Pavlova and Polozhenie zhenshchiny

While gender cannot be considered a major theme in Pavlova's oeuvre, over a twenty-year period she published five works that directly address polozhenie zhenshchiny, the position in society of ordinary and extraordinary women: "Jeanne d'Arc" (1839), "Tri dushi" (Three souls, 1845), Dvoinaia zhizn' (1847), Kadril' (1859), and "Za chainym stolom" ("At the Tea Table," 1859). A chronological examination of these works shows the evolution of Pavlova's ideas concerning women's position in society and literature. Since I have written elsewhere about "Tri dushi," Dvoinaia zhizn', and "Za chainym stolom," here I focus principally on "Jeanne d'Arc" and Kadril'.35

Pavlova wrote her poem "Jeanne d'Arc" in French in connection with her translation (1839) into French of Schiller's very popular play Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801). Zhukovsky had translated Schiller's play into Russian in 1821, the same year that Zinaida Volkonskaia used an Italian adaptation as the libretto for her opera Giovanna d'Arco, in which she performed the lead.36 Pavlova in her "Jeanne d'Arc"—as well as in such works as Kadril', "Doch' zhida," and "Za chainym stolom"— polemicized with men poets' images of woman-as-object by portraying women as subjects of their own experience.

To understand the significance of Pavlova's depiction of Joan of Arc, it is useful to look at those that preceded it. From the end of the eighteenth century several European authors had written literary works about Joan, who embodied Romantic values of national liberation and an unmediated, personal, visionary relationship with the sublime.37 In addition, Joan of Arc's conflict with an authoritarian church over her religious experiences could be understood as the struggle of the individual against oppressive social institutions. Furthermore, she represented a woman warrior at a time when gender roles were beginning to be ques-tioned.38

In contrast to earlier works, Robert Southey's ten-book epic Joan of Arc (1796), the first Romantic depiction of Joan, presented her in a heroic light. In Shakespeare's The First Part of Henry VI (1592), for example, the male characters variously refer to Joan as "witch," "strumpet," "vile fiend and shameless courtesan," "foul fiend of France and hag of all despite," "railing Hecate," "giglot [wanton] wench," ugly witch," "fell banning [cursing] hag," "sorceress," "wicked and vile," and "cursed drab." In one scene Pucelle, as she is called in the stage directions, conjures devils to help her defeat the English, and in a second she denies her father, who wishes to save her. Elsewhere she falsely claims to be a virgin and then just as falsely accuses three different men of having made her pregnant in an attempt to avoid being burned at the stake. That is, Shakespeare establishes a binary opposition between evil, the feminine, France, and the rejection of rightful male authority, on the one hand, and virtue, the masculine, England, and the acceptance of rightful male authority (Henry VI), on the other. Voltaire presents Joan no more heroically in his semipornographic mock epic La Pucelle (1730), an account of the sexual escapades of the French and the English during the Hundred Years War and especially the supposed fate of Joan's virginity.39

Although Southey in his preface to his epic virtuously declares that he never has "been guilty of looking into [the Pucelle of Voltaire]" (Poetical Works, 1: 18) and does not mention Shakespeare, he appears to be responding to both. In making Joan the subject of an epic, as opposed to a satiric mock epic, he could depict her as pure in heart and mind. And Southey deliberately reverses Shakespeare's binary oppositions: in his work female virtue, France, and nature oppose male corruption, England, and the organized church. Southey's epic was considered politically radical and even subversive when it appeared. In his preface Southey stated that the work was written in "a republican spirit" and in the belief that "a happier order of things had commenced with the independence of the United States and would be accelerated by the French Revolution" (Poetical Works, 1: 19). Discussing his modification of the epic form he wrote that he had "acted in direct opposition" to the rule "that the subject [of epics] should be national," choosing instead for his subject "the defeat of the English."40 Southey further challenged epic conventions and the conservative politics of his times not only by creating a female epic hero—a rarity—but also by having her echo Rousseau's ideas about the goodness of nature. In book 3 a group of priests in Chinon examine Joan's religious beliefs before allowing her to take command of the Dauphin's army. She tells them she has outgrown a "God of Terrors" (bk. 3, line 425) because she saw

The eternal energy pervade

The boundless range of nature.

