Item #1968 [LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]. M. Zagirnya.
[LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]
[LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]
[LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]
[LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]

[LINCOLN’S LIFE TOLD IN UKRAINIAN] Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih: opovidannya pro Linkolna. [i.e. Defender of the Offended: Stories About Lincoln]

St. Petersburg: Tipografiya Uchilischa gluhonemyih for Blagotvoritelnoe obschestvo izdaniya obschepoleznyih i deshevyih knig, 1905. Item #1968

87 pp., with A. Lincoln’s portrait. 17,5 x 13 cm. Original illustrated wrappers. In Ukrainian. One of 4000 copies. Overall very good. Owner’s inscription on the front cover and title, pasted down ex-libris of prof. A. Granovsky on the title. Owner’s mark in pen on p. 6.

Blagotvoritelnoe obschestvo izdaniya obschepoleznyih i deshevyih knig, known in Ukrainian as Blahodiine tovarystvo vydannia zahal'nokorysnykh i deshevykh knyh stands for Charitable Society for the Publication of Commonly Useful and Cheap Books. It was probably the single most important publisher of Ukrainian literature in the Russian Empire of its era. Active from 1898 to 1918, it was founded by the writer and philosopher Vladimir Lesevich (1837-1905) and general Mihail Fedorovskiy with an aim to print affordable, useful and popular books for the ordinary folks during the time when Ukrainian language was harshly oppressed. The thing is, since the 1876 Ems Ukaz, the Russian Empire tried to diminish the Ukrainian culture. Primary education in Ukrainian was banned, periodicals were banned and only well known fiction or “harmless” texts were allowed by censors. Because of the same Ukaz the book is in Ukrainian but typed using Cyrillic pre-1917 orthography intended for Russian: Ukrainian was regarded as some sort of “dirty” Russian, one of peasants, not as a language that deserved its own ABC.
The back cover of the book provides 36 of the books published by the Society, including the present Oboronets. The list helps to understand the publisher’s policy as well as to see what was allowed under Ems Ukaz. Most books are on different farming topics: those were censored by a different ministry and were easier to be published. The list also includes editions of fiction by prominent and allowed Ukrainian authors of the era like T. Schevchenko (1814-1861), G. Barvinok (1828-1911) and P. Kulish (1819-1897). The third part is where the proposed book belongs, educational material: biographies of people like Socrate, animal and child care guides. Among the books yet to be printed, biographic pieces on Columbus and George Washington are mentioned. It is known that some of the books had a circulation as wide as 25000 copies, but this Oboronets had a circulation of only 4000 (Demuz I. Knyzhkova produktsiia i tematychnyi repertuar «Blahodiinoho tovarystva z vydannia zahal'nokorysnykh i deshevykh knyh». Aktual'ni pytannia humanitarnykh nauk. 2016. Vyp. 16).

Things turned to a brighter side for the Society months after this publication. Later in 1905 the censorship fell and the editors were able to print a variety of books, including ones on politics and
national identification of Ukrainians. They also switched to an early version of Ukrainian ABC, kulishovka. The Society switched to publishing the textbooks in large numbers, but had to close down the activities shortly after the October revolution. In total, during the 20 years of its activities, the Society printed close to 1 mln copies of books in Ukrainian. This Oboronets was priced 10 kopecks - the price of a beer mug or 1 kg of flour of the era, thus being really affordable even for the poor. The author, M. Zagirnya (pseud. Hrinchenko Mariia, 1863-1928) was one of the few active Ukrainian women intellectuals of the XIXth century. She was a poet, writer and translator, editor of early Ukrainian-Russian vocabularies. Among others, Hrinchenko translated into Ukrainian classic English Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and some Russian authors like Tolstoy and Leskov. She wrote 5 out of 36 books listed on the back cover of the book proposed.

The book itself is a collection of biographical stories about 16th President of the U.S., Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). It deliberately depicts Lincoln as a saviour of the oppressed, the slaves. The text is not a boring factual biography, but a series of friendly, fictionalised light essays skilfully made with the reader’s level of understanding being kept in mind. Sometimes the author inserts educational paragraphs, like an explanation of what “political meetings” are, or a comparison of Russian and American realities. According to the archives of the National Library of Ukraine, there
was an earlier and a smaller book by Hrinchenko on Lincoln, published by “Prosvita” in 1901 and a later one on the abolition of slavery in the US issued by the same publisher in 1907. Seems like Hrinchenko was deeply touched by Civil war events, probably thinking about the future freedoms for the Ukrainians. Past owner of the book, professor Alexander A. Granovsky (1887-1976) was an Ukrainian-American entomologist employed at the University of Minnesota. He led an active social life, protected Ukrainian heritage and helped 5000 Ukrainians from DP camps to settle in the US after WWII, becoming Oboronets pokryivdzhenyih himself.

Very rare. Not in KVK. W WorldCat locates only a microfilmed version. A copy is present at the National Library of Ukraine.

Price: $2,500.00

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