Sowiński, Leonard

Sowiński, Leonard, b 7 November 1831 in Berezivka, Novohrad-Volynskyi county, d 23 December 1887 in Stetkivtsi, Zhytomyr county, Volhynia gubernia. Polish writer and translator. The son of a Polish noble and a Ukrainian peasant woman, he studied at Kyiv University (1847–55), where he was a leading student radical. In his allegorical narrative poem Z życia (From Life, 1860) he wrote about contemporary events in Ukraine. An early Polish popularizer of Taras Shevchenko, from the beginning of the 1860s on he translated and published several of Shevchenko’s narrative poems and ballads and many of his lyrical verses in Kurier Wileński and Warsaw periodicals. He also wrote a book of studies of Ukrainian literature (1860) and a study of Shevchenko (1861), which included his translation of ‘Haidamaky’ (The Haidamakas). His translation of Shevchenko’s ‘Naimychka’ (The Servant Girl) was published separately in Lviv in 1871. In his five-act tragedy in verse Na Ukrainie (In Ukraine, 1875) he depicted the conflicts between the Polish gentry and Ukrainian peasantry during the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4, and in his novel Na rozstajnych drogach (At the Crossroads, 1887) he portrayed critically the Polish gentry in Ukraine. Sowiński’s familiarity with Ukrainian history, folk customs, and literature is evident in his school and university memoirs (1st edn 1961). Translations of some of his poems have appeared in a Ukrainian anthology of Polish poetry (1979).

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]




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