First two volumes of “Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia” in six volumes – large academic project of Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature were presented at the National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine on March 5. The authors of the encyclopedia say that the first volume consists of 1,142 articles and the second consists of 1,081 articles that contain comprehensive information about life, artistic work, and personality of Taras Shevchenko, his epoch and surrounding. It is expected that the six volumes will contain the total of 6,500 articles. The lengthy introduction to the encyclopedia was written by Academician Ivan Dziuba. Editorial preparation and design of the book layout was done by the staff of the Department for Shevchenko Studies at the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The first two volumes were published by PJSC “Kharkiv Book Factory ‘Hlobus.’” The Day spoke about the ideological value of this book series and the expected public response with the head of the editorial board of “Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia,” director of the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, Academician Mykola ZHULYNSKY.
“The greatest difficulty of the work on an encyclopedia is that it’s a long-term project. The project was, in fact, started by one group of Shevchenko experts and is now being completed by others. Unfortunately, some of the well-known, reputable scholars, who worked on this encyclopedia, are no longer with us, including Vasyl Shubravsky, Vasyl Borodin, Mykola Pavliuk, and others. We had to get young experts involved – the new generation of Shevchenko experts,” said Zhulynsky in his comment to The Day. “I should admit that the process of articles preparation dedicated to art legacy of Taras Shevchenko was especially difficult. They covered a vast array of art works: we know of more than 800 art works of various genres – from small drawings and portraits to big canvas paintings. I would even say more: Shevchenko remains greatly underestimated as a painter to this day. He is a unique figure of the European level. In the encyclopedia we tried to provide fundamental research not only of the peculiarities of his literary work, but also of his artistic legacy. In this encyclopedia one can find comprehensive answers to the questions: who Shevchenko is, what his environment was like, and how his creative thinking shaped.
“During the project implementation we collaborated with the National Museum of Taras Shevchenko and many other academic institutions not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe and Russia, the US and Canada. We tried to cover the entire scope of Shevchenko’s life.”
You have presented two volumes of the encyclopedia so far. When should we expect the release of the entire series?
“We have planned to publish another three volumes by the end of this year – this will make five volumes already. We will also finish working on the last sixth volume this year but it will be printed in the beginning of 2014 – years of Shevchenko’s anniversary. In fact, we already have the third and the forth volumes ready. At this moment they are undergoing the final editing and processing stage. It is tremendously great work for editors, compilers, and correctors. I want to note that the editorial preparation and production of book layout is done by the staff of the Department for Shevchenko Studies at the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. This means that the Institute’s staff do not only conduct research work, providing the appropriate level of articles preparation, but they also, in fact, prepare every volume for publishing and only later submit it for printing. I would also like to mention that the staff of our Institute is also finishing the work on the 12-volume collected works of Taras Shevchenko. This will be the first complete collection of his writing.”
On what funds is the encyclopedia published? Will it appear in bookstores any time soon?
“On state funds. Fortunately, there were no disruptions in funding. We are thankful to the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, which included ‘Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia’ in the state program ‘Ukrainian book.’ The first two volumes were fully funded. Each volume has been published in 5,000 copies. The Institute also has the right to print additional copies. So now we are negotiating with the publishing house about printing additional copies of these two volumes so that they would be available in bookstores.”
As far as I know that the staff of Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature are developing a website “Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia” www.shevchcycl.kiev.ua.
“Yes, we intend to publish the digital version of ‘Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia’ online in order to let everyone, who is interested in Shevchenko, to read the materials about his life and work. Through this website we will also inform Ukrainians about the events planned for celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Great Kobzar.
“I admit that we expect considerable public response to ‘Taras Shevchenko Encyclopedia.’ We believe that this book series will be well-received and will be interesting not only for scholars, professors, teachers, and both university and school students, but also for those, who have even the slightest sentiment to Taras Shevchenko and Ukraine in general. I can assure you that anyone who would take all six volumes in his hands would be amazed and bewildered at the same time to find out that in 47 years of his life Taras Shevchenko produced so many literary and artistic works, had such a wide range of friends and people who were interested in his life and work. Any Ukrainian person, who would read the encyclopedia, would be impressed with how deeply the world of the time of Taras Shevchenko was interested in him, admired him, and tried to learn more about his worldview. Shevchenko is not just a national, it’s a global phenomenon.
“Thus, when we, scholars, speak about Shevchenko, we are primarily concerned with the fate of his manuscripts, in fact, just as well as about the manuscripts of other classics of Ukrainian literature. Our Institute currently preserves almost all manuscripts of the great poet – it’s a unique fund of handwritten literary works. In general, we have more than 100,000 items. These are the manuscripts of the classics of Ukrainian literature: from Hryhorii Skovoroda, Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesia Ukrainka, and to Vasyl Stus. Unfortunately, to this day we do not have the proper conditions for storage of such valuable items. I’ve been concerned with the creation of modern archive since 1991. Since then presidential decrees have been issued, orders of the Cabinet were given.”
Does it mean that the manuscripts of classics of Ukrainian literature, including works by Taras Shevchenko, are kept in inappropriate conditions?
“I’d rather say, not quite appropriate. We rent space in the archive of NGOs. But those NGOs have already asked us to move out since they don’t have enough space for storing their own items. Frankly, we currently rent space just to store the manuscripts, because it is a huge state value. At the same time, the researchers also need appropriate conditions for handling archives, including the creation of a proper description of its contents. We dream about being able to provide good conditions for readers to work with the unique documents. Everything rests on the lack of money. I would say that on the money that Taras Shevchenko gave to the state treasury from reprinting his books could be used for building dozens of such archives.
“Therefore, our biggest dream is to build a special archive for storing descriptions of classics of Ukrainian literature. At the present moment there is an instruction issued to allocate funds for preparing the project documentation for opening the International Scientific Research and Cultural Center ‘Shevchenko House.’ In this Shevchenko House we plan to create decent facility in accordance with modern requirements for the preservation of the unique manuscripts, to locate the Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, and open Museum of Ukrainian Literature. In short, we have many plans, we only need the state’s support for them.”