When the priests tell her that Nature is sinful. Joan protests:

It is not Nature that doth lead to sin:

Nature is all benevolence, all love,

Nature teach sin!

Oh blasphemy against the Holy One.

Like Southey's epic, Schiller's play Die Jungfrau von Orleans also responds to Shakespeare and Voltaire. Schiller reverses Shakespeare's scene in which Joan denies her father by having Joan's father deny her. As early as the prologue he fears she may be in league with the powers of hell; he later denounces her as a witch before the crowd assembled for Charles VII's coronation. In contrast to Voltaire, whose work highlights sexual activity, Schiller focuses on sexual desire. Joan can be victorious only as long as she remains above desire. Her one lapse, emotional, not physical, leads to the loss of all her powers and to temporary rejection by the French.41

In each of these works Joan serves as a vehicle for the author's political/literary views, as evidenced in the denouement of each. At the end of Shakespeare's pro-English play Joan is led away to a rightful execution. In Voltaire's risqué mock epic Joan, after almost losing her virginity to a seductive donkey possessed by evil spirits, celebrates her victory over the English by bestowing it on her faithful captain, Dunois. Southey's anti-English, pro-France epic concludes with the coronation of Charles VII. Schiller ends his play (which he subtitled "Eine romantische Tragödie" [A romantic tragedy]) by defying both the natural world and the historical record. The English capture Joan and put her in chains, but once Joan conquers her weakness for the English Lionel, the bonds that hold her miraculously burst. She runs to the battlefield, where she dies gloriously in the arms of Charles VII. Interestingly, all the writers who followed Shakespeare avoided dealing with Joan's death at the stake, although the scene in Southey's epic in which the priests at Chinon question Joan and suggest she be subjected to trial by ordeal may be viewed as a displacement of her torture and death.

In comparison to these epics, mock epics, and plays, Pavlova's "Jeanne d'Arc" is much more modest in scope: a poem of seventeen stanzas with no nationalistic stance. It could be argued, however, that Pavlova's depiction of Joan is the most powerful and intense of all. The poem consists of three sections, each showing Joan at a decisive point of her career. In the first section of seven stanzas Pavlova portrays Joan listening to her voices. While in Southey's work the voices that Joan hears belong to Saint Agnes and in Schiller's to the Virgin Mary, in Pavlova's poem they belong to the Holy Spirit ("l'Esprit"), depicted as male, merciless, and even sadistic:

Son implacable voix qui lui parle à l'oreille; [ ]

Le souffle du très-haut a rempli sa victime

(His implacable voice, which speaks in her ear; [ ]

Misfortune to you! Misfortune young convict! [ ]

The breath from on high has filled its victim)

Pavlova's description of Joan's interaction with the spirit suggests repeated rape or forced marriage:

Elle doit revenir demain, comme aujourd'hui, Subir en frissonnant son approache fatale, Durant toute la nuit rester, muette et pâle, Face à face avec lui.

(She must return tomorrow, as she did today, To submit, trembling, to his inevitable approach, Throughout the entire night remain mute and pale, Face to face with him.)

In Pavlova's version the spirit takes away Joan's humanity: Elle doit [. ..]

Ignorer toute joie et tout amour humain, [ ]

Obéis! fais ton coeur impitoyable et sourd; Brise tous tes bonheurs, ferme à jamais ton âme!

Remain unaware of all joy and all human love, [ ]

Obey! Make your heart pitiless and deaf; Crush all your joys, forever close your soul!)

Pavlova's depiction of the sublime in terms of horror and assault is comparable to Pushkin's in "Prorok" (The prophet, 1826).

