logo logo

Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva

Marina Tsvetaeva, USSR Poetess.

Background

  • Tsvetaeva, Marina was born on October 8, 1892 in Moscow. Daughter of the professor of art history and founder of the Alexander III Museum (now the Pushkin Museum) in Moscow.

  • Education

    • Educated in Moscow, Switzerland and Germany. Studied at the Sorbonne in 1909.

    Career

    • First book of poems published in 1910. Met Sergei Efron at the house of the poet Voloshin in the Crimea and married him in 1912. During World War I and the revolution, stayed in Moscow and was separated from her husband (who as a young officer had joined the Whites).

      Wrote a cycle of poems in praise of the White Armies (Lebedinyi Stan), sometimes giving public recitals. Acclaimed as an original poetic voice. Emigrated in 1922 to join her husband (through Berlin to Prague).

      Moved to France in 1925, lived near Paris. Her modernist style coupled with a deep historic feeling, her helplessness in practical life and her proud conception of her own role as a poet put her outside all groups and made her life extremely difficult. Attacked from the right and from the left, often refused publication, lived in extreme poverty.

      Her husband, disillusioned with the Whites, became involved with the GPU. After the murder of a GPU defector, Ignatii Reiss, in Switzerland, in which he had taken part, he fled to the Soviet Union. Tsvetaeva’s daughter Ariadna preceeded her father (she also had communist leanings at that time and worked for a communist paper in France). Completely broken, Tsvetaeva followed them to the USSR with her son.

      Allowed to live near Moscow, but her isolation was even deeper than in the West (her daughter was already in the Gulag and her husband had disappeared, probably executed). Refused permission to publish her works, branded as a White guard and counter-revolutionary. During World War II, evacuated to the small town of Elabuga (Tatar Autonomous Republic).

      After trying, unsuccessfully, to get a job as a cleaner, committed suicide by hanging herself. Her son was conscripted and soon thereafter died in action. Her daughter, and her sister Anastasia, who had remained in the USSR, survived and, during the post-Stalin thaw, were able to assist in the resurgence of interest in her work.

      Now recognized as the greatest poetess in Russian literature, equalled only by Akhmatova.
    See on larger map
    Born October 8, 1892
    Died August 31, 1941
    (aged 48)
    Nationality