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Ukrainian Dumy, the folk heroic epics of Cossack Ukraine, speak of glorious deeds in battle. They tell of heroes who conquer three hundred, six hundred, and even nine hundred of the Tatar enemy single-handedly. They describe loyalty to comrades and self-sacrifice for the good of others and for the prosperity of Ukraine. They tell of men who endure enormous pain and still keep fighting for the sake of their homeland. They convey a simple, down-to-earth ethic of recognizing a person for what he is, rather than for the money, fine clothes, or social status he possesses.
They extol the virtues of freedom and eloquently proclaim that it is the most desirable thing on earth. Yet, through the majority of these narratives, there runs a current of pessimism and tragedy. Ivan Konovchenko, the brave youth who volunteers for the Cossack army, is killed even though he has proven his ability to overcome hundreds of the enemy with no assitance. Marusia Bohuslavka frees all of the Cossacks being held in Turkish captivity. But she stays behind and, although the duma does not actually recount this, there is no doubt that what she has done will be discovered and that she will be punished for her valor by a cruel and painful death. Even the few dumy that have a happy ending often manage to introduce a pessimistic note. Instead of concluding with the positive outcome of the sequence of events narrated, they add a closing refrain reminding the audience that the hero of the duma died, but his memory will live, forever. Even though the mention of the living memory offers some consolation, the mention of the hero’s death is a touch of gloom not motivated by the plot.
|Dimensions||23 × 15.5 × 2 cm|
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