Literary Social Capital

Although for reasons discussed in chapter 1 these women poets as a group enjoyed very little literary social capital—access to education, mentoring, social connections with literary gatekeepers and opinion makers, the opportunity to be a literary critic or journal editor—differences did exist among them. For example, in contrast with Khvoshchinskaia's impoverished, déclassé family living in the provinces, Pavlova's family was well-to-do, well connected, and lived in Moscow, one of the two publishing centers.

Of course, women poets, like other women, also could capitalize on their attractiveness to men, as did Rostopchina, but this generally did not help them professionally. Although, as we have seen, critics sexual-ized all women poets, they more often dismissed as a poetessa an attractive woman, for the very reason that she conformed to gender norms. Nor did capitalizing on the "feminine" characteristic of beauty protect women poets from ad feminam attacks. Beauty, like any source of female power, was seen as dangerous, even demonic. As the holy Prekrasnaia dama (beautiful lady) inevitably turns into the disreputable neznakomka (unknown woman) in the poetry of Aleksandr Blok, so the beautiful, refined poetess implies her binary opposite, the whore.6

Women poets as well as men poets could generate social capital by hosting salons, thus influencing literary production.7 A salon not only allowed these women to earn the gratitude and good will of important men writers by offering them a forum to present their works. It also gave them a unique opportunity to interact on a more or less equal footing with men literary gatekeepers who could help them get published. In addition, such women commanded the power to present their own works to their men contemporaries, an opportunity they did not enjoy in the great majority of salons and literary circles, which as we saw in chapter 1, were run by men. Women with the temerity to present their own work, however, often provoked men's ire. We have mentioned Druzhinin's story, "Zhenshchina pisatel'nitsa" (The woman writer) in which the man narrator literally falls asleep when a woman reads her work. We have also noted the perceived connection between a woman presenting her writing and sexual display. In Pavlova's case, the poet Nikolai Vasil'evich Berg (1823-84) disapprovingly noted, "At Pavlova's literary evenings her works were read without fail," then sympathetically described what he perceived as Nikolai Pavlov's discomfort during these readings (cited in Briusov, "K. K. Pavlova," 282). The writers Dmitrii Grigorovich (1822-99), Aleksandr Nikitenko (1804-77), and Ivan Panaev (1812-62) in letters and memoirs ridiculed the manner in which Pavlova read her poetry or complained that she read it too much. Ivan Panaev, editor of the Sovremennik, wrote in an open letter to Pavlova, "To spend an entire day in your company, listening to your verses is such a great pleasure as cannot be quickly forgotten," his italics alerting readers to his sarcasm.8 But even if men insulted those women who presented their work, they could not help noticing them. It is not a coincidence that the two best-known women writers of this generation, Pavlova and Rostopchina, both hosted salons.

In salons, too, we see the interplay of money, location, and connections. To conduct a salon anywhere required money. But those such as Pavlova's and Rostopchina's, located in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, enjoyed much more visibility, prestige, and renown than did those located in the provinces, for example, the salon of the poet Aleksandra Fuks in Kazan'. While the salons of the capitals became part of the Russian literary historical record, detailed in the published memoirs of numerous participants, Fuks's salon, which lasted twenty-five years, remains as unknown as her poetry.9

The final element essential to the success of a salon was literary connections. Literary historians often forget or ignore this factor, making it seem as if salons just "happened." Let us take, for example, the very successful salon that Avdot'ia Elagina (1789-1877) hosted in Moscow for over twenty years, from the mid-i820s until the end of the 1840s. The attendees, who included such luminaries as Zhukovsky, Karamzin, Pushkin, Gogol, Ivan and Petr Kireevsky, Chaadaev, Baratynsky, Vi-azemsky, Odoevsky, Venevitinov, Iazykov, Herzen, Samarin, Sergei and Konstantin Aksakov, Ogarev, Shevyrev, Pogodin, M. A. Maksimovich, and Vigel', were, in fact, a network of Elagina's relations and friends. Elagina grew up with Zhukovsky, who was her mother's half-brother and her tutor. She corresponded with him for many years, acting as confidant in his romance with her cousin Mar'ia Protasov and advising him on his poetry. According to one source, Zhukovsky, who acted as mentor to Pushkin, brought him to Elagina's salon. Iazykov lived with the Elagins. Several attendees were linked by marriage. Khomiakov married Iazykov's sister; Karamzin's second wife was Viazemsky's half sister. Elagina's sons by her first marriage, to Vasilii Ivanovich Kireevsky, were Ivan Kireevsky (1806-56), an architect of Slavophilism and editor of the Evropeets (1831-32), and Petr Kireevsky (1808-56), a prominent Slavophile and collector of Russian folk songs. Baratynsky was a good friend of Ivan Kireevsky and first read his poetry in Elagina's salon. Through these ties Elagina commanded a great deal of influence in literary circles, although her literary activity consisted of translating, editing journals, and writing familiar letters rather than writing poetry or prose fiction.10

