Orest Somov

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Orest Mykhailovych Somov (Ukrainian: Орест Сомов, Russian: О́рест Миха́йлович Со́мов) (21 December [O.S. 10 December] 1793 – 8 June [O.S. 27 May] 1833) was a Ukrainian romantic writer who wrote in the Russian language.

He studied at Kharkiv University, where he became an admirer of Romantic literature and Gothic fiction.[1]

In 1817 he moved to Saint Petersburg where he continued his literary career. In addition to being a writer and translator, he established himself as a critic, editor and publisher, thus becoming one of the first professional men of letters in the Russian Empire. Somov was drawn to the folklore of his native Ukraine and much of his writing refers to Ukrainian history and folklore.[2]

Somov was a popular writer during his lifetime. His works on Ukrainian themes made a big impact on the literary canon of the 1820s.[3] His literary works were widely read and his critical opinion was highly regarded. However, after Somov's death, his name and woks were consigned to oblivion. Only in 1989 Yuriy Vynnychuk put Somov back on the Ukrainian literary radar[4] collection of Somov’s folktales.

He is distantly related to the American actor René Auberjonois; Auberjonois' maternal grandfather's mother was a Russian noblewoman, Eudoxia Michailovna Somova (1850–1924), a collateral cousin of Somov's.

Famous works[edit]

  • 1825-1830 – Haidamaka
  • 1827 — God’s Fool (‘Yurodivyi’)
  • 1827 — Order from the other World (‘Prikaz s toho sveta’)
  • 1829 — Kikimora
  • 1829 — Rusalka
  • 1829 — The Werewolf (‘Oboroten’)
  • 1830 — Tales of Buried Treasures (‘Skazki o kladakh’)
  • 1830 — Strange Duel (‘Strannyi poedinok’)
  • 1830 — Self-murderer (‘Samoubiytsa’)
  • 1831 — Kupalo Eve (‘Kupalov vecher’)
  • 1832 — Wandering Light (‘Brodiashchiy ohon’)
  • 1833 — The Witches of Kyiv (‘Kievskie vedmy’)
  • 1833 — The Evil Eye (‘Nedobryi glaz’)
  • 1833 — Mommy and Sonny (‘Matushka i synok’)

English Translations[edit]

  • Mommy and Sonny (Story), from Russian Romantic Prose: An Anthology, Translation Press, 1979.
  • Tales of Buried Treasures, The Werewolf and The Witches of Kyiv were included in Russian 19th Century Gothic Tales: Anthology, Raduga Publishers, 1984.
  • The Witches of Kyiv, Rusalka, The Evil Eye, Wandering Light, Kupalo Eve and God’s Fool comprise The Witches of Kyiv and Other Gothic Tales: Selected Works of Orest Somov, Sova Books, Sydney, 2016


  1. ^ Somov’s Gothic Ukraine
  2. ^ Orest Somov, "Authors, about"
  3. ^ Krys, Svitlana 2016, The Unknown Ukrainian: Orest Somov’s Prose as a Window to Early Nineteenth-Century Ukraine, “The Witches of Kyiv and Other Gothic Tales: Selected Works of Orest Somov”, Sova Books, Sydney
  4. ^ Vynnychuk, Yuriy 1989, (compl.) Ohnianyi Zmii: Ukrainska hotychna proza XIX st. [The Fire-Breathing Dragon: Ukrainian Gothic Prose of the 19th Century], Molod, Kyiv
  • John Mersereau, "Orest Somov: An Introduction," The Slavonic and East European Review, 43 (1965): 354-370.
  • Charles Moser, The Cambridge History of Russian Literature. Cambridge University Press: 1992.
  • N. Petrunyna, Орест Сомов и его проза (Orest Somov and His Prose) [1]