VOLODYMYR MIKHAILOVICH HNATIUK –
ethnographer, folklorist, linguist, literary critic, art critic, translator, public and cultural figure
09.05.1871 - 06.10.1926
Volodymyr Hnatiuk (1871-1926), writer, literary scholar, and was one of the most influential and notable Ukrainian ethnographers, literary scholar, translator, journalist, and community figure in Western Ukraine; member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh) in Lviv from 1899, the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg from 1902, the Czechoslovak Folklore Society in Prague from 1905, the Society for Austrian Folk Art in Vienna, the Folklore Fellows in Helsinki, and the VUAN and the Ethnographic Society in Kyiv from 1924.
Hnatiuk focused primarily on West Ukraine, gathering information about folk songs, legends, customs and dialects.
He was a close companion of Mykhailo Hrushevsky and Ivan Franko.
Volodymyr Hnatiuk was born on May 9, 1871 in Velesniv, Buchach powiat, Galicia (now located in Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine).
He studied in the Buchach and Stanislavska high school and Ivan Franko National University of Lviv.
Hnatiuk began collecting folklore during his adolescence.
When he was a freshman at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv he took an interest in the folklore of residents of the southern slopes of the Carpathians.
The first study "Lyrists: lyrist, prayers, words, news and others facts about lyrists of Buchach district" was published in 1896.
Personally conducted by Ivan Franko he edited the ethnographic collection "Materials for Ukrainian Ethnology". He published a number of scientific publications about residents of Transcarpathian areas who are called lemky and also about residents of Yugoslavia who are called Ruthenians.
There were further works such as:
- "Ruski in Bachtsya" (1898),
- "Ruthenians in Hungary" (1899),
- "Ruthenians of the Pryashiv eparchy and their dialect" (1900),
- "Slovaks or Ruthenians" (1901).
He studied folk art in close contact with the socio-economic conditions of workers. Hnatiuk systematically made a note of folklore in Eastern Galicia from 1893 to 1902. In 1859-1903 he investigated six folklore and ethnographic expeditions to Transcarpathian Ukraine. He wrote down about 1500 folk songs, composed a few selected works such as "Kolomiyka" (Ukrainian dance and song) in 3 parts, 1905-1907, "Hayivka" (1909), and "Carols and songs" (1914).
While studying at Lviv University, he headed the Academic Community (Lviv)
From 1898 to his death he was the general secretary of NTSh. In 1898 he was elected secretary, and in 1913 chairman, of the Ethnographic Commission of the Shevchenko Scientific Society. From 1899 he was also the secretary of the NTSh Philological Section.
Hnatiuk was also an editor of and contributor to several NTSh serials:
Khronika NTSh (66 issues in Ukrainian, 59 in German),
Etnohrafichnyi zbirnyk (ez, 22 vols),
Materiialy do ukraïns’koï etnolohiï (20 vols).
While he was its general secretary, the NTSh reached the peak of its development, becoming the equivalent of an academy of sciences.
Hnatiuk also served two terms (1899–1906, 1922–6) on the editorial board of the journal Literaturno-naukovyi vistnyk, for which he solicited many contributions and wrote many articles and reviews on literary, political, and linguistic topics. He also contributed to Zapysky Naukovoho tovarystva im. Shevchenka, Kievskaia starina, Zhytie i slovo, Dilo, and other Ukrainian, as well as German, Polish, and Czech, periodicals. One of the founders (in 1899), the secretary (1899–1912), and a director of the Ukrainian-Ruthenian Publishing Company, he edited over 150 of its volumes of Ukrainian and European literature, translating many of the foreign works himself. He was also an active member of the Lviv Prosvita society.
He edited the works of the Ukrainian and foreign authors, translated into Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Czech, Swedish and other literatures. The collected materials are celebrated for accuracy of record and have great importance for the further study of culture and life of Ukrainian, especially of Carpathian residents.
A regular network for the collection of ethnographic and folkloristic materials was created by him.
Numerous works on comparative ethnography, linguistics, literary criticism, organizing and publishing folkloristic materials, were also created by Volodymyr Hnatiuk.
He actively corresponded with I. Franko, B.Hrinchenko, M. Voronyi, B. Lepkyi, M. Pavlik, A. Krushelnytskyi I.Nechuy-Levitsky, and others.
In 30 years of researching and publishing, Volodymyr Hnatiuk published about a thousand different works. He was the first to push the Ukrainian folklore on the wide path of European science.
I. Franko named Volodymyr Hnatiuk a "phenomenally lucky collector of all ethnographic material in which, among our older collectors, apparently, no one did believe."
Hnatiuk maintained extensive contacts with almost all important Ukrainian and many non-Ukrainian scholars and cultural figures. Together with Ivan Franko and Fedir Vovk, he was instrumental in turning folklore collecting in Western Ukraine into a scholarly discipline; he wrote many programs and methodological guidelines for collectors, and in his Ukraïns’ka narodna slovesnist’ (Ukrainian Folk Literature, 1916) he presented a system for recording, classifying, and publishing Ukrainian folklore. Hnatiuk's research was focused initially on the Hungarian-ruled Ukrainians.
He made five research trips (during 1895–1896, 1899, 1903) to Transcarpathia and one each to Bačka (1897) and the Banat (1903), and wrote over 100 studies of their folklore, material culture, and dialects; the most important study is Etnohrafichni materiialy z Uhors’koï Rusy (Ethnographic Materials from Hungarian Ruthenia, vols 3, 4, 9, 25, 29, and 30 [1897–1911] of ez).
Between 1899 and 1914 he spent many summers in the Hutsul region, where he conducted ethnographic research among its inhabitants and collected many artifacts for the NTSh museum. After falling ill with tuberculosis in 1903, Hnatiuk could not engage in much fieldwork; instead he organized a correspondence network of about 800 folklorists, with whose help he compiled over two dozen unsurpassed volumes of materials that were published in the NTSh serials edited by him and in the collection Das Geschlechtsleben des Ukrainischen Bauernvolkes (2 vols, 1909, 1912).
Hnatiuk was an advocate of the comparative-historical approach, which he applied in his studies of folktales, fables, folk songs, legends, folk beliefs, and folk customs andrites. He also wrote valuable works about folk cookery, handicrafts, folk oral literature, folk architecture, demonology, and folkways. His writings on various Ukrainian dialects and argots and on normative grammar and orthography were important contributions in the field of Ukrainian linguistics. In the political sphere, Hnatiuk supported the Ukrainian Radical party and was an opponent of the Galician Russophiles and populists (see Western Ukrainian Populism).
Hnatiuk died in Lviv on October 6, 1926. He was buried at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv.
In 1969 an ethnographic-memorial museum dedicated to Hnatiuk was opened in Velesniv; in 1971 a memorial sculpted by Luka Bihanych was erected there.