H OH K yCTaM MOHM npHHHK,

H BLipBan rpemHHH mom a3LiK, H npa3flH0cn0BHHH h nyKaBLin, H «ano MyapLia 3MeH B ycTa 3aMepmHe moh

H Eora rnac ko MHe B033Ban: BoccTaHt, npopoK, h bh«ab, h BHeMnH, HcnonHHCt Bonero Moen.

(And he pressed himself to my mouth, And tore out my sinful, idle, crafty tongue, And put the sting of the wise serpent Into my frozen mouth

And the voice of God called to me, "Arise, prophet, and behold and hear And be filled with my will.")

Like Pushkin, Pavlova implicitly compares her prophet's experience of the sublime with that of the poet.

Car Dieu ceindra ton front d'ardentes auréoles, Sur tes lèvres viendront de sublimes paroles, Et tu devras frémir à tes propres accents:

(For God will encircle your forehead with blazing haloes,

Sublime words will come to your lips,

And you will have to shudder at your own voice: )

In the second section of "Jeanne d'Arc," which consists of three stanzas, Pavlova shows Joan in battle, a figure of horror as well as a victim.

Dans la profonde horreur des fumantes batailles

Elle marche en avant, sans coeur et sans entrailles, [ ]

Haletante, au pouvoir d'un force cruelle.

(In the deep horror of the smoking battles

She marches forward, without heart and without feelings, [ ]

Gasping in the power of a cruel force.)

The final section, which like the first consists of seven stanzas, shows Joan just before her execution with no suggestion of Schiller's miraculous deliverance.

Que l'épreuve terrible aujourd'hui s'accomplisse!

(Well, pale martyr, drain your cup!

Let the terrible ordeal be carried out today!)

We see Joan discarded by an indifferent God, who no longer needs her:

Aujourd'hui l'oeuvre est faite, Il permet que l'on brise L'inutile instrument.

(Today the work is done, he allows The useless tool to be broken.)

However, Pavlova implies that Joan has become a Christlike member of the Lutheran elect, predestined for salvation:

Oh! Tu le savais bien, en quittant la chaumière, [ ]

Que tu succomberais sous la croix des Elus!

(For everyone will stand back from the predestined one! [ ]

Oh! You knew well when you left the thatched cottage, [ ]

That you would perish under the cross of the elect!)

In the last line, "Marche au bûcher ardent!" (March to the flaming stake!), Pavlova in her literal use of the word "ardent" (flaming) ironi cally echoes her previous metaphorical usage: ardents aureoles (blazing haloes) and ardent archange (ardent archangel). In a direct response to Schiller's "Romantic" and fantastic tragedy, Pavlova in her poem more realistically balances the glory of Joan's fate with its horror.

Unlike Shakespeare and Voltaire, who punish Joan for being effective and independent, Schiller, who punishes her for having desire, and Southey, who depicts her as a Kali-like phallic woman for the delectation of his men readers, Pavlova presents Joan with empathy.42 Pavlova attributes to Joan not so much national-political as sexual-political significance. Her portrait of Joan as an extraordinary woman—and a type of woman artist—challenges cultural assumptions that women could not experience and communicate the sublime. Rather, Pavlova shows that both Joan of Arc and the woman poet risk being destroyed—be-coming both more and less than human—by the very power of the forces they contain. Nonetheless, neither Joan nor the woman poet receive recognition from "the crowd," that is, society:

[C]e peuple insensé, qui maintenant te crie Sa malediction .

(These foolish people who now scream their curse at you.)

Of course, Pavlova's male contemporary poets also describe society's rejection of them ("the poet and the crowd" motif). But Joan as an extraordinary woman suffers an additional curse, the accusation of witch-craft—of violating divine order—something the man poet does not face. Unlike extraordinary men, Joan as an extraordinary woman experiences no glory, only a lonely and reviled end—as did Pavlova herself. In "Jeanne d'Arc" Pavlova creates a complex but believable depiction of Joan in her own terms. Pavlova's is the least sentimental and sensational depiction of Joan's glory and the most frightening vision of the inhumanity of the divine.

