, which, in some cases, is amorphously extended to include satire, parody, irony, and pastiche,7 I differentially lean toward the American meaning of burlesque, a “variety show with a heavy emphasis upon sex.”8 Since Poderviansky’s “show” comprises staple “numbers” from the Soviet cultural repertoire, I would position him, rather, as a bricoleur who constructs his dramatic universe by employing a diverse range of intertextual sources. Moreover, while reworking, synthesizing, orchestrating, fabricating, hybridizing, recombining, and representing preexisting mythologies, narratives, figures, characters, images, and phrases from the thrift shop of socialist realist literature, Poderviansky ruthlessly pornographizes them in his disturbingly violent oeuvre. Crammed with unmotivated murders, gluttony, alcoholism, defecation, fights, indiscriminate and unrestricted screwing, his plays strip socialist realist creations to their bare bones, proving that socialist realism is pornography. Indeed, there are numerous similarities between the two. Both socialist realism and pornography, manifesting an era of excessive realism and hyperliteralism, display clichéd unity of style and substance, which reduces meaning to a set of imperatives devoid of any complex interplay. Both are fixated on the means of production, instead of on the production of meaning. Both are characterized by monolithic predictability, for events depicted in them consistently follow prescribed patterns, and develop in directions known in advance; to communism—in socialist realism, symbolized by the phallic thrust of socialist technology, a rocket launch, the surge of an obelisk, the eruption of a blast furnace; and to

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  119 orgasm—in pornography, culminating in a symbolic cum shot. Similarly to socialist realism, which ritualistically duplicates the central Soviet myths with their limited inventory of master plots and narratives, pornography also operates within a framework of well-rehearsed scenarios. It inviolably follows Deleuze’s succinct definition of the genre: “What is known as pornographic literature is a literature reduced to a few imperatives (do this, do that) followed by obscene descriptions.”9 While assessing “the most realistic of realisms” with its ideologically derived, schematic features and authoritarian inflexibility, Andrei Sinyavsky contends that any attempt at psychological representation of its much-derided positive hero is “impossible, without falling into parody,”10 for in this literature, every implication is declared, every suggestion is declaimed, and everything is geared entirely toward “performance.” This typical character, marching, without major stylistic or structural alterations, through an endless stream of Soviet literary productions, meets his structural mirror image in the no less impressive typicality and uncomplicated nature of a pornographic hero. The latter inhabits a world in which there is no more freedom or change than in a traditional Soviet production novel. Constructed from Soviet myths, Poderviansky’s wickedly funny plays feature their main themes and ideas; revolutionary romanticism, communist ideology, the fraternity of Soviet nations, Young Pioneer childhood, military and patriotic upbringing, strong family, and associations of artists and writers11 are all blended in his bizarre, macabre scenarios. His dark comedies down the corpus of works produced by the socialist realist school of writing, which was used to mold and legitimize the political mythology of the authoritarian state, as well as those from Russian prerevolutionary literature, which were thoroughly vetted and co-opted into this ideologically sanctioned canon. They provided the basic body of works for the compulsory Soviet school curriculum. Like other imperial projects, the Russo-Soviet Empire used education for the ideological subjugation of its non-Russian dominions, while devaluing national cultures and methodically assimilating the “barbarians” into a hegemonic, Russian one. By relentlessly endorsing, with “sophomoric insistence,”12 what it claimed to be the inherent superiority of the “Russian civilization,” and emphasizing its universality and worldwide prominence, the unified Soviet system of education disseminated and solidified the views according to which the dominant culture’s experiences, values, assumptions, and expectations are true for all humanity. This universalist posturing, together with disregard for historically specific cultural differences, is a “crucial feature of imperial hegemony,” underlying the “promulgation of the imperial discourse for the ‘advancement’ and ‘improvement’”13 of its multinational subjects. It is the Russian and Soviet classics, approved for the educational system in the USSR, that provide Poderviansky with an assortment of

120  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon characters whose cultural coding is instantly accessible to the reading public that was raised under the Soviet system (his plays are predominantly designated for reading), and, recently, viewers (for whom the importance of hilarious stage directions, visually irreproducible, is lost), who are Soviet high school graduates and thus are able to make intertextual connections with their source texts. Otherwise, it is the “wrong” mix of characters and aleatory disconnection of Soviet clichéd phrases and quotes from literature and film, constitutive of their speech, which produces an uproarious effect. Since Poderviansky’s plays cannot be separated from the larger historical, social, political, ideological, cultural, and literary textuality that underpins them, my discussion here draws considerably on offstage “genealogies” of bricolaged works, literary characters, and historical figures, whose complex social, extratextual significance makes them essential to the production of meaning. I focus mostly on the Stalinist period, when Homo sovieticus, the one-­ dimensional breed of conformist individuals conditioned by state propaganda, terrorized by the totalitarian regime, and preoccupied with the most basic needs for survival, was formed under Stalin’s “socialist reconstruction,” with its strictly defined political, economic, and cultural policies and measures necessary to build “socialism in one country.” Following the initial implementation of this master reconstructive plan, Soviet writers were actively involved in the quotidian process of forging a “new historical community” of the Soviet people14 as state-designated “engineers of human souls,” a catchphrase put forward by Stalin during his meeting with Soviet writers in 1932.15 It is noteworthy that Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), canonized as the “great proletarian writer,” whose works appeared in almost nineteen million copies between 1929 and 1934 alone,16 harbinger of the revolution, and patriarch of Soviet literature, provided literary “engineers” with the tool to accomplish their mission by formulating the doctrine of socialist realism. Having formally proclaimed this dogmatic method, yoking art to the state ideology, at the First Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934, Gorky ended his literary career as the much-celebrated spokesman of proletarian culture under Stalin’s regime and the first Head of the Writers’ Union. Between then and the collapse of the Soviet Union, literature was an indispensable instrument of Soviet social engineering, which defined and shaped attitudes, and supplied emblematic heroes and heroines to satisfy the demands of the renovated empire. According to the officially adopted and consistently enforced literary method, the main function of formulaic Soviet literature, with its aptly instituted canon, “was to serve as the repository of official state myths. It had a mandatory allegorical function in that the biography of its hero was expected to stand in for the great myths of national identity,”17 and provide a model for the reading public to imitate. As if toying with the method’s fixation on its bombastic new heroes, Poderviansky borrows, for his collection, the title of Mikhail

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  121 Lermontov’s (1814–1841) canonical novel published in 1840, which features a proverbial “superfluous man” of Russian literature and Byronic rebellious loner, who has been characterized as a “metaphysical rebel.”18 But what is also important in the context of my discussion here is that Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time set in the Caucasus during the Caucasian War (1817–1864), when Russia invaded the Persian-controlled Caucasus, which resulted in Russia’s annexation of the North Caucasus, contributed to the development and consolidation of the “cultural mythology of the Caucasian conquest” by the Russian Empire.19 Together with other Russian nineteenth-century literary masterpieces, it facilitated the imposing, “on the conquered territories[,] a narrative of Russian presence that elbowed out native concerns and the native story,”20 conveying Russia’s “aggressive search for self-assertion” in the course of “garnering imperial possessions.”21 It is not surprising though that Lermontov’s title resurfaced during the period of burgeoning socialist realism, and in the spirit of the newly instituted Decree on Heroes (1934), which was aimed at honoring the inspiring achievements of the best of the Soviet people, and inaugurating a pantheon of heroes who demonstrated “superhuman endurance, energy, self-discipline, and will,” and were “humanized versions of the iron man.”22 Either unwittingly appropriated or deliberately used, “A Hero of Our Time” became the strategically recycled title of a 1935 editorial in Pravda, which contrasted new Soviet heroes, who are inspired by high ideals, with bourgeois ones, who are “motivated by lust for money, land, and palaces.”23 No longer associated with the “superfluous man” represented by Lermontov, the phrase became a cliché, one of the numerous agitprop slogans that were created or sponged by the Soviet propaganda machine; its connection with the canonical text profoundly severed. Poderviansky exploits this particular aspect of expiring Soviet ideology, and seemingly takes for granted his audiences’ ability to recognize this overused phrase from their adolescent years, even if they don’t have a clue about its provenance. The latter quite accurately reflects the proficiency level in compulsory Russian literature of the majority of Soviet high school graduates, which, in addition to institutionally enforced uncontestable faith in its greatness, inseparable from the no less unassailable mantra about the “great and mighty Russian language”—another worn-out expression, coined by Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883), whose origins have been erased through overuse—was limited to the names of authors and the titles of their works. One of the seminal plays in Poderviansky’s collection, Pavlik Morozov, subtitled Epichna trahediia [An epic tragedy], is populated with historical figures, characters from literature, folklore, and visual art, as well as Greek and Roman mythological beings. 24 It is thus a veritable compendium of the socialist realist legacy and a showcase of its author’s representational strategies. It draws on a superhero of Stalin’s genocidal

122  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon campaign to collectivize agriculture—a key element of socialist reconstruction in the 1930s, which coincided with the institutionalization of socialist realism. According to the official version, the historical Pavlik Morozov (1918–1932) was killed in Siberia by his kulak grandfather (kulaks were prosperous independent farmers who resisted collectivization) for informing on his father to Stalin’s secret police. Pavlik’s commendable “political vigilance” (a key moment in Soviet propaganda) resulted in his father’s arrest, conviction, and execution. The transformation of Pavlik into a hero began when the central press picked up the story of a young informer from the Russian periphery who betrayed his own father, repackaged it as a murderous conspiracy of wealthy village class enemies and the untimely death of a devoted Young Pioneer activist, and elevated him to a Union-wide symbol. Gorky, a “constructor of the Soviet cult of heroes” and the main promoter of the Pavlik master narrative, published an article entitled “Pavlik Morozov Must Not Be Forgotten,” and recommended building a monument to commemorate his feat. 25 This pervasive mythology proved to be long-lasting; as recently as 1982, the fiftieth anniversary of Pavlik’s death, he was “canonized” by the press, calling him an “ideological martyr” and a “saint,” and the “place of his death[,]…a sanctuary.”26 In short, as Catriona Kelly argues, the “Pavlik legend is central to the understanding of Soviet history.”27 Thus, it is no accident that he became Poderviansky’s “person of interest” in both tracing the formation of Homo sovieticus and disclosing the perversion of a piece of insidious totalitarian lore, which was cynically fabricated; such “facts” of Pavlik’s life as his age, birthplace, and photographs “in various publications, when compared, turned out to be of different people,” along with contradictory accounts of the circumstances of his death and the identity of his murderers. 28 In his dramatic version of Pavlik’s story, Poderviansky extends the hero’s life span to cover another important period in the Soviet grand narrative crucial to an exploration of the Soviet collective identity by setting the scene in the Siberian taiga during World War II. Mythologized and fetishized as the “Great Patriotic War,” it was promoted by the Soviet propaganda machine for the consolidation, self-assertion, and legitimation of the totalitarian system. The gist of the official discourse, as codified in Stalin’s February 1946 speech, is as follows: successful collectivization and rapid industrialization under the first and second FiveYear Plans (1928–1933, 1934–1939) ensured the country’s triumph; the war began on 22 June 1941; the Soviet Union was attacked treacherously and unexpectedly by the “Fascist Beast”; despite the loss of twenty million valiant martyrs to the Cause,…[the] country, under the leadership of the Communist Party headed by Comrade Stalin, arose as one united front and expelled the enemy from…[its] own territory and

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  123 that of East Europe, thus saving Europe—and the world—from Fascist enslavement. 29 Carefully replicating the Stalinist master plot, socialist realist literature indefatigably drew its inspiration from the “Great Patriotic War,” romanticizing and lacquering it, especially after 1965, when official celebrations of Victory Day were revamped during the eighteen-year-long rule of Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982). It was under Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that the full-blown cult of the “Great Patriotic War” was created and promoted in order to prop up the declining foundational myth of the “Great October Socialist Revolution.” The system of veneration and devotion included fixed rituals, standardized invocations, and identical places of worship located at the sites of tens of thousands of war memorials. The Soviet people were indoctrinated with this fictitious collective memory since the age of seven, first, through their compulsory membership in the Little Octobrists, followed by the Young Pioneers, and the Young Communist League. These organizations firmly divided the world into a black-and-white confrontational template: peace-loving “us” and “fascist” others, “fascist” being the traditional label that Russia has been using for its “enemies.” This devious model runs through Poderviansky’s “epic tragedy” and the other plays in the collection. As in the classical Greek tragedies, Pavlik Morozov opens with a prologue, in which Thanatos, demon of death, recounts how Hitler suddenly invaded the country, ruled by a mustached heavenly emperor, castigates maleficent fascist infiltrators, and reveals important aspects of the characters. It is followed by the entrance song of the Young Pioneers’ ­detachment—analogous to the chorus in classical Greek drama—­ glorifying Stalin, who is simultaneously cast as Zeus, heavenly leader and teacher, 30 thus replicating socialist realism’s unwavering attention to the omnipresent and omniscient tyrant during his lifetime. As Victoria E. Bonnell observes, Stalin, who is depicted as a “living god,” moves to “center stage in visual propaganda, displacing both his predecessor Lenin and the proletariat as the core elements in Bolshevik mythology,”31 as evidenced, for example, by the enormous press run of the 1936 poster with his portrait, which appeared in an edition of 250,000, 32 or in the 1938 paeanic painting by Aleksandr Gerasimov (1881–1963), Stalin’s court painter, in which Stalin is gazing “majestically off into the distance,” with a “halo of light” illuminating his face.33 Furthering the development of Stalin’s cult of personality, a flood of literary kitsch idolizing Stalin gushed “from the pens of Soviet writers from the early 1930s to the end of the dictator’s life,”34 including critically appraised and renowned troubadours of autocracy such as Vasily Lebedev-­Kumach (1898–1949), Mikhail Isakovskiy (1900–1973), Sergey Mikhalkov (1913–2009), and others. Their extravagantly verbal and imagistic

124  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon repertoires drew on excessive praise of Stalin’s superhuman qualities, such as immortality, infallibility, and perfectibility, 35 indicative of what Moshe Lewin sees as the transposition of Russian “traditional devotion to and worship of icons, relics of saints, and processions” into a “shallow imitation of iconlike imagery, official mass liturgy, effigies”36 in public rituals centered around political cult figures, which are enacted at the beginning of Pavlik Morozov. Right after the chorus’s Hail Stalin, paradoxically rendered in the simplistic form of a chastushka, a Russian folk song, Pavlik Morozov enters. An athletic Nordic beauty, with a Hitler-Jugend-style haircut, he immediately demonstrates heightened vigilance by looking for spies, and conducts a monologue about his passion for torturing people, including, as he emphasizes, women and animals, concluding it with a declaration of his love of nature. 37 The inconceivable—for the Soviet mind—hybridized image of a Soviet Young Pioneer and a member of the Hitler Youth organization invites a brief detour into the German-Soviet totalitarian concert—obliterated from “Great Patriotic War” memory politics—lurking in the wings of the play. When brought into the spotlight, Stalinism’s and National Socialism’s concurrent consolidation in 1933–1939 resulted in the joint German-Soviet occupation of Poland (1939–1941), followed by the German-Soviet War (1941–1945), during which fourteen million civilians were killed between 1933 and 1945, “while both Hitler and Stalin were in power.”38 Furthermore, both the Nazi and communist ideologies demanded surrender of self to the mass, offering in return the comfort of suspension of individual moral responsibility. Both dispensed with the rule of law, elevated the secret police to the highest authority in the land, constructed vast systems of slave labour, and killed millions of their subjects. 39 In Poderviansky’s reassembled Soviet “microcosm,” it is Pavlik’s generation of righteous Young Pioneers, who were born after the 1917 Bolshevik coup d’état and grew up in an atmosphere of intolerance, deformed moral principles, and devaluation of human life, that is particularly prone to inflicting senseless cruelty on others, without a second thought or remorse. Like Pavlik’s ideological miscegenation, Pelaheia Nylivna, his mother, is also a product of creative synthesizing that combines visual and textual allusions. Her description immediately references the widely disseminated and celebrated poster The Motherland Calls, by Irakli Toidze (1902–1985). This masterpiece of Soviet visual propaganda and indispensable element of Stalinist official ideology used for mass mobilization features the figure of an imposing woman dressed in a flowing red garment, which came to represent Russia allegorically in

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  125 the “Great  Patriotic War.”40 Her name, Pelaheia Nylivna, evokes the character of Gorky’s novel, Mother (1906), set during the first Russian Revolution of 1905 and featuring a religious woman who is converted to revolutionary ideals after her son’s arrest as a political activist. The name of Pelaheia Nylivna’s illegitimate son, Pavel Vlasov, replicates the name of the revolutionary protagonist in Gorky’s novel, “socialist realism’s first acclaimed hero,”41 who became an inspiration to many. Poderviansky reconfigures Gorky’s “potential martyr and model ascetic”42 as Pavlik’s half-brother and degenerate King-Kong-like antagonist. His character description is reminiscent of the 1933 Hollywood perennial film classic and one of the most famous monster movies in the history of cinema, King Kong, whose main character perishes in the course of a series of adventures resulting from an American movie crew’s incursion into his mysterious Pacific island home. Furthermore, in Pavlik Morozov, Gorky’s pious mother is depicted as a woman who had a child out of wedlock—his abnormality presumably embodying her sexual impropriety—­and who is still infatuated with her lover of many years, the illustrious General Vlasov. An incredible romantic reunion of the two long-lost lovers ensues after the General arrives in the Siberian taiga on a special mission as Admiral Canaris’s secret agent. Here, the playwright draws on the historical ­General Andrey Vlasov (1900–1946), a Red Army officer who collaborated with the Germans during World War II, formed the Russian Liberation Army that fought under German command against the USSR, was tried and executed in 1946, and became an emblematic traitor in Soviet historiography. His absentee superior in the play, Canaris, alludes ironically to Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (1887–1945), chief of the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service, and the hidden hand of the Wehrmacht Resistance who was executed by Hitler. Poderviansky’s General Vlasov is assisted by his own special agent, named Filin [eagle-owl]. This conventional figure of infiltration, disseminated by Soviet propaganda, is caricatured as a huge, fat bird. Filin provides the General with information about a mysterious temple hidden in the heart of the taiga, after which they engage in a metaphysical conversation about the meaning of life, the existence of God, spirituality, mysticism, with the General philosophizing graphically about the frigidity of educated women and his sexual preferences.43 The play’s overall atmosphere conjures up artificially engineered “witchhunts” in Soviet history—for spies from the hostile bourgeois world as external malefactors and for “enemies of the people” as internal ones. The relentless pursuit of covert enemies and conspirators by the political police (NKVD) in the 1930s, whose primary mission was to “struggle against espionage, sabotage, terrorist, and other subversive activities of foreign intelligence services directed against units and offices of the Red Army,”44 culminated in the brutal mass purges of the

