OF A NEW ERA IN UKRAINIAN TRANSLATION



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ЗНАЕТЕ ЛИ ВЫ?

OF A NEW ERA IN UKRAINIAN TRANSLATION



The standstill in Ukrainian translation, which characterized the 17th and the larger part of the 18th centuries was broken in the last decade of the eighteenth century by the appearance of Pious Songs (Побожник) in 1791 in Pochaiv. This collection contained original Ukrainian poetic works, translations, free interpretations and free adaptations of pious songs and Psalms horn different languages into Ukrainian, Old Slavic and Polish. But the real outbreak and a regular epoch making event in Ukrainian literature, culture and translation happened at the very close of the eighteenth century, in 1797, when the first parts of I.Kotlyarevskyi's free adaptation (перелицювання) of Virgil's Депе/'o'came off the press in colloquial Ukrainian. The appearance of this brilliant work marked a significant historical turning-point in Ukrainian literature and culture. It had started a quite new period in the history of Ukrainian literary translation as well. Kotlyarevskyi's free adaptation of the Aeneid immediately began the eventual rejection of further translations in old bookish Ukrainian. It paved the way to a spontane­ous, and uninterrupted functioning of spoken Ukrainian in original litera­ture and in translated works. The first to have employed the manner of free interpretation after Kotlyarevskyi at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the poet and linguist P.Bilets'kyi-Nosenko who made a free adaptation of Ovid's epic poem under the title «Горпинида чи Вхопленая Прозерпина» (1818), which was published only in 1871. The artistic level of this free adaptation, however, could not compete in any way with the already popular free adaptation of the Aeneid by I. Kotlyarevskyi. As a result, it remained unpublished for more than five decades and consequently was unknown to Ukrainian readers.


Much more successful were free interpretations/free adapta­tions accomplished at a high literary level by the well-known Ukrain­ian poet P.Hulak-Artemovskyi. His free interpretation of I. Krassitski's Polish short poem under the title The Landlord and His Dog (1818) which he extended to more than fifty lines to become a regular poetic narrative, brought him recognition in Ukrainian literature. Free unextended translations were also made by this poet of Mickiewicz's ballads (Mrs. Twardowska), Gothe's poems (The Fisher), Horace's odes and some Psalms (from Old Slavic).

A positively different approach existed among translators in the
first half of the nineteenth century to Russian national poetry which
was sometimes almost faithfully versified. It can be observed in
Borovykovskyi's translation of Pushkin's poems as in this one:
Буря мглою небо кроет, Буря в хмари небо криє,

Вихри снежньїе крутя, Сипле сніг, як з рукава,

То как зверь она завоет, То звірюкою завиє,

То заплачет, как дитя. То застогне, як сова.

Similar, near faithful versification, can be observed in Y.Hrebinka's
translation of Pushkin's Poltava (1836), which the poet himself
identified, however, as «a free translation»:
Богат и славен Кочубей. Багатий дуже Кочубей:

Его луга необозримьі, Його ланам конця немає;

Там табуньї его коней Його отара скрізь гуляє

Пасутся вольньї, нехранимьі. В зеленім лузі без людей.

Though not without traces of free translation (cf. Його отара скрізь гуляє В зеленім лузі без людей), both these versifications convey almost completely the content of Pushkin's stanzas, the iam­bic or choraic rhythm, their vocalic or consonantal lines, their ease and melody. Therefore, despite some minor divergences in picturesque-ness, phraseology, poetic licence (Його отара скрізь гуляє) and some other drawbacks, these translated works already bear all the characteristic features of a faithful versification. Consequently, the first half of the nineteenth century may be considered to have been the starting date in the history of faithful Ukrainian versification/translation. Actively participating in the literary process of that same period, were the poet A.Metlynskyi (translations of German, French and other poets) and M.Maksymovych (versification of The Tale of the Hostoflhor).

