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“Russian Lit Wives”: On Bravo This Fall

The Moscow News explores the lives of the women who devoted those same lives wholeheartedly to the greats of Russian literature:

Sometimes this dependence was even physical. Both Nadezhda Mandelstam and Vera Nabokov could be seen lugging heavy cases, while their husbands strolled around unencumbered.

But some women found this self-immolation too much to bear. Sophia Tolstoy was a spirited painter and writer; her husband took the name of his heroine in “War and Peace” from a youthful novella of hers, “Natasha.” But in the midst of her husband’s religious conversion, she began to regret her devotion.

“Everyone asks: ‘But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual life or artistic life?'” she wrote in her memoir “My Life,” which was only published in 2010. “To this question I can only reply: ‘I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.'”

Okay, start crafting your beautiful novels about the wild inner life and frustrations of Nadezhda Mandelstam…now. On a less frivolous note, The Paris Review has a lovely tribute to Harvard Square’s Grolier Poetry Book Shop, which is where many many people first found Osip Mandelstam.

I’m not jealous any more
but I want you.
I carry myself like a victim
to the hangman.
I will not call you
either joy or love.
All my own blood is gone.
Something strange paces there now.


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