Shevchenko, Taras [Ševčenko], b 9 March 1814 in Moryntsi, Zvenyhorodkacounty, Kyiv gubernia, d 10 March 1861 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Ukraine’s national bard and famous artist. Born a serf, Shevchenko was orphaned when he was twelve and grew up in poverty and misery. He was taught to read by a villageprecentor and was often beaten for ‘wasting time’ on drawing. At the age of 14 he became a houseboy of his owner, P. Engelhardt, and served him in Vilnius (1828–31) and then Saint Petersburg. Engelhardt noticed Shevchenko's artistic talent, and in Saint Petersburg he apprenticed him to the painter V. Shiriaev for four years. Shevchenko spent his free time sketching the statues in the capital’s imperial summer gardens. There he met the Ukrainian artist Ivan Soshenko, who introduced him to other compatriots, such as Yevhen Hrebinka and Vasyl Hryhorovych, and to the Russian painter A. Venetsianov. Through these men Shevchenko also met the famous painter and professor Karl Briullov, who donated his portrait of the Russian poet Vasilii Zhukovsky as the prize in a lottery whose proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom on 5 May 1838.
Soon after, Shevchenko enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg and studied there under Briullov’s supervision. In 1840 his first poetry collection, Kobzar, consisting of eight Romanticpoems, was published in Saint Petersburg. It was followed by his epic poem Haidamaky (The Haidamakas, 1841) and the balladHamaliia (1844). While living in Saint Petersburg, Shevchenko made three trips to Ukraine, in 1843, 1845, and 1846, which had a profound impact on him. There he visited his still enserfed siblings and other relatives, met with prominent Ukrainian writers and intellectuals (eg, Hrebinka, Panteleimon Kulish, and Mykhailo Maksymovych), and was befriended by the princely Repnin family (especially Varvara Repnina). Distressed by the tsarist oppression and destruction of Ukraine, Shevchenko decided to capture some of his homeland’s historical ruins and cultural monuments in an album of etchings, which he called Zhivopisnaia Ukraina (Picturesque Ukraine, 1844).
After graduating from the academy of arts in 1845, Shevchenko became a member of the Kyiv Archeographic Commission and traveled widely through Russian-ruled Ukraine in 1845 to sketch historical and architectural monuments and collect folkloric and other ethnographic materials. In 1844 and 1845, mostly while he was in Ukraine, he wrote some of his most satirical and politically subversive narrative poems, including ‘Son’ (A Dream), ‘Sova’ (the Owl), ‘Kholodnyi Iar,’ ‘Ieretyk’/ ‘Ivan Hus’ (The Heretic/Jan Hus),‘Slipyi’ (The Blind Man), ‘Velykyi l'okh’ (The Great Vault), and ‘Kavkaz’ (The Caucasus). He transcribed them and his other poems of 1843–45 into an album he titled ‘Try lita’ (Three Years).
While in Kyiv in 1846, Shevchenko joined the secret Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood. Like the other members of the brotherhood, he was arrested, on 5 April 1847. The authorities’ confiscation and discovery of his anti-tsarist satirical poems in the ‘Try lita’ album brought Shevchenko a particularly severe punishment—military service as a private in the Orenburg Special Corps in a remote region by the Caspian Sea. Tsar Nicholas I himself ordered that Shevchenko be forbidden to write, draw, and paint while in military exile. While serving at the Orenburg and Orsk fortresses, however, Shevchenko managed to continue doing so. He hid his secretly written poems in several handmade ‘bootleg booklets’ (1847, 1848, 1849, 1850). Many of the drawings and paintings he made while in exile depict the life of the indigenous Kazakhs. Owing to Shevchenko’s skill as a painter, he was included in a military expedition to survey and describe the Aral Sea (1848–9).
In 1850 Shevchenko was transferred to the Novopetrovskoe fortress (now Fort Shevchenko in Kazakhstan), where the terms of his captivity were more harshly enforced. Nevertheless, he managed to create over a hundred watercolor and pencil drawings and write several novellas in Russian. Finally released from military exile in 1857, two years after Nicholas I’s death, Shevchenko was not allowed to live in Ukraine. After spending half a year in Nizhnii Novgorod, he moved to Saint Petersburg. He was allowed to visit relatives and friends Ukraine in 1859, but there he was detained and interrogated and sent back to Saint Petersburg. Shevchenko remained under police surveillance until his death. He was buried in Saint Petersburg, but two months later, in accordance with his wishes, his remains were transported to Ukraine and reburied on Chernecha Hora (Monk’s Mountain) near Kaniv. Since that time, his grave has been a ‘holy’ place of visitation by millions of Ukrainians. Today it is part of the Kaniv Museum-Preserve (est 1925).
