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Many Russian women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries tried to find happy marriages, authentic religious life, liberal education, and fulfilling work as artists, doctors, teachers, and political activists. Some very remarkable ones found these things in varying degrees, while others sought unsuccessfully but no less desperately to transcend the generations-old restrictions imposed by church, state, village, class, and gender.
Like a Slavic “Downton Abbey,” this book tells the stories, not just of their outward lives, but of their hearts and minds, their voices and dreams, their amazing accomplishments against overwhelming odds, and their roles as feminists and avant-gardists in shaping modern Russia and, indeed, the twentieth century in the West. It covers poets and writers such as Evdokiia Rostopchina, Nina Berberova, Nadezhda Sokhanskay, Karolina Pavlova, Elena Gan, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaya, Anastasia Verbitskaya, Anna Akhamatova, Maria Tsvetaeva, Mirra Lokhvitskaya, Olga Freidenberg; free-thinkers like Zinaida Gippius, Elena Blavatsky; diarists and memoirists like Countess Sofia and Tatiana Tolstoya, Anna Dostoevsky, Nadezhda Durova, Agrippina Korevanova, Ludmila Stahl, Elena Skrjabina; artists Natalya Goncharova, Anna O. Lebedeva, Zinaida Serebriakova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, Liubov Popova, and Aleksandra Ekster; adventuresses (military or sexual) Maria Botchkareva, Natalia Sheremetevskaya, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna; doctors Anna Bek and Vera Figner; revolutionaries and reformers like Nadezhda Krupskaya, Cecilia Bobrovskaya, Vera Broido, Alexandra Kollontai, Catherine Breshkovsky, Konkordia Samoilova, Maria Golubeva, Tatyana Ludvinskaya, and Cecilia Bobrovskaya.
In their own words and images, and each in their own unique way, these remarkable Russian women construct a fascinating tapestry of a culture at the crossroads of modernity and on the brink of catastrophe—a thrilling tour of an age when everything seemed possible and none could truly imagine what lay in store.
Marcelline Hutton is the author of Russian and West European Women, 1860-1939: Dreams, Struggles, and Nightmares (2001) and Falling in Love with the Baltics: A Travel Memoir (2009).
European History | European Languages and Societies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Slavic Languages and Societies | Women's History | Women's Studies
Hutton, Marcelline, "Remarkable Russian Women in Pictures, Prose and Poetry" (2013). Zea E-Books Collection. 21.