Tragic Russian poet subject of professor's new book

by Dennis Brown

The work and life of troubled Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva is examined in a new book by Alyssa W. Dinega from the University of Notre Dame.p. Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, “A Russian Psyche: The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva” expands “our understanding of this great and tragic writer and of what it means to be a woman poet,” says Olga Peters Hasty, associate professor of Russian literature at Princeton University and author of “Pushkin’s Tatiana.”p. Tsvetaeva was born in Russia in 1892, emigrated to Europe after the Russian Revolution, returned to the Soviet Union during the reign of Joseph Stalin, and committed suicide in 1941.p. Dinega offers a compelling portrait of Tsvetaeva that shows the poet was troubled by exclusion from the traditional male-centered myth of inspiration ? arousal by a female muse. Dinega sheds light on Tsvetaeva’s evolving creative psychology by exploring her effort to construct an alternative myth of poetic genius through her dialogues with contemporaries such as Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova.p. In the end, Dinega argues that Tsvetaeva rejects the poetic solutions suggested by her interlocutors and instead defines her own mission as the renunciation of all human companionship.p. “Working with smoking hot material and completely at home in the scarcely cooler mass of previous scholarship, Dinega knows her own mind,” says Caryl Emerson, a professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Princeton.p. “Without idealizing or simplifying her subject, she never loses control, compassion or awe.”p. Dinega, who holds a chaired appointment as the Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Russian, specializes in Russian literature and culture with an emphasis on 19th- and 20th-century Russian poetry. She is the editor of a forthcoming volume titled “Russian Literature in the Age of Realism (1850-1890): Writers of Short Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Philosophy, Criticism” and is working on a new book on the 19th-century Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.p. Dinega was graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University and earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. She joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1999.

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