Shevchenko has had a unique place in Ukrainian cultural history and in world literature. Through his writings he laid the foundations for the creation of a fully functional modern Ukrainian literature. His poetry contributed greatly to the growth of Ukrainian national consciousness, and his influence on various facets of Ukrainian intellectual, literary, and national life is still felt to this day.
Shevchenko's literary oeuvre consists of one mid-sized collection of poetry (Kobzar); the drama Nazar Stodolia and two play fragments; nine novellas, a diary, and an autobiography written in Russian; four articles; and over 250 letters. Already during his first period of literary activity (1837–43), he wrote highly sophisticated poetic works. He adapted the style and versification of Ukrainian folk songs to produce remarkably original poems with a complex and shifting metric structure, assonance and internal rhyme, masterfully applied caesuras and enjambments, and sophisticated alliterations grafted onto a 4 + 4 + 6 syllable unit derived from the kolomyika song structure. He also abandoned use of the regular strophe. Innovations can also be found in Shevchenko's use of epithets, similes, metaphors, symbols, and personifications. A man of his time, his worldview was influenced by Romanticism. But Shevchenko managed to find his own manner of poetic expression, which encompassed themes and ideas germane to Ukraine and his personal vision of its past and future.
Shevchenko’s early works include the ballads ‘Prychynna’ (The Bewitched Woman, 1837), ‘Topolia’ (The Poplar, 1839), and ‘Utoplena’ (The Drowned Maiden, 1841). Their affinity with Ukrainian folk ballads is evident in their plots and supernatural motifs. Of special note is Shevchenko’s early ballad ‘Kateryna’ (1838), dedicated to Vasilii Zhukovsky in memory of the purchase of Shevchenko's freedom (see also his painting Kateryna, which is based on the same poem). In it he tells the tale of a Ukrainian girl seduced by a Russian soldier and abandoned with child—a symbol of the tsarist imposition of serfdom in Ukraine. Some of his other poems also treat the theme of the seduced woman and abandoned mother—‘Vid'ma’ (The Witch, 1847], ‘Maryna’ (1848), and the ballads ‘Lileia’ (The Lily, 1846) and ‘Rusalka’ (The Mermaid, 1846). The oblique reference to Ukraine's history and fate in ‘Kateryna’ is also echoed in other early poems, such as ‘Tarasova nich’ (Taras's Night, 1838), ‘Ivan Pidkova’ (1839), Haidamaky (1841), and Hamaliia (1844). Cossack raids against the Turks are recalled in ‘Ivan Pidkova’ and Hamaliia; ‘Tarasova nich’ and, especially, Haidamaky draw on the struggle against Polish oppression. Shevchenko wrote the Romantic drama Nazar Stodolia (1843–44) toward the end of his early period of creativity. Its action takes place near Chyhyryn, the 17th-century capital of the Cossack Hetmanate.
Although Shevchenko's early poetic achievements were evident to his contemporaries, it was not until his second period (1843–5) that through his poetry he gained the stature of a national bard. Having spent eight months in Ukraine at that time, Shevchenko realized the full extent of his country's misfortune under tsarist rule and his own role as that of a spokesperson for his nation's aspirations through his poetry. He wrote the poems ‘Rozryta mohyla’ (The Ransacked Grave, 1843), ‘Chyhyryne, Chyhyryne’ (O Chyhyryn, Chyhyryn, 1844), and ‘Son’ (A Dream, 1844) in reaction to what he saw in Ukraine. In ‘Son’ he portrayed with bitter sarcasm the arbitrary lawlessness of tsarist rule. Shevchenko’s talent for satire is also apparent in his 1845 poems ‘Velykyi l'okh,’ ‘Kavkaz,’ ‘Kholodnyi Iar,’ and ‘I mertvym, i zhyvym …’ (To the Dead and the Living.). ‘Velykyi l'okh, ’a ‘mystery’ in three parts, is an allegory that summarizes Ukraine's passage from freedom to captivity. In ‘Kavkaz’ Shevchenko universalizes Ukraine's fate by turning to the myth of Prometheus, the free spirit terribly punished for rebelling against the gods, yet eternally reborn. He localizes the action in the Caucasus, whose inhabitants suffered a fate similar to that of the Ukrainians under tsarism. In his poetic epistle ‘I mertvym, i zhyvym …’ Shevchenko turns his bitterness and satire against the Ukrainians themselves, reminding them that only in ‘one's own house’ is there ‘one's own truth’ and entreating them to realize their national potential, stop serving foreign masters, and become honorable people worthy of their history and heritage, in their own free land.