Pavlova depicts the same pitiless cosmology in her "Tri dushi" (Three souls), a poem that also concerns extraordinary women with a divine mission. In contrast to Joan, however, these women, who are poets, are not even granted the satisfaction of accomplishing their mission before they perish. As I have suggested elsewhere, in "Tri dushi" Pavlova uses the Biblical parable of the sower and the seeds (Matthew 13) to describe the fates of three women poets—Delphine Gay (1804-55), Lucretia Maria Davidson (1808-25), and herself—all born around the same year.

At the beginning of the poem a harsh God decides to test their souls by throwing them on unfallow ground, telling them not to blame him if they become despondent:

H ec^n ayx na^eT .neHHBHH

B MHpcKoM 6oro,— fla He bhhht Bam ponoT axibmh Hk>6obb mom.

(And if your lazy spirit becomes despondent

In the terrestrial battle Don't in your false grumbling Blame my love.)

As in the Biblical parable, thorns, the thorns of society, "grew up and choked" the first soul, Gay. The second soul, Davidson, like the seeds thrown along the road, perishes in the American wilderness through lack of nurture. Pavlova imagines that her own fate, like that of the seeds thrown into shallow soil, will be to grow quickly at first, but then to die without bearing fruit. This view of the extraordinary woman's fate is even darker than the one she presents in "Jeanne d'Arc."

In Dvoinaia zhizn', often considered her best work, Pavlova moves from the fate of the extraordinary woman (the artist) in society, to that of the "ordinary" woman—the artist manquee—whom Pavlova does not depict as ordinary at all.43 She dedicated the work "To you ... slaves of noise and vanity.. .. Psyches, deprived of wings, the mute sisters of my soul" (231), that is, to upper-class women whom society has deprived of their creativity and voice. This theme of polozhenie zhenshchiny, women's constrained position in society, had appeared in several society tales of the 1830s and 1840s (for example, those of Elena Gan, Mar'ia Zhukova, Evdokiia Rostopchina, Avdotiia Panaeva, and Vladimir Odoevsky), but Pavlova gives a more direct analysis of the causes and implications of women's restricted lives. She shows that society, in order to make young women "marriageable," condemns them to banal, empty, soul-destroying lives strictly governed by propriety. As a result, women lose their inherent creativity and even the so-called good matches they manage to make—marriages to rich men—bring them nothing but un-happiness. On a verbal level, Pavlova evokes women's lack of physical and mental freedom by creating what Tschizewskij calls a "semantic field" consisting of such words as rab (slave), uznitsa (prisoner), skovali

(fettered), umstvennyi korset (mental corset), and prigovor (judicial sen-

tence).44

Ta y3H^a nroflCKoro Kpaa, Ta »epTBa »a^Kon cyeTH,

Te6a ohh CKoBa^n c fleTCTBa,

(That prisoner of the human realm, That victim of pitiful vanity,

They have fettered you from childhood.)

TaK HflH » no npnroBopy, Ee33a^HTHa h oflHa

(So go, according to your sentence, Undefended and alone)

H HHHe oHa, octMHaOTaTH.neTHaa, TaK npHBHma k CBoeMy yMCTBeHHoMy KopceTy, hto He qyBCTBoBa^a ero Ha ce6e 6o.nee cb-oero me^KoBoro, kotophh cHHMa^a to^bko Ha hohb.

(And now at eighteen, she was so used to her mental corset that she didn't feel it any more than she did the silk one that she took off only at night.)

In a series of dreams, Pavlova's heroine, Cecilia, a marriageable young woman in Moscow society, discovers a realm of poetry, truth, and spiritual values beyond the stifling world in which she lives. Although Cecilia seems very ordinary, the narrator shows us her thwarted poetic genius, which can only emerge in her sleep. Cecilia, however, cannot escape her lot, and having been given a glimpse of her "legacy: freedom of feelings and the kingdom of thought" (243), she must return to what the reader realizes will be an unhappy marriage and an early death. The presence of an ironic and passionate narrator commenting on the banality of Cecilia's daytime life, a narrator who at the end of the work reveals herself to be a woman poet, underlines Cecilia's wasted possibili ties. Pavlova implies that there is no qualitative difference between the extraordinary woman, regarded as a freak by her society, and every other woman.

