Repository logo

Falling into the existential abyss: Ivan Franko’s realist prose in experiments with gothic and crime fiction modes

Faculty Advisor




Ivan Franko, crime fiction, gothic, realism, Ukrainian realist, social reforms, Ukrainian crime fiction genre

Abstract (summary)

This article examines three novels by Ukrainian realist Ivan Franko (1856-1916): Dlia domashn'oho ohnyshcha (For the Home Hearth, 1892), Osnovy suspil'nosti (Pillars of Society, 1894), and Perekhresni stezhky (Fateful Crossroads, 1900). Previous scholars saw elements of crime fiction in these works, but the actual relationship between the two genres of crime fiction and realism has not been fully developed. By studying the conventions of crime fiction, along with its antecedent, the Gothic, and their influence on Franko, the author shows the make-up of the early Ukrainian crime fiction genre and points to its importance in understanding Franko’s vacillation between realist and modernist tendencies. As she argues, the scales of his vacillation are tipped toward modernism in its decadent form, an existential void that characterized fin de siècle Europe. Hence, Franko’s “ideal” or programmatic realism (defined by Franko as a literary style with a didactic tendency aimed at educating society), which he introduced under the appealing cover of crime and Gothic motifs, ultimately failed him. The author proposes that it is the creative modes (Gothic and crime fiction) that Franko chose for voicing his ideas about social reforms that led him, unsuspectingly, away from his programmatic goal and toward the decadent aspects of modernism.

Publication Information

Krys, S., “Falling into the Existential Abyss: Ivan Franko’s Realist Prose in Experiments with Gothic and Crime Fiction Modes.” Canadian Slavonic Papers/Revue Canadienne des Slavistes, special issue dedicated to the International Congress of Slavists, vol. 60, nos. 1-2, 2018, pp. 136-158.


Item Type





All Rights Reserved