Somov, Orest

Somov, Orest [Сомов, Орест; pseudonym: Porfirii Baisky], b 21 December 1793 in Vovcha, Kharkiv vicegerency, d 8 June 1833 in Saint Petersburg. Russian Romantic prose writer and literary critic of Ukrainian origin. As a student at Kharkiv University he collected Ukrainian folklore and folk songs and contributed poems and fables to Khar'kovskii Demokrit" (1816) and Ukrainskii vestnik (Kharkiv) (1817). From 1817 he lived in Saint Petersburg, where he was close to Decembrist circles and Aleksandr Pushkin and belonged to the Free Society of Devotees of Russian Literature and the Free Society of Devotees of Literature, Sciences, and Arts. He promoted and influenced Nikolai Gogol as a writer and corresponded with Ivan Kotliarevsky and Mykhailo Maksymovych. His poems (one on Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky), prose, translations, polemical and literary articles, and reviews appeared in the periodicals Blagonamerennyi, Nevskii zritel', Sorevnovatel', Severnaia pchela, Syn otechestva, Literaturnaia gazeta (of which he was editor, 1830–1), and Utrenniaia zvezda and in literary almanacs. Some of his belletristic works, such as an unfinished novel about Semen Harkusha, ‘Gaidamak’ (The Haidamaka, fragments published in 1827, 1829, and 1830), and the tales ‘Gaidamak’ (1825), ‘Iurodivyi’ (The Holy Fool, 1827), ‘Rusalka’ (The Water Nymph, 1829), ‘Oboroten'’ (The Werewolf, 1829), ‘Svatovstvo’ (Matchmaking, 1831), ‘Videnie na iavu’ (An Apparition While Awake, 1831),‘Nedobryi glaz’ (The Evil Eye, 1833), and ‘Kyivskiia ved'my’ (Kyivan Witches, 1833), were based on Ukrainian folktales and legends. Editions of his works were published only in the 20th century, in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1974), and Moscow (1984). Z. Kyryliuk’s monograph about Somov (Kyiv 1965) contains a bibliography of his works.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

R. Senkus

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