Another link between Dvoinaia zhizn' and the works discussed earlier can be found in the mysterious, "stern," reproachful but "loving" male figure who appears in Cecilia's dreams each night—a fitting representative of the sadistic but supposedly loving God we have already encountered:

Ctoht oh, nonoH crporoH mo^e, CTOHT HeABE^HHH e HeMOH; Oh en raa^ET otome b ohe TnaflET oh b Aymy en aymon. KaKOH behh, KaKOH ooe6ke YnpeK HaxMypEn 3Ty 6poBt? Ha stom nEKe 6e3 y.mi6KE KaKaa rpycTHaa nro6oBt!

(He stands, full of stern power, He stands motionless and unspeaking, He looks straight into her eyes, He look straight into her soul. Reproach for what guilt, what mistake Clouds his brow? On that unsmiling face What sad love!)

As we shall see, this figure in various guises continues to appear in Pavlova's later works.45

Pavlova turned even further from cosmology to social issues in the last two works to be discussed, Kadril' (Quadrille) and her short story "Za chainym stolom." Pavlova first published both in 1859 in Russkii vestnik but wrote them over a period of about twenty years. Perhaps as a result, both combine the protests against women's lack of freedom in society (polozhenie zhenshchiny) typical of the 1840s with the more radical issues of self-determination surrounding the woman question (zhenskii vopros) of the late 1850s.46 Like Cecilia in Dvoiana zhizn', the heroines of both works are "ordinary" women in society. However, unlike her they are older and wiser survivors of their first painful encounters with love. We shall consider Kadril' first. Not only did it appear a few months earlier, but it introduces issues that Pavlova further develops in "Za chainym stolom," her most radical critique of women's position in society and literature.

Starting with Kadril', Pavlova no longer focuses on women's relationships with an unsympathetic God, but rather on their struggle with an inimical society and with the literary models that limit and objectify them.47 In Kadril' four women gather in a countess's house before going to a ball. The countess opines that women cause their own sufferings because their weak characters lead them to make bad choices. The other three protest that, unlike the rich and powerful countess, most women have little freedom to make choices. To illustrate the social forces that constrain them, each woman then tells of her first painful love experience. The scholar Susanne Fusso points out that each story deflates some aspect of the Romantic Russian hero ("Pavlova's Quadrille," 120, 121). As in "Jeanne d'Arc," "Tri dushi," and Dvoinaia zhizn', these stories replace androcentric images of women with women-centered narratives.

In the first story Nadina recounts how her mother, despite Nadina's attraction to a "handsome Hungarian," pressured her into marriage with Andrei Il'ich, a "fat, stooped, bald and pockmarked" (316) but rich landowner. Until the last moment Nadina resists the wedding, but when a thief steals the costly jewels her fiancé has given her, she feels she has no choice but to go through with the ceremony. In an ironic twist, Nadina admits that five years later she finds herself very content with her husband and her life. Fusso writes that Nadina's story debunks the Karl Moor prototype ("Pavlova's Quadrille," 121); Pavlova's very Romantic-looking thief remains completely unmoved by Nadina's pleas that he not condemn her to an unwelcome marriage by stealing the jewels. The story also debunks Tat'iana's tragic fate at the end of Evgenii Onegin: married to a fat general, but still in love with Onegin, the Romantic hero. In contrast to Tat'iana, Nadina at the story's end has achieved peace of mind. She has realized that Romantic heroes will not save her and are not worth pining over; they are either indifferent to her, like the Hungarian, or thieves. On a still deeper level, Nadina realizes that the Romantic hero is not the antithesis of the undesired husband, but rather an extension of him. The thief who steals her jewels does Andrei Il'ich's work for him in forcing Nadina to consent to the marriage. Pavlova underlines the identity between Romantic hero and unromantic husband in the dream Nadina has just before the caballero-thief enters: Andrei Il'ich comes into her room dressed as a caballero complete with sword, sombrero, and guitar. He throws the guitar at Nadina, shattering a mirror, the mirror, one suspects, of her illusions.

