Our Notes & References
First edition of Tsvetaeva’s last book of poems, one of her major works, banned in the USSR; a lovely example, in original wrappers, one of 500 only, including 100 not for sale.
Posle Rossii gathers poems written by the poetess immediately after she had moved to Paris. “The period of exile in Prague, lasting from August of 1922 to May of 1925, was a very productive period, with new poems arriving every other day or so, or sometimes two poems a day, until her son Georgy (nicknamed Mur) was born in 1924, when the poems slowed to a relative trickle” (White).
This collection closely reflects Tsvetaeva’s experiences as an émigré: her moving between cities (Berlin, Prague), neprikaiannost – that untranslatable Russian feeling of being an outsider in the world, rejection of the industrial Europe – and longing for the innocence of nature, represented by Tsvetaeva’s favourite, the rowan tree (riabina). Posle Rossii includes the first appearance of one of Tsvetaeva’s most famous poems, written in 1923, “Chto zhe mne delat, sleptsu i pasynku…” (“What should I do, blind and a stepson…”, trans. Ilya Shambat). The collection also contains Tsvetaeva’s poetic dialogues with important literary characters, taken from Shakespeare (Hamlet, Ophelia), Euripides (Phaedra), and Homer (Helen of Troy). These poems were crucial in positioning Tsvetaeva at the forefront of Russian literary feminism.
Tsvetaeva’s wish was to publish the collection in Russia. However and in spite of the absence of overtly political content, the Soviet authorities refused, and all subsequent émigré publications by Tsvetaeva were to be banned in Soviet Union. The poetess organised a subscription and was able to publish her poems in Paris in 1928.
“If we were to select the verse collection by Tsvetaeva in which her poetic craft reaches its highest peak, and her human and poetic stature its more awesome dimension and sweep, we would have to choose Posle Rossii” (Tsvetaeva’s biographer Simon Karlinsky). Tsvetaeva published mainly prose after this work.
Rozanov 4239; Simon Karlinsky, Marina Cvetaeva: Her Life and Art. University of California Press, 1966, p. 194; Tsvetaeva, M., After Russia, trans. Mary Jane White, in SIC Journal, No. 2, Year 6, 06/2016.