This is another in my occasional series of posts bringing to light unjustly forgotten inhabitants of the byways of history (see, for instance, Sofya Engelgardt). Reading Catriona Kelly's excellent A History of Russian Women's Writing 18...
This is another in my occasional series of posts bringing to light unjustly forgotten inhabitants of the byways of history (see, for instance, Sofya Engelgardt). Reading Catriona Kelly's excellent A History of Russian Women's Writing 1820-1992, I got to her discussion (pp. 152-3) of the disjunction a century ago between the Russian feminist movement (supported by writers in the realist tradition) and the Symbolist/Acmeist modernist crew ("not one Russian woman author of modernist prose or poetry manifested any interest in, or sympathy for, the debates around female emancipation in the feminist movement itself"); in a footnote she says "The critic and writer Zinaida Vengerova, one of those most instrumental in introducing Western modernist ideas to Russia, was another example of how the supporters of 'new arts' also had little interest in feminism." I was intrigued, and did a little digging; my main source of information is the invaluable Dictionary of Russian Women Writers (thanks to Look Inside, since I can't afford $234.60 even with FREE Shipping).
Zinaida Afanasievna Vengerova (Russian Wikipedia) was born in 1867 in Helsinki (then, of course, part of the Russian Empire). She attended the Bestuzhev Courses in St. Petersburg and studied French literature at the Sorbonne; she also took courses in Vienna, England, and Italy, and met many of the leading lights of European literature. One of her first publications was the article "Poety-simvolisty vo Frantsii" [The symbolist poets in France]; Bryusov said it was a "revelation" that sent him to the bookstore to buy Verlaine, Mallarm?, Rimbaud, and Maeterlinck. She lived in London from 1908 to 1912, lecturing on Russian literature (and again in 1914, when her nephew, the director Alexander Tairov, stayed with her); she wrote articles in French (?Lettres russes?) for the Mercure de France (1897?99) and the Revue des revues and in English for the Saturday Review (1902?1903), introductions to the collected works of Schiller and Shakespeare, and a number of entries for Brockhaus and Efron (available at Lib.ru); her collected critical articles appeared in three volumes (titled Literaturnye kharakteristiki [Literary characteristics]) from 1897 to 1910, covering the pre-Raphaelites, Oscar Wilde, Ruskin, Ibsen, Gerhart Hauptmann, Emile Verhaeren, and of course the French symbolists, among others. And back in Petersburg she was an intimate part of the Gippius-Merezhkovsky circle; it was presumably around this time that she visited the Nabokov household on an occasion commemorated by VVN in the Paris Review interview:H. G. Wells, a great artist, was my favorite writer when I was a boy. The Passionate Friends, Ann Veronica, The Time Machine, The Country of the Blind, all these stories are far better than anything Bennett, or Conrad or, in fact, any of Wells's contemporaries could produce. His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasias are superb. There was an awful moment at dinner in our St. Petersburg house one night when Zina?da Vengerov, his translator, informed Wells, with a toss of her head: ?You know, my favorite work of yours is The Lost World.? ?She means the war the Martians lost,? said my father quickly.(Note his characteristic refusal to use the feminine ending on Russian names.) Via Gippius and Merezhkovsky she knew the terrorist/novelist Boris Savinkov, and her translation of his 1909 novel Конь бледный appeared in 1917 as The Pale Horse. I'll let the Dictionary of Russian Women Writers take it from there:Continue reading "ZINAIDA VENGEROVA."
about 16 hours ago