Almost the same year with Hrebinka's published versification of Pushkin's poem Poltava, in a publishing house in Budapest was


 




produced the historic Rusalka Dnistrovaya collection (1837) composed by M.Shashkevych, I. Vahylevych and Y.Holovats'kyi. This collection contained apart from these authors' own verses, translations by Vahylevych from the Czech (Kraledvorsky Manuscript), and from Old Ukrainian (The Tale of the Host of Ihor), as well as Y.Holovats'kyi's translation of Serbian songs. This collection marked the beginning of regular belles-lettres translations in Halychyna. Hence, the process of translation in Eastern (Russian) and Western (Austro-Hungarian) parts of divided Ukraine began and continued to develop at almost the same time and in the same manner, though the Eastern part of Ukraine had already several talented poets, prose writers, playwrights and translators. The greatest and the most influential of them in early 1840's was our national genius, poet and painter Taras Shevchenko. He had already succeeded to create his principal poetic masterpieces and had even successfully versified (1845) ten of David's Psa/msfrom Old Slavic into Ukrainian.

Participating in the process of unification of Ukrainian literature and culture into one national stream were also some other prominent figures of the first half and of the first decades of the second half of the nineteenth century. Among these were some already well-known Ukrainian poets and authors as Y.Hrebinka, M.Maksymovych, L.Borovykovs'kyi, Y.Fed'kovych (Austrian and German poetry), O.Shpyhots'kyi (Mickiewicz's works), K.Dumytrashko (The War be­tween Frogs and Mice, from ancient Greek), M.Kostomarov (Byron's works), M.Staryts'kyi and others. All the above-mentioned poets and authors, though generally amateurish translators themselves, never­theless inspired the succeeding men of letters to turn to this field of professional activity. Apart from these regular men of the pen, taking part in the process of translation were also some noted scientists as O.Potebnya and I. Puliuy and some others.

Soon, there appeared such great translators in Ukrainian litera­ture as poets, authors and public figures P.Kulish, I.Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, O.Makoway and some others. P.Kulish (1819-1897), a close friend of T.Shevchenko, was also the first professional translator in the nineteenth century Ukraine. His large output includes the most outstanding works of Shakespeare (fifteen best-known tragedies and comedies, of worldwide renown, which were edited by I.Franko and published in 1902), Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (in blank verse), part of Don Juan and some other poems. He also translated several poems by Gothe, Schiller and Heine (from German), produced several


free interpretations and free adaptations from Russian poetry (Pushkin, Fet, Nikitin, A.Tolstoy, D.Minayev). He was also the first to translate The Psalter (1879) and the Bible (together with Puliuy and Nechuy-Levyts'kyi) into contemporary Ukrainian. In addition, Kulish is the author of the contemporary Ukrainian alphabet.

TRANSLATION AND TRANSLATORS DURING THE LATE 19th - EARLY 20th CENTURIES

The second half of the nineteenth century was marked by a regular revival of translation in Ukraine on the one hand and by ever increasing suppressions and direct prohibitions of the Ukrainian lan­guage and culture in Czarist Russia on the other (Valuyev's edict of 1863 and the Czar's Ems decree of 1876). As a result, the publishing of Ukrainian translations and works of Ukrainian national authors in general was greatly hindered. It survived only thanks to the Halychyna (Western Ukraine) publishers who received financial support from wealthy Ukrainian patriotic sponsors, whose names deserve to be mentioned again and again. Among the most influential of them were V.Symyrenko, Y.Chykalenko, M.Arkas and others.

During the period of these humiliating Czarist suppressions of Ukrainian literature and culture in the 1860's, 1880's and 1890's, many outstanding Ukrainian translations could not be published. This hap­pened to accurate versifications of Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey by O.Navrots'kyi and to the versified parts of the Odyssey and the Iliad by P.Nishchyns'kyi. Only much later were the free interpretation of the Iliad (Ільйонянка) by S.Rudans'kyi also published, along with excerpts of Homeric poems versified by P.Kulish, O.Potebnya, I. Franko, Lesya Ukrainka and some other translators. There was soon felt a general upsurge in the domain of literary translation during the second half of the nineteenth century in the Austro-Hungarian (Western) part of Ukraine. There translations or rather free adaptations began to appear at first in magazines and journals Dzvin, Zorya, Bukovyna, Dilo and others. Somewhat later, during the 1870's, larger works of West European and American authors in Ukrainian translation came off the press. Not all these works of art were translated directly from the original, however. Some had been accomplished first through Polish or German languages as it was with Y.Fed'kovych's translation of parts of Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew, though his versification of Uhland's


 




and Schiller's poems were achieved from their original (German) language.

