The Broken Body: Sex, Punishment, And Death As Inspiration In Cvetaeva

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Russian Literature


Marina Tsvetaevaʼs writing often addresses pain and suffering. This paper examines two clusters of suffering: one the punishment faced by unmarried women after illicit sexual activity, the other her treatment of a famous virgin warrior, Joan of Arc. How can these seemingly disparate topics – women who engage in illicit sex, and a woman who flees sexual situations – address the same issues? A review by Vissarion Belinskii compares both female warriors and women writers to “la femme émancipée”, his tellingly chosen euphemism for a sexually careless woman that expresses the threat of “emancipation” to patriarchal morality. For Tsvetaeva, both sex and war work as figures for poetic creation, and the suffering in these plots addresses her pretentions in calling herself a poet in a patriarchal tradition.


Marina Tsvetaeva, Sex, Punishment, Death, Body

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