What sources of literary social capital, then, did Pavlova enjoy, and how did they affect her literary reception? Her family background constituted an equivocal asset. Unlike most upper-class Muscovites, descended from old Russian families, Pavlova traced her roots to Western Europe. Her father, Karl Ivanovich Jaenisch, was a German-educated doctor of German descent. Her mother, a former singing teacher, was French and English on her father's side. Pavlova, who became an only child after the death of her seven-year-old sister in 1816, received an excellent European education at home. By the age of eighteen she not only spoke Russian, French, English, and German, as well as some Italian and Polish, but also knew these national literatures.11 In some ways this unusual background—and perhaps the fact that Pavlova was a practicing Lutheran rather than Russian Orthodox—worked to her social disadvantage, alienating her from her contemporaries. The opening of Pavlova's Dvoinaia zhizn', in which two men discuss the heroine, Cecilia, may reflect the attitudes Pavlova herself encountered: "'They say she isn't stupid, but who's stupid nowadays? . . . But she must have a dash of her father's German blood in her. I can't stand all these German and half-German women.'"12 Indeed, Pavlova's linguistic abilities drew some envious ridicule from her contemporaries.13 Yet her background also provided a prestigious connection to European culture at a time when it strongly influenced the Russian literary establishment and aristocracy. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, for example, the thick journal Biblioteka dlia chteniia listed all books published in France, Germany, and England, in addition to running a column on literary life in these countries. Most thick journals regularly reviewed European books, and even Zvezdochka (1842-63), a journal for girls up to age fourteen, included many children's texts in French, German, and English, as well as Russian. Pavlova also turned her German background into Russian literary capital by sending her first translations to Goethe, whose letter praising her work she included in her album. As we shall see, Pavlova's cosmopolitan European background became an even greater asset posthumously, when it brought her work to the attention of Russian Symbolists and German Slavists.

Another equivocal social asset for Pavlova, as for every woman poet, consisted in her attractiveness to men. Although hostile male contemporaries focused on and disparaged Pavlova's appearance and man-ner,14 the Pavlova scholar Munir Sendich quotes accounts indicating that Ivan Kireevsky and Nikolai Iazykov were in love with her, and that Mickiewicz's friend, Cyprian Daszkiewicz, killed himself because of his unrequited love for her. As mentioned previously, a woman's pleasing physical appearance could serve as an excuse for men critics to trivialize her work. And at least one literary historian—Valerii Briusov— seemed to assume that any critic who reviewed Pavlova's work favorably did so because he was sexually attracted to her.15

In any case, Pavlova's literary connections constituted an unambiguous source of literary capital. Thanks to her father's, Karl Jaenisch's, friendship with Avdot'ia Elagina, Pavlova in the mid-1820s received an invitation to read her poetry at Elagina's salon.16 Pavlova not only became a constant attendee, meeting many important literary figures of her day but also through Elagina's sons, Ivan and Petr Kireevsky, she gained entrée into the even more socially prominent salon of Zinaida Volkonskaia. Again the brilliance and success of Volkonskaia's salon can be attributed to her connections—specifically, her affair with Alexander I.17 At Vol-konskaia's salon Pavlova met Pushkin and Adam Mickiewicz, the exiled Polish national poet. It can only have increased Pavlova's social capital when Mickiewicz, with whom she was studying Polish, proposed to her. Although he subsequently broke their engagement, even this temporary connection with him has led to several articles that have helped keep Pavlova's name alive.18