Probably among the very first almost real translations published in Halychyna (Austrian part of Ukraine) in 1870's - 1880's were A.Dumas' Notes of the Old Captain (1874), H.Beecher-Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (published in 1877) and A.Daudet's novel Zouave (1887) brought into Ukrainian by O.Ovdykows'kyi. Among the almost regular translations was J.Edward's work Stephen Lawrence (1881) rendered into Ukrainian by N.Romanovych-Tkachenko and the free translation of C.Dickens' Christmas Carol (1880), The Cricket in the Hearth (1891) and somewhat later, of Oliver Twist. Freely interpreted/adapted were also some works by F.Bret Harte, Mark Twain and a number of others to be named later. Hence, the translation and publishing activity during the last decades of the nineteenth century in Halychyna and in neighbouring Bukovyna (Chernivtsi) and to some extent in Transcarpathia (Uzhhorod) was gathering momentum. An influential role in this process played the Taras Shevchenko Scientific Society founded in 1873 (Lviv) and its Literary Journalwhere the best transla­tions were published. In large measure, those translations appeared due to the titanic achievements in the domain of literary artistic trans­lation of I. Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, O.Makoway among other great Ukrainian men and women of letters. This was also a political break­through which openly ignored the czarist prohibition of the Ukrainian language, literature and culture.

The Literary Journal and prior to it the Taras Shevchenko Sci­entific Society itself received financial support from some personal funds belonging to such great patriots of Ukraine as P.Pelekhin, T.Dembyts'kyi, M.Hrushevskyi, O.Ohonovs'kyi, A.Bonchevs'kyi, O.Konys'kyi. The Literary Journal was also supported financially by the D.Mordovets' and I. Kotlyarevs'kyi social funds1. Due to the sup­port it managed to publish only in the first decade of the twentieth century the works of the following authors: Conan Doyle, T.S.Eliot (1903), Mark Twain (1904,1906), poetic works of West European and Russian authors translated by P.Hrabovs'kyi, some works of O.Wilde (1904), K.Ritter (1906), E.A.Poe (1906,1912), J.Milton (1906), works of some Australian authors (translated by I. Franko, 1910), as well as works of such well-known English and American authors as R.Kipling (1904,1910), C.Roberts (1911), C.Dickens and H.Longfellow (The Song of Hiawatha), (1912), J.London (1913) and several others.

1 See: Українська Літературна Енциклопедія. Том 3. - Київ, 1995, р.465.


Among the translators of these and other works besides I. Franko and his son Petro Franko were later N.Romanovych-Tkachenko, O.Mykhalevych, PKarmans'kyi, O.OIes', I.Petrusevych, D.Dontsov, Y.Siryi, A.Voloshyn, M.Lozyns'kyi, V.Stepankovs'kyi, M.Zahirnya, and some others.

The revival of literary translation in Eastern and Western parts of Ukraine in early 70's and especially in the 1880's was greatly enhanced by the creative work of one of the most prolific Ukrainian poets, playwrights, philosophers, scientists and public figures I. Franko (1856-1916). He began his manifold activities as a patriotically minded realist who expressed his ardent wish for his nation to attain freedom, a better life and education opportunities. Franko purposely turned to enriching his native belles-lettres with masterpieces of world literature in which he addressed the need of his native people in all genres of belles-lettres, philosophies and arts. To achieve this gigantic task, I.Franko would employ any possible way of conveying the content and artistic peculiarities of other nations' literary works. He employed faithful translation alongside of free interpretation and free adaptation or rehash (переробка) both of prose and poetic works from most contemporary and ancient European as well as Arabic, Persian and Indian languages. During his brilliant 40-year literary career, this creative giant managed to translate into Ukrainian thousands of poetic, prose, drama, historic and scientific works of almost all outstanding representative authors and poets from the richest traditions of world literature and culture. In his fifty-volume collection of works, which came off the press in Kyiv in 1970's, seven large volumes were dedicated solely to versification drawn from different languages and cultures of the world. His faithful translations, free interpretations and free adaptations originated from works created by scores of various authors spanning from ancient times until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Separate volumes in the collection are dedicated to Babylonian and ancient Greek, Indian and Arabian literary works as well as to contemporary Slavic, Italian, German, Austrian, Swiss and other literatures. Franko's methods of versifying foreign poetic works were aimed at acquainting Ukrainian readers with the world's best samples of poetic art. An active role in introducing Ukrainian readers to best works of other literatures was also played by Franko's close friend Osyp Makoway (1867-1925). He translated H.Heine (1885) from German, prose works from Polish (H.Sienkiewicz,


 




E.Orzceczkowa, I.Dombrowski, S.Zeromski), Austrian (H.Sudermann, M.Ebner-Eschenbach, M.Konrad), Danish (E.P.Jakobsen), American (Mark Twain), British (Jerome K.Jerome), French (E.M.Prevost) and from other languages.

