Social Conditions for Canonical Poets

One conclusion we can draw from this admittedly miniscule sample of three groups of poets—canonical men, noncanonical men, and non-canonical women—is that some correlation exists between canonicity and literary social capital. As mentioned earlier, literary social capital for the poets we have been discussing included such factors as social position, education, location in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, mentors, and personal connections with literary gatekeepers and opinion-makers. The canonical poets of this generation whom we have considered (Pushkin, Del'vig, Baratynsky, Iazykov, Lermontov, Tiutchev, Fet) all came from privileged, aristocratic backgrounds and received excellent educations.3 In addition to being tutored at home, Pushkin and Del'vig graduated from the prestigious Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum; Lermontov, Tiutchev, and Fet attended Moscow University; Baratynsky attended the Corps of Pages, an aristocratic military school, and Iazykov spent many years at the university at Dorpat (Tartu). They all lived in the center (Saint Petersburg and/or Moscow), as opposed to the periphery (the provinces), for significant periods of time, and as noted in chapter 1, they all benefited from close connections with the literary establishment. They also enjoyed male privilege, which included access to a classical/university education, study groups and literary circles, mentors as opposed to literary guardians, and the possibility of editing a journal or al'manakh. As we have seen, no women poets—not even aristocrats who lived in the capitals, for example, Rostopchina, Pavlova, and Bakunina—possessed these advantages.

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