Lesya Ukrainka (Larisa Kosach-Kvitka, 1871-1913) left the same mark on Ukrainian literature as Jane Austen in English, and George Sand in French.
The multi-talented girl came from a very educated family: her uncle was the famous Ukrainian historian Mykhailo Drahomanov, in whose house she was raised as a child. Lesya Ukrainka was fluent in many European, including Slavic, languages, and she knew Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, early on she fell ill with an incurable disease, tuberculosis of the bone, and she would undergo treatment throughout her entire life. Connected with this, she journeyed abroad many times and also regularly traveled around Crimea and the Caucasus.
Because of her illness, the poetess removed the bones from her hand, and she had to forget about her artistic and musical career. But she was brought up as a very steadfast and courageous person: Lesya Ukrainka used the forced travels to expand her knowledge. She is known as a translator of European and Russian classics into the Ukrainian language and a collector of folklore – more than 200 folk songs and meditations have been recorded with her voice. However, Lesya Ukrainka’s fame comes from her own works: plays, poems, poetry collections, and, above all, one of the most recognized gems of her work, the drama-fairy tale “The Forest Song.” This and her other works served as the basis for feature films and cartoons, and are still included in the repertoires of theaters both in Ukraine and abroad. Lesya Ukrainka died from her painful illness, but her work is a hymn to life, love, and Ukraine.
The portrait of the poetess is on the 200 hryvnia note.
This article was published in the book Interesting Ukraine.
You could download this book in PDF file for free here.
© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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