C. Dickens and Ukraine

Ukrainian fans of verbal art first got acquainted with the work of Charles Dickens in Russian translations. In 1838, the journal Otechestvennye Zapiski (The Notes of the Fatherland) published the full translation of the novel The Posthumous Notes of the Pickwin Club. This novel immediately captivated the Ukrainian reader with its democratism, the incomparable satirical mastery of the writer and the peculiarity of English humor.

T. Shevchenko was familiar with at least two novels of Charles Dickens – “Nicholas Nickleby” and “David Copperfield.” These novels the great Ukrainian poet and writer mentions in his stories “The Artist” and “Gemini”. He highly valued the talent of Dickens the novelist and Panteleimon Kulish. Calling the English writer “the most outstanding artist… customs and passions of men,” he put it on a par with such well-known masters of the artistic word as V. Scott, N. Gogol, G. Kvitka-Osnovyanenko.


still a schoolboy, I became interested in the works of Charles Dickens and Ivan Franko. This is evidenced by his story “Mustard grain”, as well as an autobiographical letter dated April 26, 1890, addressed to M. Drahomanov. Ivan Franko believed that Dickens was a true master of psychological analysis and, together with Balzac, Stendhal and Ticker, laid the foundations of a new realistic school in Western European literature. Ivan Franko appreciated Dickens and as a fiery fighter for the rights of the disadvantaged, mentioning this in the story “Lel and Polele” and in one of his stories.

The attention of the Ukrainian creative intelligentsia to the literary heritage of the great English writer has never weakened. For example, Lesya Ukrainka was interested in female images in the work of Dickens, which the Ukrainian poet mentioned in his article “New Perspectives and Old Shadows.” In the 30-ies. XX century. the first serious works of the famous Ukrainian literary scholars A. Burgardt and A. Beletsky, dedicated to the work of Dickens, were published.


first Ukrainian translations of works by Charles Dickens appeared already at the end of the XIX century. In 1880 in Lviv was published “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens under the title “Holy evening”. This translation was made from the German E. Olesnitsky. In 1882, “The Library of the Most Famous Stories” published “New Year’s Bells” by Dickens in the translation of I. Beleigh, and later two of his novels – “Oliver Twist” and “Two Cities.” Since the 30-ies. XX century. in the Ukrainian language, the works of the great English novelist were translated by N. Surovtseva, S. Kulykivna, Yu. Lisnyak, O. Terekh, and many others.

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C. Dickens and Ukraine