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A Russian Psyche

The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva

Alyssa W. Dinega

Publication Year: 2001

Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva’s powerful poetic voice and her tragic life have often prompted literary commentators to treat her as either a martyr or a monster. Born in Russia in 1892, she emigrated to Europe in 1922, returned to the Soviet Union at the height of the Stalinist Terror, and committed suicide in 1941. Alyssa Dinega focuses on the poetry, rediscovering Tsvetaeva as a serious thinker with a coherent artistic and philosophical vision.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

When I first encountered Marina Tsvetaeva a decade ago, I was a new college graduate studying for a semester in Soviet Moscow, entirely unsure what I wanted to ‘‘become’’ once I departed that magical, compelling never-never land. I remember my meeting with Tsvetaeva clearly: sitting in a friend’s dingy dormitory room ...

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pp. xv-xvii

This is an exciting time in Tsvetaeva scholarship; nearly 110 years since the poet’s birth, the study of her works, long delayed by official disfavor and prejudices of various kinds, is belatedly coming of age at last. I am thrilled and honored that my own book is a participant in this explosion of serious Tsvetaeva scholarship; ...

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Introduction: Walking the Poetic Tightrope

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pp. 3-34

What does itmean for awoman to be a great poet, an inspired poet, a tragic poet, a poet of genius? This is a deceptively simple query, and one whose conceivable multifarious answers go far beyond issues of gender to have implications for language, imagery, form, genre, aesthetics, mythopoetics, metaphysics, ethics, and so on. ...

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1. Battling Blok and Akhmatova: In Pursuit of a Muse

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pp. 35-89

Tsvetaeva never met the great Symbolist poet Aleksandr Blok in person, although she was present at two of his readings in Moscow during May 1920. Her seven-year-old daughter Alia (Ariadna Efron) described in her diary her mother’s appearance during Blok’s reading: ...

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2. Conjuring Pasternak: A Divided Psyche

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pp. 90-128

In May 1922, Tsvetaeva and her daughter Alia emigrated to Berlin, where, the following year, Tsvetaeva’s collection Psyche was published. Tsvetaeva writes of this collection that it is ‘‘a summation, rather than a stage’’ [ne etap, a itog] (7:394); this book is distinct from all her previous ones in that it is structured not by pure chronology, ...

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3. Losing Rilke: The Dark Lure of Mra

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pp. 129-176

The artist Leonid Osipovich Pasternak, father of poet Boris, enjoyed a friendship with the German poet RainerMaria Rilke that dated back to Rilke’s days in Russia at the beginning of the century.1 Through a bizarre sequence of events, Rilke renewed his contact with the elder Pasternak in the spring of 1926, ...

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4. Ruing Young Orphans: The End of the Line

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pp. 177-225

Tsvetaeva always felt a creative affinity for the poet Vladimir Maiakovskii, despite their diametrically opposite relationships to the Soviet regime—an affinity that was founded upon the two poets’ similarly passionate, reckless way with both words and life.1 The majority of the Russian émigré community did not share Tsvetaeva’s sentiment, ...

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pp. 226-232

The two epigraphs above, taken from poems written two decades apart, demonstrate just howconsistent, despite the brilliant variety of her poetic creation,was MarinaTsvetaeva’s conviction in the essential incompatibility of life and poetry throughout the whole course of her creative lifetime. ...


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pp. 233-276


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pp. 277-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780299173333
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299173340

Publication Year: 2001