Social Conditions

The social conditions that these poets shared included Russian women's educational, economic, legal, and literary-historical status.1 As we shall see, these poets responded to those conditions in a great variety of ways.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the only education available for nonserf women—all the poets in this group—was provided by home tutors, instituty (government-run boarding schools for girls of the nobility), or private pensions of varying quality.2 The first gim-naziia (secondary schools) for women would not be established until 1858.

Economically, such women could only survive outside of marriage by remaining dependent on relatives or by entering a convent.3 Few if any opportunities existed for them to earn money, and they inherited considerably less than their male siblings.4 Within this group of fourteen poets, all of them married except for Kul'man, who died at age seventeen, Shakhova, who became a nun, and Bakunina, who inherited an estate from an aunt, where she was able to live with her two unmarried sisters. Lisitsyna's biography remains unknown.

But although marriage represented the only option for most Russian women, it also put women at a disadvantage. The law not only required a woman to live "in absolute obedience" (v neogranichennom poslushanii) to her husband—whose permission she needed to work, go to school, or travel—but also condoned a husband's corporal punishment of his wife "short of severe bodily injury." Even if a severely assaulted woman managed to get her husband convicted of the crime, the law still required her to live with him when he returned from prison or exile; Russian Orthodox canon law, which regulated marriage law, did not recognize legal separations. Nor did abuse, no matter how severe, constitute grounds for a divorce or annulment, which, in any case, were virtually impossible to obtain (Freeze, 743). In cases of life-threatening abuse the government occasionally stepped in "on special directives from the emperor" and granted a woman a separate residence permit. Russian women were thought to have an advantage over women in the West because they could own property and, in theory, legally possessed their dowries. In fact, however, neither women's upbringing, nor marriage law, nor custom, nor the church gave women the resources they needed to enforce those rights.5

While I do not wish to imply that every Russian wife was a victim of abuse, the experiences of several of these women poets illustrate the lack of physical and financial protection for married women. Pavlova's husband, Nikolai Pavlov, who married her for her money, managed her fortune and dissipated it in compulsive gambling and in establishing a second household with Pavlova's cousin, Evgeniia Tanneberg, with whom he had three children. Mordovtseva fled from her first husband, Nikandr Paskhalov, because of his physical abusiveness. Her second husband, the writer Daniil Mordovtsev, impoverished and abandoned her. Khvoshchinskaia's husband, Ivan Zaionchkovsky, whom she married late in life, reportedly also was abusive.6

At the very least, marriage and children made it more difficult for these women to concentrate on their writing, not to mention their careers. Although Rostopchina and Pavlova were able to continue writing after their marriages, the uncondensed, improvisatory quality in much of Rostopchina's work may indicate her inability to make art her first priority. Pavlova had only one child but expressed guilt on at least one occasion for writing at all. Teplova, who had three children, virtually stopped writing after her marriage. Although previously she had managed to publish two books of poetry, two years after her marriage she wrote to professor and editor M. A. Maksimovich, "Existence and household cares have largely swallowed me up, and it often occurs to me that I am not a poet at all" (Vatsuro, "Zhizn' i poeziia Nadezhdy Teplovoi," 33). Zhadovskaia, who lived until 1883, stopped writing poetry around the year of her marriage in 1862, when she reportedly told her niece and secretary, Nastas'ia Fedorova, "Love has disappeared from my heart and poetry has abandoned me." Gotovtseva, we are told, stopped writing after her marriage because of "unfavorable [neblagopriiatnye] family circumstances" (Russkie pisateli, 2: 659). Mordovtseva, who had six children by two husbands, wrote poetry from the

1840s, but published her first and only book of poetry in 1877, after her second husband abandoned her. Only the unmarried poets—Shakhova (a nun) and Kul'man (recognized as a child prodigy)—enjoyed the luxury of being able to concentrate on their art.7

