Ivan Karpovich Karpenko-Karyi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Karpenko-Karyi, Ivan Karpovich


(pseudonym of I. K. Tobilevich). Born Sept. 17 (29), 1845, in the village of Arsen’evka, in present-day Kirovograd Oblast; died Sept. 2 (15), 1907, in Berlin. Ukrainian dramatist, actor, and theatrical figure; one of the founders of realistic people’s theater in the Ukraine.

Karpenko-Karyi was the son of an estate overseer. For more than 20 years he served as a clerk. Beginning in 1863 he took part in amateur plays; later (beginning in 1883) he performed in the companies of M. P. Staritskii, M. L. Kropivnitskii, and M. K. Sadovskii (his brother). He was a member of illegal societies and was fired from his job in 1883 as politically unreliable; from 1884 to 1887 he was a political exile in Novocherkassk. After his return to Kiev, he and P. K. Saksaganskii organized a company (in 1890) called the Association of Russo-Ukrainian Artists. Karpenko-Karyi played roles in performances of his own works, such as Puzyr’ in The Master, Ivan in The Ill-Fated One, Shmigel’skii in Savva Chalyi, and Tereshka Surma in Vanity. He also performed in plays of T. G. Shevchenko, M. P. Staritskii, and I. P. Kotliarevskii.

Karpenko-Karyi’s world view was formed by the nature of the society of the 1860’s and 1870’s and was influenced by T. G. Shevchenko and the Russian revolutionary democrats. He first appeared in print in the middle of the 1870’s as a drama critic. His first story, The Recruit (1883), describes the difficult life of the peasants. The plays of Karpenko-Karyi constitute the classical heritage of Ukrainian dramatic literature. He wrote the dramas The Barge Hauler (1883; published in 1895), The Woman Farm Laborer (1885; published in 1887), and The Ill-Fated One (1886) as well as the tragedy Savva Chalyi (1899). His satirical social comedies Martyn Borulia (1886; published in 1891), The Master (1900; published in 1902), and Vanity (1903; published in 1905) are the summit of critical realism in prerevo-lutionary Ukrainian dramatic literature. They reflect the aggravation of the class contradictions within Ukrainian society of the second half of the 19th century and the growth of the rural bourgeoisie. Karpenko-Karyi created a gallery of characters exposing the deep social conflicts of his time. His dramatic works are distinguished by a profound knowledge of life, a wealth of dramatic situations, the dynamic nature of the action, and colorful language. Film versions have been made of some of Karpenko-Karyi’s works (The Woman Farm Laborer, Martyn Borulia, One-Hundred Thousand, Vanity). He was buried on the Na-dezhda farmstead, near the village of Kardashovo, Kirovograd Oblast.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.