Ivan Kotliarevskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kotliarevskii, Ivan Petrovich


Born Aug. 29 (Sept. 9), 1769, in Poltava; died there Oct. 29 (Nov. 10), 1838. Ukrainian writer and social and cultural figure who played an important role in the development of modern Ukrainian literature and the Ukrainian literary language.

The son of a minor official, Kotliarevskii studied at the Poltava Seminary (1780–89). From 1796 to 1808 he served in the army. After his retirement, he returned to Poltava in 1810, where he assumed the post of supervisor of the House for Educating Children of Poor Noblemen, showing himself to be a democratic and humanistic educator. In 1812, Kotliarevskii formed a cossack regiment that distinguished itself in battles with Napoleon’s troops. From 1816 to 1821, he headed the Poltava theater. From 1818, he was associated with Decembrist circles, and in 1821 he was elected an honorary member of the Free Society of the Lovers of Russian Philology. In 1798, Kotliarevskii’s verse travesty Aeneid (parts 1–3) was published in St. Petersburg without his knowledge. The epic marked an entire phase in the development of modern Ukrainian literature. In 1809 he published the epic with a fourth part, under the title Virgil’s Aeneid, Rendered in Ukrainian by I. Kotliarevskii. The full text of the Aeneid (parts 1–6) appeared in 1842. Kotliarevskii used the rich potential of the travesty genre to depict in a grotesque and satirical manner events in the Ukraine at the time of the abolition of the Zaporozh’e Sech’ by the tsarist regime and the enserfment of the peasantry. The poem’s descriptions of everyday life and customs at all levels of Ukrainian society and the character of the Ukrainian people make it a veritable encyclopedia of the life of the Ukrainian people in the 18th and early 19th century.

Kotliarevskii’s plays Natalka Poltavka and The Magician Soldier played an important role in the development of Ukrainian drama. They were first staged in 1819 by the Poltava theater with M. S. Shchepkin playing major roles. Today they are performed by many theaters in the Soviet Union. In 1889, N. V. Lysenko wrote an opera based on the plot of Natalka Poltavka. A monument to Kotliarevskii was erected in Poltava in 1903. The State Literary Memorial Museum was opened there in 1952, and a memorial site was created at Kotliarevskii’s former estate on the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1969.


Povne zibrannia tvoriv, vols. 1–2. Kiev, 1952–53.
Tvory, vols. 1–2. Kiev, 1969.
In Russian translation:
Eneida. Moscow, 1961.
Sochineniia. Leningrad, 1969.


Istoriia ukrains’koi titeratury, u 8 tt., vol. 2. Kiev, 1967.
Ivan Kotliarevs’kyi u dokumentakh, spohadakh, doslidzhenniakh. Kiev, 1969.
Volyns’kyi, P. K. Ivan Kotliarevs’kyi: Zhyttia i tvorchist’, 3d ed. Kiev, 1969.
Kyryliuk, le. Zhyvi tradytsii: Ivan Kotliarevs’kyi ta ukrains’ka literatura. Kiev, 1969.
Ivan Kotliarevs’kyi: Bibliohraf. pokazhchyk. 1798–1968. Compiled by M. O. Moroz. Kiev, 1969.


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