Old Ukrainian literature took centuries to develop, influenced by two bookish languages and, therefore, two literary styles. Hhe introduction of Christianity broadened the usage of Church Slavonic which for almost 800 years remained the means of inlter-slavic communication.
"The Precept of Vladimir Monomakh" is an outstanding literary memorial of the distant past, in which the image of a virtuous Christian, wise politician, loving father and demanding teacher was skilfully described.
"The Kyiv-Pechersk Patericon" describes the lives of the Fathers of the Caves, "The Lay of the Host of Ihor" is a gem of ancient literature, a poetic masterpiece whose brilliant author combined rare literary talent with political wisdom and profound knowledge of history.
In the 16th century poetry received a powerful impetus. The late 17th — 18th centuries, the period of Ukrainian literary baroque, saw the spreading of religious philosophic ideas and panegyrical literature, poetry and dramaturgy. It was the time of Hrigoriy Skovoroda, the most outstanding philosopher and writer.
Ivan Kotlyarevsky's epic burlesque "Aeneid," abundant with juicy Ukrainian folk witticisms, skilfully coloured realistic portrayals and characters, turned out the first creation of new Ukrainian literature.
Came the 19th century, the Golden Age of Ukrainian literature.
The new epoch in the progress of Ukrainian literature, the language and the whole of culture and national self-consciousness started with the appearance of Taras Shevchenko's verse and works of art. In 1840, his "Kobzar" came off the press. His creative endeavours reflected the best folk poetic traditions, acquiring universal humanistic significance as an eloquent expression of the hopes and aspirations of a downtrodden nation. For the first time the Ukrainian language echoed across the world with a Shakespearean strength and philosophic depth.
Realism flourished in the second half of the century. It was the tune of such literary giants as Ivan Franko, Ivan Nechui^ Levytsky, Panas Myrny, Pavlo Hrabovsky and Lesya Ukrainka. In the 20th century the Ukrainian literary process was rather complicated.
At present, the Writers' Union of Ukraine has a membership of 1,500.