Romanian historical realities in the “Alps” (The “Guide-on Bearers” trilogy) by Oles Honchar (from a modern perspective): Reality and Tribute to the Epoch

Serhii Luchkanyn

Doctor of Philological Sciences

Professor of the Department of General Linguistics and Classical Philology and Neoellinistics

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Institute of Philology

Kyiv, Ukraine


Abstract. Oles Honchar, who is a classic of Ukrainian literature, has created a well-known novel “The Alps” (the first part of the “The Standard Bearers” trilogy). There, we discover about how soldiers and officers (many Ukrainians are among them) of the Second Ukrainian Front passed their way through Romania from spring to autumn of 1944. Due to this, we see many Romanian realities, starting with historical-political ones and ending with locally linguistic ones, the research and explanation of which have become the purpose of this article. The author of the novel was well aware of the military-political realities of the epoch. Those realities were ongoing battle for the Romanian city of Târgu Frumos and The Jassy-Kishinev Operation (August 1944). He also knew about Rodion Malinovskyi (who was its participant and commander of the Second Ukrainian Front) and the August uprising in Bucharest in 1944. The realities also included the overthrow of the dictatorship of Antonescu by the patriotic Romanian forces led by Romanian king Michael I and a common struggle between Red and Romanian armies for the liberation of Northern Transylvania from the Hungarian occupation (Hungarian occupation was one of the Second Vienna Award conditions). The interpretations of some of the military-political realities of that time have not undergone any significant changes in the novel (The Jassy-Kishinev Operation, the Northern Transylvania liberation). At the same time, the other interpretations have negative references about the Romanian king Michael I and his so-called “collaboration”, although he learned about Romania’s entry into the war against the USSR and the Anti-Hitler-Koalition from the BBC radio message. In the novel, loanwords from Romanian language are appropriately used. Among them, we should point out “nu știu” (“I do not know”), “nu ști rusește” “Not to know Russian”, “nu-i bun război” (“War is a bad thing”), Moldavian dialect “boon diva” (“good day”) and some other words of Romanian origin. The novel states that the Red Army staff officer interrogated Romanian captives with a Moldovian translator, which inadvertently testifies to Oles Honchar’s recognition of the identity of Romanian and so-called “Moldovian” languages, which was denied for political reasons in Soviet times. On one hand, the article points out that Oles Honchar, as a distinguished master of the artistic word, successfully reproduced Romanian historical-military and locally linguistic realities of 1944. On the other hand, it tells that he was forced to follow the Soviet officialdom of that time when it was about the “bourgeois Romania” describing. He was told to demonize Antonescu, although Oles noted the reluctance of Romanians to fight under Stalingrad and the Caucasus on the side of Germany in 1942-1943. The article also tells that the novel was translated into Romanian with the name “Stegarii” (“Standard Bearers”).

Keywords: Oles Honchar, Alps (The “Standard Bearers” trilogy), World War II, Romanian loanwords, history of Romanian, the official ideology.

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