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            Mikhaylo Kotsyubinsky


            Mikhaylo Kotsyubinsky (1864 - 1913) was a Ukrainian modernist and impressionist writer in the Russian Empire. He was born into a poor family of a clerk in the city of Vinnitsa. From his youth Kotsyubinsky had to work hard in order to support his blind mother and his unemployed father with a big family. In 1880 he graduated from the Shargorod Theological Seminary where he studied classic languages, religion and history. His involvement in the popular political movement "Narodnaya Volya" led to his arrest in 1882 and a brief imprisonment. As a social democrat he remained under secret surveillance by the Russian police for most of his life.

            Kotsyubinsky was a graduate school teacher until 1890, when he began to publish his writing. He promoted the Ukrainian language in literature and his main works were translated from Ukrainian into Russian and many other languages. Kotsyubinsky wrote about the life of simple folks, the hard working people, peasants and serfs, as well as about the beautiful folk traditions of the Ukrainian people. His writings were first published in Galitsiya (West Ukraine), because the Ukrainian language publications were banned in the Russian Empire. His large two-part novel "Fata Morgana" (1903-1910) revealed a comprehensive picture of life of the Ukrainian people just before and during the Russian Revolution of 1905-1907, describing the life and traditions of the Ukrainian peasants and and their struggle against the corrupt landlords in Ukraine. In his most lyrical work "Shadows of the forgotten ancestors" (1912) he made a portrait of the Carpathian tribe, the Gutsuls.

            His poor health required him to travel abroad for convalescence in Capri, Italy. There, in 1909, he met the Russian writer Maxim Gorky and the two writers became good friends and had several more meetings in the years ahead. Kotsyubinsky lived and worked in Chernigov from 1898 until his death in 1913. His home in the city of Chernigov is now a Memorial museum of the Ukrainian Literature.