Similarly, in his poem ‘Try lita’ (1845), which has also been used as the name of the second period of Shevchenko’s poetic creativity and the body of work he wrote at that time, he presents his own ‘awakening’ to the shame around him. Shevchenko laments his lost innocence and scorns the coming new year ‘swaddled’ in one more ukase. His scorn for the inactivity of his compatriots is also echoed in the poem ‘Mynaiut' dni, mynaiut' nochi’ (Days Pass, Nights Pass, 1845), in which somnolent inactivity is seen as far worse than death in chains. In December 1845 Shevchenko composed a cycle of poems titled ‘Davydovi psalmy’ (David’s Psalms). He chose the psalms that had a meaning for him (1, 12, 43, 52, 53, 81, 93, 132, 136, 149) and imbued those biblical texts with contemporary political relevance. He ends his ‘Try lita’ album with his famous ‘Zapovit’ (Testament, 1845), a poem that has been translated into more than 60 languages. After being set to music by H. Hladky in the 1870s, the poem achieved a status second only to Ukraine’s national anthem and firmly established Shevchenko as Ukraine’s national bard.
Shevchenko’s historical poem ‘Ivan Hus,’ aka ‘Ieretyk’ ( 1845), introduced another of Shevchenko's major themes. Dedicated to Pavel Šafařík, it depicts the trial and burning of Jan Hus in Konstanz in 1415 to promote the Pan-Slavism of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood.
Shevchenko wrote his poetic cycle ‘V kazemati’ (In the Casemate) in the spring of 1847 during his arrest and interrogation in Saint Petersburg. It marks the beginning of the most difficult, late period of his life (1847–57). The 13 poems of the cycle contain reminiscences (the famous lyrical poem ‘Sadok vyshnevyi kolo khaty’ [The Cherry Orchard by the House]); reflections on the fate of the poet and his fellow members of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood; and poignant reassertions of his beliefs and his commitment to Ukraine. Shevchenko's stand was unequivocal, and he exhorted his fellow Cyrillo-Methodians and all of his compatriots to ‘Love your Ukraine / Love her … in the harshest time / In the very last harsh minute / Pray to God for her.’ Throughout his exile, Shevchenko's views did not change. But his poems grew more contemplative and reflective. In his ‘bootleg booklets’ he continued writing autobiographical, lyrical, narrative, historical, political, religious, and philosophical poems. Of special interest is his long poem ‘Moskaleva krynytsia’ (The Soldier's Well, 1847, 2d variant 1857), which reveals Shevchenko's preoccupation with the themes of inhumanity and the capacity to accept and forgive. A comparison of its two variants provides an insight into Shevchenko’s maturation as a poet and thinker.
Shevchenko’s autobiographical poems include such lyrical works as ‘Meni trynadtsiatyi mynalo’ (I Was Turning Thirteen, 1847), ‘A. O. Kozachkovs'komu’ (For A. O. Kozachkovsky, 1847), ‘I vyris ia na chuzhyni’ (And I Grew Up in Foreign Parts, 1848), ‘Khiba samomu napysat'’ (Unless I Write Myself, 1849), ‘I zolotoï i dorohoï’ (Both Golden and Dear, 1849), and ‘Lichu v nevoli dni i nochi’ (I Count Both Days and Nights in Captivity, 1850, 2d variant 1858). But personal reflection also occurs in some of his ‘landscape’ poems, especially where Shevchenko describes the paysage of his captivity—eg, ‘Sontse zakhodyt', hory chorniiut'’ (The Sun Is Setting, the Hills Turn Dark, 1847) and ‘I nebo nevmyte, i zaspani khvyli’(The Sky Is Unwashed, and the Waves Are Drowsy, 1848). Varied and rich are the poems devoted to narratives and description motivated by his memories of peasant life. Shevchenko uses folk-song elements to depict sadness, parting, loneliness, folkways, motherhood, women’s harsh fate, and the longing for happiness. His poetic style is marked by the use of simple language, concrete descriptions, metaphors, and personification. Shevchenko consistently refined his use of folkloric material. He expanded the use of ancient symbolism and made full use of the expressivity of folk songs. His adaption and transformation of folkloric elements was so successful that many of his poems became folk songs (such as Reve ta stohne Dnipr shyrokyi [The Mighty Dnieper Roars and Bellows]) in their own right.
