Anna Reid, author of Borderland: a journey through Ukraine, looks at the Taras Bulba story and the way it plays out in the current uneasy relationship between Ukraine and Russia.
Gogol's longest short story about the Zaparozhian Cossack educated in Kiev and leading the charge against the mighty Polish empire was often seen as a seminal Russian work. The Cossack culture of Zaparozhia is now well and truly Ukrainianised. Indeed it was the Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko who was the first to set it to music, writing his opera well before Janacek's version. But since the fall of the Soviet Union the Bulba story has achieved even greater significance. The latest of several film versions of the story was a Russian-funded affair filmed in Ukraine. It caused some controversy at its release last year. Anna looks at all these responses and attitudes to Gogol's story and using readings and musical illustrations she argues that this fictional Cossack tale provides important insights into today's Ukraine.
Producer: Tom Alban.