Mykola Kulish

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Mykola Kulish
Микола Гурович Куліш
Mykola Kulish.jpg
Born (1892-12-19)December 19, 1892
Dnieper uyezd, Taurida Governorate, Russian Empire
Died November 3, 1937(1937-11-03) (aged 44)
Sandarmokh, Medvezhyegorsk, USSR
Occupation pedagogue, prosaic, drama writer
Nationality Ukrainian
Period 1913–1934
Literary movement Hart, VAPLITE, Politfront
Notable works Myna Mazaylo
Spouse Antonina

Mykola Kulish (Ukrainian: Микола Гурович Куліш) (December 19, 1892 – November 3, 1937) was a Ukrainian prosaic, drama writer, pedagogue, veteran of World War I, and Red Army veteran. He is considered to be one of the lead figures of Executed Renaissance.

Brief biography[edit]

Kulish was born in the village of Chaplynka (today it is a raion seat), which in his letters he called Chaplyn. From age 9 he studied in a parish church and school. Since 1905 Kulish studied at the Oleshky municipal eight-year school. Here he met with Ivan Dniprovsky. In 1908 he enrolled into the Oleshky pro-gymnasium which got closed down before he could graduate. During his school years he published several short verses and epigrams in students' hand-written magazines which gave him a certain degree of fame among his peers. In 1913 for the first time he writes a play At fish catching (Russian: На рыбной ловле) which later became the base for his comedy That was how perished Huska (Ukrainian: Отак загинув Гуска).

At 22 he enrolled in the Novorossiysk University Philology Department. However his education was interrupted again because of World War I as he was drafted to the Army. At first he served as a private at the reserve battalion. In 1914 he was sent to the Odessa school of praporshchiks (flag-bearers) after which he went to the front-lines being there from 1915–1917. He continued to write short verses and small plays which were published in a military press-media. In 1917 already as an officer he chose the side of the February Revolution.

From the start of 1918 he was a head of Oleshky council of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies. In July 1919 in Kherson he organized the Dnipro Peasantry Regiment as part of RKKA. The regiment participated in the defense of Kherson and Mykolaiv from the forces of Anton Denikin. During the government of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky he was imprisoned for five months. After the return of the Red Army he was appointed as the chief of staff of Kherson and Dnipro uyezd Army groups.

After the demobilization in 1920 he worked as an instructor for several bodies of People's Education in Oleshky uyezd as well as edited the newspaper Chervony Shliakh in Zinovyevsk (today Kirovohrad). During this time he putted together a Ukrainian alphabet Pervynka. He also started to tour around the southern Ukraine organizing various schools and helping the hungry during the famine of 1921–1922. He later wrote a story in Russian Po vesiam i selam that consisted of two parts.

In 1922 he worked in the governorate department of People's Education in Odessa as a school inspector. In 1924 Kulish wrote a play 97 where he described the famine of Kherson region in 1921–1922. Together with another play Commune in steppes (1925) his works were staged in Kharkiv's theater and brought him a general recognition. In Odessa he joined the writers' society of Hart. In 1925 returned to Zinovyevsk where he edited Chervony Shliakh. Later that year he moved to Kharkiv where he met with various prominent Ukrainian writers and poets such as Mykola Khvyliovy, Ostap Vyshnia, Yuriy Yanovsky, Volodymyr Sosiura, and many others. Here Kulish became a member of VAPLITE and worked with theatrical group Berezil led by Les Kurbas.

In November 1926 he was elected as the president of VAPLITE until January 1928. Simultaneously with it Kulish was a member of the editorial collegiate of Chervony Shliakh. His works were published in the almanac Literary Fair. Since the end of 1929 Kulish was a member of presidium of a new literary union Politfront. Suddenly since 1930 all his fame was diminishing receiving all kinds of negative critical reviews. Kulish moved out of Kharkiv back to his native Kherson region. Seeing the Holodomor of 1933 he was growing more and more upset with the revolutionary ideas.[1] During that time his plays Narodny Malakhiy, Myna Mazaylo, Pathetic sonata were recognized as hostile to the communist regime.

At the first All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers that took place August 17 – September 1, 1934 Mykola Kulish was proclaimed as a bourgeoisie-nationalist playwright. Particularly critical of him was Ivan Kulyk who also mentioned the theatrical troop of Les Kurbas as one who performed Kulish's plays. In December 1934 after the burial of his friend Ivan Dniprovsky Kulish was arrested by the agents of NKVD. He was sentenced to the Solovki prison camp and shot on November 3, 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia. After Stalin’s death, Kulish was rehabilitated in 1956.[2]


  • 97
  • Commune in steppes
  • Farewell, village
  • That was how perished Huska
  • Khuliy Khuryna
  • Zoná
  • Zakut
  • Eternal mutiny
  • Legend about Lenin
  • Colonies
  • Narodny Malakhiy
  • Myna Mazaylo
  • Pathetic sonata
  • Maklena Grasa
  • Autobiography from a notebook

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Biography of Mykola Kulish by Yuriy Lavrinenko The executed renaissance (Rostriliane vidrodjennia), 1959 (Ukrainian)
  2. ^ Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Kulish, Mykola

External links[edit]

Critical articles[edit]