A philosopher obstinately searching for truth in the 1700s, badgered by the church for speaking out on human rights and the hypocrisy of the ruling elite, Skovoroda was forced to live an unsettled life.
Hryhoriy Skovoroda (1722–1794), dubbed a “wandering” philosopher, was one of the most colourful figures in 18th century Ukraine. He spent most of his life travelling about the country and spoke out in defence of justice and freedom for the common folk, often to his own detriment. His songs became folk songs, and his parables helped drive philosophical thought in many Slavic countries.
Precursor is a panoramic, factually accurate novel, painting a realistic picture of life in the Russian Empire. It is an illustration of the epitaph on Skovoroda’s gravestone: “The world pursued me, but failed to catch me.”
This book has been published with the support of the Translate Ukraine Translation Program.
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Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1954 and educated as an engineer, Yuri Tkacz left the profession to translate a broad range of works from Ukrainian by such authors as Kaczurowskyj, Honchar, Dimarov, Valeriy Shevchuk, Kariuk, Vynnychenko, Yanovsky and Antonenko-Davydovych. He lived and worked in Canada in the 1980s and in Ukraine in the 1990s. His translations of Hardly Ever Otherwise by Matios, Hard Times by Vyshnia and The Lawyer from Lychakiv Street by Kokotiukha have been published by Glagoslav Publications.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“Hryhoriy Skovoroda (1722–1794) was a Ukrainian freedom-loving patriot, an eighteenth-century philosopher who teased and taunted the rich and powerful. <…> Shevchuk’s wise and charming novel, first published in 1969, is <…> a standard text now in Ukrainian schools”. Robert Blaisdell, Russian Life
“Skovoroda is an admirable, but difficult character, those who know him very understandably find it almost impossible to follow the path he takes through life. There’s a warmth to the novel that comes from the author’s deep love for his country which shines through in his descriptions of Ukraine’s countryside and cities. There are also lovely descriptions of traditional folk songs, the songs Skovoroda is moved to compose himself, and plenty of pungent Ukrainian sayings to spice things up.” Gallimaufry Book Studio
“Based on fact, this is historical fiction at its best and makes a compelling read. [T]he book is a wonderful portrait of a little-known but fascinating figure, and it deserves a wide readership.” Mandy Jenkinson, Historical Novel Society
“You could almost say that Ukraine is one of the main characters, and the way in which it is depicted is often bucolic: at its best, a landscape of bees, guelder roses, cherry blossom, flute music, beautiful cities, and hospitable people who frequently burst into song.” Darcy Hurford, RivetingReview