Volume 73 Number 1 Abstracts

Through the Lens of Loss: Marina Tsvetaeva’s Elegiac Photo-Poetics

Molly Thomasy Blasing

Marina Tsvetaeva is often described as a poet of keen aural sensibilities, while the visual world has been thought to be of secondary importance to her. This study of the influence of photography on Tsvetaeva’s poetic writing contributes new evidence of the role of visual culture in her creative world. In detailing Tsvetaeva’s experiences with the material and metaphysical properties of photographic imagery, Molly Thomasy Blasing argues that photography played a significant role in shaping the poet’s elegiac writings on death, loss, and separation. The article makes available a number of previously unpublished archival photographs taken by Tsvetaeva - images that are directly linked to her cycle of poems dedicated to Nikolai Gronskii, Nadgrobie. Blasing contextualizes this discovery within a network of other photo-poetic encounters in Tsvetaeva’s life and works, revealing the extent to which the poet’s thinking about photography relates to the goals of her poetic practice.


Fiction as Mapmaking: Moscow as Ivan Bunin’s Russian Memory Palace

Angela Brintlinger

In his fiction written from the 1920s through 1940s Ivan Bunin set a number of stories in Moscow, naming specific places, many of which were closed or destroyed after the 1917 Revolution by the Soviet regime or by Nazi bombing during World War II. In so doing, Bunin used Moscow to map the cultural memory of the Russian emigration, with the ancient city of Moscow standing as its “memory palace” while contributing to the “Moscow text.” In his 1944 story “Cleansing Monday,” in particular, Bunin conducted this mnemonic project on three levels: historical, spiritual, and didactic. He did so for both a Russian readership-his compatriots abroad and potential (future) readers back home-and a foreign audience increasingly interested in Russia. Through close reading of the story, diary entries, and Bunin’s biography, this article explores the idea of a memory palace and four specific memory images, comparing Bunin’s depiction of Russia to a 1915 depiction by English traveler Stephen Graham.


Transnational Identities in Diaspora Writing: The Narratives of Vasily Yanovsky

Maria Rubins

Focusing on Vasily Yanovsky’s prose fiction as a specific case study, this article sets modernist narratives informed by exile, dislocation, and migration in dialogue with the evolving theory of transnationalism. By engaging with the hybrid, cross-cultural nature of diaspora writing, this research challenges conventional, mono-national classifications based on the author’s language and origin. Yanovsky’s key texts transcending a range of boundaries (between Russian and English, fiction and nonfiction, Russian spirituality and western thought, science and fantasy) are brought to bear to demonstrate that language can be a matter of a writer’s personal aesthetic choice, rather than a fixed marker of his appurtenance to a national canon. This article also argues for transnational identity as an intellectual and emotional, and thus translatable, affiliation, formed across national fault lines and cultural traditions.

Politics, Law, and Justice in People's Poland: The Fieldorf File

Agata Fijalkowski

This article examines the case against the Polish resistance fighter August Emil Fieldorf and his subsequent trial. Judicial officials within, or working intimately with, the Soviet secret police made decisions affecting many lives in Poland in 1944-1956. A consideration of the trial proceedings and the backgrounds of selected judicial officials provide a better understanding of the nature of Stalinist justice. Key issues underpinning the trial, related to political contexts, legal maneuverings, and broader considerations surrounding the defendant through the eyes of his persecutors, shed light on the hidden mechanism of Stalinist justice in operation and what constitutes a judicial crime. While its focus is Fieldorf, this article argues that the Polish case study can be instructive in analyzing the ways in which the law was used as a political weapon in other states and regions with similar experiences of totalitarian rule.

Selling Market Socialism: Hungary in the 1960s

Beth Greene

Beth Greene discusses the media portrayal of sales and marketing activities in the early phase of the Hungarian market reforms in the late 1960s. Using articles from the popular and specialist press and archive sources from Hungarian Radio and Television, the author argues that under the New Economic Mechanism (NEM), sellers were elevated as symbolic figures of market socialism and thus the modern socialist economy. The media portrayed sales activities as addressing endemic problems of the command economy, mediating production and consumption, and creating a buyer’s market in which sellers would compete for customers. This article provides a unique approach in examining the role of sellers and selling under the market socialism, adding to the rich literature on state socialist consumption and challenging the traditional view that Soviet bloc governments sought to control production and consumption independently and irrespective of their connection to the market.


Recalcitrant Women: Internationalism and the Redefinition of Welfare Limits in the Czechoslovak-Vietnamese Labor Exchange Program

Alena Alamgir

In this article, I analyze changes in the Czechoslovak-Vietnamese labor exchange program between 1967 and 1989, specifically Czechoslovak state policies toward pregnant Vietnamese workers. In the program, the Czechoslovak state’s commitment to being a welfare provider was confronted with its commitment to socialist internationalism. The policies toward pregnant Vietnamese workers constituted a part of the process through which the Czechoslovak state was redefining the limits of care it saw itself obligated to provide. The conflict between the two states over the appropriate treatment of pregnant Vietnamese workers was also an outgrowth of a more general feature of Czechoslovak state socialism: the tension between the pressure to increase (or at least maintain) productivity and the pressure to increase fertility. The gradual transformation of the program into a more decentralized and market exchange-like form shaped the nature of the conflict, the attempts to resolve it, and the limited efficacy of the solutions.