A History of Women's Writing in Russia

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

8
The eastern path of exile:
Russian women's writing in China
OLGA BAKICH AND CAROL UELAND

No one will hear your voice in the depth of the night Whether you cry out or not… 1

MARIIA VIZI, Noktiurn 2 (Nocturne 2, 1970s)

Histories of Russian literature have all too often ignored the Far Eastern emigration. Part of the reason for this neglect lies in the very nature of the emigration itself. Unlike the émigré communities in Paris, Berlin, and New York where in time the Russian community gradually became integrated with the native population, the Russian émigrés in China never assimilated. Essentially they remained outsiders to the country and culture which they inhabited, living an entirely Russian life with rare instances of understanding or assimilating Chinese culture. Apart from specialists and interpreters, ordinary Russians did not learn Chinese the way émigrés learned French, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian or the other languages of Europe. Estranged from Chinese life, the émigré population was similarly cut off from émigré life in Europe. Distance and political upheavals prevented many of their literary journals and newspapers from finding their way to the West. Thus it was that the Russians living in China from 1917 through the post World War II years found themselves torn not only from the country they had left but from the European émigré communities as well, a fact which may account for why so little critical attention has until recently been paid to this chapter in Russian literary history.

-153-

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