Lviv: Drukarnya Naukovoho Tovarystva imeny Shevchenka, 1901. XII, 102,  pp. 18.4x12.3 cm. In original publisher’s cloth binding. Soiling of the boards, lettering on the front board partly erased, occasional neat restoration with tape, private library stamp on the title-page (Viktor Tsebrovsky). Otherwise good.
Scarce. First edition. Translated from the original by Panteleimon Kulish. Edited by Ivan Franko (1856-1916). Published in 1901 by Panteleimon Kulish, this is the first Ukrainian translation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
The first translations of Shakespeare’s works in Ukraine appeared at the beginning of the 19th century when the Ukrainian poet Nikolay Kostomarov (1817-1885) interpreted Desdemona’s Willow Song from the tragedy Othello. However, it was not until 1882 that the Ukrainian press witnessed the emergence of the first complete Ukrainian translation of anything by Shakespeare, namely Hamlet by the Ukrainian writer and playwright Mykhailo Starytsky (1840-1904).
At around the same time, the writer, critic, and poet Panteleimon Kulish (1819-1887) embarked upon an ambitious plan to translate 27 plays by Shakespeare and publish them in 9 volumes (3 plays in each volume). Yet the writer, who was fascinated by the English playwright from the early years, never managed to implement his idea; fire on the farm where Kulish lived destroyed his entire library, and due to lack of necessary literature the grandiose plan was never released.
Instead, Kulish translated Shakespeare’s 13 plays: The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, The Comedy of Errors, The Tragedy of King Lear, Coriolanus, Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Much Ado about Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, and The Taming of the Shrew.
During Kulish’s lifetime, only three of his translations were published. Their issuance was undertaken by the author himself. In the aftermath of the EMS decree (1876; a decree adopted by Tsar Alexander II of Russia), which banned the import of books printed in Ukrainian into the Dnieper region, Kulish had to turn to Galicia, namely Lviv, where in 1882 he printed translations of The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, and The Comedy of Errors in one volume.
Other 10 plays came out following the author’s death, in the period from 1899 to 1902, also in Lviv and were all edited by the noted Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko (he was one of the greatest influences on modern Ukraianian political and literary thought). A translator himself, Franko noted: “Adhering to the original in much more detail than his predecessors, Kulish knows how to give his translation its own individual flavor ...»
Panteleimon Kulish was a prominent writer, historian, ethnographer, and translator. After completing five years at the Novgorod-Siversky gymnasium, Panteleimon enrolled at Kiev University in 1837 but was not allowed to finish his studies because he was not a noble. He obtained a teaching position in Lutsk in 1840. There he wrote his first historical novel in Russian Mykhailo Charnyshenko, or Little Russia Eighty Years Ago (1843). In 1843-1845, Kulish taught in Kiev and studied Ukrainian history and ethnography. There he befriended Taras Shevchenko, Mykola Kostomarov, and Vasyl Bilozersky; their circle later became the nucleus of the secret Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Panteleimon Kulish was the first person known to translate the whole of the Bible into the modern Ukrainian language and was the first to write historical novels in Ukrainian. The author also went down in history as one of the most prominent figures in Ukraianian translations of Shakespeare.
Worldcat shows 1 copy of the edition at Folger Shakespeare Library.