Panteleimon Aleksandrovich Kulish

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kulish, Panteleimon Aleksandrovich


(pseudonyms, Pan’ko Kaziuka and Danilo lus). Born July 27 (Aug. 8), 1819, in the small town of Voronezh, in present-day Shostka Raion, Sumy Oblast; died Feb. 2 (14), 1897, on the farmstead of Motronovka, in present-day Borzna Raion, Chernigov Oblast. Ukrainian writer and scholar.

The son of a small landowner who had lost his gentry status, Kulish studied at the University of Kiev but did not graduate, becoming a schoolteacher in 1841. For participating in the Society of Cyril and Methodius, in which he represented the liberal-bourgeois wing, he spent four years (from 1847) in administrative exile, first in Vologda and then in Tula. After making a contrite petition to the tsar, he was pardoned and came to St. Petersburg in 1850. He entered government service in Warsaw in the 1860’s and lived in Galicia from 1868 to 1871, subsequently holding a position in St. Petersburg. He spent the last 20 years of his life on his farmstead in the Ukraine.

Kulish began his literary career in 1840, writing in both Ukrainian and Russian and employing the devices of romanticism and “ethnographic realism.” His early works, reflecting his enthusiasm for Ukrainian history and folklore, include the epic poem The Ukraine (1843) and the novella Mikhailo Charnyshenko, or; little Russia 80 Years Ago (parts 1-3, 1843; in Russian). His novel The Black Council, a Chronicle of 1663 (1845-57) became the prototype of the Ukrainian historical novel. In the work, Ukrainian everyday life is presented realistically and vividly, but the author’s conception of history tends toward idealization of the hetman elite.

In the 1850’s and 1860’s, Kulish became active in publishing. He established a Ukrainian printing house in St. Petersburg and published the works of N. V. Gogol, T. G. Shevchenko, Marko Vovchok, and other writers. He translated Shakespeare, Byron, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, and Mickiewicz into Ukrainian, and published Notes on South Russia (vols. 1-2, 1856-57), a collection of literary, ethnographic and folklore material, and The Hut, a miscellany (1860). He also helped publish the journal Osnova (The Foundation, 1861-62), which played a prominent role in Ukrainian cultural and literary life.

Kulish’s literary legacy is ideologically contradictory. In many crucial aspects his work opposes Russian and Ukrainian revolutionary democracy. Kulish viewed the Ukrainian people’s past from a bourgeois-nationalist and monarchist standpoint in his historical works, notably the History of the Unification of Russia (vols. 1-3, 1874-77) and The Separation of Little Russia From Poland (vols. 1-3, 1888-89). Affirming that the Ukrainian and Polish nobility carried out a “civilizing mission” in the history of the Ukrainian people, Kulish denied that the popular masses had played a positive role and regarded the liberation movement from a reactionary standpoint.


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Kyryliuk, E. “Pan’ko Kulish.” Radians’ke literaturozhavstvo, 1969, no. 8.


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