Among the most active Ukrainian translators after P.Kulish and I.Franko was our greatest poetess Lesya Ukrainka (1871 - 1913). She completed faithful prose translations of G.Hauptman's drama The Weavers and M.Maeterlinck's drama L'lntmse (in Ukrainian Неминуча). Besides these she also successfully translated some prose works of L.Yakobovsky (from German), P.G.Etzel and G.d'Espardes (from French), E.De Amicis (from Italian) as well as Franko's works into Russian. Lesya Ukrainka left behind a considerable number of faithful versifications as well as free versifications (переспіви) from all major European literary traditions. She began translating in the 1880's, with most of her versifications being drawn from her favourite German poet H.Heine, to whose works she turned again and again for over thirty years. From French poets, she chose the works of V.Hugo, from English G.G.Byron's works and excerpts from Shakespeare's Macbeth, from Italian some poems (or parts of them) by Ada Negri and Dante's works. She also translated poetic excerpts from ancient Indian, Egyptian and Greek. Besides these achievements Lesya Ukrainka translated into Ukrainian several Russian works (S.Y.Nadson, I. Turgenev and N.Gogol) as well as works by the outstanding Polish poets A.Mickiewicz and M.Konopnitska.

Alongside of these literary giants, were some other translators of prose and poetic works who contributed considerably to the Ukrainian literature and culture in the late nineteenth and early twen­tieth centuries. Of considerable note is PHrabovskyi (1864-1902), who made both faithful translations and free versifications of many works by several prominent poets of different national literatures. While still in his homeland, and later during his Siberian deportation, he versified (on the basis of interlinear translations) the works of great lyric poets as well as patriotically and socially expressive poets from several national languages. He chooses from English and American poets R.Burns, T.Hood, T.Moor, P.B.Shelley, H.W.Longfellow; from German H.Heine, L.Uhland, F.Freiligrath; from French C.Baudelair, O.Barbier; from Hungarian S.Petofi; from Bulgarian Kh.Botev; from Polish M.Konopnitska and from Russian K.Ryleyev, N.Nekrasov and some others. All these translations, like many others to be mentioned be-


low were published primarily in Halychyna, where the Ukrainian language and literary activity was not forbidden as in czarist Russia.

During this same period P.Hrabovs'kyi worked with another prolific author and translator M.Staryts'kyi (1840-1906), who ac­quainted Ukrainian readers with a number of faithfully versified Ser­bian folk ballads (dumas) and poems of Yu. Slowacki (Poland). He also successfully versified the poems of Lermontov, Nekrasov and other Russian authors. Besides, M.Staryts'kyi also composed a very faithful versification of Hamlet's monologue (Shakespeare).

With the growing influence of the Taras Shevchenko Scientific Society in mid 1880's and especially in the 1890's and early 1900's more and more Ukrainian men of letters took part in the process of literary artistic translation. Thus, I. Belay (1856-1921) completed translations from works of French authors Erckmann-Chatrian and the Spanish author Pedro de Alarcon. He also translated C.Dickens' Christmas Carol (under the title The New Year Bells). The poet K.Bilylovskyi (1856-1938) versified some best-known poems and ballads of J.W.Gothe, F.Schiller, H.Heine and also one of T.Shev-chenko's poems into German. The author and polyglot TBordulyak (1863-1936) also began his literary activity in the 1880's and 1890's with the translation of some I.Turgenev's and F.Dostoyevskyi's prose works. Later, he translated several works from German (H.Heine, N.Lenau), Hungarian (K.Mikszat), Polish (H.Sienkiewicz), ancient Greek (Sophocles' Electra), Italian (some cantos from Dante's The Divine Comedy), as well as from old Ukrainian (The Tale of the Host oflhor).

