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Ivan Franko

The name of this real literary genius is most tightly connected with Lviv. The Lviv State University, one of the oldest universities in Europe, proudly bears the name of Ivan Franko. Streets, squares, theatres, cinema-halls, schools and even towns and villages are named after him either.

Alongside with T.Shevchenko Ivan Franko is considered to be a prophet for the Ukrainian people, particularly for those in Halychyna. His nickname is "Kameniar", the "stone-crusher", given to him after the title of one of his most strong poetical works, calling to struggle against the existing order of life. By his passionate poetic work the great poet crushed the stone wall of people's indifference, disappointment and apathy, calling forth their thirst of life, work, struggle and changes. He knew the life of the people very well and he described it very profoundly. Ivan Franko was born in 1856 not far from the village of Nahuyevytchi near Lviv in Halychyna, which in those times was part of Austria. He was born in the family of a well-to-do blacksmith Yakiv Franko. Being brought up in the loving and caring peasant family with most beautiful and peaceful nature around him, the boy kept his eyes and ears open, trying to find an answer to millions of questions about the world around him. Since his green years he proved to be most unusual, curious and smart child. That was the reason why his father decided to educate the boy and sent him to a village school at the age of 6+. It was difficult to study there for the class master often punished his little students instead of teaching them properly. Nevertheless the boy learned to read and write Ukrainian, Polish and even German in this school.

After two years father took Ivan to Drohobych and sent him to study at the German monastery school. Being poorly dressed and scared to death, having no one around to soothe and help him, he was again badly treated, laughed at and beaten both by the scholars and the teachers. A difficult year passed and he took his first exam. It was a surprise for everyone to find him top of the school after the exam. Unfortunately soon after that his father died, and the family lost its prosperity, but the boy was left to study at the same school for the next 3 years, due to his great progress, and then he started attending the gymnasium. And the story was repeated. He again was laughed at and despised by everybody in his new surrounding. By the end of the year he once again became top of the gymnasium. He didn't like to study in fact, but he enjoyed reading. He knew Shevchenko's "Kobzar"by heart. He read the classics of his time and the works by ancient philosophers either. Since the 6th form he started buying books and gathering his own library. By the end of his studies at the gymnasium he had a library of 500 volumes of European classics. He also started writing himself and by 1975, when young Ivan Franko finished the gymnasium and entered the university in Lviv, he already had literary works of his own: lyrical poetry, some dramas, stories and a number of translations of ancient authors, such as the works of Sophocles, Homer, "Uriel Akosta" by Hutskov, etc. They were written in Ukrainian, Polish and German.

In Lviv he joined the students society and participated in editing the students' magazine "Druh" ("Friend"), in which his first poetical works had been published a year before. Thus since 1874 till the end of his days in 1916 he produced hundreds of works. He is a literary genius because you can hardly find a man of letters in the world literature who during his life, alongside with poetry, wrote prose, dramatic works and translations. As well he inquired into ethnography, folklore, history, esthetics, sociology, political economy and philosophy. And in each of them he proved to be an expert, a thorough man of letters. He lived the life of toil and hardships, leaving a vast heritage of literary creations, enriching not only the Ukrainian, but the world literature.

Lviv Study. Handbook./Compiler group manager N.Vynnytska.-Lviv:AHIL,2003.- 52p. ISBN 966-7617-59-9