Grigorii Fedorovich Kvitka-Osnovianenko

Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko, Grigorii Fedorovich


(pseudonym of G. F. Kvitka; second pseudonym, Grits’ko Osnov’ianenko). Born Nov. 18 (29), 1778, in the village of Osnova, now part of the city of Kharkov; died Aug. 8 (20), 1843, in Kharkov. Ukrainian writer. Came from a family of the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry).

Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko was one of the publishers and editors of the journal Ukrainskii vestnik (Ukrainian Journal; 1816–17); he also headed a professional theater in Kharkov. Among the positions he occupied were marshal of the nobility and chairman of the Kharkov Criminal Court of Law (from 1840). He began his literary activity in 1816 with works in Russian. His first comedy was The Newcomer From the Capital, or Turmoil in a District Capital (1827; published 1840). The plays The Elections of the Nobility (1829) and The Elections of the Nobility, Part II, or The Election of the Head of the District Police (1830) developed the traditions of 18th-century Russian satirical comedy. A further strengthening of realistic tendencies is characteristic of the plays Shel’menko, the Clerk of a Small Rural District (1831) and Shel’menko, the Orderly (1840), which are still performed today. Two books of Ukrainian Novellas as Narrated by Grits’ko Osnov’ianenko appeared in Ukrainian in 1834 and 1837. While exposing the narrow-mindedness and stupidity of the cossack starshina (high-ranking official) and attacking drunkenness, gluttony, and other vices, Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko portrayed the common people with great affection and described the difficult conditions in which they lived (Marusia, The Girl Who Excelled, Kind Oksand).

In the 1830’s and 1840’s, Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko’s Ukrainian novellas were published in Russian translation. In his novellas, as well as his novels in Russian, of which V. G. Belinskii thought highly, Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko showed himself to be a talented representative of the naturalistic school. His novels in Russian included Mr. Khaliavskii (1839), where the everyday life of the Ukrainian landed dvorianstvo is satirically depicted, and The Life and Adventures of Petr Stepanov, Son of Stolbikov (1841).


Sochineniia, vols. 1–6. Edited by A. A. Potebnia. Kharkov, 1887–94.
Tvory, vols. 1–3, 5, 7, 9. Kharkov, 1929–33.
Tvory, vols. 1–8. Kiev, 1968–70.
In the collection Russkie povesti XIX veka, vol. 2. Edited by B. S. Meilakh. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.


Vozniak, M. S. Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko. Kiev, 1946.
Chalyi, D. V. H. F. Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko (Tvorchist’). Kiev, 1962.
Verbyts’ka, Ie. H. H. F. Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko (Zhyttia i tvorchist’). Kharkov, 1968.
Honchar, O. I. Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnov’ianenko: Zhyttia i tvorchist’. Kiev, 1969.


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