Many translations from a variety of foreign literary traditions were accomplished in the first decades of the twentieth century by less known today authors and poets. Among these was the Stalinist terror victim O.SIuts'kyi (1883-1941), who actively participated in the social, political and cultural life in Halychyna. He translated from Czech (J.Machar's poem Napoleon, 1902), from Russian I.Turgenev's poetic prose (1903), from Polish S.Vesnyanski's poem Deaf/7 of Ophelia (1907), from German H.Hofmannsthal's drama Deaf/7 of Titian (1918) and other works. To be mentioned is also V.Borovyk (1863-1938), who translated J.Milton's Paradise Lost and some prose works of the Russian authors (V.Harshyn, G.Machtet). Active during the first decades of the 20th century was also the poet M. Vdowychenko (1876-1919?), who translated several works into Ukrainian from Polish (Mickiewicz, Konopnicka) and Russian (Pushkin, Lermontov, Korolenko) belles-lettres.


 




An outstanding poet and a brilliant master of poetic versifica­tion was M.Voronyi (1871-1937) who made an incomparably great contribution to Ukrainian belles-lettres and to artistic translation from different foreign languages. A victim of the Stalinist terror against the Ukrainian intellectuals in the 1930's, M.Voronyi successfully versified poetic works from French (E.Pottier, Rougetde Lisle, S.Prud'homme, P.Verlaine, M.Maeterlinck); German (H.Heine), Italian (part of Dante's Divine Comedy), English (Shakespeare), as well as from Eastern belles-letters (Japanese and Persian).

But undoubtedly the most active translators in the first dec­ades of the twentieth century (with the exception of I. Franko and Lesya Ukrainka) were the members of the Hrinchenkos family. The outstanding poet, author, literary critic, editor and lexicographer Borys Hrinchenko (1863-1910) accomplished translations/versifications and free translations, which were mostly shortened versions of the originals, from works of German and Austrian classical authors (J.W.Gothe, F.Schiller, H.Heine, G.Hauptmann, A.Schnizler), from French belles-lettres (V.Hugo, A.France), from English (D.Defoe), Polish (B.Cherwinski) and Russian (A.Pushkin, A.Maikov, A.PIeshcheyev). B.Hrinchenko's wife, Maria Zahirnya (1863-1928), employed both translation and free adaptation of classical works by H.A.Andersen, A.Daudet, H.Beecher-Stowe, H.Ibsen, H.Sudermann, M.Maeterlinck, C.Goldoni, Mark Twain and also works by L.Tolstoi, I. Turgenev, M.Saltykov-Shchedrin, D.Mamin-Sibiryak, M.Leskov among others. Their daughter Nastya Hrinchenko (1884-1908) actively participated in the creation of a whole Ukrainian juvenile library which comprised works by foreign authors hitherto unknown or little known to our young readers. She completed Ukrainian adaptations and edited or truncated works of the authors who enjoyed popularity during those years: Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), H.Ibsen (Hedda Habler and The Sea Woman), of some better known works of French (A.France), German (H.Saudermann), Danish (H.Brandes), Italian (E.De Amicis) and South African (O.Schreiner) and other authors.

This veritable constellation of patriotic men of letters and trans­lators would be incomplete without the well-known poet and translator V.Samiylenko (1864-1925) whose translations were mostly from the Romance languages. He began in 1887 with the translation of a part of Homer's Iliad, which was followed by ten cantos of Dante's The Divine Comedy (1902), Blasco Ibahez's Small Cabin (Хатина, 1910),


Moliere'sand Bernard's comedies (1901-1917), Mendes' poetic works (1919) and others. Needless to say that like almost all translations and original works of Ukrainian authors of the second half of the nineteenth century, Samiylenko's own poetic works and translations were published in Halychyna as well.

A place of high honour among these translators also belongs to the greatest Ukrainian polyglot (over 60 European and also Arabic, Persian and other languages), who was a prominent linguist, poet and versifier from many Eastern (Arabic, Persian, Indian) and Western European languages, a close friend of Lesya Ukrainka and Ivan Franko and a tragic victim of Stalinist terror Ahatangel Krymskyi (1871-1942). He was the first to acquaint the Ukrainian readers with the greatest Persian and Tadjik poets Hafiz, Rudaki, Saadi, Firdousi and others. Apart from Eastern belles-lettres A.Krymskyi translated also the poetic works of English (Byron), German (Heine), Russian (Kol'tsov, Nekrasov) and other European poets.



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