Chapel of the main Sorbonne building
Zinaida Afanasevna graduated Gymnasium in Minsk (1881), then spent 2 years in Vienna, studying foreign languages and literature. In 1884-1887 Zinaida Afanasevna studied at the Higher courses for women (Bestuzhev), where under the guidance of A.N. Veselovskiy learned Western Europe, generally English, literature. In 1887-1891 after she listened to a course of lectures on the history of the French Literature in Sorbonne and English literature in a number of high schools of England, she formed her interests for life.
After October Revolution Zinaida Afanasevna worked as a translator for the publishing house Vsemirnaya literature. By the end of 1921, she went to Berlin, saving citizenship. She collaborated with the Berlin house of arts in the Skify publishing house.
Zinaida Afanasevna kept business relationships with certain modern publishing houses. In 1932 she sent to the Institute of Marx - Engels - Lenin her memoirs about meetings with Eleanor Marx (1963). Her literature work as a critic and translator was aimed at the development of Russian-foreign literature connections. Her article Poets-symbolists in France (1892), that aroused the interest of Russian readers and critics to the works of P. Verlaine, S. Mallarme, A. Rimbaud, J. Laforgue, J. Moreas, was perceived by V.Y. Bryusov as "a total revelation".
In the middle of the 1890s Zinaida Afanasevna became closer to writers-symbolists who were connected with the magazine Severny vestnik - Minsky, D.S. Merezhkovskiy, Z.N. Gippius, and others. In this magazine her articles about Verlaine (1896), W. Blake (1896), J. C. Huysmans (1896), and others, whose works she considered as the "second Renaissance" in European literature. Her articles played an important role in the development of Russian symbolism. In 1893-1908 in Vestnik Yevropa she was responsible for the section “News of foreign literature” and published articles about J. Meredith (1895), A. Daudet (1898), A. Frans (1898) and others. She also sometimes worked with Mir bozhiy, Obrazovaniye, Severny kuryer, Apollon, Russkaya mysl, Niva magazines, etc.
Vengerova’s favorite genre was an article-portrait full of details in biography, a retelling of the contents of the works. Her talent was in unusual contributing to the rapid delivery of information to Russian readers.
Zinaida Afanasevna translated over 200 works, including J. Wasserman, K. Gamsun, G. Hauptmann, M. Meterlink, Frans, A. Schnitzler, B. Shaw, and others. The first translation of the novel Gadfly by E. Voynich was made by her. She also translated a number of books on the history of art and literature: The history of visual art in the 19th century by R. Muter (1899-1902), The history of French literature by G. Lanson (1899), F. Nietzsche as an artist and thinker by A. Ril’ (1898) and others. The quality of her translations was always evaluated positively by reviewers.
In 1925 Zinaida Afanaseva married N.M. Minskiy, after his death she left to the USA to her sister, pianist I.A. Vengerova.