Although Ukrainian emigration to North America is not a new phenomenon, the dilemmas of memory and amnesia remain crucial in Ukrainian-American émigré fiction. The paper focuses on selected novels by Askold Melnyczuk (What is Told and Ambassador of the Dead) and analyzes how traumatic memories and family stories of the past shape the American lives of Ukrainian emigrants. The discussion of the selected Ukrainian-American émigré novels focuses on the dilemmas of remembering and forgetting in the construction of both Ukrainian and American narratives of the past. The voluntary amnesia of the Ame- rican-born Ukrainians in Melnyczuk’s novels confronts their parents’ dependence on the past and their inability to abandon it emotionally. Memories of ‘the old country’ make them, similarly to Ada Kruk, ambassadors of the dead. The expression becomes a metaphoric definition of those wrapped by their repressed, fragmentary and sometimes inaccessible memories. Crucial events of European history of the 20th century are inscribed and personalized in the older generation’s stories which their children are reluctant to hear. For them, their parents’ memories became a burden and a shame. Using the concept of transgenerational memory, the paper explores the challenges of postmemory, and eventually its failure.
Assmann, A. (2011). Cultural Memory and Western Civilization. Functions, Media, Archives. 1st English edition. NY: Cambridge University Press.
Assmann, A. (2006). Memory, Individual and Collective. In R. E. Goodin, & Ch. Tilly (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (pp. 210-226). New York.
Bond, L., Craps, S., & Vermeulen, P. (2017). Introduction. Memory on the Move. In L. Bond, S. Craps, & P. Vermeulen (Eds.), Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory (pp. 1-26). NY: Berghahn Books.
Erll, A. (2017). Fictions of Generational Memory: Caryl Phillips’s In the Falling Snow and Black British Writing in Times of Mnemonic Transition. In L. Bond, S. Craps, & P. Vermeulen (Eds.), Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory (pp. 109-130). NY: Berghahn Books.
Erll, A. (2014). Generation in Literary History: Three Constellations of Generationality, Genealogy, and Memory. New Literary History, 45(3), 385-409.
Hirsch, M. (2012). The Generation of Postmemory. Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust. NY: Columbia University Press.
Mannheim, K. (1952). The Problem of Generations. In Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Melnyczuk, A. (2001). Ambassador of the Dead. Washington D.C: Counterpoint Press.
Melnyczuk, A. (2017, May 22). “Rozkazhy meni pro mene.” Discussion with Zabuzhko Oksana. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/28502455.html
Melnyczuk, A. (2011). What is Told. Reprint. Byfield, MA: PFP, Inc.
Utwór dostępny jest na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa – Na tych samych warunkach 4.0 Miedzynarodowe.