Folklorism in Ukrainian Gotho-Romantic Prose: Oleksa Storozhenko’s Tale about The Devil in Love (1861)
Oleksa Storozhenko’s (1806-1874) long story “Закоханий чорт” [Devil in Love] (1861) reveals close parallels to the eponymous novella of the French Gothic author, Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792; Le Diable amoureux [The Devil in Love, 1772]). However, literary criticism left this connection uncommented on and emphasized only the folklore of Storozhenko’s work. This article aims to examine whether Storozhenko was indeed inspired by folklore alone, which would make his connection to Cazotte’s narrative coincidental. I will subject the folkloric stratum in his tale to in-depth analysis, utilizing a combination of motif (Thompson), tale type (Aarne, Thompson, and Uther), and structural (Propp) methods for the assessment and classification of oral narrative.
While my study shows that Storozhenko’s tale does invoke the universal folkloric motif of love between a mortal and the devil and adheres to Propp’s structure of a typical folktale, the application of the ATU index does not return any folktale type that could serve as a model for the ‘devil in love’ narrative. Moreover, a few collections of Ukrainian folktales that I consulted also do not have a specific tale that would at least remotely remind us of Storozhenko. Thus, my findings show that Storozhenko’s tale merely exudes a folkloric allure, which must have prevented the scholars from searching for its antecedents beyond strictly oral tradition. But the fact that Storozhenko selected folktale motifs that resemble Cazotte’s and stylized them in a similar manner, proves my hypothesis that the two are intertextually linked. This also shows that Storozhenko produced a peculiar mode of the Gothic that followed his French predecessor’s practice in utilizing metafolkloric allusions, but instead of exotic elements he turned to local Ukrainian legendary and historical tradition to fill its framework.
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