St. Petersburg: V drukarniakh Tiblena i komp. i Kulisha, 1864. Large octavo (26 × 17 cm). Recent half-calf binding over five raised bands, with gilt title to spine and marbled edges; [VII], , 2-304, , [II-XVII] pp. Owner signature to title page (Zinovii Bilenko). Occasional markings in pen in the margins, else very good. Item #4216
First edition. Considered the finest achievement in Slavic paroemiology of its time, this collection of Ukrainian riddles and proverbs was assembled by the Ukrainian ethnographer, folklorist, writer and educator Matvii Nomys (pseudonym of Matvii Symonov; 1823-1900). The proverbs cover the most diverse spheres of life, customs, and beliefs of the Ukrainian people, and contributed to the development of national consciousness in Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire. The book is divided into two parts: the first part, in 20 chapters, contains 14,339 proverbs and sayings, the smaller second part offers 505 riddles.
The collection includes proverbs collected not only by Nomys, but also by other prominent Ukrainian writers and ethnographers such as the brothers Mykola and Vasyl Bilozerski, Panteleimon Kulish, Vasyl Lazarevsky, Stepan Rudansky, and the husband and wife folklorists Opanas Markovych and Marko Vovchok. In the 1840s, many of these writers belonged to the secret political society called Cyril and Mythodius Brotherhood with Ukrainian national rebirth as its focus. The Brotherhood advocated the abolition of serfdom, literacy and education for the broad masses, the possibility for all Slavic nations to develop their language and culture, and the unification of all Slavic nations with their center in Kiev. The society was quickly apprehended and its members (which numbered at about 100) variously arrested and temporarily exiled in 1847. The brief existence of the society (1846-1847) left a mark on the Ukrainian intellectual milieu, and many of the participants continued the project of building national consciousness by other means, such as through collecting folklore. The publication of this collection gave a powerful impetus to the further development of Ukrainian paremiography, with the second edition published in 1885, and a manuscript facsimile released in 1928. The edition was also confiscated, following Alexander II's 1876 Ems Ukase, which prohibited the use and dissemination of Ukrainian-language documents. This copy from the library of Ukrainian writer Zinovii Bilenko (1909-1979).
KVK, OCLC show this edition at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, IISG, Monash, Ottawa, Princeton, Toronto, UCL, and Urbana Champaign.