A History of Women's Writing in Russia

By Adele Marie Barker; Jehanne M. Gheith | Go to book overview

NOTES

I am grateful to several people who gave superb readings of a draft of this essay: Adele Barker, Catriona Kelly, Laura Schlosberg, and Mary Zirin.

1
The “superfluous man” is a character common in Russia throughout the first two thirds of the nineteenth century (and arguably beyond). Superfluous men are figures whose great potential is wasted because they cannot find outlets for their talents. These characters were interpreted as commentary against the autocratic government and the mores of high society. The New Man is the man of the sixties, capable of revolutionary action.
2
The thirties and fifties (like the forties and sixties) do not necessarily represent the decades in which works were published, but rather the ethos that shaped these writers and their fictions. So, although Panaeva's Zhenskaia dolia (Women's Lot, 1862) and Khvoshchinskaia's Pervaia bor'ba (First Struggle, 1869) were published in the 1860s, I consider them here under the rubric of the 1850s.
3
The relationship between literature and social reality is mediated in complex ways; my aim here is to show how women's works may be recuperated even into traditional understandings of Russian literature, which assume a very close connection between literature and the work of social progress.
4
See Gan, Ideal, Sud sveta (Society's Judgment); Zhukova, Vechera na Karpovke (Evenings by the Karpovka); Rostopchina, Chiny i den'gi (Rank and Money); Pavlova, Dvoinaia zhizn' (A Double Life), Za chainym stolom (At the Tea Table); Tur, Oshibka (A Mistake), Plemiannitsa (The Niece); Sokhanskaia, Posle obeda v gostiakh (A Conversation after Dinner); Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia, Anna Mikhailovna, and Sof'ia Khvoshchinskaia, Mudrennyi chelovek (An Enigmatic Man).
5
Society tales are tales of manners and thwarted love, usually between people of (slightly) different social origin. These stories often represent the heroine's interior world in greater detail than was common previously, and juxtapose this honorable inner life to the falseness of relations in the “beau monde. ”
6
V. G. Belinsky, “O kritike i literaturnykh mneniiakh 'Moskovskogo nabliudatelia,'” SS (Moscow, 1976), 267, 302; Elizabeth Shepard, “The Society Tale and the Innovative Argument in Russian Prose Fiction of the 1830s, ” RL 10 (1981), 112.
7
Gan, Sud sveta in V. Uchenova (ed.), Dacha na Petergofskoi doroge (Moscow, 1986), 150–3.
8
Catriona Kelly makes a similar point: Kelly History, 112.
9
See Tur, Antonina and Zakoldovannyi krug (A Vicious Circle); N. D. Khvoshchinskaia, Vera; Sokhanskaia, A Conversation after Dinner.
10
See, for example, Gan, Ideal, Durova, Ugol (The Nook), Zhukova, Baron Reikhman, Rostopchina, Schastlivaia zhenshchina (A Fortunate Woman), and Tur, A Mistake.
11
All references are to Zhukova, Vechera na Karpovke (Moscow, 1986).
12
Many heroines in Russian fiction of this period are orphans (having lost one or both parents). In women's works, the orphan plot is often used to set up a contrastive pair of female heroines of about the same age (the orphaned and the familied) as in Gan's Ideal, Tur's The Niece, or Zhadovskaia's V storone ot bol'shogo sveta (Apart from the Great World, 1857).
13
This is a different Vel'skii from the character in the frame tale, a play on names that again serves to blur the boundaries between various kinds of narration and between “story” and “life. ”
14
See Tur, Oshibka (A Mistake), Plemiannitsa (The Niece), Dve sestry (Two Sisters); Panaeva, Women's Lot; Vovchok, Institutka (The Schoolgirl), Sasha.

-98-

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