126  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon 1930s and deportation of millions of people during and after World War II.45 The play’s extras, consisting of pioneers, kulaks, fascists, whores, apparitions, devils, dragons, and gorgons, are all involved in the core characters’ quests, purges, fights, and murders. Like Act I, Act II opens with Thanatos’s prologue, exposing rich and lascivious kulaks disporting themselves merrily at a time when ordinary people are suffering and fighting for their country. The traditional Greek drama-style chorus is substituted by a duet which comprises the followers of two nineteenth-century groups of Russian intellectuals—the Westernizers and Slavophiles—representing opposing views on the nature of Russian civilization. The latter, convinced of Russia’s superiority over Western culture and the preordained role of the Russian theophoric (God-bearing) people in salvation history, as embodied in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (1821–1881) “jingoistic Orthodox megalomania,”46 were instrumental in advancing an extreme nationalist Pan-Slavism movement.47 The Slavophilic voice among Poderviansky’s “Slavic humanists,” which belongs to Savva Morozov, Pavlik’s debauched father, is chronologically consistent with the reemergence of Russian Pan-Slavism in the 1930s as an important part of Soviet foreign policy,48 which led ultimately to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact that divided Eastern Europe into spheres of interest, and confirmed Russia’s belief in its unique path and messianic role in the world. What is most remarkable is that Poderviansky’s perpetually drunk, foul-mouthed, and sex-driven characters talk about the “theophoric” Russian people, all-embracing love of nature and humanity—while consistently excluding women from this category—God, beauty, and harmony of life, expressing their thoughts in bastardized vernacular mentioned earlier. At the end of their theological debate and in an attempt to test the strength of their faith, Savva and his civilizational adversary make a dramatic plea for the fabled temple to be relocated from the frightening, impenetrable taiga, and unfordable swamps to where they are, and they are terrified and awestruck when it appears before them; its door swings open, discharging a coffin and its blind occupant, Mykola Ostrovsky.49 Based on the name, the obvious port of call in the quest for this episode’s antecedents is the socialist realist “typical hero,” constructed in compliance with the canonical Gorkian formulation of socialist realism, whose exponents and practitioners took “extraordinary measures…to ensure that the purity of the formulas be preserved from book to book” in order to maintain literature’s role as a “repository of official myths.”50 Furthermore, since Gorky was critically acclaimed as the progenitor of Soviet literature, and his novel, Mother, as the master plot that reveals its major ideological principles for generations of writers to imitate, “each author of a Socialist Realist classic is represented as some sort of apprentice at the feet of the original master, Gorky.”51 Hence, Katerina

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  127 Clark establishes the order of “begetting” in the socialist realist canon, wherein Pavel Vlasov (Mother) begets Gleb Chumalov (Cement), who begets Pavka Korchagin (How the Steel Was Tempered), 52 etc. This is precisely the moment where Poderviansky’s “begotten,” the blind prophet in Apollo’s Temple, Mykola Ostrovsky, steps in, as he is the author who “begot” the last character in the abovementioned hereditary line, and the mentor in spiritual refinement and divine matters in Pavlik Morozov. The historical Nikolai (Mykola in Ukrainian) Ostrovsky (1904–1936) is another legendary figure in Soviet history and literature. After serving in the Red Cavalry, which fought against the Ukrainian People’s Republic declared in 1917 during the Russo-Ukrainian War (1919–1922), he worked as a Red commissar, enthusiastically responding to the call of the Communist Party to participate in the epochal construction of a new society. Wounded several times and suffering from typhus and polyarthritis, which led to paralysis and blindness, he started writing his ritualized biography, How the Steel Was Tempered, in 1930. Awarded the Order of Lenin in 1935, the book was included in the Soviet literary canon and school curricula. A showcase of the evolution of literature into myth, Ostrovsky’s novel was a response to ideological pressure and public demand for myth making, as well as to Stalin’s industrialization drive as a theme recommended by Gorky. 53 While ­Marcia A. Morris sees Ostrovsky’s novel as the “triumph of cliché,”54 Clark calls it an all-time classic of socialist realism, emphasizing that “[a]lmost every major feature of both the novel and Ostrovsky’s life coincided with a defining aspect of High Stalinist political culture.”55 Mythologized as a paragon of self-sacrifice to the construction of socialism and a role model for the Soviet people, Ostrovsky, “in the last two years of his life[,] lived in a Black Sea resort house as a ‘living legend,’ on a street named after himself, his house a site of countless pilgrimages and of great interest to foreign journalists.”56 Poderviansky also restricts the mobility of Ostrovsky’s bedridden character by placing the prophet into a crystal coffin that is hung from the ceiling of the Apollo Temple—an appropriate abode for the Apollonian hero ruled by reason, who is cultured, serene, and an exemplary ascetic—situated in the marshlands in the middle of the Siberian taiga. The playwright looks simultaneously back to Soviet realist literature, complementing it with a mythological subtext, and forward to postmodern strategies of pastiche and bricolage. Thus, the prophet’s blindness alludes unambiguously to Tiresias, who appears in various narratives of ancient Greece and Rome and is famous for his clairvoyance and transgender transformations. He is the prophet of the land of the dead in Homer’s Odyssey (ca. late 800 BCE); the oracle of Apollo in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex (ca. 429 BCE), where he is summoned to help Oedipus investigate the murder of the previous king of Thebes and accuses Oedipus of parricide and incest;57 and a learned arbiter in

128  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon Jove and Juno’s dispute in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (8 BCE), as a result of which he is blinded by the infuriated Juno for siding with Jove, and compensated with a “special privilege” of prophecy by the latter. 58 The final touch in the image of this intertextual crossbreed of Nietzscheanism, ancient Greek and Roman mythology and literature, and the Soviet cult of heroes is introduced in the stage direction that describes Mykola Ostrovsky as wearing a military overcoat, carrying a Mauser, and holding a heavy, faceted glass tumbler59 —an indispensable accessory to a bottle of vodka. The vodka and tumbler formed the basis for homosocial bonding in the USSR. The prophet’s crystal coffin points toward another intertextual vector, “The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights” (1833), the Russian version of “Snow White,” based on the famous Brothers Grimm tale, by Alexandr Pushkin (1799–1837). Architecturally, the Temple resembles a wooden hut on chicken legs, reminiscent both of Russian folk tales and another of Pushkin’s long poems, Ruslan and Liudmilla (1820). The works of Pushkin, considered the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature, were included in the list of Russo-Soviet “sacred” books, along with other prerevolutionary Russian classics primed for the masses. In the 1930s, Pushkin was rediscovered, rehabilitated, and adjusted to the needs of the Soviet system and educational curricula. Having been placed in an exceptionally prominent position, he was remade into the “people’s poet,” who was brought up by his serf nanny, a substitute for his negligent aristocratic parents and a repository of Russian folklore. At the same time, he was presented as a passionate revolutionary affiliated with the Decembrists,60 a small group of liberal conspirators who revolted against the ascension of Nicholas I to the throne in December 1825. David L. Hoffmann writes that the hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death in 1937 was celebrated on an unprecedented scale,61 and since then, his superior ranking in the Soviet canon, his all-Union significance, and his status as one of the greats of world literature (exclusively in the Soviet collective imaginary) have become fixed, and never contested or revised in the USSR. Such unremitting edification of all Russian “greatest of the greats” was instrumental in the steady pace of the forcible russification of the non-Russian peripheries, with the result that by the late 1930s, Stalin’s view of Russian history and of Russia as the elder brother in the family of “fraternal” Soviet people “overrode Marxist ideology.”62 Poderviansky dismantles the coherence of Pushkin’s legacy and unitary identification of its constitutive elements by mongrelizing it contextually with cult figures, literary artifacts, and historical narratives of High Stalinist culture, concurrently cross-pollinating them with Pushkin’s oeuvre. His prophet takes occupancy of the crystal coffin (the dead princess’s abode) and the temple (semi-catatonic princess’s hut) in Pushkin’s tales; both await the arrival of a chivalrous savior. In addition to

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  129 his gender-bending placement, the prophet also appears to be, among other characters congregating in the play, an undead revenant from the absurdities and senseless horrors of Soviet life. I am far from suggesting that Poderviansky, besides interrogating the effects of the socialist realist legacy, is deliberately subverting traditional fairy-tale plots that undeniably transmit messages, which have implications for the politics of gender, body, and sexuality, and are intertwined with the abuse of power and patriarchal and misogynistic overtones. However, if we consider his dramatic bricolages as the return of the culturally repressed in its most nightmarish and offensive configurations, the components of such plots, from the psychoanalytic perspective, often act as “symbols for sexual trauma of various sorts,” and they express “sexual desire in symbolic form” and reveal the consequences of sexual suppression.63 Poderviansky’s act of placing, through positioning and function, the desexualized, invalidated hero of Stalinist culture instead of conventional fairy-tale female characters at the threshold of their sexual awakening results in Mykola Ostrovsky’s explicit emasculation in terms of standard androcentric masculinity. As Lilya Kaganovsky observes in her discussion of this type of masculinity in the “unmaking” of Soviet man, unvaryingly male, socialist realist canonical texts draw on the “realization and acceptance of Stalinist masculinity as lack,” fulfilling the demand of current culture for heroism and discipline, and moving from heterosexual panic, caused by the suppression of heterosexual erotic desire, to “male hysteria, the mechanism by which the men can ‘enjoy’ their ‘symptom’”—hospitalization, blindness, leg cramps, heart palpitations, etc.—“and yet negotiate the trauma of patriarchal identification.”64 All this is in line with what Kon defines as an important element of the Stalinist “cultural revolution”—sexophobia,65 which pullulates with the trivialization of sex in the later Soviet cultural context, and is tightly linked to misogyny and sexism66 so vividly exposed in Pavlik Morozov. As the next step in his intertextual exercise, Poderviansky supplements his nod to classical literature with two characters from the Russian oral tradition, the folktale “Sister Alyonushka and her Brother Ivanushka,” as if mimicking another important principle of socialist realism—the use of folklore—promoted by Gorky because of its “strong emotional appeal…[that] created a unified image of ‘the people’ and attached that image to an eternal past and future.”67 The inspirational tale chosen by the playwright, who refers to Alyonushka and Ivanushka as folkloric monsters existing in the (post)Soviet unconscious,68 is about a boy mysteriously transformed into a baby goat. His elder sister is drowned by Baba Yaga (wicked witch), who shape-shifts into the maiden’s image to take her place in marriage, and the latter is miraculously resurrected by her brother’s unconditional love. Poderviansky’s description of Alyonushka immediately evokes the image from Viktor Vasnetsov’s (1848–1926)

130  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon painting, Alyonushka (1881), which depicts a young girl sitting on a boulder by a lake in a dark forest wilderness. The artist’s fascination with the world of folk culture and his “translations” of tales, epics, and legends into visual images made him renowned for capturing the “Russian soul” in his romanticized portrayals of fictionalized national history. His paintings, including Alyonushka, were especially popular in the USSR, where they were reproduced “in schoolbooks and on consumer goods such as calendars, posters, and boxes of chocolates.”69 The shared mental image of a sorrowful, lonely female figure, a stereotypical staple of scarce Soviet home décor and advertising, both reinforces the recognizability of the character in the play and defamiliarizes it. Moreover, the author features the meek Alyonushka, a sentimental embodiment of folkloric Russian femininity, as a mermaid cross-­pollinated with a vampire, who, driven by an uncontrollable sexual urge, lurks in the bullrushes of a lake preying on men. Her mermaid element, which is a composite of female magnetism and deviance surrounded by an erotic and mysterious aura, traditionally symbolizes “prostitution as well as bestiality” and personifies the “image of temptation,”70 luring men into deep waters in order to fornicate with them and then kill them. Similarly to the mermaid, the female vampire is traditionally associated with power over men and primarily affiliated with sexualized violence; she is a “pre-eminently sexual predator, who alternately uses horrific violence and smooth seduction.”71 Poderviansky plays with culturally gendered connotations of these figments of the heterosexual male imagination, which hover between the human and the animal, civilized people and cannibals, to parody male anxieties about corrupt or insatiable female sexuality and the fear of women’s bodies as monstrously and abnormally oversexed. It is also noteworthy that among Poderviansky’s indiscriminately copulating characters, women are relegated exclusively to sexual roles and carnal desires, and are termed accordingly: while the bricolaged Alyonushka is featured as a vulgar whore,72 his two Erinyes, the chthonic goddesses of vengeance borrowed from Greek mythology, are unambiguously named Suka [Bitch] and Bliadʹ [Whore], and styled as bloodthirsty chimerae and goddesses of shit, flies, and menstruation. All three are nymphomaniacs, who are outlandishly gross in their compulsive sexual advances aimed at getting laid. The only human counterpart to female figures from mythology, legend, and folklore introduced in the play is Pelaheia Nylivna, who is also a sexual transgressor; she has a child out of wedlock and is trying to revive her affair with General Vlasov by reminiscing about their passionate encounter, the memory of which still haunts her. Her passionate soliloquy blends a highly romantic style with bestial erotics and bizarre olfactory sensations consisting of diesel fuel, solid oil, gasoline, and other substances that trigger her nostalgia for the brave tank-officer.

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  131 In Act II, Poderviansky plays out a quasi-Oedipal drama in which the oracle Mykola Ostrovsky, unlike Tiresias in Oedipus Rex, orchestrates Pavlik’s dire fate by portraying the Soviet Oedipus’s father as a class enemy, who must be exterminated, and by guiding Pavlik/Oedipus on his road to patricide. But while the archetypal Oedipal subject is torn by desire, transgression, guilt, and unhappiness, Pavlik, the end product of Stalinist propaganda, manifests the predicament of millions of Soviet people who were subjected to what Anatoly A. Khazanov calls the “mass psychosis and hysteria” that was unleashed during the 1930s and 1940s, when it was nothing out of the ordinary “for wives to denounce their husbands and for husbands to denounce their wives, for children to publicly repudiate their parents, and for relatives to disown their arrested kin.”73 The Young Oedipal Pioneer, moved by the prophet’s call to punish the sworn servant of mammon for his worship of material wealth, castigates his avaricious “Slavic humanist” father and enthusiastically strangles Savva with the latter’s own beard. Inspired by Pavlik’s ritualistic patricide, the jubilant members of the Young Pioneer detachment tie a red Pioneer tie around the prophet’s neck in an act of ideological and spiritual conversion. Immediately afterward, Pelaheia Nylivna, another victim of frenzied “mass psychosis,” vindictively informs on her lover, General Vlasov, exposing him as a German spy, because after experiencing an epiphany, he excludes her from his future honorable plans to live virtuously and better the world, and she feels betrayed. When, in the manner of the proverbial Soviet warrior captured by the enemy, the General proudly refuses to cooperate during his interrogation, Pavlik commands the Young Pioneers to drown him in a swamp. The aggressive violence of the sado-psychopathic devotees of the heavenly leader and teacher increases with its absurd unpredictability. Act II ends with the matricidal Pavlik standing over the dead body of his mother, an “epic hero” of morally degraded and dehumanized society; methodically exposed and subjected to terror and repressions, it validates and glamorizes treachery and brutality. Following Poderviansky’s structural pattern, Thanatos opens Act III with an ominous warning that he has dispatched the Erinyes—Suka [Bitch] and Bliad′ [Whore]—the goddesses of vengeance, jealousy, and blood, finally to resolve the farcical tangle of the outrageously violent events instigated by mortals. The goddesses, ugly bony women with repulsive black winglets and of indefinable age, fantasize about sex with young boys, and deliberate on the meager prospects of menopausal women for Soviet-style romance, which boil down to sporadic sex with men who drink constantly. The divine intervention continues when their sorrowful ruminations are interrupted by the sudden appearance of the formidable Klimaks [Menopause], a messenger of the gods. As in the case of the blind prophet, Poderviansky appropriates this figure from Greek mythology. However, by renaming the gods’ emissary Hermes,

132  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon the multifunctional patron of merchants, travelers, eloquence, commerce, dreams, and more, the playwright deliberately shifts his modified deity’s duties to fertility. Although the paradigmatic Hermes, as suggested by classic Hellenists,74 is also an agent of fecundity, “bringing life and prosperity to the flora and fauna of the earth,”75 Klimaks [Menopause] is specifically in charge of female fertility, thus embodying rabidly misogynistic Soviet gender ideologies that placed value on the female reproductive system and distinctly privileged women of full nubility. As Pavla Veselá argues, Soviet women, “on top of being machines in the production of socialism, eventually also became machines for its reproduction.”76 A whimsical amalgam of Batman, Medusa, and a hang glider, Poderviansky’s celestial intermediary instills fear in the Erinyes, flogging them with snakes as a punishment for their lascivious yearnings. By policing his subordinate goddesses’ smutty sexuality, Klimaks [Menopause], in a warped way, mimics his ancient Greek counterpart, who is also the god of lovers, seduction, and “sexuality, including cheap sexuality and love by chance,”77 and paradoxically combines the antithetically related energies of the sexual, shameful, and the spiritual.78 In the case of Hermes’s Soviet-style derivative, the sexual–­shameful dyad plays out through society’s fixation on sex, which was oddly linked to feelings of guilt and shame in the USSR,79 and is sarcastically mocked as the bitch-and-whore team whine tearfully and swear an oath to their boss to sin no more. Concurrently with his “divine” aspect, the messenger of the Soviet gods behaves, quite appropriately, as a secret police officer, while the Erinyes are transmogrified into disguised members of a sabotage group, holding the ranks of Senior Sergeant and Private, respectively. Moreover, Klimaks [Menopause] screws up his eyes like Beria, an apt figure to evoke amidst the spy-mania, suspicion, and violence reigning in the play. Lavrenty Beria (1899–1953), Marshall of the Soviet Union and the ruthless head of the NKVD, referred to as “my Himmler” by Stalin,80 became the second most powerful man in the Kremlin, and Stalin’s premier “hangman,” who was responsible for mass murders and atrocities.81 Besides being an architect of fear, sadistic torturer, and commissioner of death, who “efficiently” supervised the Stalinist purges and administered the vast network of slave labor camps (Gulags) set up throughout the country, Stalin’s “envoy” of extermination was a serial rapist, legendary for his “sexual proclivities” and “violation of young girls,” who, not unlike some other Soviet leaders, “ordered women to be delivered to his house, as modern politicians order pizza.”82 In a sardonic, albeit random, extension of this culinary simile, Klimaks ­[Menopause] communicates Zeus’s order to the goddesses of vengeance to serve him Pavlik for dinner, thus assigning the avenging Erinyes to perform their mythological function of punishing the crimes “committed by one member of a family against another (especially younger against older,

