Teslenko, Arkhyp

Teslenko, Arkhyp [Тесленко, Архип], b 2 March 1882 in Kharkivtsi, Lokhvytsia county, Poltava gubernia, d 28 June 1911 in Kharkivtsi. Writer. He studied in the church school for teachers in Kharkivtsi, from which he was expelled for ‘freethinking.’ In 1905 Teslenko was arrested for taking part in peasant riots, and in 1906 he was arrested a second time and exiled to Russia, at first to Vologda gubernia and then to Viatka gubernia. He returned from exile to his native village in 1910. He began to write poetry in Russian in 1902, and then in Ukrainian. His first short stories, written in 1904, were printed in 1906 in the monthly Nova hromada and the newspapers Hromads’ka dumka and Rada (Kyiv). Later Teslenko published his short stories and other writings about peasant life in the newspaper Selo and the periodical Svitlo (Kyiv). Many of his short stories are on the subject of the poverty of Ukrainian peasants and their lack of rights under tsarist rule. His autobiographical short stories cover similar concerns; among them are ‘Nemaie matusi’ (Mother Is Gone, 1910) and ‘Pohaniai do iamy!’ (Drive into the Ditch!, 1910). He wrote of his prison experiences in ‘Na chuzhyni’ (In Foreign Lands, 1910) and ‘V tiurmi’ (In Prison, 1910). One of Teslenko’s best works is the novel Strachene zhyttia (A Wasted Life, 1910). The critics of the time commented on Teslenko’s talent and his animated narrative style, in which there are discernible Ukrainian literary influences (Marko Vovchok in particular) and elements of impressionism. His prison stories and other tales are similar to Volodymyr Vynnychenko’s early short stories in language and narrative style. The works of Teslenko have been published many times; the more complete editions are Z knyhy zhyttia (From the Book of Life, 1912, 1918, 1925), Povne zibrannia tvoriv (Complete Works, 1928 and 1967), and Tvory (Works, 1956 and 1977). A Teslenko literary memorial museum has been created in Kharkivtsi.

Pivtoradni, V. Arkhyp Teslenko (Kyiv 1951, 1956, 1982)
Smilians'ka, V. Arkhyp Teslenko (Kyiv 1971)

Ivan Koshelivets

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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