For most of the men poets of this generation, however, marriage not only did not interfere with their writing but indeed advanced their careers. Tiutchev successively married two widowed German baronesses. The first, Emilia-Eleonor Botmer, helped establish him in diplomatic and literary circles in Munich through her wealth and connections. The second, Ernestine Pfeffel, edited a posthumous edition of Tiutchev's poetry. She also, in D. S. Mirsky's words, showed "wonderful tact and forbearance" (History of Russian Literature, 133) in Tiutchev's fourteen-year affair with Elena Denis'eva, the governess whose reputation he felt guilty about destroying. Fet married Mariia Botkina, the wealthy sister of Vasilii Botkin, the critic who promoted Fet's career. Baratynsky's wife, the very intelligent Anastasiia Engel'gardt, we are told, devoted herself to creating a peaceful domestic atmosphere for her husband. Baratyn-sky discussed his work with her and generally followed her suggestions for revision. Del'vig's wife, Sof'ia Saltykova, a student of Pushkin's friend the Moscow university professor P. A. Pletnev, established a successful literary salon attended by Pushkin, Pletnev, Odoevsky, Mick-iewicz, and other literary figures. And while Pushkin's wife did not express a great deal of interest in his poetry, there is no evidence that he felt he should curtail his writing to care for their three children.8

Domestic Ideology

The doctrine that justified the educational, economic, and marital constraints experienced by these poets was domestic ideology. Arising in Europe and the United States between 1790 and 1830 and coming to Russia in the 1820s, domestic ideology held that "ladies" belonged in the home, where they were to exhibit the qualities of "piety, purity, sub-missiveness and domesticity" (Welter, Dimity Convictions, 21; see also Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, 8). The princesses from Denmark, Germany, or Prussia who married Paul I, Alexander I, Nicholas I, and Alexander II appear to have brought domestic ideology to Russia with them, promulgating it through the prestigious instituty they administered. By 1827 the rigorous academic program that Catherine II had originally mandated for Smolny, the first institut, had been reduced to "the law of

God, essential learning [neobkhodimye nauki], useful handiwork and home economics [domashnee khoziaistvo]" (Likhacheva, Materialy dlia is-torii zhenskogo obrazovaniia v Rossii, 3: 7)."

Domestic ideology entered Russia through the periodic press as well. "Thick" journals (tolstye zhurnaly) reviewed Russian translations of French, English, and German conduct books, beauty guides, and marriage manuals that spread the ideology, to the general praise of reviewers, with the notable exception of Vissarion Belinsky.

Along with the rise of domestic ideology came attacks on intellectual women. By the 1820s, writes the scholar Marlon Ross, the once positive term "bluestocking"—a woman (originally also a man) with intellectual or literary interests—had become exclusively a term of derision.10 Byron, for example, in his satire "The Blues: A Literary Eclogue" (1821) implied that women cannot understand, much less write, poetry. In Russia, Pushkin, too, in Evgenii Onegin attacked intellectual women:

He Aan MHe 6or cohthcb Ha 6ane Hnt npn pa3te3fle Ha Kptm^e C ceMHHapncTOM b »emon mann Hnt c aKa^eMHKOM b qe^e!

(God forbid that at a ball Or on the porch as I am leaving I should meet a seminarian in a yellow shawl Or an academician in a woman's cap!)

Critics subjected women writers to even fiercer scorn than bluestockings; it was no longer considered acceptable or even normal for women to write. The woman writer was seen as usurping male prerogatives, an unrespectable "crossdresser ... wearing the ill-fitting literary apparel intended for men," a woman "prone to scandal"—epitomized for many at this time by George Sand.11 In Russia, too, attacks on literary women began in the 1820s. Baratynsky in his poem "Sovet" (Advice, published in Moskovskii telegraf, 1826, later retitled "Epigramma" [Epigram]), warned women that if they tried to write poetry not only would they be ridiculed as unfeminine but also their work would be pronounced incompetent and promptly forgotten:

He TporaHTe napHaccKoro nepa, He TporaHTe, npnro»ne BocTpymKn! KpacaB^aM He MHoro b HeM ao6pa, H hm AMyp apyrne Aan nrpymKH,

Hro6oBB nH BaM OCTaBHTL B 3a6tiTBH flna »a^KHX pH^M? Hafl pH^MaMH CMeroTCa, YhOCST HX neTHHCKHe CTpyH— Ha na^t^HKax qepHH^a OCTaroTCa.

(Don't touch the Parnassian pen

Don't touch it, my comely, sprightly ones!

