Ukrainian Shakespeare Society

Image - The first complete translation of Shakespeares sonnets into Ukrainian by Ihor Kostetsky (1958).

Ukrainian Shakespeare Society (Українське Шекспірівське товариство; Ukrainske Shekspirivske tovarystvo, or УШТ; UShT). A scholarly society established in 1957 at a founding meeting in Heidelberg, West Germany, on the initiative of Ihor Kostetsky, Jaroslav Rudnyckyj, and Dmytro Chyzhevsky. Chyzhevsky was elected the society’s first president. The society’s main objective was to foster and promote the works of William Shakespeare in the Ukrainian cultural context. UShT aimed at revitalizing traditions of Ukrainian Shakespeare studies, gather and catalogue Ukrainian translation of Shakespeare’s works as well as scholarly and other texts about Shakespeare, and publish new translations and new scholarship in this field.

During the first period of UShT’s development (1957–64), the society’s work was dominated by the activities of Ihor Kostetsky and primarily focused on the publishing of Shakespeare-related books (in Kostetsky’s publishing house Na Hori) and articles (in such periodicals as Ukraïna i svit, Ukraïns’ka literaturna hazeta, and Suchasnist’). Among the significant accomplishments of that period were the book publications of Kostetsky’s translation of Romeo and Juliette (1957) and the first Ukrainian translation of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets (1958) also by Kostetsky, as well as translations by other prominent literary figures, Teodosii Osmachka’s renderings of Macbeth and Henri IV (1960) and, somewhat later, Vasyl Barka’s Ukrainian version of King Lear (1969).

The second stage in UShT’s evolution began in 1964 when Constantine Bida was elected the society’s second president. While Kostetsky progressively distanced himself from UShT work (especially following the publication of Vasyl Barka’s translation of King Lear), the society’s center of activities moved to Canada and became focused on scholarly studies. Probably the most significant accomplishment of that second period (1964–79) was the publication by the University of Ottawa of Orysia Prokopiw’s English-language comparative study of the Ukrainian translations of William Shakespeare’s sonnets by Ihor Kostetsky and Dmytro Palamarchuk.

The third stage in UShT’s activities began in 1980, following the passing of Constantine Bida. Yar Slavutych became the society’s third president. He managed to publish two collections, entitled Ukraïns'ka Shekspiriiana na Zakhodi (Ukrainian Shakespeare Studies in the West) (1987, 1990), while the society’s membership organized regular Shakespeare-related sessions at the annual conferences of the Canadian Association of Slavists. Prominent members of the society at that time included (apart from Slavutych) Jaroslav Rudnyckyj, Wolodymyr Zyla, Oleh Zuievsky, Irena Makaryk, Valeriian Revutsky, and Ostap Tarnavsky.

Marko Robert Stech

[This article was written in 2023.]

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