Pavlova, however, did not find it easy to launch a literary career, despite these social advantages, all of which were outweighed by the primary social disadvantage of being female. I suggest that at the start of her career Pavlova attempted to create an additional form of social literary capital by translating the poetry of her male contemporaries into European languages. Das Nordlicht, which appeared in 1833, contained translations into German of poetry by Pushkin, Zhukovsky, Del'vig, Baratynsky, Iazykov, and Venivitinov. Les préludes (1839) included translations into French of Mickiewicz, Khomiakov, and Benediktov. Both volumes concluded with Pavlova's own poetry in German and French, respectively. It should be noted that while several of Pavlova's male contemporaries (Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Fet) also translated extensively, they translated foreign works into Russian rather than Russian works into foreign languages. Pavlova in the course of her career was to do both, as well as translating from German into French. But while the translations of Pavlova's male contemporaries did not detract from their reputations as poets—indeed, Zhukovsky's reputation as a poet rests primarily on his translations—Pavlova's seem to have reduced her to being only a translator of (men's) poetry, a handmaiden to the male poetic establishment. At the time of Pavlova's marriage in 1836, a friend of Pushkin wrote him, "N. F. Pavlov is getting married to Mademoiselle Jaenisch, known as an author, but more as a translator of your works." And Be-linsky, who reviewed Pavlova's translations positively, did not similarly praise her poetry.19

Pavlova at the end of her life once again resorted to translating the work of a Russian male contemporary—this time to generate financial rather than literary capital. While living in poverty near Dresden, she translated into German, and by his account, improved the plays of A. K. Tolstoy, which were performed with great success in Germany. Tolstoy in return acted as Pavlova's literary agent in Russia, eventually arranging for her to receive a pension from Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna.20 It was only after her marriage that Pavlova could produce the asset that most helped her poetic career—the very successful salon that she hosted from 1839 until the early 1850s. Here all the previously mentioned factors of literary social capital worked in Pavlova's favor—social standing, wealth, literary connections, location in Moscow, the gratitude of her male contemporaries for her translations of their works, as well as her husband's, Nikolai Pavlov's, journalistic connections. Attendees at the salon included such literary figures as the Aksakovs, Baratynsky, Belinsky, Berg, Fet, Gogol, Granovsky Grigoriev, Herzen, Iazykov, Khomiakov, Kol'tsov, Lermontov, Nikitenko, the Panaevs, Pogodin, Shevyrev, and Viazemsky. The benefit of the salon to Pavlova's career becomes clear when we realize how many of her guests edited or published the periodicals in which her work appeared: Panaev and Nikitenko (Sovremennik), Grigorev, Ivan Kireevsky, Pogodin, Shevyrev (Moskvitianin), Ivan Aksakov (Den'), Herzen (Russkaia potaennaia literatura XIX stoletii). Pavlova's guests also appear to have helped place her poetry, along with their own, in several al'manakhi and collections: Odesskii al'manakh na 1840 god, Literaturnyi vecher (1844), Moskovskii uchenyi i literaturnyi sbornik na 1847, Kievlianin (1850), Raut (1851, 1854), and Nezabudochka (1853).21

In contrast to Khvoshchinskaia, who lacked all these sources of literary social capital, Pavlova was well known, influential, and widely published. Yet Pavlova, like Khvoshchinskaia, incurred criticism and ridicule from her contemporaries because she, too, violated gender norms by taking herself seriously as a poet. One memoirist wrote disapprovingly of her, "She imagined herself a genius in a skirt."22 Here genius not only is gendered as male, as discussed in the introduction, but it also dresses in men's clothes. A woman genius thus constitutes an oxymoron, and Pavlova can be dismissed as both unnatural and presumptuous. In addition, as Barbara Heldt has shown, Pavlova's male contemporary poets never fully accepted her, considering her gender more significant than any poetic talent she possessed. In 1852, instead of supporting Pavlova's protests against her husband's behavior—Pavlov was squandering her estate in ruinous card games and had established a second household with a relative of Pavlova's, Evgeniia Tanneberg, by whom he eventually had three children—these poets closed ranks against her for daring to question male prerogatives. When, as a result of Pavlova's father's complaint to the governor of Moscow about Pavlov's financial dealings, Pavlov's papers were searched and he was arrested for having in his library books forbidden by the censorship. Pavlova's fellow poets attacked Pavlova and hailed Pavlov as a martyr. Driven from Moscow, Pavlova eventually settled near Dresden, where she died in poverty and obscurity in 1893.23

After Pavlova left Russia in the 1850s her social capital and literary reputation virtually disappeared as literary power shifted from the salons run by aristocrats to the "thick journals" edited by radical intellec tuals of nonaristocratic origins (raznochintsy). When a collection of Pavlova's poetry appeared in 1863, radical critics ridiculed it as "frivolous" and out of date, while inaccurately characterizing her as uninterested in current social issues.24

Ten years after Pavlova's death the Russian Symbolists rediscovered her work. Valerii Briusov in a 1903 biographical sketch of Pavlova noted that while Baratynsky and many other well-known nineteenth-century writers had praised her work enthusiastically, no serious critical study of her poetry existed. In 1915 Briusov with his wife, I. M Briusova, published a two-volume edition of Pavlova's collected works, the first since 1863, which in turn produced a flurry of Pavlova scholarship.25

