A Female Chorus: An Exploration of the Feminine in 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature (2023)

Nina Youkhanna

The voice of women in Russian literature is a complex area of ​​study. This complexity is centuries old and was most evident in the 19th century when women were divided into two opposing models: a seductive sinner mirroring Eve, or a holy mother emulating the Virgin. Passivity and submission were hallmarks of female strength. Paradoxically, silence was the highest form of female eloquence. In Soviet-era literature, the myth of the often mute and stubborn mother remained a popular trope, with an added enthusiastic devotion to Marxist ideology. This study attempts to examine the changing representations of female discourse in Russian prose in the 19th and 20th centuries. The focus is on Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of dialogic discourse. Bakhtin explains that a character can only be revealed when they are in dialogue. From this perspective, this study focuses on the instances where female discourse is inserted or absent from the dialogue and the consequences of each.

you came to bury me

So where's your pick, where's your shovel?

You only have a flute in your hands.

I won't blame you

Because it's a shame that sometime long ago

Forever my voice was mute.

Anna Ajmatova, 1912


Russian literature has produced some of the most famous fictional heroines the world has ever known. From Pushkin's Tatiana to Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, every woman has a unique voice that captures the paradigms of femininity in Russian culture. Russia's strong patriarchal roots, rooted in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, have profoundly influenced these paradigms. Nineteenth-century literature proclaimed these prototypes of femininity by dividing women into saints and sinners. Women were strongest when they were silent. So they were relegated to the paradoxical position of "superior inferiority". In literature and society, the mother and virgin cult was the epitome of female perfection.

The Bolshevik Revolution and the founding of the Soviet Union attempted to radically modernize the position of women in society. The Marxist creed, which at its core sought the elimination of oppression, attracted many Russian women who saw hope for equality in communism's utopian promises. Women in the USSR have achieved unprecedented milestones compared to their European counterparts. They received political, legal and social equality and opportunities for better education and professional training (Clements 41). Despite all these changes, the Bolsheviks could not change the traditional view of the inferiority of women. The reality in the USSR was completely different from the statistics. Women were generally less politically active (Clements 22) and absent from leadership positions (Schuster 265). In addition, sexism continued to be an obstacle for many women, who were seen as less trustworthy than men because their priorities were children and family life (Schuster 266).

During the Stalinist era, the repressive regime promoted the image of the “new Soviet woman” able to perfectly balance work and family life (Clements 73). This 'double burden' of Soviet women meant that many worked under harsh living conditions and physically demanding work (72). The political and economic upheavals that accompanied the collapse of the USSR, especially after the Western influences that swept the country in the 1980s, had a paradoxical effect, in which society reverted to "conservative gender roles" and "polarized images of women" [as ] lover". and wife" (Sutcliffe, "Gendering" 28).

Russian prose was almost exclusively male dominated in the 19th century, as the works of the great Alexander Pushkin set the standard for all literary production. This phenomenon continued in the Soviet Union, where the most prominent prose writers were men. Although poets such as Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova found recognition among Soviet intellectuals, women's prose did not develop until the late 1980s, when the politics of thePerestroikamiVolumeallowed greater freedom of speech (Lapidus 20). With the advent of women writers such as Ludmila Ulitskaya and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, the authors established a prominent literary presence in the short prose genre.

Feminist critics have analyzed the ambivalent position of women in Soviet-era culture and literature. Many focused on female identity, caught between communist theory and Soviet practice, in which secular paradigms of femininity persisted despite the economic and political freedoms afforded to women. Few, however, focused on how this discrepancy affected female language and the female voice in the literature of the time. The aim of this study is to examine the effects of socio-political changes in the 20th century on the discourse on women in Russian literary prose.

