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Poetry / Russian Literature / Women's Studies


Reinventing Romantic Poetry
Russian Women Poets of the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Diana Greene

Studies of the Harriman Institute


The gender and class politics underlying literary reputation

Reinventing Romantic Poetry offers a new look at the Russian literary scene in the nineteenth century. While celebrated poets such as Aleksandr Pushkin worked within a male-centered Romantic aesthetic—the poet as a bard or sexual conqueror; nature as a mother or mistress; the poet's muse as an idealized woman—Russian women attempting to write Romantic poetry found they had to reinvent poetic conventions of the day to express themselves as women and as poets. Comparing the poetry of fourteen men and fourteen women from this period, Diana Greene revives and redefines the women's writings and offers a thoughtful examination of the sexual politics of reception and literary reputation.

The fourteen women considered wrote poetry in every genre, from visions to verse tales, from love lyrics to metaphysical poetry, as well as prose works and plays. Greene delves into the reasons why their writing was dismissed, focusing in particular on the work of Evdokiia Rostopchina, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia, and Karolina Pavlova. Greene also considers class as a factor in literary reputation, comparing canonical male poets with the work of other men whose work, like the women's, was deemed inferior at the time. The book also features an appendix of significant poems by Russian women discussed in the text. Some, found in archival notebooks, are published here for the first time, and others are reprinted for the first time since the mid-nineteenth century.

"The archival material Greene presents and her use of a vast range of secondary sources lays the foundation for a serious reevaluation of the canon."—Olga P. Hasty, Princeton University

Diana Greene is Slavic librarian at New York University's Bobst Library. She is the author of Insidious Intent: An Interpretation of Fedo Sologub's "The Petty Demon" and coeditor, with Toby Clyman, of Women Writers in Russian Literature.

Inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734.



October 2003
LC: 2003006491 PG
256 pp. 6 x 9

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