Iryna Bondarevs'ka. Paradoksal'nist' estetychnoho v ukrains'kii kul'turi XVII-XVIII st. [Paradoxically of the Aesthetic in Ukrainian Culture of the 17th-18th cc.]. Kyiv: Vydavets' "Parapan," 2005. 308 pp. Bibliography. Notes. Paperback.
Since 2000 several major texts on aesthetics have appeared in Ukraine. Among them are Estetyka: Navchal'nyi posibnyk [Aesthetics: A Study Guide] by M. P. Kolesnikov, O. V. Kolesnikova, V. O. Lozovoi et al. (2003), and Etyka. Estetyka: Praktykum [Ethics. Aesthetics: A Practicum], compiled by N. M. Sukhova, L. I. Mokliak, V. M. Kozakov et al. (2005). Translations of works by Western theoreticians who worked in the 1950-1970s have also appeared, including Nicolai Hartmann (Estetyka [Aesthetics], 2004) and Theodor W. Adorno (Teoriia estetyky [Aesthetic Theory], 2002). More recently, there have also been attempts to apply aesthetic concepts to specific periods of Ukrainian culture, for example, Tetiana Bovsunivs'ka's Istoriia ukrains'koi estetyky pershoi polovyny XIX st. [The History of Ukrainian Aesthetics in the First Half of the 19th Century] (2001 ). Clearly, the book under review can be seen as a component of a larger, on-going development.
The philosopher Iryna Bondarevs'ka's monograph offers a fresh perspective on Early Modern Ukrainian culture by exploring the birth of aesthetic consciousness in the 17th-! 8th centuries. She contends that aesthetic theory can enhance our understanding of the epoch and the processes that shaped it. She tests her hypothesis by analyzing the writings of Ivan Vyshens'kyi (1550s-1620s), Teofan Prokopovych (1681-1736), and Hryhorii Skovoroda (1722-1794), and she concludes her project with a consideration of Ivan Kotliarevs'kyi's famous travesty, Eneida [The Aeneid]. The book consists of an Introduction, five chapters, Concluding Remarks, extensive Notes, and a Bibliography.
The Introduction focuses on the main paradox that preoccupies Bondarevs'ka. The majority of texts analyzed by her were composed before the emergence of aesthetic theory itself. Therefore, instead of applying the rules of modern aesthetic theory to Early Modem material, she proposes to discover whether this material bears the necessary preconditions for the emergence of aesthetic thought. Accordingly, she tries to avoid the creation of myths concerning aesthetic sensibilities in Early Modern Ukraine (pp. 4-5). Bondarevs'ka sets herself the following goals: to investigate the origins of aesthetic theory and to understand the historical situation that conditioned its appearance in the West, and to compare and contrast it with the Ukrainian cultural milieu of the 17th-l 8th century (p. 5). Furthermore, she proposes to investigate whether one can speak about the crystallization of aesthetic consciousness, at least in its nascent state, in Early Modern Ukrainian culture (p. 5). Her monograph aspires to enrich, firstly, the history of Ukrainian culture through the investigation of the origins of aesthetics and of competing projects of socio-cultural development in the 17th-18th centuries, and secondly, the theory of aesthetics through the introduction of a more precise definition of the concept of the aesthetic and the paradoxes that it evokes (p. 6).
In Chapter I Bondarevs'ka criticizes Ivan Ivan'o's Russian language monograph Ocherk razvitiia esteticheskoi mysli Ukrainy [Outline of the Development of Aesthetic Thought in Ukraine] (1981), for too liberally applying the modern concept of aesthetic to the entire history of civilization (p. 10). She proposes that in the Early Modern period the concept of Art cannot be equated with our modern understanding of it (p. 21), noting that the appearance of aesthetic notions was made possible by certain historical changes, including the idea of Art's autonomy, the emergence of an audience capable of appreciating Art, the development of art criticism, and, most importantly, the appearance of the artist as an independent social category (p. …