In Liza's story, as Fusso remarks, Pavlova debunks Pushkin's Pikovaia dama (The Queen of Spades) ("Pavlova's Quadrille," 120-21). Pavlova's Liza, like her Pushkinian namesake, grows up as the ward of an evil-natured, reputedly rich aunt who enjoys tormenting her. As in Pikovaia dama, a young man who pretends to be in love with Liza sees her only as a means to the aunt's wealth. In contrast to Pushkin's Gothic tale of madness, secrets, and ghosts, however, in Pavlova's society tale Aleksei simply rejects Liza because he considers the legacy she receives from her aunt insufficient. While Pushkin depicts Liza's tragedy as Germann's rejection of her, Pavlova recenters the story on Liza's psychological coming of age. Liza has gained self-knowledge and the ability to see beyond the myth of romantic love. Looking back she says of Aleksei:

[. . .] a HeM Ham.nanpefl.nor fl-a .hk>6bh, A-na c^acTHa 6e3 MepH.

Bce »e mh, Me^Taa h nro6a, flam cbom K-aaeM k HoraM XHMepH,

Bce b apyroM mh H^eM nHmt ce6a.

(In him I found a pretext

For love, and for happiness beyond measure.

We all, dreaming and loving,

Place our gift at the feet of chimeras,

We all are only searching for ourselves in the other.)

More than the loss of her relationship with Aleksei, Pavlova's Liza grieves her loss of spiritual balance and self-respect. Her desire for Aleksei blocked any compassion for her unpleasant but suffering aunt, leading Liza simply to wish her dead. Standing over her aunt's body, Liza silently says a requiem for her aunt and for herself. By the time she recounts the story, however, Liza, like Nadina, has achieved some peace of mind.

Ol'ga's story concerns the humiliation she experienced at her first ball. Innocent, awkward, and defenseless, with no male relative to protect her, Ol'ga becomes a victim of the cruelty of several men: they ignore her, reject her, and finally make her the butt of a practical joke by introducing her to a madman who proposes to any woman on sight. Ol'ga takes his proposal seriously until she overhears the jokers congratulating themselves. Once again, romantic-appearing heroes—this one is not a thief but a madman—cannot help women. Ol'ga, like the other women, has learned to rely on herself and now commands respect in society.

Countess Polina, we learn, did have a male relative to protect her. However, she could never please her judgmental and dour cousin Vadim, who oppressed her with his disapproval. To spite him, Polina flirts with a guardsman at a party. When a count comments on her behavior, Vadim challenges him to a duel in which Vadim dies. Thirteen years later the countess still cannot forgive herself for having caused her cousin's death. The fact that Polina is now a countess suggests that she has married the count who killed Vadim, perhaps as a penance.

The countess in her story sums up the cause of women's unhappiness in society:

CMect cBoeBoma h HeBorn, [ ]

Tfle b na6HpHHTe BocnHTama PyKoBoflHTe^tHaa hhtb? . .

(The senselessness of a woman's role—

A mixture of caprice and bondage [ ]

Where in the labyrinth of our upbringing Is the guiding thread?—)

In fact, these women have had no guidance. Nadina has no father; her sick mother only worries about her daughter's material well-being. Liza is an orphan dependent on an aunt who resembles an evil stepmother. Ol'ga, too, has no father. Her mother can neither teach her what she needs to know nor protect her from being abused in society. The countess has no mother, only an over-indulgent father and an aunt. Nor can the harsh and judgmental Vadim give her the guidance she needs.