The theory of polyphony and dialogue from the novel by Mikhail Bakhtin will provide the theoretical basis for this study. Bakhtin affirms that "[t]he novel as a whole is a multiple phenomenon in style and diverse in language and voice" (dialogical). This quality gives veracity to the novel and short story genres. The discourse of real Soviet women was laden with secular expectations and new models of femininity that differentiated their language from earlier times. Bakhtin's polyphonic theory allows an examination of this female language. Furthermore, Bakhtin considers the polyphonic dialogue to be the telos of the novel. Through this dialogic relationship, languages ​​"illuminate each other" because "a language can only see itself in the light of another language" (dialogical). Female discourse is revealed when it dialogues and, more importantly for this study, when it is silent.

Chapter One examines an iconic heroine of the Russian literary canon: Sonia Marmeladov in the work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.Crime and Punishment(1866). Although written in the second half of the 19th century, Dostoyevsky's heroine in this seminal work had a profound impact on the portrayal of women in Soviet-era literature. Redemptive feminine silences are contrasted with destructive masculine eloquence in a dialogic contrast that lies at the heart of Dostoyevsky's novel. Feminist critics have examined Sonia's voice in the novel, or lack thereof, in relation to Bakhtin's dialogic theory. Her analysis will form the basis for the exploration of female speech and silence in subsequent works.

Chapters two and three examine two female characters in Soviet-era works written by men: the work of Mikhail Bulgakov.The Master and Margarita, e by Alexander SolzhenitsynMatryonas Haus. The first was written between 1928 and 1940, the second was published in 1963; both works are considered part of the dissident tradition. The speeches of the two heroines of the same name, Margarita and Matryona, are used as emblems of larger concepts. They are polemical characters in relation to external reality, but within the confines of the novel they remain monological (to use a Bakhtinian term) or are excluded from dialogue in favor of patriarchal balance.

Chapters four and five focus on two novels written by women: Ludmila UlitskayaSonechkaund Ludmilla PetrushevskayaThe time: late. Although both works were published in 1992, a year after the dissolution of the USSR, they analyze Soviet history through individual rather than collective narratives. The authors tried to bring women closer to their own reality and past experiences. In female prose, the female voice is no longer mythologized, but presented without remorse as it is: sometimes docile and naive, sometimes monstrous and controlling.

Sonia: An die stille Madonna

In his study of Dostoyevsky's poetics, Mikhail Bakhtin notes that the main feature of the author's novels is "[a] Plurality of independent and unbound voices and consciences, a true polyphony of valid voices’ (italics in the original)(6). While Bakhtin's analysis remains gender-neutral, the polyphony within the novel leaves room for female discourse. Sonia Marmeladov inCrime and PunishmentShe is one of Dostoyevsky's most celebrated heroines, but ironically her silence is her main contribution to dialogical discourse. Harriet Murav explains that "whatever the woman is in Dostoyevsky - absence, image, memory trace, a void, even if it is a Christological void - she is not a speaking subject" (51). However, it is this lack of a specific “voice” that connects Sonia to the image of the ideal Russian Christian that Dostoyevsky admires so much. Sonia's eloquent silence rests on the Russian Orthodox building. It is associated with the virtue of self-sacrifice and contrasts with Napoleon Raskolnikov's male individualistic theory. When the silence is momentarily broken as he reads the story of Lazarus to Raskolnikov, his voice becomes a powerful catalyst for the assassin's eventual rescue.

Sonia's silent role inCrime and Punishmentit reflects the ideals of Russian society at the end of the 19th century. The Russian Orthodox Church places great importance on virtues such as "submission, servility, and self-sacrifice for both men and women" (Clements XIV). In Russia's pre-revolutionary patriarchal society, women were expected to possess these virtues over their fathers, brothers, and husbands. Dostoyevsky's Slavophile contemporaries rejected Western values ​​and instead embraced the anti-individualist ideology of the Orthodox Church. Richard Stites argues that this led to "a romantic idealization of the Russian woman as the embodiment of virtue and motherhood" (16). Rina Lapidus reiterates the profound impact of European Romanticism on Russian writers, who saw woman "as a concept [...] When woman is seen as a concept and not as an independent individual, then her discourse becomes a teaching tool used to to inspire male hero. Paradoxically, in the Orthodox tradition, the earthly woman was regarded as the daughter of Eve, "a fallen creature veiled in sin, worthy of no serious consideration" (Lapidus 12). Thus, the voices of real women were dismissed as flawed and even immoral. Ultimately, women's voices (both in reality and in literature) have been distorted by the patriarchal filter of the church or by the idealistic tendencies of romantic authors. Combining these two dichotomous visions of women as saints and sinners, Dostoyevsky creates in Sonia a prostitute whose purity and devotion are almost supernatural.

