DOI: 10.3390/rel15010033 ISSN: 2077-1444

Viy in Nikolai Gogol’s Novella and Related Mythological Creatures in Ukrainian Folklore

Kostyantyn Rakhno
  • Religious studies

This article examines Ukrainian folkloric parallels to Viy, a character in the horror novella of the same name by Nikolai Gogol. It is a formidable chthonic, demonic creature whose eyelids cover the eyes and need to be lifted, and the gaze sees what is hidden from others. Although the writer claimed that this character, like the entire plot of the story, was taken from Ukrainian folklore, some modern researchers claim that Viy is the author’s own invention. This is contradicted by folkloric data, primarily Ukrainian lore. Demonic characters with different names but with the same appearance and very similar functions as Viy appear in Ukrainian folk tales, legends and beliefs recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries. The plots have various degrees of closeness to the plot of Gogol’s story, showing that Viy is an authentic figure from Ukrainian folklore.

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