Ukrainian Literary Club in London

Following the summer break the club will reconvene on Saturday, September 20th, 2014, 11.00am at the Ukrainian Institute in London. Chorna Rada

We will discuss Panteleimon Kulish’s Chorna Rada (The Black Council) (download here), which was the first Ukrainian language novel.

The Literary Club in London provides an opportunity for those interested in Ukrainian literature to meet and discuss both classical and contemporary works. The club meets monthly and is led by London-based Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Oleyko. Readings and discussions are held in Ukrainian.

Panteleimon Kulish, born in 1819, was a prominent Ukrainian writer, historian, ethnographer, and translator. Panteleimon Kulish was the first person known to translate the whole of the Bible into the modern Ukrainian language and was also the first to write historical novels in Ukrainian. His most famous contribution in this field was the novel Chorna Rada (The Black Council) which was set in Cossack times. Kulish was also active in historical writing, composing a brief history of Ukraine in verse (under the title Ukraina) and a much larger History of the Reunification of Rus in three volumes. The latter dealt with the era of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky in the seventeenth century.

During his early years at the University of Kyiv, Kulish came under the influence of the historian and literary figure Mykhaylo Maksymovych who turned his attention to his native Ukrainian culture. In the 1840s, he became close to the poet Taras Shevchenko, and the historian Mykola Kostomarov and participated in the illegal Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius which envisioned a Ukrainian national rebirth, including national independence, within a free and equal Slavic federation.

In 1847, Kulish was arrested for his participation in this organization, and spent some time in prison and a few years in exile.

In the late 1850s, he was reunited with Kostomarov and others of the Cyril-Methodian “Brethren” and participated in the Ukrainian journal Osnova (The Foundation). At this time, he published his famous Notes on Southern Rus’ in which he pioneered a new Ukrainian orthography for the Ukrainian vernacular, the Kulishivka alphabet, based on phonetics rather than etymology. This later became the basis of the modern written Ukrainian language.

He spent his last years isolated on his homestead in eastern Ukraine. During these years he translated a great deal of west European literature, including Shakespeare, into Ukrainian.


Please note the date has changed to Saturday 20th September, and not the 27th as initially announced