Why Can’t a Woman Write More Like a Man? Female Masculinity and Genderlect in the Poetry of Sergej (Vera Ignat′evna) Gedrojc

Vera Ignat′evna Gedrojc occupied a unique position among the women poets of Russia’s Silver Age. Not only did she prefer a grammatically masculine lyric “I” when writing her poetry (a strategy of female self-representation also employed by contemporaries like Zinaida Gippius and Poliksena Solov′eva) she also published all of her work under the masculine pseudonym Sergej Gedrojc. Recent work on Russian genderlect by Elena A. Zemskaja has identified some features which are characteristic of Russian women’s colloquial speech. Although identified by Zemskaja on the basis of transcripts of contemporary spoken Colloquial Russian, some of the lexical features that Zemskaja isolates as characteristic of feminine speech appear in Gedrojc’s poetry. These lexical features, which appear most frequently in Gedrojc’s love poetry, are more or less absent from the work of Gedrojc’s male contemporaries. Thus, though possessed of a grammatically masculine lyric persona and pen name, Gedrojc’s lyric “I” is distinguished by lexical choices which may bespeak femininity. The paper documents and explores this unexpected intersection of masculine and feminine in Gedrojc’s love lyrics.