Other Currencies

Czech Translation of Sudomora's Ukrainian Children's Book

Jak válčily houby s brouky: ukrajinska pohádka [How the beetles went to war against the mushrooms: a Ukrainian folktale].

Kyiv-Prague: Péčí Ukrajinského Vydavatelského Družstva "Čas" v Kijevě; Dědictví Komenského (Tiskem Lidové knihtiskárny J. Skalák a spol. v Praze), 1919. Quarto (28.8 × 22.8 cm). Original staple-stitched chromo-lithographed wrappers; 7, [1] pp. of quatrains with accompanying illustrations, of which four pages are in color. Very good; only minor foxing and discoloration to upper and lower spine.

Czech translation of a rare Ukrainian children's book, with striking chromolithograph illustrations throughout by Okhrim Sudomora, an artist who worked as an illustrator in Lviv and Kharkiv up through World War II, but about whom little else is known. He also illustrated the book "Fun Work, a Folk Song" (Krakow and L'viv, 1944) and may have been involved with a series of powerful anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi propaganda produced by Ukrainian nationalists in post-war Germany. In 1949, he was arrested for anti-Soviet activities in 1949 and received a twenty-five-year sentence, later living in poverty and obscurity.

The present edition was published in Kyiv and printed in Prague, in a translation by Fr. Tichý and with a full-page explanatory postscript addressed to Czechoslovak children, sympathetically explaining the situation of the Ukrainians. The original was also published in 1919. The book is a curious example of a Ukrainian cultural phenomenon: the habit of viewing political upheavals through a mycological fairytale prism. The folktale “War of the Mushrooms”, published by Russian ethnographers Vladimir Dal’ and Aleksandr Afanas’ev in the nineteenth century, was reinterpreted in 1909 by Heorhii Narbut as an allegory of Ukraine’s national predicament vis-a-vis the Russian Empire. The present edition revisits the tale in light of the successful Bolshevik revolution.

See: Philip Rogosky, “Fungi and War in Ukraine” (FUNGI Volume 15:4, Fall 2022).

Rare; as of January 2023, KVK, OCLC show a single copy at Boston Public Library.

Book ID: 52606

Price: $1,250.00