Shevchenko sporadically reiterated his political convictions and continued pointing to the tsarist enslavement of individuals (serfdom) and nations. In his poem ‘Poliakam’ (To the Poles, 1847), he once again called for a Polish-Ukrainian pan-Slavic brotherhood. Shevchenko used a Kazakh legend in his short poem ‘U Boha za dveryma lezhala sokyra’ (Behind God’s Door Lay an Ax, 1848) to describe in allegorical terms the Kazakhs’ misfortunes under Russian rule. Satire remained part of his poetic arsenal. In the poem ‘Tsari’ (Tsars, 1848, revised 1858) he presented killing, debauchery, incest, and adultery as typical of royal courts, including those of King David of Israel and Grand PrinceVolodymyr the Great. The successful combination of an offhand burlesque style with bitter invective gave Shevchenko a powerful but somewhat veiled weapon in his attack on monarchism in general and tsarism in particular. Much more direct are his accusations against the tsars in ‘Irzhavets'’ (1847, revised 1858).
Parallel to the motifs of the seduced girl and the unwed mother, which occur frequently in Shevchenko's poems, is the motif of incest. It appears in ‘Tsari’ and ‘Vid' ma’ and forms the basis for ‘Kniazhna’ (The Princess, 1847). Although in many of his poems Shevchenko harshly attacked the hypocrisy of the church and clergy, he remained steadfast in his belief that divine justice would triumph one day not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world. His millenarian vision appears in many of his poems, but it is perhaps best encapsulated in the following lines from ‘I Arkhimed i Halilei’ (Both Archimedes and Galileo, 1860): ‘An d on the reborn earth / There will be no enemy, no tyrant / There will be a son, and there will be a mother, / And there will be people on the earth.’
The last period of Shevchenko's creativity began after his return from exile in 1857 and ended with his death in 1861. It is marked in his works by more frequent allusions to the Bible and classical literature and by the increasingly dominant role of contemplative lyricism. The period contains such longer poems as ‘Neofity’ (The Neophytes, 1857), ‘Iurodyvyi’ (The Holy Fool, 1857), the second redaction of ‘Vid'ma’ (1858), ‘Nevol'nyk’ (The Captive, begun in 1845 and finished in 1859), and ‘Mariia’ (1859). There are also renditions of biblical texts—‘Podrazhaniie Iiezekiïliu, Hlava 19’ (Imitation of Ezekiel, Chapter 19, 1859), ‘Osiï, Hlava 14’ (Esau, Chapter 14, 1859), ‘Isaia, Hlava 35’ (Isaiah, Chapter 35, 1859), and ‘Podrazhaniie 11 Psalmu’ (Imitation of the Eleventh Psalm, 1859)— in which Shevchenko turns to the Scriptures for analogies to the contemporary situation. In the latter poem he proclaims what could be considered the motto of his creativity: ‘I will glorify / Those small, mute slaves! / On guard next to them / I will place the word.’ This last period also contains some of Shevchenko’s most profound contemplative poems. The period ends with a reflective poem addressed to his muse, ‘Chy ne pokynut' nam, neboho’ (Should We Not Call It Quits, [My] Friend), written in two parts on 26 and 27 February 1861, eleven days before his death. Like many of Shevchenko's last poems, it is full of allusions to classical mythology, including a reference to the river Styx, which he was preparing to cross.
The novellas Shevchenko wrote while in exile were not published during his lifetime. They reflect the influence of the satirical-exposé prose of Nikolai Gogol, but also contain many asides (excursions into the past, inserted episodes, authorial comments, reminiscences, and commentaries). Although written in Russian, they contain many Ukrainianisms. The first two of them—‘Naimychka’ (The Servant Girl, 1852–3) and ‘Varnak’ (The Convict, 1853–4)— share the anti-serfdom themes of Shevchenko's Ukrainian poems with the same titles. ‘Kniaginia’ (The Princess, 1853) is similar in theme to his poem ‘Kniazhna.’ The remaining six novellas—‘Muzykant’ (The Musician, 1854–5), ‘Neschastnyi’ (The Unfortunate Man, 1855), ‘Kapitansha’ (The Captain’s Woman, 1855), ‘Bliznetsy’ (The Twins, 1855), ‘Khudozhnik’ (The Artist, 1856), and ‘Progulka s udovol’stviiem i ne bez morali’ (A Stroll with Pleasure and Not without a Moral, 1856–8)— are not thematically similar to any particular poems. Shevchenko also kept a daily diary in Russian; it is of great value in interpreting his poetic works and an important source for studying his intellectual interests and development.