There is little good in it for beauties

And Cupid has given them other toys

Will you really consign love to oblivion

For pitiful rhymes? They will laugh at rhymes

The currents of Lethe [the river of forgetfulness] will carry them away And ink will remain on your little fingers.)12

Such disparagement escalated during the 1830s and 1840s in the Russian periodic press. Now women writers were depicted not only as ludicrously incompetent but also as destroyers of their families, murderers of their children, women "asking" to be raped, unattractive bores, or sexual objects, as can be seen from three literary works with nearly the same title.13

In "Zhenshchina pisatel'nitsa" (The woman writer or The authoress, 1837), a povest' (tale) by Rakhmannyi (pseud. N. N. Verevkin), a woman writer carelessly drops her child, causing it irreparable injury. During the child's long decline, only his father cares for him while the mother pursues her writing career. When the child finally dies, the mother is too busy at a performance of her play to go home to kiss him farewell. Her play, of course, is a failure.

A second depiction of a woman playwright destroying her family may be found in a play, similarly titled Zhenshchina-pisatel'nitsa (1848), apparently based on Rakhmannyi's story. Ironically the author was a woman, Mar'ia Korsini (1815-59). In Korsini's work the protagonist, Glafira Platonovna, not only fails as a playwright and almost demolishes her family but also barely escapes being raped by a man writer before being saved by her husband. Korsini, however, provides a happy ending: Glafira Platonovna renounces her foolish desire to be a writer to return to her proper role as wife and mother.

A third work, a story, again called "Zhenshchina-pisatel'nitsa," presents two women writers. The first, an unattractive bore, literally puts the male narrator to sleep when she reads from her work. The second woman writer, in contrast, embodies the narrator's ideal. She is brilliant, beautiful, dislikes other women, and although surrounded by admiring men, responds only to the narrator. Unfortunately, at this point the narrator awakens as the first woman writer's reading ends, and he realizes he has been dreaming. The story is by Aleksandr Druzhinin, author of Polinka Saks, who in Russian literary history is depicted as a champion of women's rights.14

Little girls also received warnings about the evils of literary women. In a children's story, "Perepiski sestry s bratom" (Correspondence between a sister and brother), thirteen-year-old Masha makes the mistake of telling her older brother that she would like to be a writer.15 He replies with shock, outrage, and threats: "A writer! . .. Do you understand the importance of this word, little girl? Of course not! It must be that you [.. .] only [want] people to talk about you [...] friends and strangers to praise you, perhaps even to publish some of your works" (43). "Yes, believe me, my dear Masha, any little girl who already wants to see her little trivialities in print deserves to be punished" (44). Masha is suitably chastened, as is their mother for having let Masha get so out of hand. In her last letter Masha tells her brother that she has renounced her "brazen literary schemes [derzkie literaturnye zatei\' (102) "and I am even afraid of the name woman writer [pisatel'nitsa]" (103). In the final letter, her brother congratulates her upon her reformation. Here, as in the other stories about women writers, women's (or girls') writing is implicitly equated with "sexual display."16

At the same time that women playwrights and prose writers were being attacked, the cultural definition of woman poets gradually shifted to accommodate the idea of "woman's sphere." In England a new consensus arose between 1790 and 1830 that divided "the terrain of poetry .. . into two complementary spheres, masculine and feminine" (Ross, Contours of Masculine Desire, 189). Women could now be "poetesses" (as opposed to poets) and still remain respectable ladies as long as they were content to "nurture culture as a sociomoral handmaiden" (192) rather than assume the "visionary" "prophetic stance" (91) that was the prerogative of men poets.

This new consensus soon spread to Russia as well. But even those critics who praised Russian poetesses did not create an encouraging environment for women's writing. The very term poetess (poetessa) both described women poets and implied the inferiority of their poetry to that of men. Critics routinely referred to women's poetry with condescension, as milaia (sweet), skromnaia (modest), and iskrennaia (sincere, signaling artless). One article that appeared in a Russian journal in 1851 praised North American poetesses for treating poetry as an "accomplishment"

rather than an art while complacently noting that their "pure and irreproachable" morality resulted in monotonous poetry.17 In effect, women poets had to choose between being women and being poets.18

The Poetess

The poetess, a nineteenth-century figure that has survived into the twenty-first century, is worth considering in more detail. She represented the feminine "Other" of the poet, whose masculinity was perceived as the universal norm. The twentieth-century scholar Alicia Os-triker notes that "some of our most compelling terms of critical discourse imply that serious poetry is more or less identical with potent masculinity" (Stealing the Language, 3). She mentions Harold Bloom's image of the oedipal struggle between "strong" poets, and such terms of critical approbation as size, greatness, stature, and hardness. Similarly, Gilbert and Gubar discuss the literary tradition that identifies the pen with the penis and the author with the "authority" of a patriarchal God (Madwoman in the Attic, 6, 8).