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  133 child against parent)” and to “thoroughly trouble Oedipus.” 83 Turning the Soviet parricidal “hero” into a casualty of a cannibalistic regime ensures that, having gone against the rule of the father and murdering his entire family, he will not challenge the power of the heavenly leader and teacher—the supreme father—on Mount Olympus. There are other references to the formative period of Homo soveticus and High Stalinist culture. For example, in his interactions with his subordinates, Klimaks [Menopause] offers them, as a fraternizing gesture, “Belomor,” one of the most popular Soviet cigarette brands, named in honor of the construction of the White Sea Canal (1930–1933). This seemingly insignificant detail triggers sinister associations with that infamous “construction of the century,” which took place during Stalin’s modernization drive; the lies of Soviet propaganda surrounding the notorious canal continue to live on in a brand of cigarettes. Having duly mythologized the canal as a triumph of epochal proportions in a book of essays, The Canal Named for Stalin (1934), the thirty-sixwriter collective led by Gorky, who wrote both the preface and the conclusion, “justifie[d] the unjustifiable, purporting not only to document the spiritual transformation of prisoners into living examples of Homo sovieticus, but also to create a new type of literature,” which is fully implicated in the ideological strategies of state terror.84 The “engineers of human souls” conveniently glossed over the shocking reality that the 227-­kilometer-long White Sea Canal was dug by hand by forced labor camp prisoners, under inhumane conditions.85 In reassembling dismembered Soviet texts, figures, material objects, and artifacts as snippets of the ideologically conditioned Soviet cultural unconscious, Poderviansky makes their latent content available for unlocking and unpacking, necessary for loosening, if not completely eliminating, the past’s tight grip on the present. The playwright reverses the sequence of events in the classical Greek tragedy by staging Pavlik’s encounter with the Sphinx, a winged and clawed lascivious monster with breasts and cunt, in Act III, after murdering his father and mother. Like the Sphinx in Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, where she represents the “unconscious forces at work both in Oedipus’s personal fantasies and in the collective fantasies of the Thebans,”86 Pavlik represents the Soviet collective unconscious, because although he confronts the Sphinx and solves all of her ideologically loaded riddles, he does not put an end to the “plague,” spread by kulaks and other “enemies of people,” which presumably torments his fellow citizens, but is driven solely by the compulsion to destroy as part of the constitutive violence of the Soviet state. Moreover, he quizzes the Sphinx, and when she fails to solve his Goebbels riddle, he kills her with the sack containing his mother’s dead body, strangling the baby Sphinxes as a bonus. Lustful Suka [Bitch] and Bliad′ [Whore] join Pavlik in the Sphinx’s putrid lair, followed by the lubricious Alyonushka and the innocuous Ivanushka, and an orgy

134  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon commences. The immediate, idiotic pleasure simulated by the overenthusiastic participants in this scene is pornographic, not in the sense of being sexually arousing, but in its obscene, repetitive banal vulgarity. Pavlik’s scabrous physiologism underscores the hypocrisy of socialist realism’s unfailingly ascetic positive hero, whose creators clearly subscribed to the nineteenth-century spermatic economy doctrine, according to which the loss of seminal fluid compromises male vigor, causing, in extreme cases, mental and physical deterioration.87 Appropriated by the 1920s Soviet discourse on sexuality, alongside “revolutionary sublimation” and “sexual economy,”88 it references two basic models of libidinal economy of revolution: Freudian and Reichian, or petit-bourgeois and socialist.89 It is thus paradoxical that socialist realist writers consistently privileged the petit-bourgeois model of revolutionary sexuality, which draws, as David Bennett explains, on a concept of the Freudian self as an “economy of libido that could be variously saved, profitably spent in sexual pleasure or locked up unproductively in neurosis as a sleeping asset” as opposed to the “free and unreserved spending of this libidinal currency…[which] constituted a radical rejection of the capitalist ethos of acquisition, accumulation and productive investment.”90 While revealing the unacknowledged Soviet unconscious desires repressively censored by official discourses, Poderviansky ruthlessly desublimates the Soviet hero, similarly to other characters in the play, into a degraded sexual maniac, thus turning him into an advanced model of socialist-revolutionary libidinal profligacy. Pavlik’s flamboyantly macho sexual prowess mirrors his dexterity as a fighter. In the final combat with his King-Kong-shaped half-brother, who is disgusted by all the whoring going on his territory, Pavlik strikes a fatal blow (again with his lethal weapon—the sack containing the body of his dead mother), but is tragically squashed by his rival’s heavy corpse when it falls on him. The “epic tragedy” concludes with Filin hysterically lamenting the arrival of what should be the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In a simulated socialist realist universe, the horsemen are, of course, horseless. In his absurdist play, Poderviansky juxtaposes his anti-utopian nightmare with a utopian fantasy created by Soviet authors by tearing down the happy facade that camouflaged violence against individuals in the name of communism. Each play in the collection rotates similarly around the same type of absurdities, phobias, and crazed and senseless brutalities. Pornography here appears to be the most adequate mechanism to reflect on the calamitous aftermath of Soviet rule because it is another zone where violence and culture overlap. Although the USSR boasted of high moral principles, including those pertaining to bodily matters, as opposed to the bourgeois morality of the “rotting” West, it was a rampantly permissive society and, despite “official reports, socialism was riddled with prostitution, illegal abortions, adultery, and rape, but these started to happen in secrecy, in the unacknowledged Soviet unconscious.”91

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  135 Poderviansky’s is an exceedingly masculinist discourse; its phallocentrism is made absolute through the dissolution of any, even the most vague standards of decency. Obscenity comprises the body of Poderviansky’s language: substandard speech is not utilized as a kind of figurative language for the sake of expression, because his characters live in and through this language, which predetermines and structures their thinking and being. Obscenity comprises the body of the plays’ plots; obscenity comprises the bodies of the characters. In his review of Heroi nashoho chasu [The hero of our time], Vadym Trinchi mentions that Poderviansky’s collection could have been called Life of the Genitals. If the male reproductive organ could have gained a certain physical and intellectual autonomy, it would have acted as Poderviansky’s characters do.92 In his comediography of violence, the phallus par excellence invariably becomes the hero of our time. Poderviansky’s pornographic characters are creatures of brutal sexualized reality drawn from the paragons of socialist realism and the reductive system of Soviet literature. His revisionist impulses are directed against this canon that features authoritative and spellbinding Major Texts. His violent, satirical, and absurdist plays do not represent an iconoclastic break from the Soviet epoch and from socialist realism as its ideological tool; instead, they signify a degeneration of both. Undercutting the counterfeit cohesion and order of the Soviet system, Poderviansky’s plays provide a sarcastic antidote to the impingement of tenacious Soviet mythology. They acquire a new urgency in the context of Russia’s “aggressive reimperialization”93 of its imaginary “spheres of privileged interests,” which include the former Soviet republics, during the current Russo-Ukrainian War. The massive propaganda offensive of this hybrid warfare, which draws on an updated, amplified version of “Great Patriotic War” mythology, now asserting that the “Russians single-handedly rescued civilization from the global evil of fascism and secured world peace under Stalin’s leadership,”94 continues to ensure militant, popular mobilization in Russia. With its distinct emphasis on the messianic role of the Russian people, it comprises the central narrative of Putinist neo-imperial politics and jingoistic propaganda that proclaim the annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine as a defensive operation aimed at protecting ethnic Russians and Russian speakers— Russia’s “compatriots”—from the “pro-Western and pro-Nazi” political order that emerged in Ukraine after the 2014 EuroMaidan victory.95 Likewise, the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Donbas region, also rationalized as a protective measure against the “fascist junta” in Kyiv, has been framed as a civil war by Russian media, despite the fact that “it took the covert and eventually overt involvement of Russian political advisors and the military to translate the tensions in the Donbas into a violent conflict and, soon, a hybrid war blending irregular and conventional warfare.”96

136  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon Furthermore, Poderviansky’s heavenly leader-and-teacher character is still thriving in contemporary Russia, as the tendencies toward minimizing Stalin’s atrocities and amplifying his military accomplishments enjoy governmental and public support.97 Thus, 58 percent of Russian adults see “Stalin’s historical role in either a ‘very’ or ‘mostly’ positive light,” as reported by the 2017 Pew Research Centre poll,98 and 38 percent of Russians call him the “most outstanding” figure in world history, followed by Putin at 34 (The Washington Post, June 26, 2017). It would appear that Russia, still in thrall to the cult of Stalin’s military genius conflated with the cult of the “Great Patriotic War,” is affected by phantom limb syndrome—the failure to reconcile with the loss of its post-World War II superpower status. By invading Ukraine, it is attempting to turn back the clock, thus resuming the battle against new, propaganda-designated “fascists” who allegedly threaten Russia and the world. The aggressive expansionist drive of the “Russian world,” with all of its systematically fabricated “panoply of saints, sacred relics, and…rigid master-narrative[s],”99 still demands remedial countermeasures, equipped with Poderviansky’s starkly surgical eye, to continue the convoluted process of Ukrainian decolonization.

Notes 1 Trinchii, “Pro pornoetnohrafiiu,” 24. 2 Lapins′kyi, “Shо ne iasno?” 9. 3 See Dibrova, “Prynts Hamlet Hams′koho povitu,” 26–28; Trinchii, “Pro pornoetnohrafiiu,” 24–26. 4 Jump, Burlesque, 1. 5 Komaromi, “Mat,” 378. 6 Esslin, The Theatre of the Absurd, 26. 7 Semkiv, “The Return of Burlesque,” 109–120. 8 Jump, Burlesque, 1. 9 Deleuze, “Coldness and Cruelty,” 17. 10 Tertz [Sinyavsky], The Trial Begins, 213. 11 Dibrova, “Prynts Hamlet Hams′koho povitu,” 26. 12 Thompson, Imperial Knowledge, 19. 13 Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin, eds., Post-Colonial Studies, 216. 14 Evans, Soviet Marxism-Leninism, 146. 15 “Inzhenery chelovecheskikh dush.” 16 Kemp-Welch, Stalin and the Literary Intelligentsia, 164. 17 Cornwell, ed., The Routledge Companion to Russian Literature, 178. 18 Ibid., 115. 19 Layton, Russian Literature and Empire, 12. 20 Thompson, Imperial Knowledge, 1. 21 Ibid., 2. 22 Rosenthal, New Myth, New World, 389. 23 Ibid., 388. 24 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 83–84. 25 Rosenthal, New Myth, New World, 393. 26 Druzhnikov, Informer 001, vii. 27 Kelly, Comrade Pavlik, 15.

Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon  137 28 Druzhnikov, Informer 001, viii. 29 Nina Tumarkin, “The Great Patriotic War,” 601. 30 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 83. 31 Bonnell, Iconography of Power, 9. 32 Ibid., 160. 33 McCloskey, Artists of World War II, 136. 34 Marsh, Images of Dictatorship, 26. 35 Ibid., 28–29. 36 Lewin, The Making of the Soviet System, 275. 37 Poderv’ias′kyi, PZT, 87. 38 Snyder, Bloodlands, viii. 39 Wasserstein, Barbarism and Civilization, 203. 40 Bonnell, Iconography of Power, 256. 41 Carleton, Sexual Revolution in Bolshevik Russia, 21. 42 Ibid., 20. 43 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 89–90. 4 4 Shearer and Kraustov, Stalin and the Lubianka, 257. 45 Ibid., 312. 46 Bartlett, Tolstoy: A Russian Life, 249. 47 “Slavophile.” 48 Stergar, “Panslavism.” 49 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 99–100. 50 Clark, The Soviet Novel, 10. 51 Ibid., 28. 52 Ibid. 53 Morris, Saints and Revolutionaries, 173. 54 Ibid. 55 Clark, Soviet Novel, 131. 56 Žižek, Santer, and Reinhard, The Neighbor, 170. 57 Palombo, “Oedipus and the Sphinx,” 645. 58 The Metamorphoses of Ovid, 52. 59 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 100. 60 Hoffmann, “Was There a ‘Great Retreat’ from Soviet Socialism?” 664. 61 Ibid. 62 Rayfield, Stalin and His Hangmen, 355. 63 Haase, ed., The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, 852. 64 Kaganovsky, How the Soviet Man Was Unmade, 69. 65 Kon, The Sexual Revolution in Russia, 266. 66 Ibid., 36. 67 Hoffmann, “Was There a ‘Great Retreat’ from Soviet Socialism?” 666. 68 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 83. 69 Sarabianov, “Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov.” 70 Ruys, “Heloise, Monastic Temptation, and Memoria,” 338. 71 Hobson, “Dark Seductress,” 12. 72 Poderv’ians′kyi, PZT, 112. 73 Khazanov, “Whom to Mourn and Whom to Forget?” 139. 74 See Suhr, Before Olympos, 64. 75 Ibid., 58. 76 Veselá, “The Hardening of Cement,” 111. 77 López-Pedraza, Hermes and His Children, 161. 78 Downing, Gods in Our Midst, 59. 79 See Lab, Libertinage in Russian Culture and Literature, 121. 80 Andrews and Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield, 550.

138  Pornographized Desecration of the Socialist Realist Canon 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99

See Rayfield, Stalin and His Hangmen, 331–74. Ibid., 447. Hard, The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology, 38. Applebaum, Gulag: A History, 67. Ibid., 64–65. Palombo, “Oedipus and the Sphinx,” 635. Todd, The “New Woman” Revised, 43–44. Kaganovsky, How the Soviet Man Was Unmade, 69. Bennett, “Sexual Revolutions,” 39. Ibid. Veselá, “Hardening of Cement,” 117. Trinchii, “Pro pornoetnohrafiiu,” 26. Van Herpen, Putin’s Wars, 5, 276. Khapaeva, “Triumphant Memory of the Perpetrators,” 65. Yekelchyk, The Conflict in Ukraine, 6. Ibid., 9. Uldricks, “War, Politics and Memory,” 68. Masci, “In Russia, Nostalgia for Soviet Union.” Tumarkin, “Great Patriotic War,” 601.

8 Postscript

The propulsive movement of a female sharpshooter, the eroticism of a naked body displaced onto the barrel of the gun pointed directly at the viewer, and an illuminated figure against a charcoal background converge in Taras Polataiko’s Eadweard Muybridge, Human Locomotion Plate 356/5 from the 2005 Down Time series (Frontispiece). In his exploration of a technologically constructed body, he reworks Eadweard Muybridge’s (1830–1904) iconic motion studies of the 1880s, placing it among his manifold intervisual dialogues1 with Kazimir ­Malevich (1879–1935), Lucio Fontana (1899–1968), and Gerhard Richter (b.  1932), to name a few. The conceptual Ukrainian-Canadian artist’s work, exhibited at numerous art venues in the Americas, Europe, and Australia, and representing Ukraine at the 2002 São Paulo Biennial, takes on many forms from painting, photography, video, and performance to cultural and political interventions in response to historical and current events. To reconceptualize Muybridge’s nudes, which “claim a foundational place in both the modern era of vision and technology, and the unflinching photographic investigation of the human body that persists today,”2 ­Polataiko’s models, photographed with long exposures, imitate poses in nineteenth-century pictures. While Muybridge segmented motion into stills, Polataiko, multiplying his exposure time (0.17 sec.) by the number of years between the two projects, arrived at an average of 22 sec., resulting in destabilized and blurred image. Contemporary models are thus snapped out of time and trans-fixed in unbalanced poses, and “motion” is created by the tension of the body attempting to maintain stasis. As the artist explains, By reversing the linearity of time and direction, I addressed the conditioning of humanity by technological progress. Muybridge ‘froze’ his models to make them move forever as phantoms of motion pictures—an invention that irrevocably changed the way we perceive ourselves in time. I ‘unfroze’ his models by using technology backwards.3 Positioning Muybridge as part of the prehistory of contemporary “frenzy of the visible,” Williams emphasizes his fetishization of the female body

140 Postscript in the incipient cultural narrative wherein men’s naked bodies act and do, while women’s, endowed with “surplus erotic meaning,”4 appear “in mini-dramas that perpetually circle about the question of their femininity.”5 Continuing Williams’s line of argument that Muybridge, the technician of pleasure engaged in a new construction of sex, consistently viewed women as saturated with sexuality, Marta Braun notes that he often photographed female models “in gestures now recognized as coming from the standard pornographic vocabulary.”6 In his selection of images, Polataiko shifts emphasis away from Muybridge’s conventional Victorian philosophy of separate spheres, with its rigid allocation of gendered characteristics and tasks, as well as from the strictly erotic organization of visibility. His female body, caught in involuntary movement and emitting signs that transcend visual pleasure grounded in photographic trompe-l’oeil reality, suggests fluid viewing experiences stimulated by the displacement of authorial centrality; the erosion of culturally fixed discourses through the representational “cyborgization” of the body; the un-gendering of literally and symbolically potent instruments of empowerment; and the seductive imbrication of violence, eroticism, and power. While the 1990s Ukrainian art scene, like the literary one, was unquestionably dominated by men, the 2000s marked the emergence of a number of women artists. Vlada Ralko, one of the most powerful Ukrainian neo-Expressionists since independence, winner of the Ukrainian Painting Triennial Award (2000), who has exhibited nationally and internationally, initiated her series of “diary” projects with a 2002 exhibition titled Kytais′kyi Erotychnyi Shchodennyk [Chinese erotic diary], completing the cycle with Kyïvs′kyi Shchodennyk [Kyiv diary] (2013–2014) created during the Maidan Revolution of Dignity. Constituting the noncanonical genre of life-writing and, by extension, of self-representation, diaries—alongside memoirs, autobiographies, journals, travel logs, and graphic memoirs—offer introspective insights into subjectivity and have been traditionally favored by women as an unregimented form of representational practice excluded from the masculinist canon. For Ralko, whose primary focus is the body, the diary format provides a space for the inscription of physical dimensions of subjectivity through corporeal exposures of the subject. Partly a tribute to the elaborate and ancient Chinese erotic tradition, her work employs the body as cultural raw material to be arranged, segregated, and delimited; many of the figures are distorted or fragmented, with missing body parts, and seemingly conflating erogeneity and wounds in violently induced supplementary “orifices.” Untying the somatic, expressive, and carnal potentialities of the body, Ralko problematizes established representational strategies by her highly charged, radically disjointed imagery, and, according to her own admission, points toward some inner struggle, pain, love, shame, doubts, death, and memory experienced during or in the aftermath of

Postscript  141 some invisible event. She makes a strong statement that her work is “directly related to the political,” which in her personal perception of reality is “manifested through very intimate moments, or those things that…[she] propose[s] to consider intimate.”7 Ralko’s artwork from the Khlopchyky i divchatka [Boys and girls] series (2010) is a captivating study of a female body fragment (Figure 8.1). As though the torso is being stripped of color together with the movement of the shirt that is pulled upward in a sensuous gesture, it stretches from a white monochrome pelvis area, rising up out of imaginary hipbones to a dark-brown animal hat, and ranges in hue from pale pink to saturated red. The intensity of the color at the top is counterbalanced by a dark spot of a cat placed right at the figure’s pubic area, an ironic play on the cat’s manifold signifying arsenal as a soft and furry proxy for

Figure 8.1  V lada Ralko, from Khlopchyky i divchatka [Boys and girls] series, 2010. Acrylic and marker on paper. 9.8ʺ × 5.9ʺ. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Vlada Ralko.