In the Symbolists' rediscovery of Pavlova, too, several factors of literary social capital played a part. Because of the Symbolists' interest in European literature (Ibsen, Nietzsche, Maetterlinck, Hauptmann, D'Annuzio, the French Symbolists), Pavlova's cosmopolitan European background worked in her favor.26 The Symbolists' interest in the Pushkin pleiad made Pavlova, who had close connections with Baratyn-sky and Mickiewicz, a figure of importance to them, as did the fact that several well-known literary men contemporaries had published memoirs of her Moscow salon.27 Perhaps because civic critics attacked the Symbolists for engaging in art for art's sake, the Symbolists championed Pavlova, who had suffered similar attacks at the hands of Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and other radical critics. The Symbolists completely ignored, however, the poetry of Khvoshchinskaia and Mordovtseva, who lived in the provinces where they had no connections with the Pushkin pleiad or skirmishes with civic critics. This is not to suggest that Pavlova, who is a major poet, did not deserve to be rediscovered, but her case does illustrate the influence of social factors on literary reputation.

Unfortunately, the Symbolists in their recovery of Pavlova continued the same gender stereotyping and condescension that we find in earlier nineteenth-century criticism. Briusov, for example, after the first paragraph of his article, refers to Pavlova throughout by her first name, something one cannot imagine his doing to a man poet. Sergei Ernst depicts Pavlova as having fled into an artificial poetic life because of her unrequited love for Mickiewicz. He also characterizes her as having written a great deal of mediocre verse, all of it monotonously melancholy and depressing. Even Rapgof in his generally excellent biography of Pavlova expounds on her suffering after the break with her husband and the significance of the break for her work (Karolina Pavlova, 41-44). One does not find similar discussions of how marital woes affected the work of unhappily married men writers such as Tolstoy, Del'vig, and Panaev.

In any case, all of Pavlova's assets turned into liabilities in the new critical atmosphere that followed the Russian Revolution. Once again Pavlova was relegated to oblivion, this time as an "unprogressive" poet with a suspicious upper-class, cosmopolitan background, who had been dismissed or satirized by the now canonized "revolutionary" critics. Pavlova's gender also continued to be a disadvantage, since, as mentioned earlier, Soviet literary ideologues tended to ignore or denigrate women writers. In Pavlova's case, for many years no criticism about her appeared in the Soviet Union. Although Soviet editions of Pavlova's works appeared in 1937 and 1964, one suspects this only came about because Briusov, who edited the last edition of her complete works in 1915, "accepted the Revolution" and therefore could be invoked to endorse Pavlova. Briusov's name appears at the beginning and the end of the introduction to the 1937 edition.28

In the West, however, Pavlova's cosmopolitan (German) background and gender contributed to the recovery of her work. Munir Sendich credits Dmitrij TschiZewskij with reviving Pavlova "from a protracted oblivion in Germany through his article in 1937" (63X29 That article, however, like many during Pavlova's lifetime, discussed her, not as a poet, but as a translator—here of Pushkin, and probably in connection with the centennial of Pushkin's death. Almost thirty years later, however, in 1964 TschiZewskij did include a discussion of Pavlova's poetry in his Russische Literaturgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Since then additional German criticism has claimed Pavlova for German as well as Russian literature, based on the forty years she lived in Germany.30 In the United States, Zoya Yurieff, who had attended TschiZewskij's lectures on comparative Slavic literature, suggested to her student Munir Sendich that he "resuscitate Pavlova's literary work."31 Sendich's dissertation and series of articles on Pavlova—along with the 1964 Biblioteka poeta edition of Pavlova's poetry—laid the foundation for all subsequent Pavlova scholarship.

Sexual literary politics also played a role in the Pavlova revival. In the 1970s in the wake of a new wave of feminist literary scholarship, Barbara Heldt not only translated Pavlova's Dvoinaia zhizn' into English for the first time but also in her introduction placed Pavlova's life in a feminist literary context. Since then Pavlova has become a focus of feminist criticism and the subject of articles, translations, dissertations, a conference, and a book based on the proceedings. Perhaps as a result of Western interest, starting in the 1980s Russian criticism also witnessed a Pavlova revival.32 Such a belated recovery has yet to come to other equally deserving poets of Pavlova's generation such as Khvoshchinskaia, Mor-dovtseva, and Fuks.

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