Russian Women's Shorter Fiction: An Anthology, 1835-1860

Russian Women's Shorter Fiction: An Anthology, 1835-1860

Russian Women's Shorter Fiction: An Anthology, 1835-1860

Russian Women's Shorter Fiction: An Anthology, 1835-1860


This anthology offers an introduction to the first major flowering of Russian women's writing between the years 1835 and 1860, introducing the reader to such significant figures as Elena Gun, Mariya Zhukova, Nadezhda Durova, and Avdotya Panaeva. Newly translated, the selections show the diversity of women's writing in the period, as well as the inevitably interconnected nature of theme and treatment among different authors.


Born Fadeeva, Rzhishchev, near Kiev, 11 January 1814, her mother was Princess Elena Pavlovna Dolgorukaya. She was educated at home, principally by her mother. In 1827 she visited the Crimea, and began writing. In 1830 she married Petr Alekseevich Gan (Hahn), with whom she had four children. She began writing seriously in the mid-1830s. She spent 1836-7 in St Petersburg, and in 1836 met Senkovskii. Her first publication, 'Ideal' was in Biblioteka dlya chteniya in 1837, under her lasting pseudonym, Zeneida R-va. In 1837 she left St Petersburg and the remaining five years of her life were spent in southern Russia, frequently moving. She spent some time in Odessa and the Caucasus and met some of the exiled Decembrists. Her health deteriorated rapidly in the late 1830s. In 1841 she began publishing in Otechestvennye Zapiski. She died in Odessa, 24 June 1842.

'The Ideal' was first published in 1837 in Biblioteka dlya chteniya. The present translation has been made from the version reprinted in V. I. Sakharov (ed.), Russkaya Romanticheskaya Povest (Moscow, 1980), 435-80.

The Nobles' Assembly Rooms were brilliantly illuminated; lampions on the gates, lampions at the entrance; carriages, barouches, and britzkas delivered whole loads of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters; the gathering was brilliant. The two gendarmes who were standing at the entrance stairs scarcely had time to usher away the empty carriages. The civil servants shook the snow from their greatcoats, the artillery officers looked at these men in civvies with a smile of contempt, and smoothed out their moustaches and tousled hair. But all this was as nothing compared with the ballroom!

Four chandeliers were hanging majestically from the ceiling; along the walls there were sofas, covered in orange chintz with a green pattern, while two crimson armchairs stood in the front . . .

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