In structure Kadril' is a double-frame narrative.48 Not only do the four women discuss one another's stories (the first frame), but, as in Dvoinaia zhizn', a woman poet narrates the entire work, providing a second frame in a prologue. By connecting the various narrative levels of the work, Pavlova reduces even further than she did in Dvoinaia zhizn' the distinction between extraordinary women—the poet-narrator—and the "ordinary" woman in society. First, in contrast to the more aloof and impersonal narrator of Dvoinaia zhizn', the narrator of Kadril' verges on being a character. She declares her gender immediately, at the beginning of the first digression:

ro^HOH HOHE He 3Haro a, Poccee flo^t

(I, a daughter of Russia, do not know A southern night.)

She also provides personal information about herself, for example, that she loves Moscow and has a small son.

Second, Pavlova flattens the distinction between ordinary women and poets by having the women characters narrate their own stories, thus emphasizing their similarity to the poet-narrator. Third, Pavlova brings the narrative levels together syntactically by repeating in the four women's stories motifs and "semantic fields" from the narrator's introduction. For example, the narrator tells us:

npomnE B006pa»eHta qapti; flaBHO He B03My^a»T CHa HE aHflany3CKEe rETapH . . .

(Imagination's spells have passed,

For a long time my dreams have not been perturbed

Either by Andalusian guitars . . .)

As we have seen, the Andalusian guitars reappear in Nadina's story.

The word "detskii" (childish), which the narrator self-deprecatingly applies to her poetry ("detskii stikh" [childish verse]), also recurs with variations throughout the four stories, culminating in that of the countess. Nadina's tale:

^Ena a »E3HEKI npOCTOH E fleTCKOH,

(I lived a simple and childish life.)

MTO fleTCKaa HeKCTaTE TyT npE^y^a

(That my childish caprices were inappropriate here.)

Pe6eHoK BeTpeHHH hctc3 (The fickle child disappeared.)

The countess's tale:

Mto a 6eccMtccneHHo-ynpaMa H ManoaymHa KaK AHTa

(That I was senselessly stubborn And faint-hearted, like a child.)

KaK TemH-act a b 3no6e fleTCKon (How I amused myself in childish spite.)

He 6yat ynopHee AHTaTH

(Don't be more stubborn than a child.)

The repetition of the word "detskii" (childish) underlines Pavlova's theme: that women can only gain freedom by renouncing the social conditioning that encourages them to remain children.

Pavlova creates the most striking echo between narrative levels, however, in the similarity between the countess's description of Vadim in the culminating story and the narrator's depiction of Pushkin (noted by Fusso in "Pavlova's Quadrille," 125). We see in Vadim yet another incarnation of the disapproving, harsh, but loving God from the earlier works. Polina says,

Bceraa 6oanact KaK orHa [ ]

Ho ahbho mno k 6poBaM TeM cTporHM npoTHBope^te KpoTKHX ry6.

(I always feared his unexpected criticisms Like fire

But the contradiction of those severe brows went wonderfully well With his gentle lips.)49

The narrator in her introduction presents Pushkin as similarly judgmental: as the last and most unappealing incarnation of the stern, disappointed, disapproving God (or male "muse" discussed in chapter 2), inimical to women's achievements. Nor do we find in this depiction even the redeeming glimpse of tenderness or love we have seen in previous versions of this figure. As noted in chapter 3, the narrator imagines Pushkin condemning her work in advance:

3aqeM, Ka^aa ro.oBoro, TaK cTporo Ha MeHa cMOTpa, 3aqeM ctohob nepe^o MHO», npH3paK neB^-6oraTtipa?

(Why, shaking your head, Looking at me so sternly, Why do you stand before me, Specter of the bogatyr of singers?)

She compares Pushkin with the armored body of the Cid, which, placed on a horse at the head of the Spanish army, routed the Moors, who did not realize he was dead. This death-in-life image is echoed by the countess's comparison of Vadim to Pushkin's Stone Guest.50 In these menacing and lifeless depictions the figure seems to have reached his culminating form. He does not appear in subsequent works.

Pavlora's Kadril', in innovative, masterly verse, challenges and redefines several literary traditions—the svetskaia povest', the povest' v stikhakh, and the poema—as well as the standard depiction of women in Russian literature. Critics, however, have ignored this remarkable achievement. The work deserves a great deal more attention.

