Marina Tsvetaeva

A tragic figure in Russian literature, Marina Tsvetaeva ranks alongside her distinguished contemporaries Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam and Boris Pasternak as one of the greats of Russian verse. She published her first collection of intimate lyric poems, using her own money to fund the project, in 1910, under the title Evening Album; the book was warmly received by a number of prominent poets who happened to review it. She published her second collection, Magic Lantern, in 1912 and a compilation of works from her first two collections, From Two Books, in 1913. These publications can be said to mark her early years in poetry. What followed was her mature period, which was to be overshadowed by tempestuous romantic entanglements and childbirth in Tsvetaeva’s life, and a period of great social turbulence in the old Russia that had an enormous impact on her family. Despite the severe hardship she faced, Tsvetaeva’s creative output only increased during the years of the Russian Civil War, from 1917-1922.

After emigrating to Europe, Tsvetaeva continued to write poetry but gradually shifted her focus towards imaginative literary essays and prose memoirs. Another major creative outlet for her was the extensive correspondence she maintained with major poets such as Boris Pasternak and Rainer Marie Rilke. While in Paris, Tsvetaeva’s husband Sergei Efron became involved with a Eurasian organization that promoted the return of Russian emigrés to the USSR. After being implicated in a plot to kill the former Soviet agent and defector Ignace Reiss, Efron fled first to Spain and then back to the USSR. Tsvetaeva followed her husband to the Soviet Union with her family, where Efron was executed for espionage and her daughter Ariadna was sentenced to a lengthy prison term in Stalin’s GULAG on the same charge. 

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Marina Tsvetaeva - The Essential Poetry
Catalogue 2019

Catalogue 2019