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Disrupted Idylls

Nature, Equality, and the Feminine in Sentimentalist Russian Women’s Writing (Mariia Pospelova, Mariia Bolotnikova, and Anna Naumova) – With translations by Emily Lygo

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Ursula Stohler

The study provides a close analysis of literary works by women in late-18th- and early-19th-century Russia, with a focus on Anna Naumova, Mariia Pospelova, and Mariia Bolotnikova. Political, social and feminist theories are applied to examine restrictions imposed on women. Women authors in particular were fettered by a culture of feminisation strongly influenced by the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As Sentimentalism and its aesthetics began to give way to Romantic ideals, some provincial Russian women writers saw an opportunity to claim social equality, and to challenge traditional concepts of authorship and a view of women as mute and passive.
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Note on Conventions

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The Appendix reproduces in full those poems that are the object of exhaustive analysis, or which encourage reflection on topics relevant to the argument of my thesis. It includes poems by Mariia Bolotnikova and Anna Naumova which clearly illustrate my argument. As many of Mariia Pospelova’s essays and poems are summarised or excerpted in the main text to highlight features which occur in a significant number of her works, only a few of her works are given in the Appendix. The Appendix does not give full quotations of poems by Bolotnikova and Naumova that feature in the main body of this book only to lend weight to a specific aspect of my argument without being analysed in greater detail.

Some of the English translations are taken from Amanda Ewington’s Russian Women Poets of the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries; full references are given in footnotes.1 All other poems, quotations or titles of works have been translated from Russian into English by Emily Lygo.

I have used capital letters for ‘Fate’ and ‘Fortune’ to indicate when the words refer to allegories; lower-case letters are used for references to an impersonal force which determines the course of human lives. Moreover, the adjective ‘classical’ refers to cultural products, including literary works, which give evidence of the humanist foundations of Western European society, while ‘Classicist’ refers to the literary period known as ‘Classicism’.

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