Karolina Pavlova

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 six short stories. As recently as 1998 a five-hundred-page authorized Russian university textbook on mid-nineteenth-century Russian literature included seven index entries for Nikolai Pavlov, four for Pavlova, and no discussion of her poetry. Several anthologies of nineteenth-century Russian poetry do not include her work.1

Nonetheless, one is struck by the contrast between Pavlova's poetic reputation and that of Khvoshchinskaia. While Khvoshchinskaia never saw a book of her poetry in print—nor have any yet appeared—Pavlova during her lifetime published five books; four other editions of her work have been published since her death.2 While no reliable printed versions of Khvoshchinskaia's poetry exist, much of Pavlova's work is available in the scholarly Biblioteka poeta series with notes and variant readings. While Khvoshchinskaia has been lost to literary history as a poet, Pavlova, especially since the 1970s, has been the subject of an increasing amount of scholarship and criticism. How can we account for such a contrast in the reputations of two excellent poets?

This chapter first considers those biographical factors that have made it possible for Pavlova to gain recognition as a poet, albeit sporadically and usually as a curiosity.3 Such an examination may bring to light overlooked determinants of literary reputation. Next, since much of Pavlova's oeuvre up to the 1860s is available to us, we shall consider how in her poetry she responded to the literary issues facing the woman poets of her generation.4 Finally, we shall look at a series of works Pavlova wrote over a twenty-year period about the position of women in society in order to trace the development of her views on this subject. As we shall see, gender issues played as important a role in Pavlova's life, poetic practices, reception, and literary reputation as they did for Khvoshchin-skaia and the other poets of their generation.

One factor accounting for the contrasting literary reputations of Pavlova and Khvoshchinskaia may simply have been a difference in age. When Pavlova, who was seventeen years older than Khvoshchinskaia, started publishing her poetry in the early 1830s, no one would have urged her to write prose. By the 1840s, however, prose had begun to supplant poetry as the preeminent and more prestigious Russian genre.51 believe, however, that other factors played a significant role in these two poets' reputations—factors constituting "literary social capital" (see introduction).

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