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Geo (Heorhii) Shkurupii

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Geo (Heorhii) Shkurupii

(1903, Bendery, Bessarabia – 1937, Sandarmokh, Karelia)

‘The king of futuroprairies’ – that is how the 19-year-old Geo Shkurupii signed his debut book of poems Psychetoses in 1922. And it was soon clear he was a king indeed.

Shkurupii’s father was a railroad worker, and his mother was a teacher. The family moved from place to place, until they settled in Kyiv in 1913. With an exception of several short periods of time, he then lived in the city until the end of his life. He studied in the Second Gymnasium of Kyiv and entered the medical school of the University of Kyiv in 1920. Leaving it, Shkurupii studied in the Institute of Foreign Affairs for a while, but never gained a degree.

In 1921, the leader of the Ukrainian futurism Mikhail Semenko returned to Kyiv, and Shkurupii became his friend and ally, joining the Futurist camp for good. After books of poems Psychetoses (1922), Drum (1923) and The Ember of Words (1925) Shkurupii switched to prose and published Dragonslayer, a book where instead of ornamentalism and psychological prose, popular at the time, he developed a strong plot. In 1928, his debut novel Doors to the Day was published – the first experimental novel in Ukrainian literature, in which Shkurupii mixed elements of historical prose, romance novel, detective story, literary chronicle and a screenplay.

In 1925–1926, restless Shkurupii was a screenwriter and editor at the Odesa Film Factory, lured into the world of cinema by Semenko. Two films were made with his screenplays: The Blue Envelope and Spartacus. In 1927-1930, he worked at the Kyiv Film Factory.

In 1930, Shkurupii made a trip to Mongolia with writer and critic Oleksandr Poltoratskyi. After that he wrote Mongolian Stories (1932), a compelling example of literary chronicles of the era.

Geo Shkurupii was a member of several Futurist literary groups and became head of the branch of Nova Heneratsia in Kyiv. The best chapters of Joan the Battalioniere, a novel about such a curious topic as an all-women battalion in the WWI, are set in Kyiv.

Shkurupii was executed in 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia.

Other locations in Kyiv related to Geo Shkurupii: Shkurupii with wife and son lived in number 51 in the street that is now Volodymyrska. Here he was arrested in 1934.

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