142 Postscript the female “pussy,” an emblem of sensual love, a symbol for the vulva that may appear in dreams, representing some “real and fantasized genital qualities” as, for example, castration anxiety, the “primitive fear of males that the vulva or the vagina can make quick movements, like a cat catching and eating a mouse, to seize and consume the penis.”8 On a less quasi-psychoanalytic note, the headdress and the supple posture may allude to an enigmatic feline fatale, Catwoman, an alluring icon of transgressive feminine powers from comic books and popular films. It is also interesting that the animal hat represents an “enduring call of the wild” of a fashion trend, with its own animal-hat-world taxonomy that includes categories such as adorabilis, sexualis, and bizarrus (The New York Times, March 2, 2011), the same year that Ralko created this piece. Aside from such cat references, there is a distinctly disturbing element in this artwork: the young woman has no eyes, and is staring at the viewer out of empty sockets. This deliberate “blindness” further enhances the effect of bodily disfigurement that limits the subject exclusively to the haptic sense and thus covertly articulates a hidden event to which the artist refers in the earlier-cited interview.9 Engaging in the production of new visual discourses, approaches to art, and creative optics, Ralko challenges the viewer with questions that have no answers, making any of them open to further interrogations and constantly turning the viewer’s mind and perceptions 180 degrees in different directions,10 while extricating the body, to borrow Grosz’s expression, from the “mire of biologism” and, most definitely, socialist realism, “in which it has been entrenched.”11 The new millennium has seen a growing number of female authors— much more numerous than women’s presence in visual art—who contributed to the dialogue on the postcolonial body and the decolonizing impact of erotics and for whom Zabuzhko has become both a trailblazer and a progenitress of sorts. Representing what I term, borrowing from McNair, the second—porno-chic Ukrainian style—wave that is analogous to similar processes in late-1980s Western culture,12 their work reflects a new development in the Ukrainian literary and cultural vogue for erotomania. It is characterized by the feminization of sexually explicit literature13 that emphasizes female sexual agency, asserts sexual autonomy, and thus contributes to the liberalization and democratization of Ukrainian society. These authors showcase two distinct groups: established writers who shifted to the postcolonial sexual playground from “serious” literature and those who started publishing in their twenties. The first duo is represented by Mariia Matios’s Bul′varnyi roman [Pulp fiction] (2003) and Yevheniia Kononenko’s Poviї tezh vykhodiat′ zamizh [Street-walkers get married too] (2005). The works of the second duo, represented by Irena Karpa’s Perlamutrove porno (Supermarket samotnosti) [Nacreous porn (Supermarket of solitude)] (2005) and Sofiia Andrukhovych’s S′omha [Salmon] (2007), reveal a new, much less inhibited, erotic imagination.

Postscript  143 By the time Matios published the novel whose title emphatically underscores its “low” genre, she was the author of several collections of poetry and prose fiction and had received broad critical acclaim and national recognition upon the publication of Natsiia [Nation] (2001). By making an incursion into a formerly forbidden area of history—the Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine in 1939–1941 and the incorporation of her native province of Bukovyna into the USSR as part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression—it counters the official Soviet celebratory narrative of the “Golden September” that “reunited” Ukraine with the happy Soviet family, which camouflaged the appalling fact that “[m]ore than 1 million Ukrainians from the newly annexed regions were executed or deported between 1939 and 1941.”14 Natsiia [Nation] was followed by the novel Solodka Darusia: Drama na try zhyttia [Sweet Darusia: A drama of three lives] (2004). This work, which continues Matios’s exploration into the shattering effects of the Soviet annexation, won the Shevchenko National Prize, Ukraine’s highest literary award. Within the context of the writer’s politically charged work, Bul′varnyi roman [Pulp fiction] looks like an authorial whim. To endow it with an aura of mystery, Matios creates a narrative frame, recounting the unexpected appearance of an ambitious young woman on her doorstep, who insists that the celebrated writer publishes the stranger’s manuscript under her own name. The imaginary author’s embedded, next-generational narrative is fragmented by a nestling sequence of dreams that alternate with each other, thus juxtaposing the fictional reality of a young, oversexed couple engaged in an endless stream of proliferating acts of heavy lovemaking in a pink bedroom decorated with mirrors (an ideal pornotopic site), and its “dream content” of sorts. The narrative of the “real,” even-numbered chapters includes the couple’s early morning, ecstatic love rituals that are described consistently in terms of electrophysics, including fireworks produced by short circuits, electric currents, and electro-transmissions, or orgasmic pleasures of celestial proportions, causing atomic bomb blasts and catapulting cosmonauts into bottomless cosmic precipices, or carnivals, aphrodisiac festivities, and intricate erotic merry-go-rounds. The lovers’ sexual organs are anthropomorphized and endowed with enviable agency, as well as inventively labeled in the couple’s creative lexicographic exercises that match excessive verbosity in the portrayal of sexual scenes. Named in accordance with phallocentric logic, the penis is conceptualized chiefly in historical military terms, such as Garibaldi, Dovbush (the Ukrainian Robin Hood), buccaneer, kamikaze, kozak, mujahid, samurai, accompanied by miscellaneous martial paraphernalia, whereas the vulva is titled predominantly within the lexico-semantic field of lady-ness, occasionally interspersed with words denoting flowers and personal characteristics. Somewhat unexpected is the inclusion of pikhva [vagina] in their genital lexicon, since Matios seems to avoid anatomical terminology; however,

144 Postscript this word is most likely being used in its primary historical meaning of “scabbard” to supplement the male dvosichnyi mech [double-edged sword]. The narrative levels of “reality” and dreams click together in the final chapter, when the woman’s husband, who is looking through books and papers she has scattered on the floor in preparation for her exam in Ukrainian history, finds a book about Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) in Lviv, articles about a prime minister’s illegal machinations with stateowned real estate, a political scandal, and a famous artist who froze to death among hoboes, frequently dying of hypothermia on roads and in cemeteries, and Freud’s work on dreams and sublimation. The opening chapter of the manuscript, obtained from the intruder, introduces the first of the narrator’s nighttime fantasies, in which a thirtyyear-old widow, longing for love, is approached by a mysterious stranger at a ball, who turns out to be Casanova, the famous adventurer, lover, spy, actor, clergyman, officer, and brilliant con artist. She is smitten with his looks and courtly manners, and submits to her desire. He decorates her pubis with magnolias; arranges candles in a romantic gazebo and a bed of luxurious sable, zebra, fox, and beaver lamb furs; teaches her the art of love; and brings her unimaginable pleasure only to disappear in the morning. In her following dream reincarnation, the narrator is a hungry beggar picked up by a grotesquely fat, high-ranking, corrupt politician close to the President, who takes her to his high-security, cavern-like manor overflowing with kitschy, excessive lavishness. She is bathed in a tub of champagne, showered with wine, massaged with honey and fragrant ointments, and warmed up with banknotes. Despite his ugly body and short, thin, nail-like penis, he is an exquisite lover. His extraordinary sexual mastery is weirdly animal-like, as Matios makes him lick all her body parts relentlessly, experiencing absolute bliss. Chapter 5 takes the dreamer to a burial vault with her abductor, who turns out to be an internationally acclaimed artist and whose successful career, as well as his male potency, has been ruined by alcoholism. However, he finds pleasure in bringing women—elevated to the status of morbid muses and objects of erotic fantasy—to orgasm, which the protagonist experiences exultantly multiple times. The “sandwiched” dream cycle is completed with the scene laid on the board of a presidential jet in the aftermath of a wild drinking party, marking the state delegation’s return from an arms’ fair. While all the army generals and high-ranking officials of the delegation are male, women occupy exclusively service positions, having been carefully screened not so much for their professional qualities as for their appearance; all of them look like Playboy material. Furthermore, they are sexually “sampled” by men in accordance with the latter’s place in the chain of command, since sexual services implicitly belong to women’s job descriptions, accept sexual harassment as the norm, and understand that they belong to a fluctuating labor force because the overcharged libido of the “masters of life” has to be stimulated with new

Postscript  145 “blood.” The narrator is a young girl working in the kitchen block, who watches what goes on in the presidential suite through a peephole, sees the drunken President’s frustration, enters his bedroom to soothe him, and, knowing his aversion to French perfume, uses “Krasnaia Moskva” [Red Moscow], the most expensive—and overpowering—brand of perfume in the USSR, to arouse him, and licks him all over until he falls asleep. The First Lady watches this warped “primal scene,” offers the girl a drink, and they both drink and cry. Into Bul′varnyi roman [Pulp fiction] Matios inserts what she calls historical and politological commentaries, explaining that her imaginary young author has challenged glossed and mystified Ukrainian history, the endless manipulations of public opinion, deformed and atrophied public morality, superficial ethical standards, the hypocrisy of the authorities, cynicism, impudent lies on the state level, and numerous political scandals of international proportions.15 She claims that the novel is a political satire. I agree that, when framed this way, Matios’s deliberate employment of lewd, “scandalizable” material might evoke the conventions of pornographic political satire, as it supposedly attacks the above-enumerated vices of Ukrainian society, and castigates the authorities for their baseness through pornographic representations. With a long lineage that goes back to sixteenth-century Italy, this pornographic convention became a commonly used engine “among political agitators, advocates of free speech and critics of government and religious leaders.”16 It played a subversive social role, for example, in eighteenth-­century France, where it “was used to attack the French court, the church, the aristocracy, the academics, the salons, and the monarchy itself.”17 Similarly, in nineteenth-century England, pornographers had a broad political agenda—the dismantling of the monarchy, parliamentary reform, and freedom of the press, among other things—and “used these goals to create a political platform that attacked old sexual and social standards and promoted new possibilities for society through sexuality.”18 While using her imaginary author as an “operator” of the engine of change, fueled by transgressive sexual discourses, Matios attempts to expose corrupt political elites, who have metamorphosed from the Soviet party functionaries into principal agents of “free economy.” Having privatized state assets at a laughably low cost, they formed a new, highly exclusive, and obscenely rich class of oligarchs wielding a great deal of political influence. An informed contemporary reader can make some political connections, for example, with the Ukrainian kleptocrat Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko (1996–1997), whom Transparency International named “one of the world’s 10 most corrupt officials,” who siphoned “hundreds of millions of dollars for his personal use” from the Ukrainian state budget, and was convicted of “money laundering in the United States and, in absentia, in Switzerland” (The New York Times, July 6, 2016); or with the two most high-profile scandals during

146 Postscript the presidency of Leonid Kuchma (1994–2005), such as the Kasetnyi skandal [cassette scandal], also known as Kuchmagate, which erupted in 2000, in the aftermath of the disappearance and assassination of investigative journalist Heorhi Gongadze, in which President Kuchma was “indirectly implicated in the disappearance through comments allegedly made and recorded in his office.”19 It was followed by the even more detrimental Kolʹchuha [chain mail] scandal of 2002, which involved the purported transfer of a sophisticated Ukrainian Kolchuha Electronic Support Measures system to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. 20 In sum, the “Lazarenko affair,” the “cassette scandal,” and the “chainmail scandal,” as Yevhen Mahda argues, “hit not only the image of Leonid Kuchma, but also the reputation of the entire young nation.”21 In addition to some identifiable political references—however vague they might be—and grotesque deficiencies of male characters that might place the novel in the category of political pornography, its glimpses into contemporary sexual and gender politics appear to be much more interesting. Although the male cast includes, besides the incredibly amorous and sexually intoxicating Casanova, the nearly impotent President, irreversibly impotent artist, and monstrously ugly politician, the shape-shifting female protagonist is recurrently available and submits without demur to their needs and desires. Although there is an explicit swing toward the representational centrality of woman’s body and pleasure, she is the one who is acted upon by either her “real” husband or imaginary fantasized men. Moreover, even within the limited narrative reality of the bedroom, the negotiation of pleasure between the protagonist and her husband is structured according to the conventional heterosexual scenario of a traditionally active male and passive female. However, while keeping her couple within a commonly accepted power arrangement, Matios questions the mythology of “natural” female passivity, equated with frigidity and propriety, since her character is actively experiencing orgasmic gratification delivered by her partners, who are all, except the prostrate President, earnestly invested in leading her through an assortment of sexual numbers to climax. The novel’s narrative structure, which consists of the couple’s bedroom–family line and four separate subplots—one fantasy of seduction, two of abduction, and one of serviceability—also evokes conventions of cinematic pornography, specifically the unfolding of the narrative as “repetitive, circular, and episodic, rather than classically linear.”22 And, finally, Bul′varnyi roman [Pulp fiction] is aimed at demonstrating that as an accomplished and “serious” author, as she characterizes herself, Matios can write confidently about anything, thus responding to criticism that when it comes to sexually related issues, she is puritanically buttoned up. 23 The commentaries’ congratulatory laudations about the complexities of the captivating plot, mastery over verbal maneuverings without transgressing the norms of decency, while “speaking sex,”24 and creativity devoid

Postscript  147 of obscenity in expanding Ukrainian “genital” vocabulary testify to the fact that Matios considers her debut as a political pornographer exposing acute social problems highly successful. I certainly agree that, as a writerly “clinical” trial, it deserves attention. Unlike Matios’s semi-hallucinatory sexopolitical allegories, featuring organs and desires that have been completely blocked off from the discursive space, Kononenko’s collection of short stories, Poviї tezh vykhodiat′ zamizh [Street-walkers get married too], focuses on women who are experiencing economic difficulties and feeling trapped in prescriptive gender expectations and roles that have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem and personal relationships. Although her literary career was launched with a collection of poetry, Val′s Pershoho Snihu [Waltz of the first snow] (1997), her literary reputation was established with the publication of her prose fiction, so far including five novels and six collections of short stories, essays, children’s books, and translations from French and English. Reflecting on the lives of Ukrainian urban women, many thematic elements and plotlines in Kononenko’a stories evolved from her 2004 essay “Bez muzhyka” [Without a guy]. Written as a confessional piece, it is a frank revelation of how she feels in the male-centered world and what it means to grow up in an all-female family under the vigilant supervision, tutelage, and control of her mother and grandmother. Classifying men into three major types—alcoholics, studs, and mama’s boys, all of whom are excluded from their righteous world by default— her mother and grandmother relentlessly promote their high moral standards that are fixated on virginity as the supreme female virtue and an indispensable condition of marriage, which status, notwithstanding men’s questionable worth, is the ultimate goal of every woman. In short, their politics of marriage is reduced to the following fatalistic maxim: “When you are getting married, you should think about whom you are going to divorce.”25 On her painful and bleak road to sexual maturation and freedom, the  author-narrator goes through a series of damaging relationships: with an impotent schizophrenic posing as a dissident and victim of Soviet punitive psychiatry and whom she secretly marries only to divorce him shortly after; with a sexually challenged fellow student, who blames her for his erectile problems and talks her into gaining sexual experience with other men, which she does, then gets pregnant during the “training” period and has an abortion; with a much older, forty-­sevenyear-old colleague, a virgin still living with his mother, who shamelessly pressures her into giving him hand jobs. After these devastating experiences, the narrator finally meets a normal, healthy “stud,” who is skillful in bed, consults a sex manual to diversify their erotic life, is not a mama’s boy, gets an erection and orgasms with no problem, and is ready to resume the sexual act after a five-minute break. Eventually, she starts hating this obnoxiously persistent intimacy that actually

148 Postscript constitutes marital rape. She feels used, like a zhyvyi matras [live mattress], regardless of her physical or emotional state or desire, immerses herself fiercely in writing, and divorces her husband. Upon her acceptance into post-Soviet Ukrainian literary circles, she has a clandestine, albeit harmonious, relationship with a man who is also a writer, but she gets tired of the uncertainty and moves on to the next partner. In tune with the new Ukrainian female Zeitgeist, he is a foreigner, who is loving, attentive, and caring to her and her children. After three years of living with him, she realizes that her life lacks an imaginative spark, and she opts for creative fulfillment without a guy. Kononenko’s harrowing story falls under the subgenre of misery memoir, “notable for its account of the narrator suffering and subsequently surviving extremely disturbing experiences,”26 which Hester proposes to define as “misery porn,” thus aligning such texts “with pornography as a representational genre.”27 Moreover, “Bez muzhyka” [Without a guy] deals directly with issues of sexual abuse and dysfunctions, in addition to its mode of representation. Kononenko’s collection of stories replicates the last relationship case from her life-writing narrative. It is structured on the geopolitical and gendered juxtaposition between East and West, schematically represented by well-educated, but poor, Ukrainian women and wealthy Western ­European men. The scene in one of them, “Dialoh i neporozuminnia” [Dialogue and misunderstanding] is set quite transparently in a small town right on the border between West Germany and East Germany during a scholarly conference entitled “East/West.” By some strange and inconceivable logic, evidently based on the author’s ideas of European-style parity in gender representation, the conference program committee selects an equal number of female participants from Eastern Europe and male ones from Western Europe, which translates into heteronormative pairing (ensured by a table-for-two, fixed binary, male/female seating at a restaurant) during breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Thus, an attractive and talented scholar from Kyiv finds herself in the company of an equally attractive and talented Westerner. They connect and, after the conference banquet, go to his room, have champagne, and enjoy explosive sex. The denouement is open: she invites him to visit Kyiv. Another female character, from the story “[A] special woman” (the author uses an English title), while discussing the details of her ex-­husband’s finances with her lawyer, gets some further advice along with a catalogue of Western men looking for Eastern European wives. Depressed by her financial straits, her son’s problems at school, and her dull, tiny apartment, she writes to a man from Denmark. Like the protagonist from the previous story, she too is a scholar, has attended an “East/West” conference on Cyprus, and works at a Humanities research institute. The Dane invites her to visit him; he is sweet, sincere, practical, great in bed, and knows what happiness is, but his formula is too simplistic for the protagonist, who believes that life is too complicated to fit into it.

