Hryhoriĭ Skovoroda (1722-1794), Ukrainian philosopher

Overnight, news came in that the Kharkiv Region’s national library and museum dedicated to the philosopher, poet, and composer Hryhoriĭ Skovoroda received a direct Russian hit.  The building appears to have been destroyed by the impact and resulting fire, with one person (reportedly the director’s son, who was guarding the building) receiving injuries in the attack.  Thankfully the library and museum’s holdings are reported to have been moved to relative safety some time before, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  We will no doubt hear more details in due course.

Cambridge libraries currently have about 30 books about Skovoroda and about half that number by him.  The most recent of the latter is this 318-page 2017 publication in Ukrainian.  This, as many of our holdings, is technically a translation or partial translation.  Skovoroda, who lived and died in what is now modern Ukraine but then was Ukrainian land within the Russian Empire, wrote in a language largely based on Ukrainian with elements of Old Church Slavonic and Russian and others in it.  His letters were written in Latin and Old Church Slavic, as the translators’ note to the 2016 English-language publication of Skovoroda’s correspondence explains: this is an ebook with no limit to concurrent usage.

The latest full edition of all Skovoroda’s work is this 2011 joint Canadian-Ukrainian publication, which runs to a weighty 1398-page single volume.  Note that one of the book’s Ukrainian institutional sponsoring bodies is Literaturno-memorialʹnyĭ muzeĭ H.S. Skovorody, the Literary-Memorial Museum of H.S. Skovoroda – the institution whose building has been destroyed.

The museum’s website is of course still online.  The 200th anniversary of Skovoroda’s birth will fall at the end of this year.  I am sure that the museum’s staff will have the ingenuity and find the energy to celebrate that in some form or other; we will dedicate a more detailed blog post to the anniversary ourselves.

Mel Bach

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