Ivan Franko (1856-1916)

Ivan Franko was born on the 27lh of August 1856 in Drohobych county, Galicia. The son of the village blacksmith Ivan graduated from gymnasium in 1875 and began to study classical philology, Ukrainian Language and literature at Lviv University. His first literary works were published in the student’s magazine. Franko’s political and publishing activities attracted the attention of the police and in 1877 he was arrested for spreading socialist propaganda. After spending 8 months in prison Franko returned to political work. He helped organize journal “Zona” and the newspaper “Dilo”.

In 1886 he married O. Khorunzhynska in Kyiv.

For a while in 1888 Franko was a contributor to the journal “Pravda” His ties with compatriots led to a third arrest in 1889. For many years Franko collaborated with M. Drahomanov, whom he regarded highly as a “European political leader” but eventually their views on socialism and the national

question diverged. Besides his political and literary work Franko continued his university studies, he defended a doctoral dissertation and in 1894 was appointed lecturer in the history of the Ukrainian Literature at Lviv University, then became an honorary member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society.

In 1908 Franko’s health began to decline rapidly but he continued to work to the end of his life. In this last period of his life he studied the Ukrainian folk songs and did numerous translations of ancient poetry. Ivan Franko died on the 28th of May 1916 in Lviv.

With his many gifts, encyclopedic knowledge, uncommon capacity for work, Franko made outstanding contribution to many areas of Ukrainian culture. He was a poet, prose writer, playwright, critic, translator, and publisher. Ivan Franko was the most outstanding poet. His greatest poem “Moses” (1905) was based to a large extent on autobiographical material. Franko’s prose works include over 100 short stories and dozens of novels. In drama Franko proved himself a master of the historical play and of comedy. His best plays are ”

Stolen Happiness” and “The Dream of Prince Sviatoslav”. Special attention must be made of Franko’s work as a translator. He translated masterpieces from 14 languages by famous authors Homer, Dante, W. Shakespeare, E. Zola, M. Lermontov. A Pushkin, and others.

A Parable About Foolishness (an extract)

One time a foolish hunter; A little bird ensnared; He took it out, intending To wring its neck right there. “Oh spare me, spare me, hunter,” The tiny creature peeped, “I’m just a fluff of feathers And not one bite of meat!” ! “If you will but release me And let me go my way, Three wisdoms I will teach you To serve you all your days”.

These words intrigued-theranter: “This cocky bird,” thought he, “Thinks he can teach me something! What can those wisdom be?” “My bird,” said he, ” I promise That if your lessons three “”WflTheip to make me wiser, I’ll gladly set you free!”

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Ivan Franko (1856-1916)