But, the scholar Svetlana Boym argues, while the poet's masculine gender is perceived as neutral, the poetess's "exposed genderedness" (Death in Quotation Marks, 197) (in Russian represented by "marked" feminine adjectives and past-tense verbs) renders her an "an aesthetic obscenity" (203), "a grotesque conglomeration of lack and excess" (194, italics in text). The poetess lacks objectivity, taste, genius (inventiveness, originality), and social responsibility—the cultural authority of masculinity—while suffering from an excess of subjectivity, of feelings, manifested as hysteria (194). Boym gives Marina Tsvetaeva as an example of a poet caught between the images of the tasteless, vulgar, trans-gressive "poetess" and the high culture "woman poet," a conflict men poets do not routinely face.19

Several other scholars have written of the "exposed genderedness" not only of poetesses but also of women writers in general. In the twentieth century Susan Gilbert wrote that the woman poet's body of work is treated like the body of the poetess ("Female Female Impersonator," 299). Similarly, the scholar Mary Ellmann observed that "books by women are treated as though they themselves are women and criticism embarks at its happiest upon an intellectual measuring of busts and hips" (Thinking about Women, 29). One thinks of Aleksandr Ska-bichevsky's review of Zhadovskaia's poetry, which verges on a sadomasochistic fantasy: "On all of [her poetry] lies the seal of trampled happiness and of long years of heavy bondage. It is the groans of female slavery with all its tortures, its feelings of helplessness, loneliness, bitter humiliation, shame before its own impotence, and vain efforts to console itself and forget, now in religious paroxysms, now in contemplation of nature's beauty" ("Pesni o zhenskoi nevole," in Sochineniia, 2: 551).

Or of Vil'gel'm Kiukhel'beker's sexualizing of Kul'man's work and life: "She herself is immeasurably better than her verses. ... There is no doubt that I would have fallen in love with her, but that love would have been as beneficial to me as are harmful my little passions for petty, vain creatures" ("Dnevnik Vil'g.," 351-52). Ellmann in Thinking about Women shows how "phallic criticism" describes both women and women writers in stereotypes of excess and inadequacy: "formlessness, passivity, instability, confinement, piety, materiality, spirituality, irrationality, and compliancy." "Femaleness," Ellmann wryly concludes, "is a congenital fault, rather like eczema or Original Sin" (34).

The women poets we are considering responded to these literary limitations as women traditionally have responded to social limitations placed on them—with a combination of "accommodation" (conformity) and "resistance."20 Some writers ostensibly accommodated to the patriarchal order by presenting themselves either as frivolous poetesses, sociomoral handmaidens, or both. One thinks of Rostopchina, who in several of her poems depicted women as superficial, capricious, amoral, governed by feelings, and living only for men, depictions that can extend to her poetic personae as well.21

3 TonBKo »eH^HHa . . . rop^HTtca TeM roToBa, . . .

(But I, I am a woman in the full meaning of the word,

I am only a woman . . . and am prepared to be proud of it . . .

"Iskushenie" [Temptation, 1839])22

Zhadovskaia assumed the stance of a sociomoral handmaiden in poems chiding society women (but not men) for their worldliness and urging children to pray for the brave soldiers dying for the tsar ("T. Go-i," [To T. G., 1858], "Ne sviatotatstva, ne grekhi," [Not a sacrilege, not a sin, 1858], "Polnochnaia molitva" [Midnight prayer, 1858]). Bakunina, too, in her published religious poetry depicted women and women poets (but not men) as fallen and sinful creatures (for example, "Rozhdenie nezabudki" [The birth of the forget-me-not, 1841] and "Groza" [The thunderstorm, 1840]). As English poetesses "positioned themselves against bluestockings to delineate their own 'normality'" (Ross, Contours of Masculine Desire, 190), so Bakunina in a literary epistle dissociated herself from A. V. Zrazhevskaia, who expressed anger at men critics' prejudice against women writers.23

Other writers in the group, however, resisted various aspects of the poetess role, implicitly demanding that they be taken seriously as poets. They often suffered attacks from men critics: Kul'man for her erudition and knowledge of Greek and Latin poetics and classical allusions; Gotovtseva for daring to allude to Pushkin's condescending attitude toward women; Shakhovskaia for writing a "pretentious" visionary poem, Snovidenie (A dream, 1833); Pavlova for caring about art and technique in her work; and Khvoshchinskaia for having intellectual content. One critic complained that he sometimes had to read her poems twice to understand them.24

