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Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky (1864–1913) is one of the most popular Ukrainian classic writers. Being a humanist, a subtle lyricist, and an intellectual, he knew the depths of folk life and became the first Ukrainian impressionist. In the writer’s lifetime, his works were translated into German, Swedish, Polish, Czech, Romanian, and Russian. Kotsiubynsky died when he was only 48 years old, but he left several dozens of very talented stories and a few novels.
The writer was born into a large family of a petty official in Vinnytsia. Earl having lost his father, Mykhailo had to give up on his dream to study at the university because he needed to make some money for his mother and sisters. Beginning with the presenting of peasant life in his early writings, Kotsiubynsky depicted the life and customs of the Crimean Tatars and Moldovans (“For the Good of All”, “In Shaitan’s Grip”, “On the Rocks”, and “For the Common Good”). These works are written in a realistic manner. Subsequently, the writer expanded the range of his artistic observations by turning to historical subjects (“At a Heavy Cost”), psychological themes (“Apple Blossoms”, “Intermezzo”), and the philosophical aspects (“From the Depths”, “The Dream”).
In the short story “Apple Blossoms” Kotsiubynsky first portrayed the inner split of one person – the father’s immense grief from the loss of his small daughter and the writer’s relentless, cold memory that will save all his emotions as the stuff for creativity. The story “Intermezzo”, despite the simplicity of its plot, astonishes with the richness of impressionistic colors. Its autobiographical narrator, tired from his work, came to the village for some rest. He spends all the days in the June fields, admiring the song of the larks. “The sun is in the sky, I am in the fields,” the author writes. Nature is described through colors, smells, and sounds. It gave the narrator the new positive energy.
Kotsiubynsky spent almost all his life in a quiet provincial town of Chernihiv where he worked for the zemstvo (an institution of local government). He was a happy father of four children. But suddenly he fell in love with a young secretary, Alexandra Aplaksina. This love and inner experiences were reflected on the pages of his romantic story “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”. Its main characters, Ivan and Marichka, are called the Ukrainian Romeo and Juliet.