The Witches of Kyiv and Other Gothic Tales
In "The Witches of Kyiv and Other Gothic Tales by Orest Somov" the supernatural is present throughout Ukraine, from a cemetery in Kyivan Rus, to an isolated forest cottage in the seventeenth century Kozak era, to the society ballrooms of Somov's own world - the early nineteenth c... read full description below.
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Somov's "The Witches of Kyiv and Other Gothic Tales by Orest Somov" introduces many intriguing Ukrainian Gothic characters. In the book the supernatural is present throughout Ukraine, from a cemetery in Kyivan Rus, to an isolated forest cottage in the seventeenth century Kozak era, to the society ballrooms of Somov's own world - the early nineteenth century. Gothic horror appears in many guises including witches, warlocks, demons and vengeful 'rusalky'. Strange soothsayers and malevolent visitors represent the forces of good and evil. In her foreword Svitlana Krys, PhD, describes Somov as, "an initiator of an indigenous literary tradition of the Gothic in the Ukrainian literary canon". Native folk traditions, ghost stories and European Romanticism are twisted together in Somov's imaginative tales, most of which are published here in English for the first time.
'The Witches of Kyiv' - A besotted newlywed husband is drawn into a wild occult world of incantations, apparitions and a savage Witch's Sabbath on the outskirts of old Kyiv.
'Rusalka' - Supernatural spirits who inhabit the waterways of Ukraine beguile a lovelorn young girl, and sorely test a mother's devotion.
'The Evil Eye' - A prosperous landowner, Kozak Mykyta looks into the eyes of true evil when a hellish guest covets his three beautiful, virtuous daughters.
'Wandering Light' - Triumphant after a deadly battle, a warrior named Velesyl returns for his bride but instead encounters an eerie, glowing spirit.
'Kupalo Eve' - On the banks of the Dnieper River a handsome knight partakes enthusiastically in the pagan rites of Kupalo Eve and is entranced by the cool charm of a supple maiden.
'God's Fool' - Fun-loving officer Melskyi, who normally frequents gaming tables and summer balls is confounded by the eccentric drifter Vasyl. Dubbed 'God's Fool', yet able to read minds and divine fates, Vasyl guides Melskyi through flippant flirtations, bizarre dreams and a deadly serious duel to meet his destiny.
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The writer, literary critic, translator and ethnographer Orest Mykhailovych Somov was born in 1793 in the Ukrainain town of Vovlchansk, then a part of the Russian Empire. His family were Ukrainian gentry who were moderately well off. At the University of Kharkiv he became an admirer of Romantic literature and Gothic fiction. Somov moved to St Petersburg in 1817 where he continued writing and established himself as a critic and translator, editor and publisher - one of the first professional men of letters in the Russian Empire. He moved in literary circles that were involved in the Decembrist movement and advocated the exploration of folklore. Somov was drawn to the folklore of his native Ukraine, which he wove together with elements of Romantic literature and Gothic tales, in his works such as A Tale of