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Reinventing Romantic Poetry

Russian Women Poets of the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Diana Greene

Publication Year: 2004

Reinventing Romantic Poetry offers a new look at the Russian literary scene in the nineteenth century. While celebrated poets such as Aleksandr Pushkin worked within a male-centered Romantic aesthetic—the poet as a bard or sexual conqueror; nature as a mother or mistress; the poet’s muse as an idealized woman—Russian women attempting to write Romantic poetry found they had to reinvent poetic conventions of the day to express themselves as women and as poets. Comparing the poetry of fourteen men and fourteen women from this period, Diana Greene revives and redefines the women’s writings and offers a thoughtful examination of the sexual politics of reception and literary reputation.
The fourteen women considered wrote poetry in every genre, from visions to verse tales, from love lyrics to metaphysical poetry, as well as prose works and plays. Greene delves into the reasons why their writing was dismissed, focusing in particular on the work of Evdokiia Rostopchina, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia, and Karolina Pavlova. Greene also considers class as a factor in literary reputation, comparing canonical male poets with the work of other men whose work, like the women’s, was deemed inferior at the time. The book also features an appendix of significant poems by Russian women discussed in the text. Some, found in archival notebooks, are published here for the first time, and others are reprinted for the first time since the mid-nineteenth century.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii

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Acknowledgments [Including A Note on Transliteration, Punctuation, and Abbreviations]

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pp. ix-xi

This book could not have been written without the generous help of many people, groups, and institutions. I am delighted to have this opportunity to thank them. ...

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pp. 3-20

This study offers some preliminary suggestions toward rethinking Russian Romanticism, issues of canonicity, and the place of mid-nineteenth century women poets in the history of Russian literature. While the question of whether Russia had a Romantic movement has been debated1 most scholars agree that Romanticism was a pan-European ...

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1. Social Conditions

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pp. 21-37

The social conditions that these poets shared included Russian women’s educational, economic, legal, and literary-historical status.1 As we shall see, these poets responded to those conditions in a great variety of ways. ...

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2. Literary Conventions

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pp. 38-56

Several literary critics have argued that Romanticism was a male-gendered institution. Certainly we find in the Russian poetry of the first half of the nineteenth century such blatantly male-centered Romantic conventions as the friendly epistle (druzheskoe poslanie) celebrating the cult of male friendship, anacreontic odes, and Bacchic poetry.1 Here I ...

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3. Gender and Genre

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pp. 57-87

The previous two chapters outlined the social conditions that the poets we have been considering faced as women, as well as their varying responses to male-defined literary conventions. In this chapter I would like to consider their distinctive use of genre and themes, which, as we shall see, are interrelated. ...

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4. Evdokiia Rostopchina

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pp. 88-111

Evdokiia Rostopchina (1811–58), one of the few recognized women poets of her generation, has been the subject of numerous biographical accounts by memoirists and literary critics. One finds, however, a surprising uniformity among these biographies.1 The same episodes repeatedly reappear in the same way, almost in the same words, like ...

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5. Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia

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pp. 112-136

While Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia (1824–89) has been recognized for the novels and stories she wrote under the pseudonym V. Krestovsky, the wonderful poetry that she wrote under her own name has been forgotten.1 There are many reasons for the disappearance of these works from literary history. First, in the course of her life Khvoshchinskaia herself ...

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6. Karolina Pavlova

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pp. 137-166

Over the past few decades Karolina Pavlova (born Jaenisch, 1807–93) has become the best-known Russian woman poet of her generation. This is not to suggest that she has received her due. As mentioned in the introduction, historically she has been considered less important than her husband, Nikolai Pavlov (1803–64), a littérateur who authored a total of ...

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7. In Conclusion: Noncanonical Men Poets

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pp. 167-174

In this study I have attempted to define the social and literary factors that led men literary gatekeepers and canon-makers of the Romantic period to dismiss the poetry of their women contemporaries. I have examined the social conditions under which these women poets lived, their reworking of male-centered literary conventions, and the critical assumptions ...


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pp. 177-218


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pp. 219-280


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pp. 281-295


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pp. 297-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780299191030
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299191047

Publication Year: 2004