How Women Must Write
How Women Must Write
How Women Must Write studies how women who write poems were invented in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Russia by women poets themselves, readers who derived poets of their own design from women’s poems, and male poets who fabricated women and wrote poems on their behalf. These distinct vantage points on how the Russian woman poet is constituted foreground the complex interactions between writing women and their readers within ever-shifting social, political, and cultural power structures.
Hasty’s exploration takes us from an emphatically male Romantic age to a modernist period preoccupied with women’s creativity but also its containment. Each chapter studies an episode from Russian cultural history. The first part explores the successes and vulnerabilities of Karolina Pavlova and Evdokiia Rostopchina, who lay the groundwork for women writing after them. The second part examines two women invented by men: Cherubina de Gabriak and Briusov’s Nelli, who reflect the establishment’s efforts to retain command over women’s writing in the Silver Age. Last, Hasty examines Marina Tsvetaeva’s and Anna Akhmatova’s challenges to male authority.
Illuminating these writers and characters not as passive victims of gender-driven limitations and disincentives but rather as purposeful actors realizing themselves creatively and advancing the woman poet’s cause, How Women Must Write will appeal to the general reader as well as to specialists in Russian literature, women’s studies, and cultural history.
“This stimulating, valuable new book asks us to rethink the Russian tradition in light of its remarkable women poets and the stories of how they were invented. The case studies are well chosen and varied. Concepts like reader-imposed censorship and the masquerades of gender suggest new vantage points on many other poets as well. The rereading of Tsvetaeva’s gendered poetics and the analysis of Briusov’s Nelli are especially strong, as is the splendid work on the dynamics of competition and connection between women poets.” —Stephanie Sandler, coauthor of History of Russian Literature
“Olga Hasty’s thoughtful, deeply researched book traces in detail the work of three pairs of women poets and their relationships with earlier or contemporary women writers, as well as their context and reactions to manipulation by male literary gatekeepers. How Women Must Write uncovers their subversive potential: it is brilliant reading for anyone with an interest in women’s writing, Russian literature, poetry, or gender studies.” —Sibelan Forrester, editor of A Companion to Marina Cvetaeva