This is not to suggest, however, that accommodation and resistance are mutually exclusive qualities; most of these poets showed some combination of the two. For example, if we consider Rostopchina's great success and popularity as a poet during the 1830s and 1840s, the attention and praise she received from Pushkin, Viazemsky, Zhukovsky, Lermontov, and others, we begin to understand that her "accommodation" to her society's gender stereotypes allowed her to satisfy a powerful and very "unfeminine" ambition for literary recognition. In effect, Rostopchina accommodated to her society's gender stereotypes in order to resist the social pressure that would have excluded her from the realm of literature. Similarly, Zhadovskaia, who was born with no left arm and only a few fingers on her right hand, managed to have an astonishingly successful career by accommodating to her society's ideas about women's love poetry. Bakunina, too, who in her published poetry accommodated completely to patriarchal religious views of women, in her unpublished poetry expressed pride in herself as a poet and even dabbled in a Russian folk paganism dominated by witches and rusalki (water spirits).25 (See her "Ballada" and "Prolog" in the Appendix.)

Nor did the "poets" always resist the poetess role. Pavlova, as we have seen, on occasion denigrated her poetry writing. In one poem ("My sovremennitsy, grafinia" [We are contemporaries, countess, 1847]), she even positioned herself against Rostopchina, whom she depicts as a scandalous "George Sandist," in order to delineate herself as a virtuous supporter of Slavophile patriarchy. The poem ends:

He Tpe6yro SMaHcnna^H H caMOBontHoro »htm;

H OT^aro a npocTO My»y Cboh cthxh Ha CTporHH cy^.

(I don't demand emancipation And a self-willed existence;

I love the peace and the hard frost of Moscow, [ ]

And I simply give my husband My verses for his stern judgment.)

(Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii, 134-35)

From what we know about Pavlova's disintegrating relationship with her husband at this time, it is difficult to read these verses as expressing anything other than an ideological stance.26

Perhaps the ultimate accommodation was to fall silent, as did Ekate-rina Shakhovskaia, after publishing her visionary epic, Snovidenie (1833).27 Mariia Lisitsyna, who resisted both literary and social expectations for women, disappeared from literature after the early 1830s, perishing, according to a poem written in her memory by her friend Nadezhda Teplova, "a victim of passions and delusions" ("pogibla zhertvoiu strastei i zabluzhdenii") (Vatsuro, "Zhizn' i poeziia Nadezhdy Teplovoi," 21).


Besides legal, social, and literary constraints, this generation of women poets shared a less obvious but equally significant limitation: their tangential relationship to the world of their male contemporaries, a world that included the Napoleonic wars and the invasion of Russia, the Decembrist uprising and its aftermath, the Polish uprising, the 1848 European revolutions, the censorship terror, and the professional-ization of Russian literature as it moved from aristocratic salons and kruzhki (literary circles) to "plebian" journals. These events grew out of male political, social, and literary institutions, from which women were excluded: the military and its pastimes, dueling and gambling, the civil service, lyceums and the classical education provided there, universities, university student groups, literary circles and their al'manakhi (annual literary collections), extended travel, and residence abroad. These institutions formed the men poets of this generation as men and as poets, providing both the subject matter and the genres of their po-etry.28

To understand the effect on women poets of exclusion from these male institutions, one need only consider their centrality to men's lives and works. Military life, dueling, and gambling played a vital role in both the lives and the works of Davydov, Kiukhel'beker, Pushkin, and Lermontov. The civil service experience of Pushkin, Viazemsky, and Tiutchev, however irritating and confining, showed them very concretely how their government operated, inevitably affecting their attitude toward it. The lack of such experience may account for Shakhovskaia's naive and unrealistic patriotism in Snovidenie. The lyceums that Pushkin, Del'vig, Kiukhel'beker, and Tiutchev attended gave them lifelong friendships with fellow poets, as well as a classical education, including a knowledge of Latin.

The importance of Latin as a male institution in the first half of the nineteenth century should not be underestimated. Latin has been described as "a sexually specialized language used almost exclusively for communicating between male and male," a code in which boys learned "a body of relatively abstract tribal lore inaccessible to those outside the group," that is, to all women and lower-class men.29 As we have seen, women like Elisaveta Kul'man, who knew Latin and Greek, were considered unnatural.

