Sophia Tolstaia's and Anna Dostoevskaia's Autobiographical Writing

in Aspasia
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  • 1 Independent scholar shura@sasktel.net
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Based on original research, this article compares Sophia Tolstaia's and Anna Dostoevskaia's autobiographical writings and discusses differences in their contemporary reception. As wives, collaborators, and publishers of two iconic Russian writers, Tolstaia and Dostoevskaia made cultural contributions of their own. But while both women became prominent in their day, Russian society responded with contrasting attitudes to their marriages and plights and, consequently, to their autobiographical prose. Whereas Dostoevskaia's memoir and diaries enjoyed favorable reception, Tolstaia's writings were censored and suppressed. This article shows how societal expectations shaped Dostoevskaia's narrative, enabling her to project her image as her husband's ambassador while creating an improved portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Conversely, Tolstaia's determination to speak her mind and to become Lev Tolstoy's critic jeopardized her position within her family and in society and earned her universal contempt.

Aspasia

The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History

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