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Les Kurbas - director, actor, playwright, filmmaker, and translator - was the first artist to introduce Shakespeare to the Ukrainian stage. Creating the foundations of Soviet Ukrainian theatre and cinema, he was also responsible for its avant-garde direction. Shakespeare in the Undiscovered Bourn is the first book-length study in English of Kurbas's modernist productions of Shakespeare and the first book on Soviet Shakespeare productions in Ukraine in any language.
Situating Shakespeare within the ideological and cultural debates and conflicts of the early Soviet period, Irena Makaryk traces the trajectory of Shakespeare's and Kurbas's fortunes while also investigating the challenges that modernism posed to early Soviet ideology.
Ukraine's cultural history - still an undiscovered bourn - has frequently been submerged within a homogenized Soviet experience. The fall of the Soviet Union and the consequent opening up of many hitherto inaccessible archives has allowed a new probing of the master narratives created during that regime. Invoking contemporary debates about the cultural uses of Shakespeare (especially issues of canon, classic, and authority), Shakespeare in the Undiscovered Bourn examines the complexities of the Soviet encounter with Shakespeare. It thus makes an important contribution to the studies of theatre, cross-culturalism, modernism, and postcolonialism.
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Irena R. Makaryk is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa.
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