31. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff , 332 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/31/2013

wivesA collection of brief biographys of six Russian women who made great contributions to literature through supporting their husbands writing careers. Some are well-known authors such as Tolstoy and Dostevsky while others are lesser known authors and poets. Sophia Tolstoy, Vera Nabokov, Elena Bulgakov, Nadezdha Mandelstam, Anna Dostevsky, and Natalya Solzhenitsyn all assisted in a variety of ways including being stenographers, typists, editors, researchers, translators and even publishers. These brave ladies also faced adversity in financial circumstances and often under a restrictive government many of them battled censorship and even risked their lives to preserve her husbands writings, documents and important papers for the future.

This seems to be a unique trait among Russian women to so completely throw themselves into their husbands work. Often these ladies were the writers’ intellectual match and often made invaluable contributions and suggestions during the creative process as well as serving as an example of women’s thoughts and feelings. At Dostevsky’s request Anna kept a daily journal of her activities, thoughts and feelings and he read these to gain a better understanding of a female perspective.

They established a tradition all their own, unmatched in the West. Sometimes they were celebrated for their contributions during their lifetime and sometimes they were ridiculed and popularly believed to be holding their husband back. Here are the stories of the writing of some of the world’s greatest literature through the wives’ eyes.