Most of the Russian men poets of this generation studied Latin. The works of Pushkin, Baratynsky, Del'vig, Iazykov, Fet, and Batiushkov, as well as Maikov, Khomiakov, and Guber, not only contain allusions to classical poets but make use of Latin poetic genres, such as the elegy, the ode, and the epigram. Several scholars have argued that the Romantic movements of all countries reworked rather than rejected the literature of Greece and Rome.30

The fact that Latin was a male language led to the canonization of androcentric or even misogynist genres and themes. For example, the anacreontic ode, named for the Greek writer Anacreon, enjoyed great European and Russian popularity during the first third of the nineteenth century. Its subject was male drinking parties and the sexual use of women or boys. Pushkin, Baratynsky, and Iazykov as well as virtually all the poets in the generation preceding them, including Goethe and Schiller, wrote or translated anacreontic odes. So much a part of the canon were they that Karl Grossheinrich unselfconsciously used them to teach Greek grammar to the thirteen-year-old Elisaveta Kul'man and then had her translate them into eight languages. Kul'man's introduction to her translations, in which she uncomfortably asks Anacreon for his blessing, expresses some of the awkwardness she apparently felt with the subject matter.31

Another "traditional" and widespread genre of the time were Bacchic songs (vakkhicheskie pesni), which describe men's encounters in the woods with bacchantes, understood to be sexually available women— although the man was often depicted as forcing himself on the bacchante. In his third Pushkin article, Belinsky, who despised etiquette books as oppressive to women, approvingly quoted in full Batiushkov's "Vakkhanka" (The bacchante, 1814-15)—a poem that eroticizes violence and celebrates rape:

[. . .] oHa 6e»ana Herqe eepHH MonoaoH. 3bph BonocH B3BeBanH, nepeBHTHe nnro^oM; Harno pH3H noaHHManH H CBHBanH HX Kny6KoM. Ctpohhhh CTaH, KpyroM o6bhthh XMena »enToro BeH^M, H nHnaro^H naHHTH

Po3H apKHM 6arpe^M, H ycTa, b KoTopHX TaeT nypnypoBHH BHHorpaa,— Bee b HeHCToBoH npent^aeT B eepa^ nteT oroHB h aa! 3 3a HeH . . . oHa 6e»ana Herqe eepHH MonoaoH; 3 HacTHr—oHa ynana! H THMnaH noa ronoBoH!

BaKxoBH npoMqanHCB C rpoMKHM BonneM mhmo Hae . . .

More lightly than a young antelope Zephyrs lifted her hair Interwoven with moss Impudently her garments rose And they twisted into a tangle Her graceful figure wound round

With a wreath of yellow hops And her glowing cheeks Like the rose's bright crimson And her mouth in which melts Purple grapes— Everything entices me to fury Pours fire and poison into my heart I run after her. She ran More lightly than a young antelope I overtook her. She fell! And the timbrel under her head! The priestesses flashed past us with a loud wail.)

(Belinskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 7: 227-28)

Batiushkov's poem reworks an original by Parny. One scholar has noted that while Parny's bacchante is an incarnation of Venus who chooses the speaker, Batiushkov's is a mortal woman whom the speaker pursues and violates (Brown, History of Russian Literature of the Romantic Period, 1: 251). In addition, Batiushkov's speaker implies that not he, but the woman's provocative appearance is responsible for his actions.

Access to Latin would have enabled the women poets of this generation to challenge the misogynist classical themes and genres extolled as art, to modify androcentric classical forms, and to look for gynocentric traditions within the classics—as did Elisaveta Kul'man, who knew both Latin and Greek. Kul'man, however, exerted little influence in Russia because of her early death and her orientation to German classicism rather than to contemporary Russian literature.32

