“...seems to be built not of stone”: Without Foundation by V. Petrov (Domontovych) as an Architectural and Pictorial Novel-Ekphrasis

Keywords: visual code, intermediality, inter-artistic communication, modernist novel, cathedral


Intermedial analysis remains one of the leading interpretive strategies of contemporary literary studies, which determines the relevance of the study. The aim is to read the novel Without Foundation (1948) by V. Petrov (Domontovych) through the prism of intermediality.

The research methods are determined by the objective. The method of intermedial analysis, contextual analysis, hermeneutic, comparative and semiotic methods are used.

It is indicated that the writer transports a number of codes of plastic arts into the word: composition, colour and linear ratios, volumes, light and shadows, texture, etc. Verbal descriptions of works of art as visual objects in a novel often become a self-contained main narrative with extensive reflections on artistic phenomena. Certain episodes of the novel are a kind of verbal extension of the characters depicted in the paintings. Masterpieces of world and national art, as well as precedent-setting names of artists, provide the writer with the opportunity to find motives, moods, and images that are in tune with his or her own, and enrich the arsenal of visual and expressive means.

The main basis of the artistic narrative is the architectural structure, which, determining the unity of the thematic and poetic design of reality, determines the subject, type of hero, system of characters, problematics, plot and compositional structure, chronotope, and type of narrative. Built not of stone, but in the writer's imagination, the Varangian Church becomes an architectural prototype that models a literary work, partially structuring it. Thus, the multifaceted verbal visualization of the Cathedral, in its artistic concept, tends to be similar to the artistic solution of C. Monet with regard to the Cathedral of Rouen. The author also devoted a "series of paintings" to the Varangian Church, which depict the urban space associated with the architectural object. 

Conclusions. The complex system of visual codes and their multiplicity testify to the originality and novelty of the Ukrainian writer, whose novel, in its language directly related to plastic arts, became a "prologue" to contemporary novels-ekphrasises.


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Author Biography

Valentyna Borbuniuk, Ukrainian and Foreign Philology Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts

Candidate of Philological Sciences, Associate Professor, Associate Professor at the Department of Pedagogy


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How to Cite
Borbuniuk, V. (2023). “.seems to be built not of stone”: Without Foundation by V. Petrov (Domontovych) as an Architectural and Pictorial Novel-Ekphrasis. The Journal of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University. Series “Philology”, (93), 7-16. https://doi.org/10.26565/2227-1864-2023-93-01