Shevchenko has held a unique position in Ukrainian intellectual history, and the importance of his poetry for Ukrainian culture and society cannot be underestimated. His Kobzar marks the beginning of a new era in Ukrainian literature and in the development of the modern Ukrainian language. Through his poetry, Shevchenko legitimized the use of Ukrainian as a language of modern literature. His poems’ revolutionary and political content found resonance among other captive peoples. The earliest translations of his poems—mainly into Polish, Russian, Czech, and German—appeared while he was still alive. By the 1990s parts of the Kobzar had been translated into more than 100 languages. Shevchenko's poetry has also become a source of inspiration for many other works of literature, music, and art.
Although Shevchenko is known primarily because of his poetry, he was also an accomplished artist; 835 of his art works are extant, and another 270 of his known works have been lost. Although trained as an academic artist (see Academism) in Saint Petersburg, Shevchenko moved beyond stereotypical historical and mythological subjects to realistic depictions on ethnographic themes (see Genre painting), such as his painting A Peasant Family (1844), often expressing veiled criticism of the absence of personal, social, and national freedom under tsarist domination. His portraits have a broad social range of subjects, from simple peasants (eg, Praying for the Dead, 1857) and petty officials to prominent Ukrainian and Russian cultural figures (eg, Portrait of Vasilii Zhukovsky , Portrait of Mykhailo Maksymovych ), Ukrainian historical figures (eg, Portrait of Vasyl Kochubei ), members of former Cossack starshyna families (eg, Portrait of Hanna Zakrevska , Portrait of Platon Zakrevsky , Portrait of Illia Lyzohub ), and members of the imperial nobility (Princess Keikuatova , Portrait of Nikolai Lunin ). They are remarkable for the way Shevchenko uses light to achieve sensitive three-dimensional modeling. He painted or sketched over 150 portraits, 43 of them of himself. He also painted and drew numerous landscapes and recorded such Ukrainian architectural monuments as The Vydubychi Monastery (1844), Bohdan’s Church in Subotiv (1845), The Ascension Cathedral in Pereiaslav (1845), The Ruins of Subotiv (1845), The Pochaiv Monastery from the South (1846), and Askoldova Mohyla (1846). While in exile he depicted the folkways of the Kirghiz and Kazak people (eg, By the Fire , Kazak on a Horse , The Baigush , The Baigush under the Window ) and the landscapes of Central Asia (eg, The Raim fort on the Syr-Darya , Fire in the Steppe , Dalismen-Mula-Aulye , Turkmenian Sepulchres at Kara Tau ) and the misery of life in exile and in the imperial army (eg, In Prison [1856–57], In the Stocks [1856–57], Running the Gauntlet ). Shevchenko frequently turned in his paintings and drawings to literary, historical, and mythological motifs (eg, Diogenes , Narcissus and Echo , Saint Sebastian , Robinson Crusoe , Mermaids ). He was also very proficient in watercolor, aquatint, and etching. On 2 September 1860 the Imperial Academy of Arts recognized his mastery by designating him an academician-engraver.
Kotsiubynsky, Mykhailo [Коцюбинський, Михайло; Kocjubyns’kyj, Myxajlo] (pseud: Zakhar Kozub), b 17 September 1864 in Vinnytsia, d 25 April 1913 in Kyiv. One of the finest Ukrainian writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As a child he lived in Vinnytsia, Bar, and elsewhere in Podilia. After graduating from the Sharhorod Religious Boarding School in 1880, he continued his studies at the Kamianets-Podilskyi Theological Seminary. Expelled from the school in 1882 for his Populist involvement, he remained under police surveillance for the rest of his life. After his father lost his government job and his mother went blind, he supported his family by working as a private tutor in and near Vinnytsia. A self-taught intellectual, as a young man he was influenced by the works of Taras Shevchenko, Marko Vovchok, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Heinrich Heine, Émile Zola, Victor Hugo, and Guy de Maupassant. His reading of the works of Ludwig Feuerbach and Charles Fourier contributed to his becoming an atheist and a socialist, and Ukrainian literature awakened in him a national consciousness and a desire to work for his people at an early age. In 1892–7 he was a member of the secret Brotherhood of Taras. In 1888–90 he was a member of the Vinnytsia Municipal Duma. For large parts of the years 1892–7 he worked for a commission studying phylloxera in Bessarabia and the Crimea. In 1898 he moved to Chernihiv and worked there as a zemstvo statistician. He was active in the Chernihiv Gubernia Scholarly Archival Commission and headed the Chernihiv Prosvita society in 1906–8.
