Aleksandra Murzina’s Raspuskaiushchaiasia roza: Imagining a Female Readership

Amanda Ewington, Davidson College

In the last ten years Russian women writers have begun to receive the attention they deserve, both in the scholarship and in the classroom (see attached bibliography and, for a sampling of courses: Yet interest in the female voices among Russia’s literary pioneers has lagged behind, as a lingering disdain for women writers joins the more stubborn bias against eighteenth-century Russian literature in general. Catriona Kelly and Judith Vowles were among the first to address this neglect in the scholarship, while more recently Gopfert and Fainshtein’s work introduces lesser known poets like Volkova, Magnitskaia, and Khersakova along side the more familiar Catherine II, Dashkova, and Bunina. Wendy Rosslyn has made enormous contributions to our understanding of this period, tracing women’s arrival into print, the function of the salons, and women’s changing roles as readers and patrons in this period of rapid cultural development.

My paper will focus on Aleksandra Murzina’s Raspuskaiushchaiasia roza, which has never been translated or anthologized. My presentation stems from research toward an edited volume of translations for the series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, which aims to incorporate eighteenth-century Russian women writers into the undergraduate curriculum. The goal of this paper will be to contextualize Murzina’s work and consider more deeply Judith Vowles’s brief but fascinating assertion that Murzina dispenses with a male readership altogether, creating an imagined community of female readers.

Selected Bibliography :

Kelly, Catriona, ed. An Anthology of Russian Women’s Writing, 1777-1992. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
F. Gopfert and M. Fainshtein, eds. My blagodarny liubeznoi sochinitel'nitse: proza i perevody russkikh pisatel'nits kontsa XVIII veka. Fichtenwalde, 1999.
———. Predstatel'nitsy muz: russkie poetessy XVIII veka. Wilhelmshorst, 1998.
Tomei, Christine, ed. Russian Women Writers. 2 vols. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999.

Histories/Edited Volumes:
Barker, Adele M. and Jehanne Gheith, eds. A History of Women’s Writing in Russian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Kelly, Catriona. A History of Russian Women's Writing: 1820-1992. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Fainshtein, M. Sh. Russkie pisatel'nitsy i literaturnyi protsess v kontse XVIII-pervoi treti XX vv. Sbornik nauchnykh statei. Wilhelmshorst, 1995.
Rosslyn, Wendy, ed. Women and Gender in 18th-Century Russia. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2003.

Bennett, Sandra Shaw. “Parnassian Sisters of Derzhavin’s Acquaintance: Some Observations on Women’s Writing in Eighteenth-Century Russia.” A Window on Russia. Rome: La Fenice, 1996.
Rosslyn, Wendy. “Making their Way into Print: Poems by Eighteenth-Century Russian Women.” SEER, vol. 78, no. 3, July 2000, 407-438.
———. “Anna Bunina's Unchaste relationship with the Muses,” SEER, 74 (1996): 223-242.
———. “Mar'ya Vasil'evna Sushkova: an Enlightened Woman of the Eighteenth Century,” Oxford Slavonic Papers, 33 (2000): 85-107.