• Українська
  • Русский
  • English
Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Indefatigable Yulia

A conversation with the head of Tempora Publishers
22 January, 2008 - 00:00

The Kyiv-based Tempora Publishers specialize in memoiristic-archival and historical literature. Among its publications are unique books about little-known or completely unfamiliar facts, events, and personalities of Ukrainian history. Some are reprints of works published in the early part of the 20th century, samizdat literature from the 1960s, studies based on newly discovered manuscripts, and essays by modern progressive authors. Among the latest publications are Mykhailo Omelianovych- Pavlenko’s Spohady komandarma (The Memoirs of an Army Commander), Nykyfor Avramenko’s Spomyny zaporozhtsia (A Zaporozhian Cossack’s Recollections), Yaroslav Tynchenko’s Ofitserskyi korpus Armii UNR (The UNR Army Officers Corps), Volodymyr Kushpet’s Startsivstvo: mandrivni spivtsi-muzykanty v Ukraini (The Tradition of Elderly Itinerant Singers and Musicians of Ukraine), Dmytro Doroshenko’s Moi spomyny pro nedavnie mynule (My Recollections of the Recent Past), and Yevgenii Markov’s Narysy Krymu (Crimean Sketches). Tempora also records and issues CDs and organizes Jazz Circle concerts. By rights this publishing house may be described as a pillar of national culture in Ukraine. Below Tempora’s director Yulia OLIINYK talks about her company’s newest publications .

“It was my cherished dream to publish The Memoirs of an Army Commander. I conceived the idea while working on other projects dedicated to the period of Ukraine’s national liberation in 1917-20. Mykhailo Omelianovych-Pavlenko cuts a spectacular figure as the supreme commander of the Army of the UNR. Until now his annotated memoirs had never appeared in print, except as separate chapters carried by emigre journals between the wars or as a separate book in independent Ukraine, albeit without the final part that was still unknown at the time.

“Volodymyr Kushpet’s book The Tradition of Elderly Itinerant Singers and Musicians in Ukraine sparked a barrage of criticism because it challenges the famous but artificial image of the Ukrainian kobzar. Incidentally, the author is a musician and performs duma ballads; while working on archival materials, he wrote about the old minstrels (collectively referred to as the startsivstvo community of elders) as a definite sociocultural phenomenon. I think that he has portrayed these people more profoundly and in a more interesting manner than anyone else. He stressed that the startsivstvo represents a very deep stratum of Ukrainian culture.

“As for Yevgenii Markov’s Crimean Sketches, this publication is rather unique. In their correspondence Yevhen Chykalenko and Petro Stebnytsky mention the Russian gymnasium teacher Yevgenii Markov, who described the Crimea after visiting the peninsula and how the book was published in Russia. We decided that this view of Ukraine, particularly the Crimea, by a Russian in the second half of the 19th century would be very interesting for our contemporaries because it is free of ideology and Russian flag-waving patriotism. Instead, one can sense in it a great deal of friendliness toward Ukraine. We did a Ukrainian translation based on the third edition with old postcards, and tried to stylize it as an original traveler’s album with notes.

“Historians are familiar with Dmytro Doroshenko’s memoirs, but they are totally unknown to the broader reading public, although they are actually meant for it. This is intellectual memoiristic literature, unlike Nykyfor Avramenko’s A Zaporozhian Cossack’s Recollections, which are written in a documentary eyewitness style, a rarity in Ukrainian literature. This work is strikingly frank and straightforward. Events in Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century unfold as seen by an ordinary individual whose youth passes during the years of the liberation struggle.

“Finally, the reference work, The UNR Army Officers Corps, is the first systematic research tracing the biographies of Ukrainian generals, officers, and commanders during the national liberation struggles. The book accents the fact that our contemporaries must realize that the liberation struggles were not chaos or a civil war; it was a struggle for our independence, which was being waged by our regular army.”

What about the new books that you will be releasing at the start of this year?

“Tempora will publish a book about Hetman Ivan Mazepa. This will be a spectacular collection of articles written by leading historians, documents, and illustrations. It is an attempt to provide the most exhaustive answer to the question of why Ivan Mazepa is our national hero.”

Do you think there is a greater demand for historical literature?

“I think that historical literature will continue to be in demand in our society because there are more questions than answers in Ukrainian history.”

Where can one buy these books?

“They can be purchased directly from our publishing company or in bookstores. I have big hopes for a new bookstore that opened in late December, at 3 Lysenko Street in Kyiv. This is a spacious, pleasant, and modern bookstore with Internet access, which stocks a wide variety of Ukrainian books. I hope that with the appearance of such a strong player on our symbolic book market something will change, and book publishing and the book industry will start to revive.

“In our catalogue we tried to demonstrate our attitude to the book publishing situation in Ukraine. Tempora’s motto is “About the past for the sake of the future.” Now we have another one: “A publishing company is not a book factory.” The latter slogan takes a new look at the role of the publisher and the place of books I our society. What is book publishing all about in our country? Mostly, it means a whim translated into reality for money. People with money make arrangements and publish books that are issued on certain conditions. In Europe, every publishing company has its own publishing policy and adheres to clearly formulated principles, so they don’t consider just any kind of proposal. Their reputation comes first, therefore they are trusted.”

By Nadia TYSIACHNA, The Day,photo by Borys KORPUSENKO