Kotsiubynsky first visited Galicia in 1890 and became acquainted with many Ukrainian cultural figures there, including Ivan Franko and Volodymyr Hnatiuk. (Photo: Kotsiubynsky with Franko and Hnatiuk.) He maintained contact with many Galician intellectuals and editors of journals, who published his stories beginning in 1890. In 1905 he traveled to Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and southern France. Suffering from heart disease, he rested on the Isle of Capri in the years 1909–11. He visited Greece in 1910 and stayed in the Carpathian village of Kryvorivnia in 1910 and 1912. His exhausting job and community involvement made it difficult for Kotsiubynsky to write and contributed to his early demise from heart disease. It was not until 1911 that the Society of Friends of Ukrainian Scholarship, Literature, and Art granted Kotsiubynsky a pension enabling him to quit his job, but he was already in poor health and died two years later.
About two dozen books of his prose were published during his lifetime, ranging from individual stories to the large collections V putakh shaitana i inshi opovidannia (In Satan's Clutches and Other Stories, 1899), Po-liuds’komu: Opovidannia z bessarabs’koho zhyttia (In a Civilized Way: Stories from Bessarabian Life, 1900), Opovidannia (Stories, 1903), Poiedynok i inshi opovidannia (The Duel and Other Stories, 1903), U hrishnyi svit (Into the Sinful World, 1905), Z hlybyn (From the Depths, 1909), Debiut (Debut, 1911), and Tini zabutykh predkiv (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, 1913). A three-volume Russian edition of his works, translated by Mykhailo Mohyliansky, appeared in 1911–14. Many of his stories were translated into several European languages during his lifetime.
Kotsiubynsky's early stories—‘Andrii Soloveiko’ (1884), ‘21 hrudnia, na Vvedeniie’ (The 21st of December on the Day of the Presentation at the Temple, 1885), ‘Na viru’ (A Common-Law Marriage, 1891), ‘P'iatyzlotnyk’ (The Five Zloty Coin, 1892), ‘Tsipov'iaz’ (The Flail Maker, 1893), ‘Kho’ (1894), ‘Dlia zahal’noho dobra’ (For the Common Good, 1895), and others—are examples of ethnographic realism and show the influence of Ivan Nechui-Levytsky and populist ideas. In the late 1890s, however, his themes and subjects became more varied and his approach more sophisticated, and he evolved into one of the most talented Ukrainian modernist writers. Lyrical impressionism was already apparent in his V putakh shaitana, and his ‘exotic études’ ‘Na kameni’ (On the Rock, 1902) and ‘Pid minaretamy’ (Under the Minarets, 1904) are masterpieces of that style.
Kotsiubynsky's morally healthy estheticism and abiding interest in internal, spiritual states are reflected in ‘Lialechka’ (The Little Doll, 1901), an ironic depiction of an intellectual disillusioned with the passions of his youth; in ‘Tsvit iabluni’ (The Apple Blossom, 1902), a story about the divided psyche of a writer watching his young daughter die and recording his observations for use in a future work; and in ‘Son’ (The Dream, 1904), a story about a man's escape from the oppressiveness of everyday life into dreams. Subtle psychological realism is also characteristic of the works Kotsiubynsky wrote after the Revolution of 1905. These stories are his most original contributions on another recurring theme: tsarist national and social oppression in Ukraine. They include ‘Vin ide!’ (He Is Coming! 1906), ‘Smikh’ (Laughter, 1906), ‘Persona grata’ (1907), ‘Podarunok na imenyny’ (The Name-Day Gift, 1912), and the artistically powerful unfinished novella Fata morgana (1903–10; English trans, 1976).
