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Beschreibung des Verlags
Who better to tell the story of Ukraine than a kobzar, one of the country’s blind wandering minstrels that sang of its history and people? It is this iconic and entertaining figure, who walked the land and conveyed its traditions, that serves as the prism through which Taras Shevchenko composed his pioneering collection of poems, The Kobzar. The origin of the poems themselves is extraordinary. Written over a span of nearly 25 years, they mark many crossroads in Shevchenko’s life. They were composed in villages and cities, in prison and in exile; they are filled with Ukraine’s expansive steppes and verdant groves, peopled with decent individuals yearning for freedom and those who would deny it, and animated by trees, the moon and stars that converse. Shevchenko’s life from serfdom to exile and international artistic acclaim is the cloth from which each poem is cut. History and culture are intertwined with meditations on forgiveness and grace, religion and morality; the poems’ epic scope is complemented with lyrical reflections on subjects that include fame and fortune, love and lust, and the meek and mighty. Of these, family and home become overarching themes, which the poet considers to be of supreme value. As a foundational text, The Kobzar has played an important role in galvanizing the Ukrainian identity and in the development of Ukrainian literature and its written language. The first editions were censored by the czar, but the book still made an enduring impact on Ukrainian culture. There is no reliable count of how many editions of the book have been published, but an official estimate made in 1976 put the figure in Ukraine at 110 during the Soviet period alone. That figure does not include Kobzars released before and after both in Ukraine and abroad. A multitude of translations of Shevchenko’s verse into Slavic, Germanic and Romance languages, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Bengali, and many others attest to his impact on world culture as well. The poet is honored with more than 1250 monuments in Ukraine, and at least 125 worldwide, including such capitals as Washington, Ottawa, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Moscow and Tashkent. Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower unveiled the one in Washington.