Yeroshenko, Vasyl

Image - Yevhen Dzyndra: a sculpture of Vasyl Yeroshenko.

Yeroshenko, Vasyl [Єрошенко, Василь; Jerošenko, Vasyl'], b 13 January 1890 in Obukhovka, Belgorod county, Kursk gubernia, d 23 December 1952 in Obukhovka, Belgorod oblast, RSFSR. Writer, poet, and pedagogue, whose works were written in Japanese and Esperanto. He was blinded at the age of four. He completed studies at a Moscow school for the blind (1908) and later studied at the Royal College for the Blind in Norwood, England. Through his studies Yeroshenko mastered English, Esperanto, French, German, Russian, and Swedish. In 1914 he was sent to Japan by the Russian Esperanto Society to teach Esperanto at Tokyo University. There he mastered Japanese and began to publish his verses, stories, and plays in the Japanese press. He traveled extensively in the Far East and taught Esperanto in Shanghai (1921) and Beijing (1922), and from 1923 he taught Japanese and other Oriental languages at the Communist University of the Workers of the East in Moscow. During the Stalinist terror he was arrested in 1929; he was imprisoned for 5 years in the Chukhotka labor camp and for another 11 years in Turkmenistan, and was released in 1945. He was reimprisoned for his refusal to work as a translator for the NKVD and was not released until 1951. He died soon afterward of cancer. Three collections of his works were published in Japan in the 1920s, and a three-volume collection was published there in 1959 (reprinted in 1961). A volume of his works in Ukrainian translation was published under the title Kvitka spravedlyvosti (Flower of Justice, 1969). Biographical novels about Yeroshenko have been written by I. Takasugi in Japanese (1982) and by A. Kharkovsky in Russian (1978).

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

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