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Poets on Poets

The Epistolary and Poetic Communication of Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, and Rilke


Olga Zaslavsky

This book provides a thorough examination of how both Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak perceived Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetic persona and oeuvre in similar ways, and how, in their perception of Rilke’s role as that of the paradigmatic poet, they had drawn on the specifically Russian poetic paradigm, i.e., the image of Pushkin in the context of Russian literature of the Silver Age. At the same time, both poets’ scrutiny of the sublime, the mundane, and the tragic side of practicing poetic craft in the Soviet Union, as in the case of Pasternak, and in exile, as in Tsvetaeva’s case, generates the discourse of "empathic attunement." By applying "empathic" discourse towards Rilke, both poets’ anxieties about their future, and that of Russian poetry in general, come to the fore.

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About the author


Olga Zaslavsky received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently a Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies and a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Zaslavsky works on modernist mythologies of Russian and European modernism. She has taught at numerous colleges and universities across the United States, including the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and Brown University. She has published and given papers on a wide range of topics that includes Russian poetry, prose, theater, music, and film. Her publications have appeared in Russian Literature, Chroniques Slaves, SEEJ, and the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Russian Culture. In 2009 she contributed an article to the collection Literature in Exile of East and Central Europe, published by Peter Lang.

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