The university, another male institution, played a central role in the development of such poets as Iazykov, Lermontov, Tiutchev, Fet, Kho-miakov, and Maikov. Several Moscow and Saint Petersburg University professors used their editorial positions to help their men students publish their works. For example, Aleksandr Nikitenko (1803-87) and Petr Pletnev, both professors of Russian literature at the University of Saint Petersburg, also at various times worked as editors of Sovremennik (The contemporary). Osip Senkovsky, professor of Near Eastern languages at Saint Petersburg University, edited Biblioteka dlia chteniia (Library for reading). Mikhail Pogodin, professor of history at Moscow University, edited Moskovskii vestnik (Moscow messenger) and Moskvitianin (The Muscovite). N. I. Nadezhdin, professor of arts and archeology at Moscow University, edited Teleskop (Telescope). Semen Raich, who taught at the Moscow University Gentry Pension, published Novye aonidy (New muses), Severnaia lira (Northern lyre), and Galatea. M. A. Maksimov, professor of botany at Moscow University, published the al'-manakh Dennitsa (Morning star). Many men poets of this generation benefited as well from the all-male student groups, literary circles, and the annual literary collections and journals that grew out of them such as Del'vig's Severnye tsvety (Northern flowers), Maksimovich's Dennitsa, Kiukhel'beker's Mnemozina (Mnemosyne), and Pushkin's Sovremennik. Although women occasionally contributed to such journals—for example, Teplova and Gotovtseva both appeared in Severnye tsvety—they never acted as editors or publishers.33

These men's institutions allowed interactions that made it comparatively easy for young men poets to find mentors and get published. For example, Vasilii Zhukovsky, "the acknowledged patriarch of the Golden Age" (Mirsky, History of Russian Literature, 75), who met Pushkin in literary circles, presented him in 1820 with a portrait inscribed "to a victorious pupil from a defeated master," later editing (with Petr Pletnev) the first collection of Pushkin's poetry (1825). Zhukovsky, who also arranged with Petr Viazemsky for the first significant publications of Tiutchev's and Lermontov's poetry in Pushkin's Sovremennik, used his court influence on behalf of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Baratynsky when they experienced problems with the authorities. He also tried to help Khomiakov publish his Slavophile poems abroad when they could not be published in Russia. Zhukovsky himself—who was the illegitimate son of a landowner—had been given entrée into Russian literature by the prose writer and journalist Nikolai Karamzin. Pushkin acted as literary sponsor for his schoolmate Del'vig, who in turn sponsored his friend Baratynsky. Pushkin and Baratynsky sponsored Iazykov. Fet received help from his university friend, the literary critic Apollon Grigor'ev, who edited Fet's first poetry collection and then gave it an enthusiastic review; Fet also received editing help for his other collections from Ivan Turgenev, the critic Nikolai Strakhov, and the poet and philosopher Vladimir Solov'ev. Other critics played important roles in making the critical reputations of men poets. Belinsky helped build the reputations of Pushkin, the other members of his pleiad, and Lermontov. He also arranged publication for Kol'tsov's first collection of poetry (1835) and wrote a long introduction for the second (1846). Nikolai Nekrasov renewed Tiutchev's career in 1850 by reprinting Tiutchev's early poetry together with a laudatory essay in Sovremennik. Among the noncanonical men poets, Apollon Maikov received encouragement to turn from painting to poetry from his professors at Saint Petersburg Uni-

versity, P. A. Pletnev and A. V. Nikitenko. Khomiakov, while stationed in Saint Petersburg with his regiment, frequented the literary circles of future Decembrists Ryleev and Bestuzhov, who published his first poetry in their journal, Poliarnaia zvezda (The north star).34

Women poets, however, could not attain the positions of power necessary to mentor one another, nor did men poets give them the kind of mentoring they offered other men. One notable exception was Viazem-sky, who published Rostopchina's and Gotovtseva's first poems. More typical was the behavior of Zhukovsky, who, as we have seen, helped numerous men writers—including the poverty-stricken Siberian civil servant Evgenii Mil'keev and the Voronezh cattle dealer Aleksei Kol'tsov— but did his best to discourage the one woman writer we know who appealed to him for help. According to Aleksandra Zrazhevskaia, Zhukovsky wrote in a letter of advice to her "that all women writers are exceptions and pay very dearly for their glittering fame, that this [her desire to be a writer] is something that would affect my entire life, that thousands of unpleasantnesses are connected with authorship . . . and that all this demands a tremendous amount of work" ("Zverinets," Maiak 1, no. 1 [1842], 2-3). The influential social and literary critic Belin-sky, who made so many men's reputations, may have wished to improve women's position in society but generally wrote condescendingly about women poets. In one article he describes eighteenth-century Russian women's writing as "poeticheskoe viazanie chulkov, rifmotvornoe shit'e" (the poetic knitting of stockings, rhymed sewing), terms one cannot imagine him using in relation to eighteenth-century men poets. In another article he unfavorably compared the work of Iuliia Zhadovskaia, which he was supposedly reviewing, with Leverrier's discovery of Uranus. Real poetry, he wrote, concerns life on earth, but since Zhadovskaia, as a woman, had little real experience, Leverrier was more of a poet than she.35

