We published Aphorisms by Skovoroda: Ukrainian Explorations of Love and Life to celebrate the tricentenary of the author’s birth. Hryhoriy Skovoroda was born on 3rd December 1722.
The book includes 365 quotes – matching the number of days in a year. To paraphrase a famous English proverb, “A Skovoroda aphorism a day keeps the psychiatrist away.” The design of the book allows for exactly seven quotes per page spread.
This selection of quotes from Hryhoriy Skovoroda’s writings provides great insight into the Ukrainian philosopher’s mind. He lived the life he preached. His teachings promoted striving to achieve the pinnacle of spiritual happiness while abstaining from earthly pleasures. Understandably, many of his contemporaries found such a lifestyle neither easy nor appealing. His philosophy alarmed some and evoked admiration in others. Many of Skovoroda’s ideas were relevant in his times – and remain such today. The genius of Skovoroda’s aphorisms lies in the elegance of their expression combined with the straightforwardness of their logic.
Book design and illustrations
The book cover design is reminiscent of the Kozak baroque style, which was popular during the life of Hryhoriy Skovoroda. The main feature of the cover illustration, the heart, is a symbol of love, which Skovoroda often praised in his works. The fountain is based on the drawing made by Skovoroda in one of his manuscripts. It represents the philosopher’s notion of unequal equality. Namely: all people are different, like vessels of different sizes, but all of them are full to the brim with God’s grace. The creator of the book cover illustration and design is Svitlana Soldatova, a Ukrainian-born, Australia-based artist.
Here is a sneak peek inside our new book: Aphorisms by Hryhoriy Skovoroda.
Florence Ilacqua, an eminent Australian artist, created most of the illustrations for Aphorisms by Skovoroda: Ukrainian Explorations of Love and Life. The illustrations are mostly in watercolor and ink.
Translation of the aphorisms
The translation of the aphorisms is a collaborative project of the British translator Dr. Patrick John Corness and Ukrainian-born Svitlana Yakovenko. As a literary translator from Ukrainian, Patrick John Corness is best known for his publications in English of short stories by Vasyl Gabor and others, of a novella by Eugenia Kononenko, and for his scholarly bilingual edition of The Song of the Forest, the classic fantasy drama by Lesia Ukrainka. He also translates Czech, German, Polish, and Russian literature. Svitlana Yakovenko has recently translated Maik Yohansen’s The Journey of the Learned Doctor Leonardo. Patrick John Corness and Svitlana Yakovenko continue to work together on other projects. Hopefully, soon we will have the opportunity to read further Ukrainian authors in their translations.