Postscript  149 In “Nemaie raiu na vsii zemli” [There is no paradise in the whole world], the protagonist, an environmental scientist, juggles several jobs to make ends meet, while her husband, an unemployed geologist, stays at home and writes poetry, which is causing serious problems in their relationship. Unexpectedly, she is offered a monthlong traineeship in Liège and leaves. In Belgium, she meets a nice man, who owns an antique shop, is a fantastic lover (she has been intimate only with one man, her husband), longs for another child (her husband viewed the birth of their son as an obstacle for living their lives), and is madly in love with her. However, during the romantic evening before her departure, a Russian girl appears at her lover’s doorstep. It transpires that the man has a whole network of the protagonist’s former Soviet compatriots, whose visits he schedules meticulously in order to avoid unpleasant overlaps. The Russian and her husband run what they call a Euro-business, for which she selects potential Euro-bridegrooms, visits them upon invitation, evaluates their assets, and then they rob the unfortunate suitors. When the Russian would-be-“bride” makes a scene and demands monetary compensation for moral and financial damages, the protagonist, unexpectedly for herself, asks for money too. Meanwhile, her husband’s poetry is accepted by a literary journal, and he finds a job, and she offers to pay for the publication of his book from her “compensation” fund. The East/West gendered paradigm concludes with a two-part story: “Chastyna persha. Liubov i smert′” [Part one. Love and death] and “Chastyna druha. Liubov i hroshi” [Part two. Love and money]; this diptych depicts a more optimistic outcome and a different financial dynamic. A music teacher, introduced by a girlfriend who is marrying a Frenchman, to her fiancé’s buddy, visits her new acquaintance in Paris. She is overwhelmed by the city’s vibrant beauty, and charmed by her host’s good humor, sensitivity, and generosity. Although they grow very close, upon her return home, she does not hear from her lover for quite a while, only to find out later that because of an unfortunate business decision, he is nearly ruined and has to pay a sizeable penalty. After lengthy deliberations, the protagonist sells her luxury apartment in Kyiv to pay off his debt, gets his new address from friends, and the reader leaves her at the doorstep of his apartment. The other thematic cluster in the collection revolves around the issue of prostitution. Although in the eponymous story, “Poviї tezh vykhodiat′ zamizh” [Streetwalkers get married too], a young Ukrainian woman is actually a prostitute in an Antwerp brothel and is rescued by a man who is fascinated by her beauty, marries her, and devotedly nurtures her back to psychological stability, in both “Drani kolhoty” [Torn pantyhose] and “Novi kolhoty” [New pantyhose] husbands pimp out their gorgeous wives. In the former, a couple attends an international convention banquet at a posh hotel, where the wife’s beauty attracts the attention of a German, who invites her to his room. When she declines his invitation,

150 Postscript the German talks to her husband, who persuades her to oblige the “admirer” whose offer he cannot reject, mentioning, in passing, her affair with their plumber. Once the wife returns from the German’s room, she dances with a Frenchman and goes to his room, too. When the husband acts scandalized, she shows him two hefty checks, while managing to hide the Frenchman’s gifts in order to share them later with the plumber. In the latter story, a husband’s mother has a serious health problem and insists on being operated by a famous surgeon, whose charges are quite high. Although she is well off but reluctant to spend money, the mother sends her son to negotiate with the doctor, who agrees to operate for a bottle of cognac, provided the man’s wife delivers it to his house in the evening. The mother approves this condition enthusiastically; the wife goes to the surgeon’s home reluctantly. They just talk, and he drives her home later, asking her not to tell her husband what happened between them. She honors his request. The descriptions of sexual encounters in all these stories are rather generic; however, the female character in “Poviї” [Streetwalkers] keeps a dark secret from her savior-husband: she enjoys having sex and knew exactly what kind of work she would be doing when she was approached by a recruiting agent for “employment” abroad, like the wife from “Drani Kolhoty” [Torn pantyhose], who enjoys having sex with different partners. In the stories discussed thus far, women’s sexual compliance and their readiness to get involved in circumstantial relationships are dictated by dreary economic conditions and unhappy marital lives with men who are literally and metaphorically impotent, as if supporting findings of Zabuzhko’s “fieldwork.” However, despite the fact that the shock-driven transition to a market economy after independence created economic hardships that were compounded by economic decline “unleashed by the Gorbachov reforms on a population which had endured stagnation and declining growth rates since the 1960s,”28 Kononenko’s characters, unlike Zabuzhko’s protagonist, are firmly caught in the cycle of victimization created by their search for a better—primarily financially secure—man, almost voluntarily depriving themselves of agency. Nevertheless, one story, “Zemliaky na chuzhyni” [Compatriots abroad], somewhat changes the established trajectory of emplotting, setting the scene in Moscow during perestroika, because the protagonist, a young married man, goes there to conduct library research for his thesis. While staying at his friends’ vacant apartment, the man gets acquainted with their female cousin, who arrives unexpectedly, also from Kyiv, for some advanced creative training program. The next day, when they have dinner together, he makes an aggressive pass at her, but she rejects him. That night, tormented by genital pain—its distinctly physiological nature is consistently paired by the author with intense sexual need—he goes to her room and rapes her brutally. She puts up vigorous resistance by biting him on the ear, but when he is overcome with shame

Postscript  151 and tries to sneak out of the room, she stops him. If the bite is initially conceived as a form of female defense, in the aftermath of the act of sexual violence that she seemingly embraces, it becomes ambiguous since, although painful, it may be interpreted as sensuously exciting for both parties. Moreover, Kononenko apparently draws here on stereotypes promoted in certain pornographic scenarios that depict women “reluctant to engage in sex[,] who are overpowered and even brutalized by aggressive men,” eventually aroused, experience multiple orgasms, and become sexually addicted to their rapists. 29 After the female character’s archetypically pornographic “awakening,” which turns her into an active collaborator of her own violation, the victim and the rapist, the biter and the bitten, engage in endless coitus, oblivious of their work at the library or classes. Their sexual insatiability is described in rapturous terms: the sky is falling over them, the Earth is disappearing, each party orgasms into a personal bottomless abyss, and when the two precipices meet, there is an earthquake.30 Kononenko tends to “naturalize” sex, since both characters’ drives are purely physical, making one reflect on what kind of pleasure a man could feel by forcing himself on a woman; or whether it is the case that the woman, who wears jewelry and makeup, is behaving provocatively, thus inflaming male desire; or whether the author renders rape as appealing and a source of sexual pleasure, thus recalling Freudian views that pleasure from forced sexual penetration is innate to woman’s disposition “due to the nature of the female genital apparatus;”31 or whether the pleasure of rape is an affirmation of physical and symbolic power, being a logical conceptual choice indicative of both compensatory fantasies and societal views on gendered politics. It is interesting that after the man finally decides to go to the library and is late for his lover’s birthday dinner, she becomes angry and brings up the issue of rape, calling him a rapist during their quarrel. Rape becomes her sole topic, as she points out that it is criminal offense, that all rapists cry in court that the woman enjoyed it, and that it is punishable by imprisonment for fifteen years without parole. At the climax of her incriminatory speech, she asks rhetorically whether he knows what they call guys found guilty of rape and what happens to rapists in prison. He lashes back by blaming her for being a woman of loose morals, unlike his wife; she hits him in the face and bites his ear, the same one, unambiguously this time. Kononenko’s stories leave the reader with an uncertain feeling: sympathy for oppressed women and bewilderment at their own complacency about their condition. Her reputation as a feminist writer also raises questions, as she believes that the world, raving v sudomakh feminismu [in convulsions of feminism] and impotence, can be cured if men take responsibility for the world and for women. 32 Published the same year as Kononenko’s collection, Karpa’s Perlamutrove porno [Nacreous porn] signifies the emergence of a totally

152 Postscript different generation of Ukrainian writers, who are spontaneous, blunt, ironic, and fearlessly experimental. A writer, television presenter, singer, journalist, Playboy and Penthouse model, “sex symbol” of Ukrainian literature, 33 and currently the first secretary for cultural affairs at the Ukrainian Embassy in Paris, Karpa published her first novel in 2000, when she was twenty, and quickly gained popularity among a younger readership. Eccentric, straightforward, scandalous, and shocking, Karpa’s work has been included in Dekameron. 10 ukraïns′kykh prozaïkiv ostannikh desiaty rokiv [Decameron. Ten Ukrainian prose writers of the last decade] (2010). Edited by Serhi Zhadan, whose international reputation had already been established by that time, it has been praised by preeminent Ukrainian postindependence authors such as Yuri Andrukhovych, Yurko Izdryk, and Andri Kurkov.34 By her own admission, Karpa’s genetic makeup is dominated by an adventurer gene, 35 and her nomadic style of narrative, constructed from numerous successions of linkages and changes in direction, fully reflects her passion for newness, as well as her relentless redistribution of desire, which expires at the moment when the desired occurs, choosing, to use Deleuze and Guattari’s phrase, the “line of flight or rupture, deadly and alive,”36 and always in the process of charting new territories. If the flight of Kononenko’s female characters is prepackaged as an imaginary freedom but always ends with the man as the final destination and the guarantor, whether successful or not, of hoped-for happiness, Karpa, together with the delimitation of the narrative space, aims for intensity in her narrator’s interactions with an assortment of bodies—male and female, native and foreign, “straight” and “deviant”—and places. Unlike the fixed trajectories of Kononenko’s women, reaching out from the impoverished, feminine East for men of the affluent, virile West, Karpa charts her own cognitive and corporeal map by moving across continents and cultures: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Kyiv, Berlin, Istanbul, or Moscow. The novel consists of what might pass as diary entries, newspaper reports, Katakana Klei’s correspondence, including letters to herself, text messages, portraits of women of her former and current boyfriends, some random writings unrelated to the novel, journal articles, jokes, anecdotes, puns, love stories, just plain stories, funny and not so funny stories, some stuff from her hard drive, dreams, films, clips, quotations copied and pasted from the Internet, 37 quotations from Ukrainian classics seamlessly embedded into the text, epigraphs from Tom Waits, Janice Joplin, and Rosario Castellanos, among other greats, Wikipedia-­ type reference material, poems, tales, etc. It is a spiraling, interrupted, disjunctive, and variational narrative that liberates its characters and readers from linear order—snapshots of “real” life in “real” time, albeit without chronological succession; they are devoid of causality, and blur inside and outside of narrative consciousness. Karpa’s amalgamated pornotopic spaces are similarly shiftable. When Katakana,

Postscript  153 her narrator—sometimes the author splits them, thus literally showcasing her “dialogic imagination”—goes to Java to visit her former boyfriend and meet his new girlfriend, an Indian belly dancer, she dreams of being a white figurehead at the prow of a ship that is approached by another ship with a similar figurehead, only black, which starts kissing her. The narrator wakes up in what feels like a bad movie, pinned down and straddled by the new girlfriend, who is threatening her with a knife that instantly triggers an assortment of cinematic associations: an orgy from Rūy Murakami’s torture-porn script, with sperm, blood, fat white women, Americans shoving their dirty penises into Japanese dancers’ mouths, knocked-out teeth, urine, heroin, and carnations sticking out of people’s asses; Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), when the attacker aims the knife at the narrator’s eye while squeezing her nipple; and their minimalist dialogue, consisting of “Does it hurt, bitch?” (Attacker) and “How about to suck my cunt, bitch?”(Narrator), which prompts ­Katakana’s favorite line from Team America: World Police (2004), “It’s not about sex. It’s about trust.”38 The kaleidoscopic, Tarantino-­style scene is played out under the watchful eye of three ghosts from Javanese folklore, upon whose approach Katakana faints. Karpa’s multimodal narrative includes one extended sexual fantasy, in which Katakana defers the moment of gratification and takes delight in the contours of her lover’s face, body, skin, and every muscle, imagining him at a mountain lake, undressing, swimming. She joins him, feels intimacy without touching, and aches to plunge into the blackness of oblivion and experience the Bataillesque “little death” that follows orgasm, further conflating the intensity of her desire with violent images of her tongue that, like lightning, is cutting from his collarbone through the throat to the ear, or biting off pieces of his flesh. The description of the workings of her tongue on the lover’s penis is interrupted by an ironic interjection from Katakana’s alter ego, warning that the fantasy is turning into an oral sex manual. Momentarily refocalized, the narrative registers the female body’s minute responses to caresses, her arms secured on a tree branch above her head, his probing hands inside her sex, the bending of her body, finally impaled on his penis in the denouement of the tantalizing S&M scene. This fantasy represents the most graphic and titillating descriptions of sexual acts that combine the optical and the tactile. Karpa’s disturbingly honest and hilarious novel is interspersed with references to glamorous Ukrainian girls advertising “Crème-­mealie,” while rough Asian guys are masturbating on their images in glossy booklets, or inspirational ads for an autoblowjob sex toy, or the narrator’s miscellaneous articles on sexual health, exhibitionism, and fairy-tale sex or sex like a fairy tale for a children’s magazine. Such rhizomatic textual strategies are in stark contrast with Matios’s orderly arrangement of narrative reality and fantasy, linking them, respectively, to day and night, the time of reason, and the workings of the unconscious.

154 Postscript The narrator also muses about erotographomania, distinctly privileging it over erotic speech, when she asks the fantasy lover not to talk but write his lust on her body instead. Defined as a “morbid desire to see written words of the four-letter type,” especially when both or one of the sexual partners—typically the male—“derives intense delight in reading such personal erotic writings,” erotographomania includes sexual diaries that excite both the writer and the target reader. 39 In addition to composing sexually explicit love letters compulsively, Katakana loves to write erotic text messages and descriptions of wild sex encounters in ICQ chat rooms. She engages in this type of writing regardless of whether the recipients are her lovers, because writing, rambling, talking, and imagining keep the exchange suspenseful and stimulatingly thrilling. Her attention then shifts to candualism, the “practice of forcing one’s partner to expose himself or herself or to become sexually involved with others,” wherein women could be “coerced into the swinging scene to fulfill the desires of their husbands.”40 Another surreal sexual vignette pictures fifteen-year-old nymphomaniacs, who desire the narrator so much that they are ready to fuck themselves with phones containing her text messages. Another one introduces the reader to paraphiliac, abnormal sexual fantasies, relating a story about a wealthy couple whose huge, purebred dog enjoys sex with women, so they buy him prostitutes and watch them in action. By the end of the novel, Katakana and her friends enjoy a girls’ night out in the city, picking up young, handsome boys, but are still customers in the supermarket of solitude, entrapped in an addiction to virtual reality, a constitutive part, according to the author, of contemporary society’s pornification.41 Katakana, who has a strong sense of personal responsibility for all proioby svitu [fuck-ups of the world],42 feels that all her voyages, loves, hates, and friendships have lost their meaning, and makes a clean break with life by speeding toward a precipice overlooking the sea. Sofia Andrukhovych is another author included, together with Karpa, in the 2010 Dekameron [Decameron] of up-and-coming Ukrainian prose writers. Sʹomha [Salmon] is her fourth novel, which she jokingly calls an imaginary psychotherapy session, a striptease show, and hara-kiri.43 A prose writer, translator, and culture columnist, she, like Karpa, made her literary debut when she was twenty with Lito Mileny [Milena’s summer] (2002). After publishing S′omha [Salmon], Andrukhovych took a long break, then reappeared on the literary scene in 2014 with Feliks Avstriia [Felix Austria], which won the 2014 BBC Book of the Year Award, 2015 Joseph Conrad Literary Prize, and the 2017 Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award (VEaPLA). While Karpa’s unplotted, incoherent, and nonlinear storytelling charts her nomadic geographies, Andrukhovych’s narrative depicts a landscape of consciousness as well as action, spiraling down to the deepest traumas encountered by her characters at different stages of their lives. The novel opens with a young

Postscript  155 woman hiding in the bathroom from a frightening stranger, who stands outside staring at the windows of the tiny ground-floor apartment she and her partner occupy. She is terrified by his invasive presence and the thought of being attacked and raped. The eerie setting—an apartment building overpopulated with an endless stream of spooky personages, which is situated on a street that does not exist on any city map—­ contributes to the claustrophobic atmosphere that dominates the lives of the couple, who talk obsessively about the repulsive, mustached voyeur. The narrator imagines how he looks at her; hears her breathe; feels her scent; and is aroused by watching her moving around naked, reading, writing, dressing and undressing, and applying makeup. Her compulsive thoughts about being under his penetrating, omnipotent gaze are interspersed with almost clinical observations about their neighbors and their lifestyles, snatches of overheard conversations, interactions with friends, new culinary experiences, including her recently developed taste for salmon, obscenely pink and juicy, which does not taste like fish, but more like a human heart or a vagina. She pictures how the man masturbates with his callused hands, takes vicarious pleasure in her and her partner’s intimacy, thinks their thoughts, hums their favorite songs, and chants names and words he has never heard before. While she is initially the unsuspecting exhibitionist object of the stranger’s scopophilic desire, then shocked and paralyzed with fear by the discovery of his impertinent presence, she ends up fantasizing that he actually cares about them. When the intrusive weirdo tries to get closer and peep through their window, her husband calls the police. The perpetrator is apprehended and pleads pathetically to be released. Out of pity, they do not press charges, but decide to move away to a distant part of the city. The successive chapters read like chronologically arranged series of flashbacks, reaching and illuminating key moments of the narrator’s childhood, adolescence, puberty, and young adulthood, all of which are related to sexuality to a considerable degree. First, readers are introduced to her oversexed relative, who looks like a cross between Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, and is vain, insanely seductive, and cruel. The narrator, who is three years old, is vacationing at the seashore together with this family sex symbol and watching her have an affair with an elderly man, whose infatuation with the mean beauty leads to his drowning. When the narrator is in kindergarten, she goes through a chain of sexual discoveries: in the garden of a psychiatric hospital, where she plays with her friends, she sees the pitiable, dangling penis of a rapist detained by the police; she is asked by a popular, older boy to show him her private parts in exchange for a kiss; agrees on a show-me-yours-I’llshow-you-mine exchange with a boy from her group; and at a desolate shooting gallery that she and her older friends discover when exploring the neighborhood, she is molested by a man, who tries to stick his hand into her panties and push her hand into his unzipped fly. Then, she

