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Cassandra

Cassandra

A Dramatic Poem

Lesia Ukrainka

Translated by Nina Murray

ISBN 9780674291775

Publication date: 06/11/2024

Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam of Troy, is cursed with the gift of true prophecies that are not believed by anyone. She foretells the city’s fall should Paris bring Helen as his wife, as well as the death of several of Troy’s heroes and her family. The classic myth turns into much more in Lesia Ukrainka’s rendering: Cassandra’s prophecies are uttered in highly poetic language—fitting for the genre of the work—and are not believed for that reason, rather than because of Apollo’s curse. Cassandra as poet and as woman are the focal points of the drama.

Cassandra: A Dramatic Poem encapsulates the complexities of Ukrainka’s late works: use of classical mythology and her intertextual practice; intense focus on issues of colonialism and cultural subjugation—and allegorical reading of the asymmetric relationship of Ukrainian and Russian culture; a sharp commentary on patriarchy and the subjugation of women; and the dilemma of the writer-seer who knows the truth and its ominous implications but is powerless to impart that to contemporaries and countrymen.

This strongly autobiographical work commanded a significant critical reception in Ukraine and projects Ukrainka into the new Ukrainian cultural canon. Presented here in a contemporary and sophisticated English translation attuned to psychological nuance, it is sure to attract the attention of the modern-day reader.

Praise

  • One of Ukrainka’s many significant poetic dramas… She is a forgotten feminist icon of European culture who needs to be rediscovered and read.

    —Sasha Dovzhyk, Five Books

Authors

  • Lesia Ukrainka (pen name of Larysa Kosach-Kvitka, 1879–1913) was one of the most prominent Ukrainian writers, poets, playwrights, literary scholars, and activists of the late nineteenth–early twentieth century. Along with Taras Shevchenko and Ivan Franko, she forms the triumvirate of Ukrainian national poets. Ukrainka was well-known for her feminist and progressive views, which found representation in her own works.
  • Nina Murray is a poet and an award-winning translator of Ukrainian literature, including works by Oksana Zabuzhko, Oksana Lutsyshyna, Serhiy Zhadan, and Lesia Ukrainka. She is the author of several poetry collections and a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service.
  • Marko Pavlyshyn is Professor Emeritus of Ukrainian Studies at the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University, Australia.

Book Details

  • 160 pages
  • 5 x 8 inches
  • Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
  • Introduction by Marko Pavlyshyn

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