When it comes to Russian literature names like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Gogol, etc. often get all the attention. They receive the most scholarly interest, they generate the most content online, and their works get republished more than any of their contemporaries.
Yet, with all these famous names being men, it does beg the question, where are the women? Did women in Russia’s Golden Age and the following eras not publish? Were they forbidden from doing so? Was it just not seen as acceptable during those days?
Well, it depends, women in every famous era of Russian literature did publish, they certainly were not forbidden from doing so, however early on the in the nineteenth century it was “them in a man’s world” if you will. In other words it wasn’t easy because even if their works were enjoyed, they weren’t fully accepted. Karolina Pavlova famously stated that a woman poet will always remain more woman than poet.
But despite the difficulties they faced, they did manage to leave posterity with a multitude of excellent works that are certainly worth our time and attention.
Where to go next?
While there are a considerable number of women writers in Russia’s impressive literary canon, one issue that arises for the western reader is can they find any of their works? In some cases yes, in others no. The list of Russian women in literature will be expanded upon in future blogs, but for now the reader should keep in mind that the names selected for this list (and the IG post, if you saw it) were chosen because their works are to some extent available. This content is meant to be a stepping stone to a new literary experience, so having the works be accessible is important.
Where to find their works?
First and foremost, a basic Google search for terms like “insert author’s name + works” does tend to yield good results. What’s also great is Google’s shopping results. Even though sites like Amazon seem to have everything, in many cases they do not. Therefore, if you search an author’s name in Google Shopping you’ll get a multitude of purchase options from sites across the web. That said, below are some excellent Russian woman writers and links to find their works and learn more about them.
Anna Bunina (Disclaimer: Anna Bunina was almost skipped over because her works are very difficult to find. The aim here isn’t to showcase works that are for the most part unavailable, however Anna Bunina’s historical significance is what made her part of this list. Enough information exists about her, that it was considered worthwhile to include her.) – Calvert Journal
Mirra Lokhvitskaya – RuVerses