FORUM Review of:

The Spirit of the Times: Selected Prose Fiction by Olena Pchilka and Nataliya Kobrynska. Translated by Roma Franko. Edited by Sonia Morris.

In the Dark of the Night: Selected Prose Fiction by Dniprova Chayka and Lyubov Yanovska. Translated by Roma Franko. Edited by Sonia Morris.

This ambitious six-volume project will provide for the first time in English translation the short fiction works of some of the major Ukrainian women authors. These two volumes include Olena Pchilka (1849-1930), Nataliya Kobrynska (1855-1920), Dniprova Chayka (1861-1927), and Lyubov Yanovska (1861-1933). Succeeding volumes will include Olha Kobylianska, Lesya Ukrainka and others, as well as stories on childhood, adolescence, marriage and social life.

The translator, Roma Franko, served as Head of the Dept. of Slavic Studies and the Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Saskatchewan. Editor Sonia Morris was Head of the Dept. of Educational Psychology and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs in the College of Education. Both are highly qualified and competent as every page in these two volumes shows. The two volumes are also very well printed and a credit to the high level of quality that the project has established.

However, the most important question to ask of these books is the literary question: Are they good literature? There is no question that the English reads so well that you cannot tell that it is a translation. Transliteration of Ukrainian words and names is accurate and it is these words which give a Ukrainian spirit to the stories. Whether the translations match exactly the original Ukrainian texts we have not checked since it seems more important that they be readable in English and stand on their own as literature in the English language.

What makes these stories fascinating and very worthwhile to read is the Ukrainian atmosphere for Ukrainian readers, but many stories will also appeal to non-Ukrainians as good literature. These two volumes are a very satisfying read and the complete set of six will be a landmark in establishing awareness of Ukrainian literature in the English speaking world.

Andrew Gregorovich
Editor, FORUM
Issue No. 101. Spring 2000

Reprinted with permission.

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