Although Bakhtin acknowledges the hero's dialogic potential, his view of secondary characters like Sonia implies that she lacks the self-identity or "self-expression" that affirms her autonomy. Despite her influential role, the interlocutor of Bakhtin's hero remains an "other," one voice among many that the hero must use to "orientate himself" and "find his own voice" (Bakhtin,Problems239). Thus "Sonia enters Raskolnikov's inner language not only as a character or type, not only as a character in his life structure [...] but as a symbol of a certain life orientation and ideological position" (238). ) . Sonia can be seen as an allegory. His speech only exists in relation to Raskolnikov's dilemma because it lacks his intense internal dialogue. Bakhtin affirms that “the great heroes […]not only objects of the author's discourse, but also subjects of their own directly meaningful discourse.’ (italics in the original) (7). insidecrime and punishment,Raskolnikov's worldview is entirely his own construction, while Sonia's blind devotion is a secular attitude of Russian tradition. Raskolnikov is a dialogic figure thanks to his controversial voice; he is "the author of his own fully thought-out ideological conception" and not "the object of Dostoyevsky's ultimate artistic vision" (5). Sonia, on the other hand, remains monological because her voice is an entirely authorial constructiononly as spokesman for Dostoyevsky's belief system and not as a product of an independent and unfinished self.

Sonia's voice is absent from the first half of the novel and her identity is constructed by the male characters surrounding her. Elizabeth Blake notes that "before Sonya says a word, her father, Raskolnikov, and Luzhin present her with competing identities, ranging from a paragon of Christian selflessness to an ordinary prostitute" (255). Marmeladov tells Raskolnikov his misfortunes in a drunken fit that reveals Sonia's magnanimous act of self-sacrifice. The vision of his daughter's father as a saint has lingered in Raskolnikov's mind since that fateful first meeting. This becomes clear at the end of the novel, when Raskolnikov declares: "I chose you long ago to hear that [confession], when your father spoke of you" (DostoyevskycrimeIV,iv). Later, Luzhin creates another image of Sonia as a young woman with "notorious behavior" (III, iii). The two leaked versions of Sonia, Marmeladov's idealized image and Luzhin's pejorative tale, reflect the dichotomous image of woman (as saint or sinner) in 19th-century Russian society.

Sonia's portrayal as a melancholy young woman allows her father, Luzhin, and even Raskolnikov to change identities at their own discretion. Her lack of self-identity makes Sonia a failure in a dialogical sense. With his "soft voice" (I, ii) he cannot defend himself against Luzhin's accusations of theft, but "[looks] at Luzhin [...] unable to say a word" (V, iii). She frequently stutters in the presence of others and feels utterly helpless when Raskolnikov questions her rigid religious beliefs. The relatives with whom he rents the room also stutter or "do not speak well" (IV, iv). His language is doubly distorted because he is literally in a physical space of inappropriate language. Both Sonia and her neighbors are unable to communicate effectively, denying them any opportunity for dialogue. Beneath Sônia's dialogical incompetence, however, is a theodicy that seeks to "reconcile the injustices she witnessesHere and nowwith a belief in divine providence" (emphasis in original) (Blake 253). This unanticipated depth of Sonia's consciousness is revealed in the private conversation she has with Raskolnikov, in which her unfiltered voice is finally heard.

