Transcending Myth: Marina Cvetaeva's Ariadne

Hanna Ruutu, University of Helsinki

Even though Marina Cvetaeva's oeuvre has been thoroughly studied from many viewpoints, the role of the classical motifs in the construction of her mythopoetics has not yet been examined as a totality. One of the classical roles deserving additional interest in this respect is Ariadne, one of the most central lyrical voices in Cvetaeva's mature work of the 1920s, appearing alongside the other mythology-based speakers of the collection Posle Rossii such as Eurydice, Phaedra or the Sibyl. Bearing in mind that Cvetaeva constructed a lyrical cycle and an entire classical tragedy on the basis of this well-known myth, and noting that she even chose to name her daughter Ariadna, it is not an exaggeration to state that the myth gains a particular importance in her mythopoetics, its use ranging from textual to life-creating dimensions.

The aim of my paper is to examine Cvetaeva's usage of the Ariadne myth on the basis of the cycle "Ariadna" (1923) in the light of the theme of poetic creation, central for Cvetaeva's oeuvre. It is a well-known fact (treated in depth in Michael Makin's comprehensive study Marina Tsvetaeva: Poetics of Appropriation) that in her rewriting of external source material, Cvetaeva alters and appropriates the subjects combining to the original text principles from her own poetics, and, as a result, a new version and interpretation of the myth are formed, often significantly departing from the original. In Cvetaeva's interpretation of Ariadne, the basic myth of the abandoned heroine forms a parallel with the her other mythology-based lyrical roles of the 1920s, all concerned with the theme of creation. In the cycle "Ariadna" the creative undertones are revealed through the close examination of the metaphors and existing subtexts.

In whole, I attempt in my analysis to reveal the underlying metacultural and metaliterary contexts of the poem; for instance, apart from the classical source text, the cycle contains plenty of biblical imagery, the examination of which in turn helps to enlighten the structure of Cvetaeva's mythopoetics and how it relies simultaneously on several sources. My general approach could be characterised as intertextual; apart from the context of Cvetaeva's own work and its prominent self-referential allusions, attention is given to the other cultural and literary subtexts underlying her appropriation of the Ariadne-myth.