Even those women poets who managed to find a man poet willing to sponsor them remained in the position of permanent literary "ward" rather than "mentee." That is, rather than being guided to artistic majority, they remained forever dependent on a benefactor who negotiated on their behalf with journal editors and publishers, as did Zotov for Khvoshchinskaia and Maksimovich for Zhadovskaia.36

It might be objected that women at least had access to one literary institution—the salon—where they often officiated as hostesses, receiving tributes of laudatory poems written about them.37 Salons, however, functioned very differently for men than they did for women. For upper-class men poets, salons offered the opportunity to receive friendly criticism from an audience of peers who shared their experience and values. For nonaristocratic men writers—for example, Pogodin, Raich, Kol'tsov, Nikitenko, Pavlov, and even Belinsky—salons offered an opportunity for social advancement and acceptance into an aristocracy of merit. But aristocratic women as a rule were excluded from men's literary gatherings. Even women who hosted their own salons did not often read their work there, with the exceptions of Pavlova, Rostopchina, and Fuks, who, as we shall see, incurred ridicule for doing so.38 Unlike nonaristocratic men, nonaristocratic woman poets never found mentoring in a salon. Nor are there any examples of a salon hostess organizing a journal or an annual literary collection. In any case, it seems that the role Russian women played as salon hostesses has been exaggerated. One collection of memoirs about Russian salons of the first half of the nineteenth century described six hosted by women and forty-three hosted by men.39 In the list of over two hundred Russian literary associations (literaturnye ob"edineniia) from the eighteenth century to the 1860s, compiled by M. Aronson and S. Reiser, women appear as hostesses of only eleven salons, three evenings, and one musical morning. No women appear in connection with the more serious, although generally shorter-lived, literary circles (kruzhki), in which writers discussed literary issues (Literaturnye kruzhki i salony, 301-5). Aronson and Reiser emphasize the difference between the two kinds of groups: "The circle is more connected with the writer, the salon with the reader If the circle helps us illuminate questions of literary production, then the salon illuminates for us questions of literary consumption" (37).

Another formative factor for men largely unavailable to women was travel, whether through the army or civil service, living abroad, or internal exile. Such travel, although often involuntary, enriched the men's poetry; exotic places constituted an important theme in the Romantic Age. Iazykov lived in Dorpat from 1822 to 1829, Tiutchev in Germany for twenty-two years, Baratynsky in Finland for six years. Pushkin traveled to Kishinev, the Caucasus, and the south of Russia, Lermontov to Georgia, and Kiukhel'beker to France, the Caucasus, and Siberia. Among the noncanonical men writers Mil'keev and Kol'tsov traveled several times to the two Russian capitals from Siberia and Voronezh, respectively, and both Khomiakov and Maikov spent extended periods of time in Europe. In contrast, none of the women poets traveled within the Russian Empire or abroad, except Mordovtseva and Khvoshchinskaia

(who traveled to Saint Petersburg from Saratov and Riazan', respectively), Bakunina, Rostopchina, and Pavlova (and only after she left Russia). Fuks, a lifelong inhabitant of Kazan', was able to create exotic settings, thanks to her ethnographic studies.

But perhaps the most important male institution for the poets of this generation as discussed in the previous chapter, was the Romantic Movement itself. All of these women poets—along with their contemporaries in the West—faced common problems: the conflict between the modesty required of women and the self-assertion required by a poetic vocation in the Romantic period; the issue of who their audience was; the question of how to respond to the male Romantic personification of poetic inspiration (the muse) as female sexual partner and nature as idealized mother; the dilemma of how to get published in a literary establishment consisting almost entirely of men gatekeepers (editors, publishers, reviewers), who often did not take them seriously as poets. Most basically, they had to find a way to relate to a poetic institution that conflated male experience with human experience, the male poetic tradition with the poetic tradition, and the male voice and viewpoint with poetry making. Not only did these women lack literary social capital—access to the education, mentors, literary gatekeepers and opinion-makers, and often the social connections they needed to make a successful poetic career. They also did not enjoy the credibility—the right to the title of "poet" along with its prestige—automatically accorded to men. In such circumstances these women had to resolve the questions of how to find their voice, write about their experience, and claim a professional identity as a poet.

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