Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922 by Marina Tsvetaeva
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Overview: A moving collection of autobiographical essays from a Russian poet and refugee of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Marina Tsvetaeva ranks with Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Boris Pasternak as one of Russia’s greatest twentieth-century poets. Her suicide at the age of forty-eight was the tragic culmination of a life buffeted by political upheaval. The essays collected in this volume are based on diaries she kept during the turbulent years of the Revolution and Civil War. In them she records conversations of women in the markets, soldiers and peasants on the train traveling from the Crimea to Moscow in October 1917, fighting in the streets of Moscow, a frantic scramble with co-workers to dig frozen potatoes out of a cellar, and poetry readings organized by a newly minted Soviet bohemia. Alone in Moscow with two small children, no income, and a missing husband, Tsvetaeva struggled to feed her daughters (one of whom died of malnutrition in an orphanage), find employment in the Soviet bureaucracy, and keep writing poetry. Her keen and ruthless eye observes with compassion and humor-bringing the social, economic, and cultural chaos of the period to life. These autobiographical writings not only give a vivid eyewitness account of Russian history but provide vital insights into the workings of Tsvetaeva’s unique poetics.
Genre: Non-Fiction > Biography