CREATING A NEW HISTORICAL NARRATIVE
Maria CHADIUK, Den’s 2016 Summer School of Journalism:
The book The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom will help us to talk with the West in the same language. After all, as you know, to start a dialog, it is desirable to find something in common. Having a talk about the elite is, I believe, a great opportunity for this, especially at the present time.
“Historical figures such as Yaroslav Osmomysl or Volodymyr Vasylkovych, not to mention King Danylo of Galicia, are easily understood by Europeans, as they were true Western European monarchs. Meanwhile, the Ostrozky princes can be compared to European nobles who were known as dukes. Clearly, our history has many specific features, but differences, their acceptance or discussion, is only the second step, made when our similarity has already become an axiom.
“Mykola Zerov once said that we had no need to cut a window on Europe, because germs of European culture were always doing well here. The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom just shows these germs that were accumulated by our elite.
“In my opinion, Den’s latest book The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom can be compared in its significance to the introduction of visa-free travel to the EU.
“It is just that the former achievement plays a role in our consciousness, while opening borders affects material reality. Moreover, it is interesting how they complement each other.
“What is the significance of The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom? It shows that Europe, which we strive to join so strongly, is not a distant objective, it is in fact in our blood, we are already part of Europe.
“Having read the book, having assumed ownership of and taken responsibility for our past, we can go to Europe not as representatives of a ‘young nation,’ not at all. We will come to other countries of Europe as equal members of it, since Ukrainians are Europeans too.
“Meanwhile, visa-free travel gives us an opportunity to see the Western heritage and, already having knowledge of our own past, draw conclusions which might be different from those that were drawn before. Fascinated by the castles of Europe, we will no longer feel the sense of inferiority brought by lacking such a heritage. For it to be like that, it is enough to mention Prince Lubart’s castle alone, where monarchs from all over Europe gathered once.
“In fact, in my opinion, there is only one significant difference between the European and Ukrainian heritage. While Europeans are proud of it, care about it and shape their cultural and political image with it, we have forgotten our past and lost faith in it a bit. In fact, we are not the best, but not the worst either. We are just special, we have commonalities and differences, issues of our own, but there are advantages as well.
“So, The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom cleanses the past from the imposed stereotypes, showing us for who we really are. And most importantly, it creates a new narrative of the history of our nation – the ancient, enlightened, European Ukraine.
OUR HERITAGE IS NOT LIMITED TO THE GLORIOUS COSSACK AGE
Oleksandra KLIOSOVA, Den’s 2017 Summer School of Journalism:
‘A book that treats historical amnesia’ is the motto of this year’s new book of Den, but I believe that this message clearly illustrates the purpose served by every book of Den’s Library series. After all, its effort to ‘correct mistakes’ did not start yesterday, but rather in the already distant year 2002, when readers, including my family, who were thirsting for the historical truth, were able to read the first and, in my opinion, the most important book of Den, I mean Ukraine Incognita. It was that book, together with The Two Rus’es that appeared next, that laid the foundation for a dialog between the publisher and the public. Fortunately, I started exploring history with these textbooks, while for the older generation it was a challenge, because the books busted myths that had been imposed on the people’s consciousness for so long.
“It was painful to face the terrible truth, because it is not for nothing that a statement from The Diary of well-known to us all Volodymyr Vynnychenko which reads as ‘one cannot read Ukrainian history without taking a bromide’ has become almost a truism. But with every new book published by this newspaper, the reader was growing better prepared for confronting new facts and figures, and perhaps more discerning as well. We were tired of constant complaints about the cruel fate and bad neighbors, we really needed an occasion to feel pride, to restore our self-esteem, because our self-identification as Ukrainians had already taken place...
“And then yet another addition to Den’s Library appeared, intriguingly entitled The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom. I am sure this is what we were waiting for, not what we were afraid of. The essays collected in The Crown offer us a fresh look at history. It turns out that we had an elite, a kingdom, powerful capitals, and our legacy is not limited to the glorious Cossack age. I had two lucky strikes this year: I really wanted to attend Den’s Summer School of Journalism and passed the competitive selection for it, and there, after they evaluated my interest in history, I was invited to write a story about the ancient city of Halych, and it was this article that was included in this book, so now I am not just a reader, but a contributor as well. As I was searching for data and discovering new facts one after another, I became increasingly aware that Ukraine still remained a terra incognita for Ukrainians, but we must bridge this gap.
“The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom will leave a pleasant aftertaste of pride in your mind, making you want to take responsibility for centuries-long history, for our successes and victories.”