Sonia's silent speech is a prerequisite to her self-imposed suffering and acceptance of divine providence. His meekness follows the example of the Virgin Mary's humble reply to the Annunciation: "It be done to me according to your word" (Biblia King James, Luke 1:38). Her sinful profession may link Sonia to Mary Magdalene, but although both are repentant prostitutes, the former's intentions are noble from the start. Besides, Magdalene does not anoint the feet of Jesus,Crime and PunishmentSonia's feet are kissed by Katerina Ivanovna as a sign that she is asking for forgiveness and affirming her status as Christ. Murav claims that the character of Dostoyevsky's Madonna "has a twist": She's either insane, described as possessed, or just plain stupid. His speech consists of silence, hiccups and incoherence” (51). Sonia's speech combines the obedient humility of the Virgin Mary with the holy and foolish "silence" of Dostoyevsky's Virgin.

At the same time, Sonia's reticence is not a sign of weakness or passivity, but of immense strength and will. Finally, Sonia speaks “quietly” of God's world, similar to the eloquent silence of Christ in Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor.The Karamazov brothers. Nina Pelikan Straus suggests that in Dostoyevsky, “woman's power to influence men is understood to emerge, paradoxically, from her legal and sexual disempowerment, from a Russian context in which women's suffering is intimately linked to martyrdom is." Christ and the Crucifixion" (144). It is precisely this contradictory "superior inferiority" (144) of the pious whore that is able to save Raskolnikov's tormented soul and lead him onto a new path of salvation.

Dennis Patrick Slattery notes that Dostoyevsky's iconography of the Madonna "counters to the more liberal and secular images of idolatry which seek to promote those obsessed with their own grand idea" (quoted in Murav 145). Similarly, Sonya's silence serves to neutralize Raskolnikov's reflections on his Napoleonic theory. Raskolnikov describes crossing the boundaries of civil and religious law as “uttering a new word” (DostoyevskycrimeI, I), and his plan to kill the old pawnbroker stems from his desire to pronounce this "new word". Slattery suggests that Raskolnikov is "morally bound by [the] words" (73) of his article. Raskolnikov's haughty word contrasts with Sonia's humble silence as she sacrifices her honor to support her siblings. In addition, in Raskolnikov's article, Sonia reads not the “new word”, but thatold wordfrom the biblical story of Lazarus. Murav puts this opposition in a new light by arguing that when he reads The Raising of Lazarus, "[Sonia] associates himself with the 'Word' that rises, in contrast to Raskolnikov and his 'New Word' that kills” (51). Thus Sonia's voice becomes "the vessel of Christ's own speech" (Slattery 74) and the "remembered word of Christ" (77). At first, Sonia's voice is inaudible, and Raskolnikov's voice is carried through the murders of Alyona and Lizaveta; In the end, Sonia utters the word of Christ, causing Raskolnikov to “stubbornly remain silent(Epilogue, ii).

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The dialogic polemic at the heart of the novel is between a female voice and a male voice. Straus argues that Dostoyevsky's "feminist 'light'" is used to dramatize the "'darkness' of the Russian man" (6). Hence Sonia's female discourse "embodying docility and Christianity" and Raskolnikov's "Napoleonic idea of ​​embodying male fantasies of freedom and modernity" (27). Dostoyevsky personally defended female supremacy because, as he writes in hisDiary of a Writer, “sincerity, perseverance, sincerity, […] honor, [and] a desire for truth and sacrifice” are qualities more present in Russian women than in men (278). These beliefs are reflected in Dostoyevsky's fictional world, in which women (saints or demons) suffer at the hands of men plagued by vices or so influenced by Western nihilistic theories that they have lost touch with their Russian roots. Female honesty and male corruption repeatedly collide in parallel strands of conflict between men and women (Svidrigaylov/Dounia, Luzhin/Sonia). Nowhere is Dostoyevsky's moral dialogue more pronounced than in these confrontations, through which the author shows that the female experience is perhaps closer to Russian authenticity than its male counterpart.

