Marina Tsvetaeva/Talk

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Regarding the new version of the first paragraph: is it known that Stalin personally presented any opinion of Tsvetaeva's poetry? And the word "bolshevik" there is an anachronism.

Generally, the article is much too biographical for my taste. Of course, it's nice of me to talk the talk while I don't change it, and perhaps I'll try. --AV

Difficult to say, and I am trying to interpret history intelligently here; the odds are that Stalin was certainly aware of her work, and if so would have been critical. If you look at what happened to her peer, Osip Mandelstam, for example, who admittedly was openly explicitly critical of Stalin (he was eventually executed for writing poetry), or the obloquy into which Anna Akhmatova was forced, and also consider the significance of peotry within Russian culture, you will realise immediately why he would have been interested. Her work was personal and certainly attracted considerable opprobrium from the official Writers' Guilds (pah!), but just how far up the greasy pole this goes is (probably) impossible to ascertain (but I will see if I can nail this one: I remember Elaine Feinstein saying something about it and I will write to her; also I will dig out the V, Schweitzer biography and see what I can discover). The policy, however, did come all the way from the top.

On your second point, the biographical framework is just a beginning. I will deal with the poetry and her work as I go along. Your contributions will be greatly appreciated. sjc

OK: the Stalin letter of 1930 in Bolshevik which concerns "superstructure" effectively gave explicit voice to a policy which had previously been unspoken: nothing could be published which was at variance with the official point of view. This, as Nadezhda Mandelstam points out in Hope against Hope, effectively made censorship unnecessary. Given that Tsvetaeva's work was primarily personal and thus "manifestly un-Soviet", QED. sjc

It's just that, well, Stalin's explicit remarks about and interest in, say, Pasternak and Mandelstam are well-known, but I recall no evidence for his explicit interest in, or pronouncement on, Tzvetaeva's poetry. That it was the kind of poetry that was made unwelcome by Stalin's policies is clear, but did he specifically mention her or her poetry at any time? -- I don't think so, though I'm no expert in the field. --AV

You don't think the arrest and execution of Sergei Efron and the arrest of Ariadna were purely coincidental do you? Particularly since Efron by this time was a puppet in the hands of the NKVD? It was clearly orchestrated to remove her sources of support. Moreover, she was sent to Yelabuga and not allowed to remain with the other evacuated writers. The Writers Guilds closed all their doors. She was being made a non-person at someone's behest. Given what we know about Stalin and his attitude towards poets it doesn't take a lot to start to put the pieces in place. But I will endeavour to locate the concrete evidence as you are so insistent on the subject, and not because I think Stalin deserves even the remotest hint of the benefit of the doubt. I think common sense indicates that the instructions came right from the top: in Mandelstam's case we have documentary evidence; ditto the obloquy to which Akhmatova was consigned. What on earth makes you think he would have nothing to do with arranging an unpleasant fate for Tsvetaeva, who was as important a poet? sjc