Kotsiubynsky's most artistic works are ‘Intermezzo’ (1908), in which he depicted, using a combination of naturalism and impressionism, the healing powers of nature for a neurasthenic author, reminding him of his duty to his people; and Tini zabutykh predkiv (1911; English trans, 1981), a psychological novella about Hutsul life that draws widely on pagan demonology and folk legends. His masterfully written, linguistically sophisticated works had a great influence on early-20th-century Ukrainian prose writers and poets (eg, Pavlo Tychyna). His works have been republished many times. The fullest editions appeared in 1929–30 (5 vols), 1961–2 (6 vols), and 1973–5 (7 vols). Since the 1930s Soviet criticism has promoted a simplistic interpretation of Kotsiubynsky as merely a ‘realist’ and a ‘revolutionary democrat’ and has emphasized his friendship with Maxim Gorky. Several Soviet films have been based on his works: Koni ne vynni (Horses Aren't to Blame, 1956), Kryvavyi svitanok (Bloody Dawn, 1956), Pe-kopt’or (1957), Dorohoiu tsinoiu (At a High Price, 1957), and the acclaimed Tini zabutykh predkiv (directed by Serhii Paradzhanov, 1964). Literary memorial museums were opened in Vinnytsia in 1927 in the building where Kotsiubynsky was born, and in Chernihiv in 1934 in the building he lived in.
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Chernenko, O. Mykhailo Kotsiubyns’kyi—impresionist: Obraz liudyny v tvorchosti pys’mennyka ([Munich] 1977)
Rubchak, Bohdan. ‘The Music of Satan and the Bedeviled World: An Essay on Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky,’ in M. Kotsiubynsky, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, trans Marco Carynnyk (Littleton, Colo 1981)
Ukrainka, Lesia [Ukrajinka, Lesja] (pseud of Larysa Kosach-Kvitka), b 25 February 1871 in Zviahel (now Novohrad-Volynskyi), Volhynia gubernia, d 1 August 1913 in Surami, Georgia. Poet and playwright; daughter of Olha Kosach-Drahomanova (Olena Pchilka); wife of Klyment Kvitka. Lesia Ukrainka spent her childhood in Volhynia in the towns of Zviahel, Lutsk, and Kolodiazhne and then moved to Kyiv. Her views were particularly influenced by her mother's brother, Mykhailo Drahomanov. Lesia Ukrainka achieved a broad education by self-tuition. She knew all of the major Western European languages as well as Greek and Latin and the Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Bulgarian, and others). She was equally familiar with world history and at 19 wrote a textbook for her sisters, published in 1918 as Starodavnia istoriia skhidnykh narodiv (Ancient History of the Eastern Peoples). Lesia Ukrainka translated a great deal (eg, Nikolai Gogol, Adam Mickiewicz, Heinrich Heine, Victor Hugo, Homer). Suffering from tuberculosis, she traveled to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Egypt, and, several times, the Caucasia in search of a cure. Travel exposed her to new enriching experiences and broadened her horizons. Lesia Ukrainka began writing poetry at a very early age. At the age of nine she wrote the poem ‘Nadiia’ (Hope), and her first published poems, ‘Konvaliia’ (Lily of the Valley) and ‘Safo’ (Sappho), appeared in the journal Zoria (Lviv) in 1884. 1885 saw the appearance of her collection of translations of Gogol, which she prepared together with her brother, Mykhailo Kosach.
Lesia Ukrainka began to write more prolifically from the mid-1880s. In Kyiv she joined the literary group Pleiada and together with Maksym Slavinsky translated Knyha pisen’ (Book of Songs, 1892) by H. Heine. Her first collection of original poetry, Na krylakh pisen’ (On Wings of Songs), appeared in Lviv (1893; 2nd edn, Kyiv 1904). It was followed by the collections Dumy i mriï (Thoughts and Dreams, 1899) and Vidhuky (Echoes, 1902). Her early poems deal mainly with the beauty of nature, her love of her native land, personal experiences, the poet's vocation and the role of poetry, and social and community concerns. Epic features can be found in much of her lyric poetry, and reappear in her later ballads, legends, and the like—‘Samson,’ ‘Robert Brus, korol’ shotlands’kyi’ (Robert Bruce, King of Scotland), ‘Vila-posestra’ (Vila Sister), ‘Odno slovo’ (A Single Word).