noDiary of a Writer, explains Dostoyevsky: “Russian man has become terribly susceptible to the vices of acquisition, cynicism and materialism in these last few decades; the woman remained much more devoted to the idea and to the service of the idea than he” (502). As a university student, Raskolnikov is exposed to Western European philosophical debates about religion, morality, and human nature. On the other hand, the heroine has no access to such ideas. His upbringing is limited to what his father is trying to teach him and he rejects Lebeziatnikov's liberal ideas in favor of orthodox Christian values. Slattery argues that Raskolnikov's article "reveals the abstract and disembodied nature of ideas as they are detached and dismembered from a larger tradition" (74). The voices of Raskolnikov and Sonia are not only projections of male and female experiences, but also of the “new” concepts of the West and the “old” ideals of the Russian Orthodox East, respectively.

"modern" men inCrime and Punishment(Raskolnikov, Lebeziatnikov and Svidrigailov) have clearly strayed from Mother Russia's authentic path, and their efforts to liberate their egos have failed. Only Sonia's unshakable belief in the Christian idea of ​​submission remains as a path to salvation, and Raskolnikov is saved once he accepts that path. Dostoyevsky, through the voice of Sonia, responds to the "women's question" that troubled the intellectuals of 19th-century Russia. Blake suggests that Dostoyevsky constructs an "artistic image of Russian femininity in Sonya Marmeladova" that is "directly opposed to Lebeziatnikov's model of woman's sexual emancipation" (268-269). In fact, Sonya's faith and virtue are rewarded (in the context of a Christian resurrection narrative) with a new life "provided financially by Svidrigailov and spiritually by Raskolnikov" (253).

Bakhtin asserts that a character "becomes what he is for the first time [...] not only to others but to himself" (Problems252) solely through dialogue. He goes on to say that because "[the] self-awareness of the character in Dostoyevsky is fully dialogued," the inner workings of the hero can only be revealed by "talking to him in dialogue" (251-252). Both statements apply to Sonia, whose most intimate thoughts are revealed when reading Raskolnikov. When reading the story of Lazarus in her Bible, Sonya no longer stutters, but can confidently read it “by heart” (Dostoyevsky,crimeIV,iv). Sonia does not speak in her own words but in the biblical text, so that "by the act of preaching the revealed word is hers" (Blake 262-263). Just as the word of Christ raises the dead Lazarus, the voice of Sonia awakens Raskolnikov's soul and moves him to confess and atone for his sins. The story of Lazarus, read by Sonia, becomes Raskolnikov's new narrative, which "emerges to replace that which he has adopted as a creed for the Napoleonic complex in which he turns helplessly" (Slattery 74). This polyphonic reading and consequent association with Christ give Sonia's speech a new authority with which she "resolutely asserts the primacy of her Christian voice over Raskolnikov's rationalism" (Blake 267).

In summary, silent defiance and personal sacrifice strengthen the female voice so that, paradoxically, it becomes superior through its inferiority. Dostoyevsky's heroine thus offers an answer to the "women's question" that occupied Russian intellectuals in the 19th century. In the face of demands for women's emancipation, Dostoyevsky shows that the power of the Russian woman's voice lies in her eloquent silence, her personal sacrifice, and her imitation of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Within the novel's polyphony, Sonia's voice is not individualized but used as an emblem of orthodox Christian virtues that challenge the atheistic nihilism of Western European rationalism. Thus, Dostoyevsky's treatment of the female voice lacks plausibility and nuance because his understanding of a woman's inner world is superficial and ultimately biased. The former oscillates between humble silence and theological discourse in dialogue between female and male voices, but in both cases aims to lift the soul of the Russian man above the nihilistic nothingness into which he has plunged.

Daisy: the loud witch

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 not only changed the socio-political landscape of Russia, but also changed the standards for later artistic production. The Communist Party dictated the specific criteria for portraying the ideal Soviet literary hero and heroine, which were often removed from Soviet reality. In this environment grew a dissident literary movement that sought to subvert these glorified archetypes by presenting flawed protagonists. by Mikhail BulgakovThe Master and MargaritaTuoptimal work, belongs to the dissident tradition of the turbulent Stalinist period.