156 Postscript is a ten-year-old “lesbian,” befriending a girl whose family has arrived from Prague and who immediately becomes popular because she is a foreigner, self-confident, and opinionated, wears bright clothing, treats the kids to delicious chocolates and chewing gum, and plays with breathtakingly beautiful dolls. When the newcomer invites the narrator and her other friend to her place, they are overwhelmed by the abundance of wonderful things, and in return they promise her heavenly bliss. Quite spontaneously, without even knowing why they do it, they undress her, blow on her skin, and stroke, kiss, and lick her plump body, while she pretends to feel extreme pleasure, only to be interrupted by the girl’s suspicious parents and thrown out of the house. The narrator’s adolescent sexual experiences are no less unsettling than her childhood recollections. She is part of a group of high school students who go to a nightclub frequented by shady businessmen, who watch the girls dance and choose whomever they like from this live sexual menu. Pressured by her more experienced friends, the narrator decides to lose her virginity with a boy whom she meets by chance on a train and who boasts obnoxiously about his numerous, highly rewarding sexual adventures. He takes her to his filthy, shared apartment, and she survives what feels like an unpleasant but unavoidable defloration procedure during which she scrupulously observes the boy’s bulging eyes, drops of sweat on his forehead, the swampy sounds that accompany his movements, and the shape of his penis when he withdraws and masturbates. She notes how she gags and clenches her teeth when he tries to thrust his organ into her mouth. The whole experience is like being in a boring movie. As a first-year university student, the narrator is fascinated with, magnetized by, and dreams about a young man who is an Internet intellectual celebrity, but is allegedly extremely ugly. Mesmerized by his cynical straightforwardness, coldness, cruelty, wicked wit, and air of superiority, she is consumed by torrential desire and lust, replaying ceaselessly their imaginary first encounter in her sex-crazed mind. In the grip of erotic fever, she evokes the saga of Urbain Grandier (1590–1634)—a French Catholic priest from Loudun, who was accused of bewitching nuns from an Ursuline convent, then tried, convicted, tortured, and burned at the stake in 1634—with its heavy sexual undertones. Evoking the nuns’ confessions about how Grandier-the-Devil, with his red rose and hellish smile, walks through the walls into their cells, enchants, tempts, torments, and drives them to ecstasy, rendering their possession “animalistic, demonic, sexual,” the narrator constructs an image of the irresistible, malevolent seducer after whom she lusts achingly, being possessed by the “devilishness of sexuality without sex.”44 Upon meeting the object of her monstrous desire in person, she is stunned to find that he does not have any of the irresistible, diabolical features that were conjured up by her inflamed imagination. He turns out to be ugly in the most mundane and repulsive way, and the only

Postscript  157 “infernal” touch is his unbearable body odor. His intellectual aura degenerates quickly into a hasty, rambling monologue, and the narrator doubts that she will ever see him again. Nevertheless, she gives him her address, and since he starts showing up on her doorstep persistently and regularly, becoming part of her daily routine, she sleeps with him out of pity. Their first sexual encounter replicates the sensations experienced during her abortive sexual initiation. While he is trembling, shaking, panting, and moaning, she is coldly assessing the dismal sex scene, cataloguing the messy and unexciting details, once again revealing the split between her constantly rattling, oscillating mind and mechanical responses of her body—a dualistic split characteristic of the novel in general. If in Kononenko’s one-time, albeit cosmic, representation of jouissance, the protagonist and her partner would have repeatedly traveled to another galaxy and back, or gotten ecstatically electrocuted several times (Matios’s ever-copulating couple), Andrukhovych’s narrator stays firmly in a narrow twin bed, focusing, in her uncomfortable narrative of desire, on what she observes, thinks, and feels. At some point, the “fallen” devil tells the narrator Jorge Luis Borges’s haunting tale, “La intrusa” [The intruder] (1966), in which two brothers fall for the same woman, who comes to live in their house. Because of ensuing mutual jealousy, she is sold to a brothel, visited in secret by both men, is bought back, and ultimately killed, because she is the source of deception that has tainted their love and closeness. The narrator loves the story, and when her warped sexual companion insists she sleep with his brother, she becomes excited and lusts after this new sexual configuration (the younger brother is attractive in a catlike way, and is usually withdrawn when the three of them get together occasionally). At the end of the chapter, the narrator visits the brothers’ surrealistically dilapidated house, wanders around their overgrown garden, and when she finally goes inside, finds them sleeping naked in an intimate position, and leaves the house quietly. The homoeroticism of the scene evokes the sexualized undercurrents of Borges’s story, in which the brothers use the female body as a conduit for the exchange of their desire for each other, hidden beneath strong homosocial bonds. Moreover, this failed erotic triangle, not unlike in Borges’s story, can be interpreted as the “triumph of brotherly love over any form of heterosexual attachment.”45 The massive rift between the narrator’s erotic fantasies, luckless sexual experiences, and reality at large finds an unexpected twist in the last chapter, which is intertwined with the plotline of the first one. Now, however, the focalized is a man, a plumber, who observes the fascinating, microscopic world of funguses and mold normally hidden from human eyes; he is also fascinated with the workings of intestines, be they the entrails of plumbing pipes, or pink fatty fish—salmon—that smell and look like woman, or eviscerated chicken and rabbits. He imagines the blood circulating in human and animal bodies—ready to be cut,

158 Postscript excised, and explored—similar to water moving in sewage pipes. His thoughts are punctuated by flashbacks featuring his bedridden grandma expertly using razor-sharp knives to gut and clean animal carcasses; he imbues his recollections of her movements with distinctly sexual connotations. This is the voyeur from the first chapter, who finally finds the woman of his scopophilic lust (she is cooking salmon), living in a house surrounded by an old orchard. He watches her again, kills the dog that gets in his way, enters the house, finds the narrator, cuts her throat, and they both watch as blood gushes from the wound. Making a neat incision below her breast, he reaches into the warm cavity toward her feebly pulsating heart. He knows everything about the narrator’s disconcerting experiences, infatuations, and disappointments recounted in the novel, and carries them away together with her heart. Here, the writer incites circularity of memory that makes these mnemonic fragments flesh out the novel’s prior events and imply a shared consciousness between the narrator and her future murderer. In addition to this self-referentiality and doubling, the murder scene also evokes the ghost of Jack the Ripper, a figure of mythical proportions, among whose canonical five victims only one was killed inside a house, eviscerated, and her heart removed.46 The narrator’s fear of rape at the beginning of the novel comes true in a gruesome climax of literal butchery. During this bloody bacchanalia, which far supersedes all futile attempts at an erotic one, Andrukhovych moves between the two focalized minds, maintaining the distinctly cinematic snapshot strategy. Moreover, she retains the first-person perspective consistently to the very end, producing a narrative necromancy of sorts that retains a stable vantage point of a shrewd, intensely sensitive, hypnotically evocative but emotionally detached observer. The violent twist in the denouement of the novel follows the obscene logic of slasher, predominantly cinematic, narratives, in which a sexually and mentally disturbed man stalks and kills his victim. As Williams points out in her discussion of the genre, the human monsters “rarely rape, they more often kill, but killing functions as a kind of rape,” as, like in pornography, they open the “fleshy secrets of normally hidden things.”47 Andrukhovych’s scene of evisceration perversely displaces pornographic sexual activities, which culminate typically in penetration and orgasm, onto the “penetrating violation of the body’s very flesh,”48 thus equating the pleasure of orgasmic convulsion with the uncontrollable convulsion of death: “He put me on the floor. Blood quickly saturated the white carpet, painting bright-red continents around my body. I lay on them, like a goddess who created the world from her own blood, gave it life—and immediately died.”49 My selection of texts and images here is an addendum aimed at showcasing several instances of literary and visual production involved in the extended, ongoing exploration and mapping of the erotic body in the new millennium. Transgressing the taboo on “prurient” subject matter,

Postscript  159 women’s fictions, in particular, represent gender-specific, female desire either as malleable toward male-centered sexual economy or contestatory toward masculine—constitutive of “universal”—regimes of pleasure. The plurality of the texts, representing interdependence and simultaneity of voices and desires, intense overlapping of public and private, personal and political seem to be generating new possibilities for women writers in their confrontation with the mediated, perennial “sexless sexism”50 of the Soviet period and the “less-than-complete demise of Soviet cultural colonialism”51 that is still valid today. My comparative reading of established and new writers once again reveals how sexuality, eroticism, and sexual difference, conventionally conceived as “natural,” are determined by singular gendered experiences, certain ideologies, and politics of representation. Moral pornographer’s bodies, 52 sexually miserable bodies, free-spirited bodies, sensual noir bodies, disappearing and overexposed, each and every one is inscribed into the intricate figurations of the contemporary erotics of Ukrainianness.

Notes 1 Nicholas Mirzoeff defines intervisuality as the “simultaneous display and interaction of a variety of modes of visuality” (Mirzoeff, “The Subject of Visual Culture,” 3). 2 Gordon, Indecent Exposures, 4. 3 Personal conversation with the artist. 4 Williams, Hard Core, 42. 5 Ibid., 43. 6 Braun, Eadweard Muybridge, 207. 7 Rublevska, “Vlada Ralko.” 8 Ash, “The Misnamed Female Sex Organ,” 176. 9 The image also recalls the eyes of classic sculptures, when they are stripped of paint, and the posture resembles the Venus-de-Milo type of curve, with “reconstructed” arms. 10 Rublevska, “Vlada Ralko.” 11 Grosz, Volatile Bodies, 188. 12 See McNair, Porno? Chic! 13 Ibid., 91–109. 14 Minahan, The Former Soviet Union’s Diverse Peoples, 184. 15 Matios, Bul′varnyi roman, 169–73. 16 Barss, The Erotic Engine, 48–50. 17 Hunt, “Pornography and the French Revolution,” 305–06. 18 Sigel, Governing Pleasures, 15. 19 Balmaceda, Energy Dependency, Politics and Corruption in the Former Soviet Union, 29. 20 Wilson, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, 97. 21 Mahda, Russia’s Hybrid Aggression, 194. 22 St. John, “How to Do Things with the Starr Report,” 40. 23 Matios, Bul′varnyi roman, 176. 24 See Williams, Hard Core, 1. 25 “Коли виходиш заміж, теба дивитись, з ким будеш розлучатися” (Kononenko, “Bez muzhyka”).

160 Postscript 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 4 4 45 46 47 48 49

“Misery Memoir.” Hester, Beyond Explicit, 142. Dyczok, Ukraine: Movement without Change, 1. Finkelhor and Yllo, License to Rape, 123. Kononenko, Poviї tezh vykhodiat′ zamizh. Finkelhor and Yllo, License to Rape, 123. Kononenko, “Bez muzhyka.” Kholodna, “Irena Karpa: V meni dominuie hen.” Dekameron. 10 ukraïns′kykh prozaïkiv ostannikh desiaty rokiv. Kholodna, “Irena Karpa: V meni dominuie hen.” Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 200. Iurii Andrykhovych, “Perelomni model′ky svitospryiniattia,” 6–7. Karpa, Perlamutrove porno, 57. MacDougald, “Language and Sex,” 591. Steven Holmes and Ronald Holmes, Sex Crimes, 73. Karpa, Perlamutrove porno, 161. Iurii Andrukhovych, “Perelomni model′ky svitospryiniattia,” 9. Dudko, “Sofiia Andrukhovych: S′omha—uiavnyi seans psykhoterapiï.” Finn, Hysteria, Hypnotism, the Spirits, and Pornography, 135. Altamiranda, “Borges, Jorge Lui,” 79. Nickell, Real or Fake, 39. Williams, Hard Core, 191. Ibid., 192. “Він поклав мене на підлогу. Кров швидко всоталася в біле покриття, вималювавши яскраво-червоні материки навколо мого тіла. Я лежала на них, ніби богиня, яка створила світ з власної крові, дала йому життя—і відразу ж померла” (Sofiia Andrukhovych, S′omha, 346). 50 See Kon, Sexual Revolution in Russia, 129. 51 Pavlyshyn, “Wozzeck IV,” viii. 52 I use Angela Carter’s concept of moral pornographer, which is characterized by sexual license for all genders, the demystification of flesh, and, because sexual relations always “render explicit the nature of social relations…a critique of those relations” (The Sadeian Woman, 19–20).


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abject/abjection 8, 68, 82; Kristeva on 68; Creed on 82; eroticism 54 absurdist play 134–5; absurdist theatre 118; anti-literariness of 118 adolescent: boy view, woman 47; homosexuality 52, 53; pregnancy and birth rates 13; sexual experiences 155–6 Aeneid (Virgil) 117 al-Suyūtī 73 Alloula, Malek 61n23 Aheieva, Vira 19 Ajdačić, Dejan 19 alcoholism 118, 144 Andrews, Walter G. 71 Andrukhovych, Sofiia 20, 142, 154, 157, 158 Andrukhovych, Yuri 152 antiquarian movement 104 Applebaum, Anne 16 Auerbach, Nina 91 Ayers, Mary 93 Bad Boy (Fischl) 47 Baroque 63, 64, 69, 71, 79, 80, 81, 88, 89, 90, 92, 94; aesthetics 81, 82, 89; architecture 80; body 81–2; Deleuze on 81, 89, 94; economy of overexposure 83; eroticism 87; grotesquerie and disfiguration of figures 89; possession as grand hysteria 85; monstrosity as central issue of 82; philosophical universality of 81, 87; sexuality 87; subject matter 79; tradition 93 Barthes, Roland 38 Bataille, George 39, 153; theory of transgression 45 Battle of Poltava 5, 6 Baudrillard, Jean 14

Behdad, Ali 27 Benjamin, Jessica 30 Bennett, David 134 Beria, Lavrenty 132 bestiality 72, 91, 113, 130 “Bez muzhyka” (Kononenko) 147–8 1983 biological encyclopedic dictionary 1 biological essentialism 1, 20, 28, 70, 91, 102, 115 102 Bis ploti (Shevchuk) 81, 84, 89, 91, 94 Blattopter BRD-1: Project Preventive Measures (Raievsky) 10–11 Boleyn, Anne 62 The Book that Repels Sorrows and Removes Anxieties (Deli Birader) 67 1917 Bolshevik Revolution 17 Bonnell, Victoria E. 123 Boone, Joseph Allen 23n61, 71 Borenstein, Eliot 16 Borges, Jorge Luis 157 “bourgeois nationalism,” Ukrainian 99 Braun, Marta 140 Brezhnev, Leonid 42n62, 123 Brezhnev era 26, 37 bricolage/bricoleur 117, 118, 120, 127, 129, 130, 133 Brown, Laura 31 Bul′varnyi roman (Matios) 142, 143, 145 Burghardt, Oswald (Yuri Klen) 75 burlesque 117–18 Cahill, Ann J. 27 Caillois, Roger 91 Calinescu, Matei 57 Canaris, Wilhelm 125 candualism 154 Carter, Angela 159n52 cartography 6, 8

182 Index Caruth, Cathy 24–5 Casanova, Giacomo 144 Castellanos, Rosario 152 castration 34, 58, 59–60n59, 67, 91, 93, 94, 111; anxiety 86, 111, 142; fear of 41n49, 86, 111; impact of 29; as a political punishment 54; and post-copulatory sexual cannibalism 92; symbolic 7, 34 Charles XII 5, 6 Chernetsky, Vitaly 19, 44 Christianity: abomination of sex by 82; Eve and the original sin 88; demonization of female sexuality 87–8, 106; devouring female sexuality 85, 86; iconography of 91; insatiable female sex drive 84; female sexuality as central to possession experience 83, 85, 86; flesh/spirit and body/ soul dichotomies 84; gendered relationship to good and evil 87; male asceticism 93; religious pornorotica 88; sexual temptation 86; tradition of 110 Chumalov, Gleb 127 Clark, Katerina 126–7 Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome 92 colonialism: as a ritual of erotic dissolution 27; and commanded memory of the colonized 56; cultural 159; and “inferiority” of colonized culture 56; identity politics under 21 colonial: amnesia 56; encounter 118; epistemic violence 98; eradication of Ukrainian history 81; eroticism 39; exotic 50; experiences 57, 81; gendered tropes 6; suppression 6; project 6; homology between sexual and political dominance 26, 27, 36, 62; ideologies 26; legacy 30; marginalization of Ukrainian language 24, 25, 43, 118; monuments of achievement 80; 31; provincialization of colonized culture 99, 100; sexual ideology 27; and totalitarian rule 26; violence 31 colonized: body of 24; culture of 26; cultural inadequacy of 56, 80, 100; denied manliness of 26; subordinate manhood of 26; as a violated sex object 27; dislocated subjectivity of

29; as prehistoric 36; normalized inferiority of 56; and power imbalances 62 communism builder’s moral code 1 Communist Party 99, 127 compliance–control paradigm 31 consumer engineering 102 Cossack chronicles 79, 81 Cossack Hetmanate 80 Cossack 5, 6, 79, 80, 99 Creed, Barbara 34, on abjection 82; on the monstrous-feminine 82–3 Crimean Tatars 63 cross-cultural inclusivity 70 “crucial feature of imperial hegemony” 119 cultural provincialism 10, 99 cyber literary porn 13; cyberporn and socialist realism 12–15 cyborgization, of body 140 Degenerate Empress (Fredericks) 65, 72 Deleuze, Gilles 24, on the Baroque 81, 89, 94 de Médicis, Catherine 62 democratization of desire 58 de Panicale, Masolino 91 Derrida, Jacques 100 de Sade, Marquis 12 Deli Birader, Gazali 67 dialogic imagination 153 “Divochiï nochi” 108 discourse 3, 5, 7, 18, 38, 100, 140: anti-imperialist 6; on bodily pleasures 45, 58; colonial 27, 72; constructivist nature of 75; counter-discourse 6; cultural 20, 88; historical 57, 81; imperial 26, 36, 50, 119; feminist 19, 66; masculinist 6, 36, 51, 55, 135; of motherhood 91; official Soviet 1, 55, 56, 122, 134; Orientalist 21, 67; political 3, 20; pornographic 22; on pornographic Orient 72; and power 2, 58; psychoanalytic 38; religious 88; on sexuality 2, 44, 134, 145; social 45; transgressive 21, 44, 145; visual 142 Don Juan von Kolomea (Masoch) 47 Dostoevsky, Fyodor 126 Down Time series (Polataiko) 139 Dyskurs modernizmu v ukraïns′kii literaturi (Pavlychko) 18

