Marina Tsvetayeva (tsvih-TAH-yuh-vuh) wrote a number of plays, including Konets Kazanovy (pb. 1922; the end of Casanova), Metel (pb. 1923; the snowstorm), Fortuna (pb. 1923; fortune), Priklyuchenie (pb. 1923; an adventure), Tezey (pb. 1927; Theseus), and Fedra (pb. 1928; Phaedra). Several of these were later expanded or combined and reissued under different titles. Tsvetayeva’s prose is extensive. Parts of her diaries and her many memoirs have appeared in journals and newspapers, mostly abroad. Some of these prose pieces, together with literary portraits, critical essays, and letters, were collected in Proza (1953). A prose collection in English, A Captive Spirit: Selected Prose, appeared in 1980. Tsvetayeva also translated poetry, prose, and drama into French, and from French into Russian. Some of her letters, notes, and individual poems remain unpublished and unlocated, but émigré publishers continue to search for material. A modest number of plays and prose pieces have been printed in Soviet journals.
Recognition came to Marina Tsvetayeva late in life, following decades of critical neglect, official Soviet ostracism, and émigré hostility. Her suicide during World War II, not known to the world for a long time, engendered critical fascination with the details of her life, eventually followed by publication, republication, and scholarly evaluation of her work. The creative variety and quality of Russian writing in the first quarter of the twentieth century created a situation in which many talented poets, among them Tsvetayeva, escaped public attention. Her adherence to the old orthography and to pre-Revolutionary values, cast into unconventional, awkward-seeming syntax, caused her work to appear disjointed. Only the subsequent careful study of her form and language has revealed the verbal and stylistic brilliance of a unique poetic voice. Political events forced Tsvetayeva to live in exile with artistically conservative Russians who did not understand her poetic experiments. She courageously developed her style, despite exclusion from émigré publishing houses and Soviet rejection of new forms, proudly suffering the ensuing material deprivation. Many of her themes are so closely linked to events in her life that it is difficult to comprehend them without biographical information; the publication of several critical and biographical studies has made her verse more accessible. Translations into English have appeared, and literary scholars now acknowledge her as a major Russian poet.
Ciepiela, Catherine. The Same Solitude: Boris Pasternak and Marina Tsvetaeva. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006. Ciepiela examines the ten-year love affair between Boris Pasternak and Tsvetayeva, whose relationship was primarily limited to long-distance letters. Included in this volume is the correspondence between the two authors along with letters from Rainer Maria Rilke, who completed the couple’s literary love triangle. Ciepiela reveals the similarities between Pasternak and Tsvetayeva by painting a portrait of their lives and personalities. She scrutinizes their poetry and correspondence, finding significant links between them. This volume is written clearly and succinctly, making it easily accessible to all readers.
Cixous, Hélène. Readings: The Poetics of Blanchot, Joyce, Kafka, Kleist, Lispector, and Tsvetayeva. Translated by Verena Andermatt Conley. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991. A comparative analysis of a variety of innovative writers, including Tsvetayeva, by a noted French feminist thinker, geared toward a scholarly audience.
Feiler, Lily. Marina Tsvetaeva: The Double Beat of Heaven and Hell. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1994. This psychological biography draws on both classical and postmodernist psychoanalytic theory—Sigmund Freud’s notion of pre-Oedipal narcissism and Julia...
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