Selected Authors, Works, Themes: Woman Writers
Author Tatyana Tolstaya asks, “Woman, exactly what are you?” The poetry and prose of Russian women writers attempt to answer her very difficult question. Their works reveal the many overlapping hats a woman was expected to wear: those of respectful daughter, submissive wife, dutiful mother, dedicated worker, and, in these cases, relentless recorder of life and ideas. Add all household chores, all child-rearing activities, and an unsupportive husband, and the picture intensifies, especially during the Soviet era of sexual equality when a woman was expected also to hold down a full-time job, doing her part for the advancement of Communism. Through women as writers, a severely underrepresented category in Russia category until well into the 20th century, readers can begin to understand the way that Russian women of all walks of life look at their world and how they cope with their lot in life. From the late 19th century, with the one female who arose from a sea of men, Karolina Pavlova, through the next century’s beloved and persecuted Anna Akhmatova, and the radical free-love advocate Alexandra Kollontai, and continuing on to the still active Tolstaya and Lyudmila Ulitskaya, women writers open a whole new world.