Taras Sevcenko

Biografie şi Bibliografie

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Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (Ukrainian: Тара́с Григо́рович Шевче́нко) (March 9 [O.S. February 25] 1814 – March 10 [O.S. February 26] 1861) was a Ukrainian poet, artist and humanist. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. Shevchenko also wrote in Russian and left many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator.

Life

Born into a serf family in the village of Moryntsi, of Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire (now in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine) Shevchenko was orphaned at the age of eleven.[1] He was taught to read by a village precentor, and loved to draw at every opportunity. Shevchenko went with his Russian aristocrat lord Pavel Engelhardt to Vilna (Vilnius, 1828–31) and then to Saint Petersburg.

Engelhardt noticed Shevchenko's artistic talent and apprenticed him in Vilna to Jan Rustem, then in Saint Petersburg to Vasiliy Shiriaev for four years. 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 Alexey Venetsianov. Through these men Shevchenko also met the famous painter and professor Karl Briullov, who donated his portrait of the Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky as a lottery prize, whose proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom on May 5, 1838.

Impact

Taras Shevchenko has a unique place in Ukrainian cultural history and in world literature. His writings formed the foundation for the modern Ukrainian literature to a degree that he is also considered the founder of the modern written Ukrainian language (although Ivan Kotlyarevsky pioneered the literary work in what was close to the modern Ukrainian in the end of the eighteenth century.) Shevchenko's 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. Influenced by Romanticism, Shevchenko managed to find his own manner of poetic expression that encompassed themes and ideas germane to Ukraine and his personal vision of its past and future.

In view of his literary importance, the impact of his artistic work is often missed, although his contemporaries valued his artistic work no less, or perhaps even more, than his literary work. A great number of his pictures, drawings and etchings preserved to this day testify to his unique artistic talent. He also experimented with photography and it is little known that Shevchenko may be considered to have pioneered the art of etching in the Russian Empire (in 1860 he was awarded the title of Academician in the Imperial Academy of Arts specifically for his achievements in etching.)[4]
Commemorative coin issued in the USSR in 1989 on his 175th anniversary

His influence on Ukrainian culture has been so immense, that even during Soviet times, the official position was to downplay strong Ukrainian nationalism expressed in his poetry, suppressing any mention of it, and to put an emphasis on the social and anti-Tsarist aspects of his legacy, the Class struggle within the Russian Empire. Shevchenko, who himself was born a serf and suffered tremendously for his political views in opposition to the established order of the Empire, was presented in the Soviet times as an internationalist who stood up in general for the plight of the poor classes exploited by the reactionary political regime rather than the vocal proponent of the Ukrainian national idea.

This view is significantly revised in modern independent Ukraine, where he is now viewed as almost an iconic figure with unmatched significance for the Ukrainian nation, a view that has been mostly shared all along by the Ukrainian diaspora that has always revered Shevchenko.


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