Lesia Ukrainka reached her literary heights in her poetic dramas. Ukrainka's first drama was Blakytna troianda (The Azure Rose, 1896), which describes the life of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. In further dramatic works she developed a new genre, that of the ‘dramatic poem.’ The first such work was Oderzhyma (A Woman Possessed, 1901). Particularly important among her works are the dramatic poems on the subject of prisoners in Babylon, which were meant to serve as symbols of the imprisonment of Ukrainians within the Russian Empire; among them are Na ruïnakh (Upon the Ruins, 1903), Vavylons’kyi polon (The Babylonian Captivity, 1903), and V domu roboty—v kraïni nevoli (In the House of Labor, In the Land of Slavery, 1906). In the dramatic poem Kassandra (1907) she portrayed the fate of Ukraine through the tragic history of long-lost Troy, and using Cassandra as her spokesperson, she challenged the Ukrainian people to shake off their apathy and inertia. In the dramatic poem U katakombakh (In the Catacombs, 1905) she also castigated the Ukrainian community for its compromises and passivity. In the drama Rufin i Pristsilla (Rufinus and Priscilla, 1908) the shining image of the Christian woman is contrasted with the brutal strength of Imperial Rome. The dramatic poem Boiarynia (The Boyar Woman, 1910) illustrates most clearly Ukrainka's hostility to Russian imperialism; it maintains that only armed struggle can free the Ukrainian people from their Muscovite prison. The theme of the poem Orhiia (The Orgy, 1912–13) concerns the poet's role in that ceaseless battle. In the dramatic poem Kaminnyi hospodar (The Stone Host, 1912) Lesia Ukrainka employs the Don Juan theme in an original presentation of the conflict between social conformity and personal freedom and responsibility. Her neoromantic work, the drama Lisova pisnia (The Forest Song, 1911), treats the conflict between lofty idealism and the prosaic details of everyday life. Lesia Ukrainka also wrote prose works. Her literary legacy is enormous, despite the fact that for most of her life she was ill and often was bedridden for months. The last few years of her life were spent convalescing in Egypt and the Caucasia. The works of Lesia Ukrainka have been published many times. The most notable editions, however, have been those of Knyhospilka (7 vols, 1923–5 and 12 vols, 1927–30), which include scholarly introductions by Mykola Zerov, Borys Yakubsky, Mykhailo Drai-Khmara, Petro Rulin, Yevhen Nenadkevych, Oleksander Biletsky, and others. Olha Kosach-Kryvyniuk's Lesia Ukraïnka: Khronolohiia zhyttia i tvorchosty (Lesia Ukrainka: A Chronology of Her Life and Works, New York 1970) is valuable for its biographical and epistolary material.
Holoborodko, Vasyl [Holoborod’ko, Vasyl’], b 7 April 1945 in the vilage of Adrianopil, Perevalsk raion, in Luhansk oblast. (Photo: Vasyl Holoborodko.) Poet. In 1964 several of his poems appeared in the literary periodicals Literaturna Ukraïna and Dnipro, after which he fell into official disfavor and was no longer published in Ukraine despite accolades by Ivan Dziuba and other critics on the uniqueness and freshness of his imagery and poetic vision. In 1967 he was expelled from Donetsk University for disseminating Dziuba’s book Internationalism or Russification? Subsequently, he was stationed as a soldier in the Far East, and after his return to Adrianopil, he worked as a miner and labourer. Holoborodko's unique poetic voice draws its power from a metaphorical rendering of reality in images striking by their quality of child-like magic, wonder, and naïvete. His vision of the world is through the prism of innocence. Four manuscript collections of his poems were smuggled to the West and published together in Paris in 1970 under the title Letiuche vikontse (The Flying Window). His poems began to appear again in Ukrainian periodicals after the declaration of glasnost and perestroika in 1985. His first poetry collection to be published in Ukraine, Zelen den’ (A Green Day, 1988), was highly praised by Ivan Dziuba. It was followed by Ikar na metelykovykh krylakh (An Icarus with Butterly Wings, 1990) and Kalyna ob Rizdvo (A Viburnum Tree on Christmas, 1992). Holoborodko was awarded the Shevchenko Prize in 1994. A book of his poetry inspired by folk songs and accompanied by his theoretical study of folk customs of match-making in Ukrainian folk fairy tales was published in Luhansk in 2002 under the title Soloveiku, svatku, svatku... (Nigthingale, You Match-Maker...). In 2006, a volume of his selected writings was published under the title My idemo (We Are Going On).