From the Bible to Shakespeare: Pantelejmon Kuliš (1819–97) and the Formation of Literary Ukrainian

From the Bible to Shakespeare: Pantelejmon Kuliš (1819–97) and the Formation of Literary Ukrainian

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Andrii Danylenko

Series: Ukrainian Studies
ISBN: 9781618114709 (hardcover)
Pages: 472 pp.
Publication Date: September 2016

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Winner of the 2017 American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Best Book in Linguistics
Winner of the 2017 American Association for Ukrainian Studies Best Book in Language, Literature, and Culture

This is the first English-language study of the translations of the Bible and Shakespeare into vernacular Ukrainian by Pantelejmon Kuliš (1819–1897), a true Ukrainian maverick in the national revival of his country and a precursor of the modern understanding of Ukrainian literature. In this study, Kuliš’s translations are discussed in tandem with the time and people engaged in their assessment. As a result, the Ukrainian Bible and Shakespeare prove crucial to tracing the contours of a full and complete picture of the development of literary Ukrainian in the two historical parts of Ukraine—Galicia and Dnieper Ukraine—from the mid-nineteenth century onward.

Andrii Danylenko is Professor at Pace University in New York. He is the editor and author of several books on Slavic linguistics and philology as well as dozens of studies on a wide array of topics ranging from Indo-European to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to standard Ukrainian.

This book could be rightly considered as a further step towards the realization of an ‘integral history of the new Ukrainian literary language’ which Danylenko is striving for. … Overall, the book can be read with the utmost curiosity and recommended to those scholars with a keen interest in the formation process of modern literary Ukrainian. Danylenko’s detailed analysis of the language used in the exemplified translation fragments by Kuliš and the comparison with the translations made by his, more or less famous, contemporaries, inserted in broader socio-historic and cultural-literary context, adds a fundamental milestone in the history of the Ukrainian language.
— Salvatore Del Gaudio, Richerche Slavistiche Vol. 1 (LXI)

Table of Contents


Introduction: Writing a Linguistic Biography of a Ukrainian Maverick

Part I: The Bible

Chapter 1: Exploring Psalmody
   The Book of Psalms
   Alexandrine Verse or Trochaic Foot?
   Invoking Gavrila Deržavin
   Church Slavonicisms
   Xarkiv Chimes In
   The 1897 Poetic Crowning

Chapter 2: The Makings of the Rusian Bible
   A Pentateuch Prolusion
   Gearing Up for New Challenges
   “Poison and Ruin for the Rusian People”
   “The Labor Pangs of a Unified Ukrainian Literary Language”
   Reception of the Translation
   The Sloboda Bulwark
   The Archangel Havrylo
   Who Else Bears a Grudge?
   The Creation of the New Biblical Style
   Means of Archaization
   Means of Vernacularization

Chapter 3: Galicia “Writes Back”
   The West or the East?
   Fostering “Rusian Church Vernacular”
   Any Palliative Solution?
   Lost in Diacritics
   To “Secularize” or “Synthesize”?

Chapter 4: Here Comes the Bible!
   The Holy Writ Doesn’t Burn
   Tobit and Job
   At the Crossroads of Poetry and Prose
   Ivan Nečuj-Levyc´kyj Takes It Personally
   The Pranks of Ivan Franko
   Ivan Puljuj Makes His Riposte
   How Should It Sound?
   How to String Words?
   How to Choose Words?
   How to Spell Words?
   Ivan Nečuj-Levyc´kyj Is Shuffled Backstage
   Interpreting Hebrew Poetry
   The Book of Job
   The Song of Songs
   The Versified Bible


Part II: Shakespeare

Chapter 5: “Oh, Shakespeare, Our Father, Native to All Peoples”
   Ethics Avant la Lettre!
   Bringing Forth the “Ukrainian Shakespeare”
   The First (Over)Reaction
   The Language of the “Ukrainian Shakespeare”
   On the Threshold of a New Secular High Style

Chapter 6: Expanding the Literary Canon of the “Ukrainian Shakespeare”
   The First Step Is the Hardest?
   “Huculia Did Not Appear; Rather Shakespeare Was Merely Hidden”
   Hamlet or Hamljet? That Is the Question
   Hamlet in Peasant Leather Shoes
   The Younger Generation Steps to the Fore
   “We Are All Peasants Today”
   One or Multiple Homesteads?

