Books as Salvation from Stiffness… Taras Shevchenko of the Time of Exile in the Dimension of his Reading
Keywords:Taras Shevchenko, the period of exile, book, reading, epistolary, diary, reader’s erudition, intellectualism
The study refutes the idea that existed in the minds of some Shevchenko era’s cultural figures, about Taras Shevchenko’s lack of education and poor literacy. For this purpose, the history of the poet’s reading interests evolution in the most difficult period of his life, the period of exile (1847–1857) was analyzed. His own direct testimonies (epistolary, diary, memoirs of relatives and acquaintances, etc.) were involved in the analysis. The study clarified how the disgraced artist’s previous habit of reading and the need to do it was established. The main focus was on Shevchenko’s reading behavior in the Orsk Fortress and in the Aral Expedition, in the Novopetrovsk Fortress. It relates to the active search, selection and perception of books, and even to special communication establishing. The study traces persons, who valued such poet’s behavior and stimulated it, also how functional Shevchenko’s current reading turned out to be at that period. Its composition was outlined as Russian, Ukrainian and Polish books, mainly in the field of fiction literature and literary criticism, as well as works on history, culturology, ethnology, natural and other fields of knowledge. Only due to reading and to his own artistic work the artist's spirit was saved from psychological exhaustion. Reading contributed to the intellectualization of his work. Shevchenko as a reader completely realized himself in exile considering special circumstances (loneliness, forced self-centeredness), his reading for the first time was not episodic, but complete, sometimes the leading form of the poet’s creative activity.
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