Beyond the Flesh: Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, and the by Jenifer Presto

By Jenifer Presto

Though the Russian Symbolist move was once ruled by way of a priority with transcending intercourse, some of the writers linked to the circulate exhibited an excessive preoccupation with issues of the flesh. Drawing on poetry, performs, brief tales, essays, memoirs, and letters, in addition to feminist and psychoanalytic idea, Beyond the Flesh records the customarily unforeseen shape that this obsession with gender and the physique took within the existence and artwork of 2 of an important Russian Symbolists.
            Jenifer Presto argues that the problems encountered in studying Alexander Blok and Zinaida Gippius inside both a feminist or a conventional, binary gendered framework derive not just from the peculiarities in their inventive personalities but in addition from the explicit Russian cultural context. even though those poets engaged in gendered practices that, now and then, hugely idiosyncratic or even incited gossip between their contemporaries, they weren't working in a vacuum. in its place, they have been responding to philosophical recommendations that have been important to Russian Symbolism and that may proceed to form modernism in Russia.

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Extra info for Beyond the Flesh: Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, and the Symbolist Sublimation of Sex

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If in much of her early poetry Akhmatova dedicates herself to overtly erotic themes that were far removed from the poetics of domesticity, in at least one of her early lyrics she addresses the problem of reconciling marriage with the bohemian lifestyle of the avant-garde, perhaps not thinking so much of herself as a woman poet as of her poethusband. In her famous poem, “He loved . ” (“On liubil . ”) (1910), penned in the same year as her marriage to Gumilev, Akhmatova’s poetic speaker chronicles the difficulties that her adventurous lover encountered when faced with the tedium of family life.

Yet for all of their avowed bohemianism, the acmeists did, at times, demonstrate a willingness to treat domestic problems in their poetry. And nowhere can this better be seen than in some of the early work of Akhmatova, the leading member of the acmeist movement from the distaff side. If in much of her early poetry Akhmatova dedicates herself to overtly erotic themes that were far removed from the poetics of domesticity, in at least one of her early lyrics she addresses the problem of reconciling marriage with the bohemian lifestyle of the avant-garde, perhaps not thinking so much of herself as a woman poet as of her poethusband.

Unbearable Burdens 25 Akhmatova opens this deceptively complicated little lyric by defining the preferences of her as yet undefined male muse as inclined toward the exotic. 11 White peacocks are unlike their more colorful feathered friends in that they are unable to reproduce—a fact of life that Akhmatova perhaps implicitly associates with her beloved here. Birds of a feather flock together, or so the old English adage goes. And in the next three lines of the poem, Akhmatova reinforces the notion of her beloved as reluctant family man when she describes his dislike of sticky domestic scenarios composed of crying children, tea with raspberry, and female hysterics.

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