“What Kind of Soviet Citizen Will You Grow into?”: Ukrainian Adventure for Adolescents in the Stalinist Epoch
This article analyzes a number of Soviet Ukrainian adventure narratives written during the 1930-40s, including the novels “Lakhtak” (“Lakhtak,” 1934) and Shkhuna “Kolumb” (Schooner “Columbus,” 1940) by Mykola Trublaini, Shkola nad morem (A School by the Sea, 1937) by Oles' Donchenko, Hospodari Okhots'kykh hir (The Owners of the Okhotsk Mountains, 1949) by Ivan Bahmut, and several short stories. This entertaining genre was used to educate its young readers about their place and aims in the world, as well as about the boundaries of the newly-forged Soviet identity and its meaning. This period witnessed a radical change in the criteria for defining group identity, as proposed to young readers: ethno-national markers were substituted by belonging to an ideological community and by class affiliation. As a result, although anyone originating from outside the Soviet borders was perceived as a menace, some foreigners of a “correct political orientation” could be recognized as potentially belonging to “our” community. At the same time, this change implied that there were hidden “enemies” among alleged “in-group” members, which justified the mobilized state of the group identity. The adventure stories analyzed here also shed light on the fostering of a sense of Union-wide unity through the parallels they drew between the experiences of young Ukrainian readers and those of their counterparts in faraway regions of the USSR.
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