"Sons" and "Lovers" in the Poetry of Marina Cvetaeva

Tatiana Zilotina, Case Western Reserve University

Slavists note that Cvetaeva repeatedly engages in mythologization of her relations with others. While the scholarship on Cvetaeva's mythmaking is detailed, it usually investigates her works in close conjunction with her life and focuses on individual cases. However, the generalized pattern, according to which Cvetaeva's literary persona interacts with the male counterpart remains underexamined. This paper focuses on the narcissistic relations between Cvetaeva's literary persona and its beloved. Cvetaeva's persona employs the maternal as an important vehicle of its self-realization. In portraying her male addressees, the Cvetaevan narrator attempts to fit them in the mold of the Son-figure. She alternates between idealizing and mirroring transference processes, utilizing the Son-figure representations to soothe her wounded narcissistic self.

The ideas on self-psychology, developed by the Austrian-American psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, provide the theoretical ground for this paper. Kohut's notion of the selfobject is essential, as the representations of the Son-figure act as selfobjects in regards to Cvetaeva's narcissistic persona. The narrator oscillates between the maternal and the erotic, often merging those two. Cvetaeva's persona is forever dependent on the Son-figure to maintain a structured, cohesive self.