In "Za chainym stolom," the last of these works, and Pavlova's only published short story, cosmology is completely absent. If Kadril' questioned and rewrote specific plots by men (Baratynsky and Pushkin), "Za chainym stolom" looks at the assumptions underlying such stories—the androcentric social and narrative conventions that govern stories about women—and how those stories are told.

"Za chainym stolom" develops further several themes from Kadril'. The discussion about women's nature now takes place between men and women at tea instead of exclusively among women before a ball. A countess again leads the conversation, but this countess expresses more self-confidence and less ambivalence about women. Her analysis of the inadequacies of women's upbringing seems like an expansion of her counterpart's terse diagnosis in Kadril'. Kadril':

The senselessness of a woman's role— A mixture of caprice and bondage. (366)

"Za chainym stolom":

One would think that almost every woman is brought up by her worst enemy, so strangely do they care for her. She cannot earn money like a man, and by law is virtually deprived of paternal inheritance, so they instill in her a need for luxuries. She cannot propose to a man, so from childhood they frighten her with spin-sterhood as a shameful disaster, make her incapable of independence, and teach her to look upon it as indecent. A frivolous choice can make her unhappy for life, so they train her to be frivolous and capricious. A momentary attraction is enough to ruin her irrevocably. Knowing this, they develop coquettishness in her and the inclination to play with danger, and they repress anything that could give her a serious direction.51

Unlike her counterpart in Kadril', the countess in "Za chainym stolom" does not denigrate women. Here it is a man, Aleksei Petrovich, who argues that women are physically and morally inferior to men. To prove his point, Aleksei Petrovich tells of a princess who discovers that her fiancé, apparently sweet, humble, and simple, is in fact a poor, brilliant, and ambitious man using this pose among aristocrats to support himself and his mother. The princess calls off the wedding, telling her fiancé that she cannot bring herself to become the wife of a man who dissembles so well. The countess responds to Aleksei Petrovich's story by suggesting that women do not differ from men at all. She asks him, "Do you think that if it were reversed, if [the man] were a woman and the princess a man, that the man would have acted differently?" Aleksei Petrovich is forced to admit he does not know.

Pavlova also further develops the motif of the coquettish woman who causes a duel in which a man dies. However, Princess Alina in "Za chainym stolom," unlike the countess in Kadril', refuses to accept all the blame, telling the surviving duelist when he reproaches her that he must take responsibility for his own actions including his decision to duel with his friend.

As I have discussed elsewhere, in "Za chainym stolom" Pavlova has an audience of women question the biases and one-sidedness of men's stories about them. On a formal level the work questions the very narrative conventions that produce such stories, such as the death-or-marriage ending. In one of the story's epigraphs Pavlova writes, "I would like there to be not one finished story; it's the ending that spoils everything... . An ended story after all, is a garden enclosed by a stone wall that doesn't allow you to see into the distance." Pavlova, in fact, dispenses with the death-or-marriage ending. In the story itself Aleksei Petrovich concludes, "I cannot report any kind of ending to you because neither Khozrevsky nor Wismer nor the princess died, and because she didn't marry either one."52 In offering another ending for women, neither death nor marriage (the "destruction or territorialization of women"), the story challenges both literary and social conventions.53

Until the 1980s critics and scholars discussed Pavlova's work only in terms of its connections with the male literary tradition, at best granting Pavlova, as an "extraordinary woman," the status of honorary man. As I hope to have shown, however, in these works at least, Pavlova, who knew she was extraordinary, did not write as an honorary man but "as a woman." She emphatically rejected the idea of any essential gulf between extraordinary and ordinary women, depicting extraordinary women as very human and ordinary women as extraordinary. Pavlova's movement in these five works from cosmology to a sophisticated analysis of the cultural and literary assumptions that hamper women in society showed her growing interest in the conditions that all women shared. It seems likely that Pavlova read and was influenced by Russian and European women writers as well as men, and I suggest it would be worthwhile to examine her work in the context of women's literary traditions.

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