Conclusion: Detours Offered But Never Taken

   Geographical and Personal Names
   Subjects and Titles of Literary Works and Translations


Andrii Danylenko’s From the Bible to Shakespeare: Pantelejmon Kuliš (1819-1897) and the Formation of Literary Ukrainian is a profound study that offers an insight into a complex process of the development of language, embracing the formation of the literary and the national. Kuliš’s translations represent an intriguing study case not only for the exploration of linguistic synthesis, but also for investigation of identity fluidity that stems from openness towards linguistic and cultural dialogism.
— Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed, New Books Network
Andrii Danylenko’s “From the Bible to Shakespeare: Pantelejmon Kuliš (1819–97) and the Formation of Literary Ukrainian” demonstrates the complex history of the Ukrainian language, not only on the level of the history of Ukrainian, but also on the level of Pantelejmon Kuliš, the focus of this book. The author follows the transformation of Kuliš’s vision of literary standard Ukrainian: from resisting both Polish and Russian influences to ultimately synthesizing the language varieties from Galicia on the one hand and the Old Rusian [sic] (which subsequently facilitated the development of Russian) on the other, while upholding the Ukrainian vernacular. In comparison to Ševčenko who championed the language of the peasantry, Kuliš, in the process of his translation (especially Shakespeare), developed contextualized uses of bookish and Church Slavonic forms as well as Galician forms and western European terms imported through Polish. The book thus illuminates a distinct path taken by Kuliš: a synthetic approach, in contrast to typical attempts to maximally separate a language from the others, which one often encounters in sociolinguistic descriptions. “Rejected on both banks of the Dnieper River, Kuliš was a true unifier of the two parts of Ukraine” (385). The book draws on extensive philological sources, both primary and secondary. It is thought-provoking and is accessible to readers of literary studies (especially translation studies), linguistics, and the general public. It is highly relevant to sociolinguists who deal with language and identity in all its complexity.
— 2017 AATSEEL Prize Committee
This is a well-researched, meticulous and erudite analysis that offers a wealth of information on the development of literary Ukrainian and Kulish’s lasting contribution to the effort. It is a remarkable achievement and a welcome contribution to Ukrainian studies.
— George Mihaychuk, Georgetown University, SEER, Vol. 95 No. 3
From the Bible to Shakespeare represents a truly innovative and fundamental study of an important contribution to the Ukrainian linguistic culture, made by the famous Ukrainian writer and cultural figure Pantelejmon Kuliš. . . . the volume also appears to be a very useful text for university studies. It provides a great deal of facts and theoretical concepts for reconstruction of the history of biblical studies on the Ukrainian terrain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
— Sergii Golovashchenko, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
The learning and industry [of this book] are deep and wide. Modern technology has enabled Danylenko to display and discuss different systems of transliteration and fonts accommodating variations in Cyrillic spelling, including Church Slavonic. Documentation occurs internal to the text in streamlined form ... well worth the price as a reference tool.
— Eugene E. Lemcio, Emeritus Professor of New Testament, Seattle Pacific University
There is no figure more important for the development and standardization of literary Ukrainian in the nineteenth century than Pantelejmon Kuliš. As an author, as a scholar, and as an activist, he worked tirelessly for the rejuvenation of Ukrainian culture and particularly its language. Among his most important contributions were his translations of the Bible and of Shakespeare’s plays. With painstaking diligence, exhaustive research, and uncompromising analysis, Andrii Danylenko examines the language of these translations at great depth and compares them to the efforts of other translators in similar genres. The result is a masterful study of Kuliš’s language and a major contribution to the history of the Ukrainian language.
— Maxim Tarnawsky University of Toronto
The monograph, about the language of Pantelejmon Kuliš’s seminal Bible and Shakespeare translations from the 1860s until his death in 1897, is a major contribution to our understanding of the formation of modern literary and standard Ukrainian and a long-due appraisal of Kuliš’s contribution. It is based on an impressive wealth of unpublished sources and an extensive range of secondary literature. The principal merit lies in numerous detailed analyses of Kuliš’s and his contemporaries’ language and the assessment of the forms and words found with respect to their provenance. This is a notoriously difficult undertaking, which very few scholars in Ukrainian philology are able to carry out with the same care, expertise and balanced approach.
— Jan Fellerer, University of Oxford