Index  183 Eadweard Muybridge, Human Locomotion Plate 356/5 (Polataiko) 139 Edwards, Justin D. 90 effeminization, colonial strategy of disempowering colonized men 26 Elizabeth I 62 emasculation 4, 7, 26, 27, 28, 92, 93, 111, 129 Eneïda (Kotliarevsky) 117 “engineers of human souls,” of Soviet writers 120 erotic 4, 12, 17, 24, 30, 43, 50, 54, 87, 100, 106, 130, 154; agency 40; art 1; body 8, 9, 16, 158; confession 66; consumption 63; desire 21, 25, 44, 50, 73, 82, 84, 88, 108, 129; dissident 37; dissolution 27; dreams 58, 86; ecstasy 85; energy 72; fantasies 15, 38, 72, 101, 144, 157; freedom 38; genre 61; guides 21, 67; and the horrific 31; heteroglossia 3; ideal 70; imaginary 71; imagination 142; lexicon 73; literature 1, 13, 74, 79; manual 65, 67; nightmare 37; organization of visibility 140; persona 68; physical abuse 55; pleasure 44, 50, 65; practices 44, 109; precursor text 44; production 3; script 45, 47; subject matter 103; subject position 71; subjectivity 28; surplus meaning 140; symbology 6; torture 38; tradition, Chinese 140; triangle 6, 157; violence 21; vision 37; visual art 47 erotica 3, 12, 33, 66, 101; cradle of 72 eroticism 10, 21, 28, 41n38, 57, 67, 84, 88, 139, 159; abject 54; anorectal 58; Baroque 87; colonial 39; and domination 28; feminine source of 87; grotesque 76n3; lesbian 4; of power 51, 140; religious 88; representation of 89; transhistorical 21; and violence 21, 39, 140; erotics 23n61, 24, 25, 142; bestial 130; of Ukrainianness 159 erotographomania 154 erotophobia 115 2014 EuroMaidan 135 European erotic imaginary 71 exoticism 113; “tropicalist” narratives 50 Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick) 13

Fahs, Breanne 28 Femina melancholica (Hundorova) 19 femininity: codes of 68; femininity-inmasculinity 26; folkloric Russian 130; male anxieties about sexually assertive 107; masculine dominance over 102; normative boundaries of 20; phallocentric ideas of as passive 34; riddle of 106; societal constraints of 107; surplus erotic meaning of 140; transgression of idealized 94 feminism 2, 17, 19, 106, 151; anti-pornography 101; avatar of Ukrainian 24; pornography debate 2; second wave 66 feminist: discourse on harem 66; combination with postmodern approaches 19; projects 19, 66; reevaluation of psychoanalysis 42n67; Ukrainian scholarship 18; conceptualization of pornography and erotica 101; research on witch trials 105; utilization of Medusa figure 111 feminization: of the colonized 26; of sexually explicit literature 142 femme fatale 24, 91 “fieldwork in Ukrainian sex” 20–1 fin-de-siècle culture 3 First Congress of Soviet Writers 1934 16, 120 Fischl, Eric 47 Fiske, John 51 Flash (magazine) 4 folklore 18, 21, 92, 101, 104, 105, 112, 121, 128, 153; mavka 109, 110; mermaid 106, 107, 109, 130; rusalka 107, 110; succubus 93, 109, 110; vampire 100, 109, 110, 112, 113, 130; upyr 112; vovkulak 112 werewolf 101, 112, 113, 114 folkloresque 100, 104, 114 Fontana, Lucio 139 Foucault, Michel 2, 45 Fredericks, David 65, 72 French Roxane/Roxelane tales 65 Garber, Marjorie 111 gaze 9, 113: concept of 4; male 4, 30, 66, 69, 103, 108, 155; female 35, 90, 93, 107 gender-bending 129

184 Index gender, cultural conditioning of 103 Genette, Gerard 100 genitalia, taxonomies of 29, 47, 50, 66, 94 Gerasimov, Aleksandr 123 German-Soviet occupation of Poland 124 German-Soviet totalitarian concert 124 German-Soviet War 124 Giles, James 44 Goldberg, Elizabeth Swanson 48 Golovachev, Vasily 10 Gongadze, Heorhi 146 Gorky, Maxim 122, 125, 127, 129, 133; editor of The Canal Named for Stalin 133; as great proletarian writer 120; as a progenitor of Soviet literature 126 Goud, Johan 88 Govorukhin, Stanislav 54 Grabowicz, George G. 35, 90, 98, 99 Grandier, Urbain 156 Grand Vizier 71 Graulund, Rune 90 Gray, John 102 Great October Socialist Revolution 123 Great Patriotic War 32, 54, 55; mythology of 122–5, 135, 136 Great Purge 16–17 Great Terror 24 Greek and Roman mythology 47, 110–11, 128, 131–3 Greek drama 123, 126 Grosz, Elizabeth 91, 110 Gulag 27, 28, 31, 32, 34, 118, 132; labor camps 1, 29, 133; zone 31, 33 Hammill, Graham L. 109 harem 63, 64, 66, 68, 70, 71; imperial 62, 64, 67, 73; generic stereotype 67; metaphorical ”male” 75; in Orientalist literature 72; protocol of 74; sexualities, construction of 70; women 62 Heroi nashoho chasu (Poderviansky) 117, 135 A Hero of Our Time (Lermontov) 121, 135 Hester, Helen 45, 148 heterosexism 4 heterosexual panic 129 heterosexuality 4, 3, 5, 7, 22, 71, 72; compulsory 71; economy of 29;

reproductive 34, 114; normative 37, 53, 71, 72, 94, 101; matrix of 52 High Stalinist political culture 127 History of Turkey (Krymsky) 74 Hitler, Adolf 123–5 Hitler Jugend (youth organization) 124 Hoffmann, David L. 128 Hohol, Mykola (Russ. Gogol, Nikolai) 36, 37, 92, 93, 104, 112 Holodomor (famine-genocide, terror famine) 16, 24, 32, 33–4 Holy Spirit 83 Homo sovieticus 1, 120, 122, 133 homoerotic: desire 52, 71, 72; order 28; bonding 128; bonds 157 homoeroticism 58, 157 homophobia 4, 15, 52, 71, 72; in Russian media 7 homosexuality 7, 13, 23n61, 52–4, 71, 72; genuine 53; situational 53 homosexual subject matter 15 homosocial: link 6, forms of domination 6; order 28, 112 Horbunka Zoia (Shevchuk) 89 Horyzont (literary magazine) 52 How the Steel Was Tempered (Ostrovsky) 127 Hryn, Halyna 25 Huggan, Graham 50 Hugo, Victor 89 Hulvisa (magazine) 61 The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Hugo) 89 Hundorova, Tamara 18, 114 Hurrem (Roxolana, Hurrem Sultan) 71, 74 Hurrem Sultan (Roxolana, Hurrem) 62 Hutcheon, Linda 65 “ideological kenosis” 2 Illienko, Yuri 5–8 impotence 36, 151; psychogenic 29 imperial “civilizing mission” 50; in Russian and Russo-Soviet empire 80, 118 imperialism; rape as a concept metaphor for 27; revanshist 56 imperialist: conception of Ukrainian history 56 Incubus Dogma 109 Ingres’s Violin (Ray) 8 International Organization for Migration 114

Index  185 intersubjective relations 110 intertextual relations 15, 43–4, 54, 65, 66–7, 70, 72–3, 75, 97n70, 100, 101, 104–5, 120, 125, 127, 128, 129, 132 intervisuality, definition of 1n159 intervisual relations 124, 129–30, 139, 153 “La intrusa” (Borges) 157 Iron Curtain 2, 11, 33, 49 irony 77, 118 Isakovskiy, Mikhail 123 Izdryk, Yurko 152 Jack the Ripper 158 Jackson, Matthew Jesse 10 Jenks, Chris 44, on transgression 44–5 Jones, Ernest 34 Joplin, Janice 152 Jucobellis v. Ohio (Stewart) 4 Kabbani, Rana 67 Kaganovsky, Lilya 129 Kaite, Berkerley 69 Kalpaki, Mehmet 71 Kama sutra (Pokalchuk) 43–5, 52, 56, 57 Kama Sutra or Treatise on Erotic Pleasure (Vatsyayna) 44 Kapranov brothers 21, 98–114; crossover of romance, drama, thriller, horror, and mystery genres 98; erotophobia 115; gendered politics of pleasure 101–3, 114: politics of pleasure (female, soft) 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 112, 114; politics of pleasure (male, hard) 101, 108, 113, 114; intertextual dialogue with Shevchenko 100, 101, 104, 107, 111; “theorizing” about witches 106; Ukrainian demonology 107, 109–14; Kobzar 2000 98, 100–15 Kapranov Dmytro 98 Kapranov Vitali 98 Karlinsky, Simon 93 Karpa, Irena 20, 142, 151–4 Kasetnyi skandal 146 Kelly, Catriona 122 Khazanov, Anatoly A. 131 Khlopchyky i divchatka (Ralko) 141, 141 Khmelnytsky, Bohdan 80

“Khram Poseidona” (Pokalchuk) 48, 54–5 Khrushchev, Nikita 80 Krushchev’s “Thaw” 80, 81 Khvylovy, Mykola 16 khymerna prosa 82 Khymernyi Yatskiv (Matusiak) 19 Kievskie ved′my (Somov) 104 Kimmel, Michael S. 46 King Kong (movie) 125 kitsch 10, 57, 123, 144 Klen, Yuri 75 “Kniazhych” (Kapranov brothers) 112, 113 Kobylianska, Olha 18 Kobzar 2000 (Kapranov brothers) 98, 100–15 Komar, Vitaly 10 Kononenko, Yevheniia 20, 142, 147–52, 157 Koons, Jeff 57 Kotliarevsky, Ivan 117 Koznarsky, Taras 46, 51, 57 Krafft-Ebing, Richard 53, 75 Krishnaswamy, Revathi 26 Kristeva, Julia 35, 37, 38, 42n67, 68; on abjection 68; on good and evil double 35, 37 Kritenko, Andri 117 KRoT (Kyiv Revolutionary o*** Theatre) 117 Krymsky, Ahatanhel 18, 74–5 Kubrick, Stanley 13 Kuchma, Leonid 146 Kundera, Milan 25 Kunst, Bojana 84 Kurkov, Andri 152 Kuzio, Taras 56 Kyiv Mohyla Academy 79, 80 Kyïvs′kyi Shchodennyk (Ralko) 140 Kytais′kyi Erotychnyi Shchodennyk (Ralko) 140 Lapinsky, Ihor 117 Lazarenko, Pavlo 145, 146 Lebedev-Kumach, Vasily 123 Lermontov, Mikhail 120–1 lesbian 156; eroticism 4; identities, stereotype of deviance 71; relationship 53; sexual number 72 lesbianism 4, 13, 53, 67, 71: homophobic articulation of 71 Levin, Eve 86

186 Index Lewes, Darby 23n 61 Lewin, Moshe 124 liaison amoureuse 90 “life-stages-of-love” 71 life-writing 21, 25, 66, 140, 148 Lisovska, Nastia (Roxolana) 61 Literaturna Ukraїna (literary weekly) 64 Litopys Samiila Velychka 81 Litopys Samovydtsia 80 Little Octobrists 123 Liubovychivna, Anna 64 Luckyj, George S. N. 99 The Lustful Turk 70 McClintock, Ann 35 McNair, Brian 13, 15, 142 Maddison, Stephen 48 magic realism 82 Maidan Revolution of Dignity 140 “Maiskaia noch′” (Hohol, Gogol) 112 male: body, “mapping” of 7; erection and ejaculation 14; potency 144; relationship with 6; sexual anatomy 69; sexual function 4, 93; also see castration; effeminization, emasculation male-supremacist culture 30 Malevich, Kazimir 139 Malleus Maleficarum 93, 105 “Mama Roma i patsany” (Pokalchuk) 46, 53 Mantis religiosa 91 Mapping Postcommunist Cultures (Chernetsky) 19 Marcus, Steven 66 Margaret of Navarre 62 Marxism-Leninism: 18; version of reality 10 Marxist ideology 128 Marxist methodology 74–5 Mary Queen of Scots 62 masculinity 19, 20, 26, 37, 72, 102, 112, 114: androcentric 129; “degenerate” 54; dominanceseeking 39; femininity-inmasculinity 26; hegemonic 26, 28; imperial 6; Stalinist, as lack 129; nationalist 6; post-Soviet 65 masochism: definition of 39; desire of 15; as natural to women 39, 42n76, 48–9, 55, 104; pleasure-and-pain scenario 108; Soviet version of 39–40; fantasy of 91–2

“mass psychosis” 131 mat [Russ. foul language] 118, 135; as “GULag of Russian linguistics” 118 Matios, Mariia 20, 142, 143–7 Matusiak, Agnieszka 19 Mazepa, Ivan 5, 80 “mechanical bride” (Surrealism) 10 Medusa: multiple connotations of 111; as the monstrous-feminine 110; as the sign of castration 111 Melamid, Alexander 10 Memoirs of the Blind (Derrida) 100 memory 28, 56, 87, 100, 130, 140; abuses of 56; circularity of 158; collective 33, 56, 65, 123; colonialism and 56; cultural 65, 98; excisionary 56; genetic 25; imperial and neo-imperial 5; politics of 124; Ukrainian historical 5, 55, 56 Metamorphoses (Ovid) 128 metropole–periphery paradigm 18; non-Russian peripheries 118, 128 Mikhalkov, Sergey 123 misogyny 3, 20, 21, 26, 40, 129, 132 Mirzoeff, Nicholas 159n1 modernism 8, 15–17, 18–19, 57 Molod′ Ukraïny 63–4 “Molytva” (Pokalchuk) 48 Molytva za Het’mana Mazepu (Illienko) 5–8 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 54; NaziSoviet Pact of Non-Aggression 126, 143 monstrous-feminine 21, 28, 31, 82, 86, 87, 89–91, 92, 93, 94–5, 107, 110; in folklore 93, 109–10, 129, 130; in myth 133; monstrous double 31–2; sexual predator 130 Morris, Marcia A. 127 Mother (Gorky) 125, 126 The Motherland Calls (Toidze) 124 Muhibbi (Süleyman’s pen name) 74 Mulvey, Laura 30 Münster, Sebastian 8 Murakami, Rūy 153 Muybridge, Eadweard 139–40 Myloradovych, Vasyl 110 narrative transvestism 51 National Expert Committee of Ukraine on the Defence of Public Morals 3 Natsiia (Matios) 143

Index  187 Natural Born Killers (Stone) 153 Navagero, Bernardo 74 Nazi-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression 126, 143; Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 54 Neill, James 7 “Nemaie raiu na vsii zemli” (Kononenko) 148 neo-Baroque 21, 81, 88, 93 Nietzscheanism 128 non-heteronormative sexual practices 72 Novyi kanal (TV channel) 4 nymphomania: 15, 49, 58, 130, 154 Odyssey (Homer) 127 Oedipus Rex (Sophocles) 47, 127, 131, 133 “On the Defence of Public Morals” (law) 4 On the Nightmare (Jones) 108 Oriental erotic guides: bāhnāme 66, 71; Kama Sutra 67; The Perfumed Garden 67, 73 Orientalism 18, 70; mystifications of 67; and Western psychosexual needs 67 Orientalist 18, 21, 23n61, 69, 74; characters 65; dominant discourse 67; fantasies and libertine pornography 61; generic tropes 68; views on race 70; homoerotic fantasy 71; literature and stereotypes 72; Ukrainian scholarship 74, 75 Ostrovsky, Nikolai 127 The Other Victorians (Marcus) 66 Ottoman Empire 61, 62, 63, 67; Age of the Beloveds in 71; Süleymanic period in 63; Ukrainian/Slavic factor in 74 pain 28, 29, 37, 113, 140; and desire 39; genital 150; in literary tradition 39; and sexual maturation 147; spectacle of 85 “Pamorochlyvyi zapakh dzhunhliv” (Pokalchuk) 49 Pan-Slavism, movement 126 paratextuality 21, 63–4, 75, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104; visual elements 102 Parker, P. J. 65, 72 pastiche 10, 21, 61, 75, 89, 118, 127 pathogenesis 25

pathography 52, 59n49 Paul I of Russia 80 Pavlik Morozov 122 Pavlik Morozov (Poderviansky) 117, 121, 123, 125, 127, 129 Pavlychko, Solomiia 18, 74 Pavlyshyn, Marko 19, 50, 88, 95n2 Peirce, Leslie P. 62 Penzer, N. M. 71 Pereiaslav Treaty 1654 and “reunification” of Ukraine with Russia 80 perestroika (Gorbachev) 1, 32, 64 The Perfumed Garden (Sheikh Nafzawi) 67, 73 Perlamutrove porno (Karpa) 20, 142, 151–4 Peter I of Russia 5, 7 phallic panic 114 Philosophy in the Bedroom (de Sade) 12 Pidmohylny, Valerian 16 PiK (magazine on politics and culture) 4 Pioneers 11, 12, 119, 122–4, 126, 131 “Pisnia svits′ka” (Liubovychivna) 64 Pisni Kupidona (Shevchuk, editor) 64 Planeta liudei (Solomko) 8 Pliushch, Leonid 99 Poderviansky, Les 21, 29, 42n62, 117– 36; subversion of socialist realist canon 127–9; reductive system of Soviet literature 121–3, 126, 127; socialist realism is pornography 118–19; Soviet utopian fantasies and public mythologies 134; brutal sexualized reality 135; Soviet system of education and its ideological agenda 119–20; “engineers of human souls” 120; comediography of violence 135; quasi-Oedipal drama 131; Pavlik Morozov 121–35 Poetesa zlamu stolit′ (Aheieva) 19 Pokalchuk, Yurko 21, 43–58; adolescent sexuality 46; disruption of commanded historical memory 54–7; dual discourse of erotic desire and transgression 44; essentialist views on sexuality 51–2; heteronormative sexual matrix 52; mature woman’s sexual tutelage 45–7; imbrication of the public and private discourses of power

