In Conclusion

Noncanonical Men Poets

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 that affected their reception and subsequent literary reputations. I also have indicated some literary approaches to these women's poetry that might deepen our understanding of it and allow us to evaluate it on its own terms. Most of the theoretical and recovery work, however—including the development of gender-neutral aesthetic standards to evaluate men and women's writing together—remains to be done.

But while none of the women poets of this generation has entered the canon of Russian literature, neither has every Russian man poet. In conclusion it will be useful to consider what factors beside gender—or in combination with gender—have affected poets' canonicity. We can do so by returning to the noncanonical men poets mentioned in the introduction and asking questions about them similar to those we have asked about their women contemporaries. What social conditions did they experience? What were their literary practices and how was their poetry received? Did they, too, rework poetical conventions? Have they been excluded from the canon because of social and literary-political factors? Or did they simply write inferior poetry? While a detailed consideration of the lives and works of noncanonical men poets lies outside the scope of this study, a brief discussion of these questions will allow us to draw more general conclusions.

In characterizing Pavel Fedotov, Eduard Guber, Aleksei Khomiakov, Aleksei Kol'tsov, Apollon Maikov, Evgenii Mil'keev, and Fedor Miller as noncanonical I have taken several indicators into account.1 Like their women contemporaries, these poets generally are not found in course surveys of nineteenth-century Russian literature or as subjects of research. They appear only very briefly, when at all, in such Russian literature reference works as Victor Terras's Handbook of Russian Literature. Two major canon builders of Russian literature, Belinsky and Mirsky, generally ignored or dismissed them.2 In addition, two of them are not identified primarily as poets: Fedotov is known as an artist, and Khomiakov as an architect of Slavophilism. All of these noncanonical poets, however, have some poetic status. Four of them appear in an anthology that is part of the prestigious Biblioteka poeta series, Poety 1840-1850-kh godov, while Khomiakov, Kol'tsov, and Maikov are the subjects of their own Biblioteka poeta editions.

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