The central character in the gripping, psychological novel Duel is the Ukrainian intellectual Kost Horobenko. Set in the first years of the new Soviet Ukrainian state, the period of militant Communism, Horobenko, is forever duelling with his alter ego, the Ukrainian nationalist.
This novel is one of a number of early works from the 1920s by Borys Antonenko-Davydovych, in which the writer tries to analyse the fate of intellectuals during the revolution in the Russian Empire, in particular the fate of those who were initially active in the Ukrainian national revival, and later, because of changed circumstances, were forced to switch to cooperating with the Soviet authorities. Of Antonenko-Davydovych’s works devoted to this question, it is the largest and most profound, according to the literary critic Hryhoriy Kostiuk, and is psychologically complex and multifaceted. The works by Antonenko-Davydovych were welcomed for his rather sharp, satirical view of life.
The novel was first published in the magazine Zhyttia i revoliutsiia in 1927 (iss. 10-12). It was subsequently published in this English translation by Lastivka Press in 1986, with a print run of 2000 copies, and it has been out of print for many years.