188 Index and pleasure 49–50; Ukrainian foundational pornography 43; Te, shcho na spodi, Kama sutra 43, 45–58 Polataiko, Taras 139–40 Polishchuk, Valerian 16, 17 Pol′ovi doslidzhennia (Zabuzhko) 20, 24–40 polymorphous sexual activities 109 Pop Art 10 popular romance fiction 101 porno-chic 20, 142 pornography: canon of 12, 13; conceptualizations of 45; conventions of 51, 69, 72, 94; conventions of in film 146; and democratization of society 57; definition of 3, 4; dominatrix 109; educational aspect and value of 13, 67; foundational 21, 43; eye of 29; genre 101; hard-core and soft-core 101–2, 114; heroes 14; heterosexual 12; and hyperreality 14; libertine 61; literature 119; manufacture and distribution of 3; misery porn 148; moral 159; cinematic 69, 146; nomenclature 104, 108; Orientalist literary conventions of 65, 70–3; operational codes of 57; as political satire 145; porno-ethnography 117; porno-sites 13; rape as sexually exciting in 48–9, 150–1; sexual exploration characteristic of 50; and slasher narratives 158 pornography debate: “sex wars” in the West 2; pro-pornography and anti-pornography factions in 2; in Ukraine 3–4; Law No. 1296-IV 4 pornotopia: pornotopian orgasm 51; pornotopic scene 6, 46, 51; pornotopic site 143; pornotopic spaces 152 “Porodyla mene maty” (Kapranov brothers) 107 post-Baroque body 83 postcolonial 10; body 2, 142; condition 19, 39; cultural scene 19; psychological dependence 38; sexuality 25, 142; society 2, 11; textuality 75; critical theory 17, 18, 23n61; postmodern: bricolage 127; condition 31; criticism 19, 31; culture 3;

parody 75; pastiche 21, 127; practices 65 postmodernism 57 PostPostup (magazine) 63, 75 Poviї tezh vykhodiat′ zamizh (Kononenko) 142, 147, 149 propaganda: Soviet 10, 32, 56, 98, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124–5, 131, 133; neo-imperial Russian 135–6 prostitution 12, 13, 38, 44, 45, 49, 51, 52, 53, 55, 58, 65, 130, 134, 149, 154 pseudo-autobiographical manuscript 61 psychoanalysis 17, 19, 25, 32, 38: “feminine masochism” 42n76; fetishism, Freudian theory of 109; fetishization, of woman 101, 103; infantile sadistic sexuality 108; Medusa as a signifier of castration 111; libidinal economy of revolution, petit-bourgeois and socialist models 134; Oedipus complex 47; Oedipal drama 131; phallic economy of lack 29; phallic woman 109–10; symbols for sexual trauma in 129 Psychopathia Sexualis (Krafft-Ebing) 53, 75 Pushkin, Alexandr 128 Putin’s War against Ukraine: Revolution, Nationalism, and Crime (Kuzio) 56 Raievsky, Valentyn 10, 11 Ralko, Vlada 140 rape: 13, 27, 28, 29, 34, 48, 70, 92, 150–1; in colonial sexual ideology 27; demonic 109; fear of 158; generic depiction of 48; in hardcore pornography 48; man-on-man 27; in prison 53, 54; revenge 48; same-sex 27; as sexually exciting 48–9, 150–1; trope of 6, 27 Ray, Man 8 reception–consumption cycle 92 Red Army 32, 125 Red Cavalry 127 Regeneration (Solomko) 8–9 reimperialization, of post-Soviet space 135 Rice, Anne 15 Rich, Adrienne 53, 54

Index  189 Richter, Gerhard 139 Roper, Lyndal 84 Rossiia, kotoruiu my poteriali (Govorukhin) 54 Roxelana & Suleyman (Parker) 65 Roxolana (Nastia Lisovska, Hurrem Sultan, Hurrem) 61, 62, 71; and Hafsa Sultan (vâlide sultan) 73; Krymsky on 74; myth of 62, 64; and political power 61, 62; stereotype 62; Süleyman’s love for 71, 74; and the Sultanate of Women 62; in Turkish history 61, 74; in Ukrainian literary and collective imaginary 62–3; as Western Orientalist character 65, 72 Roxolanomania 62 “Rozryta mohyla” (Kapranov brothers) 111 Rozsichene kolo (Shevchuk) 82, 89 Rozstriliane vidrodzhennia 16, 17 Ruslan and Liudmilla (Pushkin) 128 Russian “civilizing” mission 80, 118, 119, 126 Russian neo-imperialist war 56 Russian and Russo-Soviet imperial historiography 7, 54, 65, 80, 125 Russian Pan-Slavism 126 “Russian soul” 130 Russian territorial expansion 121 Russo-Soviet domination 112 Russo-Soviet Empire 1917 1, 99 Russo-Ukrainian War (1919–1922) 127 Russo-Ukrainian War (2014–present) 135 “sacred” books, Russo-Soviet 128 Saddam Hussein 146 sadism 39, 92, 93, 108–9; paraneurotic 28 sadistic, temperament 34 Said, Edward 72–3 2002 São Paulo Biennial 139 sadomasochism 15; sexual imagery of 11 Schulz, Bruno 33 scopophilia: scopophilic gaze 103: scopophilic drive 104; scopophilic desire 155; scopophilic lust 158 Scythian Dracaena/Echidna 91, 110 second-wave feminist movement 66 sexed bodies, cartography of 5–9 sexism 25, 103, 129, 159

sexomania 86 sexophobia 1, 2, 86, 114, 129; panic 86 sexual: abuse 148; access 114; acts 3, 46, 48, 55, 58, 101, 147, 153; agency 2, 114, 142; autonomy 142; body 19, 20, 22, 58, 81, 82; cannibalism 92; conformity 83, 150; commodity 50; desire 18, 31, 44, 45, 49, 51, 69, 88, 93, 102, 129; “deviance” 3, 53, 72, 82, 125; drives 23n49, 83, 84; economy 87, 134, 159; excess 4, 72, 73; fantasies 21, 40n10, 44, 46, 51, 58, 108, 153, 154; freedoms 4, 147; harassment 144; horror 94, 110; identity 19, 39, 47, 51, 52; ideologies 17, 27; initiation 157; liberation 66, 76; license 114; maturation 33, 54, 147; numbers 69, 72, 108, 146; object 30, 53, 112; organs 29, 73, 85, 111, 117, 143; orientation 53; pleasure 15, 21, 50, 73, 94, 103, 134, 151; politics 5, 70, 146; predator 130; privilege 46; psychopathology 53; 1960s revolution 13, 65; spectacle 69, 103; subjectivity 25; suppression 129; transgression 21, 44, 45, 108, 109, 130, 145 sexuality 1, 7, 11, 14, 18, 19, 24, 34, 48, 70, 83, 94, 112, 113, 132, 140, 155, 159; abnormal female 21, 38, 84–5, 89, 107, 130; Bildungsroman of 58; construction of 90; debates about 2; discourses on 2, 44, 134; and desire 26; ecclesiastical image of 86; eclectic view of 93; exclusion from social identity 45; explicit representations of 15, 20; expression of 15; female, causing man’s fall 89, 93; female, distorted by religion and communism 52; female self-representation of 66; female, male fear of 87; female, volatile and dangerous 89, 92, 93, 109, 114; heterosexual male, “normal” 101; infantile 108; insatiable female, male fantasy of 29; Krymsky on 74, 75; male, crippled by colonization 51; male, traditional models of 4; management of 25; normalized types of 38; petit-bourgeois model of revolutionary 134; Oriental,

190 Index as perverted 72, 73; philosophy of 44; policing of by the Soviet state 45; use of in political pornography 145; politics of 129; polymorphous nature of 35; and pornography 14; and possession 85; postcolonial 25; regressive views on 95; representations of 3–4, 17, 20, 21, 44, 52, 67, 87, 103; without sex 156; simulacra of 14; Soviet discourse on 134; transhistorical construction of 90; and transgression 44; and violence 55, 90 sexual liberation: and second-wave feminist movement 66; 1960s phase of 76 sexual non-conformity 72 sexual reproduction 1, 34, 87 sexual servitude 71, 72 sexual temptation 86, 93 Sheikh Nafzawi 73 Shevchenkiv mif Ukraїny (Zabuzhko) 99 Shevchenko National Prize 143 Shevchenko, Taras 98; contemporaneity 100; recovery from critical dogma 99; idiosyncratic myth-making project 99; Kobzar, reviews of 99; literary and visual oeuvre 99; nation, foundational text of 98; prophetic figure of 101, 107 Shevchuk, Valeri 21, 63, 79–95; Baroque body 82; demonically pornographized women 85; the monstrous feminine 89–94; neoBaroque transhistorical eroticism 82; phallic panic 86, 87; possession by devil 84–6; powerful female carnality 83; production and reconstruction of cultural and historical discourses 81; totalitarian censorship 79–80; Bis ploti, Rozsichene kolo, Horbunka Zoia, “Zhinka- zmiia” 82–95 Shevelov, George Y. 99 shistdesiatnyky movement 80 Sinyavsky, Andrei 119 “Sister Alyonushka and her Brother Ivanushka” (Russian folktale) 129, 130 Skovoroda, Hryhori 80

slave-labor system 34 “Slavic Ausonia” 104 Slavic, Balkan 19 “Smak hrikha” (Pokalchuk) 49 Snader, Joe 68 “Snow White” (fairytale) 128 Sny Vasilisy Iehorovny (Poderviansky) 117 socialist realism: 12–15, 16, 21, 79, 88, 142; asceticism of 125, 127, 134; aesthetics of 10, 16; canon of 2, 79, 120–1, 127, 128; cultural politics of 2; and cyberporn 11–15; doctrine of 16, 120; formulas of 126, 129; Gorkian formulation of 126; institutionalization of 121–2; legacy of 55, 121, 129; main themes of 99, 119; male practitioners of 40; men-without-women formula in 16; method of 14; operational mode of 14; positive/typical hero of 119, 125, 126, 134; principle of 129; and pornography 12–15, 118–19, 135; and Sots Art 10; and Stalinist master plot 123 Solodka Darusia: Drama na try zhyttia (Matios) 143 Solomko, Yuri 8–9 S′omha (Andrukhovych) 142, 154–8 Somov, Orest 104 The Song of Songs 82 Sots Art 9–11 Sots Porn 11–12 Soviet cultural dogma 65 Soviet foreign policy 126 Soviet historiography 54, 65, 80, 125 Soviet literary tradition 45 Soviet propaganda machine 121, 122 Soviet self-policing state 33; “political vigilance” in 122 Soviet social engineering 1, 34, 120 Soviet system: of art education 8; counterfeit cohesion and order of 135; criticism of 10; of education 119, 128 “speaking sex” 146–7 Stalin, Joseph (Iosif): 10, 17, 26 80, 120, 122, 127, 128, 133, 134, 135, 136; cult of personality 123–4; and genocidal terror famine 32, 33 Stalinism 124 Stalinist cultural revolution 129 Stalinist high culture 128–9, 133

Index  191 Stalinist propaganda 131 Stalinist repressions (Great Terror, Great Purge) 16–17, 24, 133 Stalinist socialist reconstruction 120 Stewart, Justice 4 Stone, Oliver 153 Strangers to Ourselves (Kristeva) 35 Stus, Vasyl 17 Süleyman the Magnificent 61, 62, 63, 67, 71, 74, 77n53 Sultanate of Women 62 subalternity 26 “superfluous man,” in Russian literature 121 Surkis, Judith 45 Surkov, Maksym 52 surzhyk 118, 126 Swift, Jonathan 7 “The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights” (Pushkin) 128 “Tarasykova nichka” (Kapranov brothers) 112 Team America: World Police 153 The Temptation of Adam (Masolino) 91 Teoriia ukraïns′ koho kokhannia (Tomenko) 3 Te, shcho na spodi (What lies beneath) (Pokalchuk) 43, 46, 47 Thanatos 123, 126, 131 Thomas, Greg 23n61 Theweleit, Klaus 35 The Thousand and One Nights 72 Titanic (Kubrick) 13 Toidze, Irakli 124 Tomenko, Mykola 3 totalitarian ideology 45 totalitarian regime 17, 24, 39, 81, 120 tradition, textual possibilities of 100 transgression 12, 21, 44, 46, 49, 52, 89, 131; Bataille’s theory of 45; of conventional discursive norms 21; and erotic desire 21, 44; of idealized femininity 94; of the Incubus Dogma 109; Jenks on 44–5; masculine fantasy of 108; personified 83; politically radical 40; sexual discourses 145; sexual 20, 37, 45, 108, 109, 130; sociosexual 114; of taboos 45, 50, 58, 158 trauma 19, 24, 25, 36, 40n8, 46, 154; cumulative 24; culturally imposed

31; colonial 31; patriarchal 129; personal 53; of Ukrainian history 54; sexual 129 Trinchi, Vadym 135 Try lystky za viknom (Shevchuk) 79 Turgenev, Ivan 121 U koli ukraïns′koï setsesiï (Matusiak) 19 Ukrainian Erotomaniac Fictions 17, 18, 19 Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) 55–6 Ukrainian Painting Triennial Award 140 Ukrainian-Russian literary relations 98 Ukrainian Schoolgirls (website) 11 Ukrainian Women’s Union 63 Ukraїns′ka literaturna entsyklopediia 64 Ukrainocentric historical paradigm 56 UNIAN (Ukrainian National Information Agency) 3 “unnatural erotization” of Ukrainian cultural space 3 Ussher, Jane M. 12 1983 US State Department’s Report to Congress on Forced Labor in the USSR 27 vaginal penetration 12, 29, 46, 73, 85, 93, 142 Val′s Pershoho Snihu (Konoinenko) 147 “Varnak” (Kapranov brothers) 113 Vasnetsov, Viktor 129 Vatsyayna 44 Velychko, Samiilo 81 Verkhovna Rada 3 Veselá, Pavla 132 Vickers, Nancy J. 111 violence 2, 5, 6, 7, 15, 21, 28, 30, 55, 70, 72, 74, 101, 108, 113: of castration 67; colonial 27, 31, 34, 39, 112; comediography of 135; constitutive of empire 112; emasculating 27; epistemic 98; of history 20, 39; ideological 132; inborn 32; and power 54, 140; representation of 29; sadistic 131; sadomasochistic 48; sexual 27, 29, 86, 90, 130, 151; of the Soviet State 133, 134; subjective, objective, symbolic, systemic, and constitutive as conceptualized by Žižek 29; traumatogenic 25 Virgin Mary 34 Vlasov, Andrey 125

192 Index von Sacher-Masoch, Leopold 47 Vulkan erotychnykh fantazii (online library) 15 Vynnychenko, Volodymyr 16, 17, 43 Vynnychuk, Yuri 21; 61–76; erotomaniac diary 72; historiographic pastiche 61; Imperial Harem 64, 67–8; literary mystifications 61, 63–5, 75; Orientalist fantasies in Western libertine pornography 65–8, 70, 72–3; Roxolana in Ukrainian literary and collective imagination 62–3; Roxolana as the first Ukrainian grand dame of sexual liberation 66; Ukrainian imaginary erotomaniac history 65; Zhytiie haremnoie 63, 65–74, 75–6 Wahl, Elizabeth Susan 51 Waits, Tom 152 Wallen, John 23n61 Weber, Henri 85–6 Weiner, Amir 32 Western pornography industry 12 White Sea Canal 133 Williams, Linda 23n62, 69, 77n55, 101, 139, 140, 158 woman: empowerment 111; erotic agency 40; literary tradition 66; masculinist conceptualization of 30; masochistic desire 15; misogynistic theories of 20; object-woman 66; passivity, fertility, penetrability of in patriarchal culture 8; as prehistoric 36; sexual agency 2; sexual compliance 150; sexuality outside societal norms 38; sociosymbolic existence of 6, 30; as unrepresentable 35 woman as sexually insatiable: 6, 14, 15, 21, 29, 43, 46, 51, 73, 91, 93, 94, 106–8, 130; male anxieties about 130; nymphomaniacs 15, 49, 130, 154; and promiscuous 50, 58 witch, woman as: 31, 34, 35, 84, 90, 95, 100, 101, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 112, 125; castrating 36, 90, 93, 109; in dreams 36; hereditary

and indoctrinated in the Kapranovs 106; liaison amoureuse with 90; lore 104 of vagina dentata 34, 93; sexually alluring 106; shape-shifting powers of 92; transvectional 36, 92, 104 witch craze 84, 109 witchcraft 35, 49n41, 84, 93, 105; treatise on 93 witch hunts 105; metaphoric 125 witch trials 105–6 Wood, Marcus 61n23 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (Gray) 102 World War II 24, 32, 54, 63n60, 75, 104, 122, 125, 126, 136 Yerko, Vladyslav 101 Young Communist League 123 Young Pioneer Organization 11, 12, 119, 122–4, 126, 131 Zabud′-richka (Kapranov brothers) 98 Zabuzhko, Oksana 20, 21, 24–40, 41n38, 51, 62, 90, 98, 99, 142, 150; autonomous subject of erotic desire 25; cultural roles of domination and subordination 21; female body as a site of political transgression 39–40; oppressive politics of the body under totalitarian rule 31–4; traumatogenic effects of history 24–5; Ukrainian sexual subjectivity 25; violent colonial eroticism 39; emasculation of colonized men 26–7; Pol′ovi doslidzhennia 20, 24 –40 Zaporozhian Cossacks 99 Zapreshchennaia real′nost′ (Golovachev) 10 Ze´evi, Dror 71 Zhadan, Serhi 152 Zhinka-zmiia (Shevchuk) 89 “Zhinka-zmiia” (Shevchuk) 90, 91 Zhinochyi prostir (Aheieva) 19 Zhovten′ (literary magazine) 64 Zhytiie haremnoie (Vynnychuk) 61, 63, 66–74, 75–6, 89 Žižek, Slavoj 29, 38, on violence 29 Zviri (Poderviansky) 117