The eponymous heroine Margarita occupies a dynamic position in Bulgakov's novel as a muse, a witch, and even a personification of Christian virtue. With each new identity, Margarita's voice changes, from bursting out into devilish laughter to falling silent. The dialogical relationship between the Maestro's 'male' authorial discourse and Margarita's 'female' public places her voice in an ambiguous position: it is powerful, but with limitations. Bulgakov combines folk and Christian elements and assigns them to Margarita's voice to challenge the perfect image of the Soviet heroine.

During the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian women's liberation became an important part of the Communist Party's program. Lenin in particular used the female voice as a tool to spread Bolshevik propaganda within the family and community. The Communist Party promoted the idea that the key to women's liberation was the eradication of private property (Clements 39). Alice Schuster explains that Lenin "wanted to make women ardent defenders of the new order, to prevent them from undermining men's revolutionary ideals" (261). This politically conscious Soviet superwoman was expected to bridge the gap between her "small family" and society's "big family" (Lapidus 19) to raise children who would become great citizens.

Margarita defies all the political traits of the Soviet heroine. Bakhtin characterizes the heteroglossy of carnivalesque literature as "parodistic, and energetically and polemically opposed the official languages ​​of his time" (dialogical). The female discourse in Bulgakov's carnival novel is part of the same heteroglossy aimed at criticizing the official 'image' of the Soviet superwoman outlined above. Rather than serving a high collectivist socialist purpose, Margarita's voice is used to aid in her personal quest and artistic rescue of her lover. He makes a pact with the devil, not because of a Faustian insight or a communist political dream, but to achieve personal, explicitly non-political happiness. Instead of being an atheistic good citizen, she is willing to believe in the existence of the devil and his ability to "fix everything" (Bulgakov 309). The only "order" he stands for is Woland's anarchic system, and the only revolution he cares about is the destruction of the critics who torment the master. When Voland asks Margarita what she wants, she actually replies: "'I ask that [the master and I] be taken back to the basement apartment on the side street near the Arbat'" (246). Margarita expresses her desire as a vision of personal bliss that private property demands: the basement apartment that served as a safe haven for lovers. Also, Margarita has no children and leaves her husband's house to be with her lover, drowning out any speech referring to her "little family."

Margarita's transformation into a witch changes her personality and briefly breaks the chains of female silence. After the mysterious disappearance of the master, Margarita is heartbroken and continues to live unhappily with her husband. She begins to silently accept her tragic fate until the day Woland arrives in Moscow. When she meets Azazello, she cannot resist his speech and "[remains] submissively silent" (193) when he issues an invitation "from a certain distinguished foreigner" (192). The heroine is portrayed as a miserable woman whose voice seems to have neither will nor independence. In fact, when the reader first encounters Margarita through the Master's narration, in which he tells his story to Bezdomny in the hospital, his voice, like Dostoyevsky's Sonya, cuts through the speech, male, and is only released later.

When Margarita uses Azazello's cream, not only does she look physically younger, but it also gives her a strong voice. This liberation of the heroine is manifested in her nudity and above all in her laughter, which before the miraculous transformation from "joyless laughter" (193) into her "unbridled [laughter]" (197) passes. The golden cream makes Margarita "[feel] free, free from everything" (197), and she unleashes her wild impulses of destruction when she "[bursts out] in laughter" (201).

Saint Hildegard associates laughter with the fall of Adam, whose body was lashed by a "wind" that provoked "unreasonable licentiousness, merriment, and roaring laughter" (132). Thus, laughter is contrasted with the "voice full of heavenly joy" that penetrated the Garden of Eden before the temptation of Adam and Eve, and is associated with the "fall of the pure" and "carnal desires" (132). Margarita is the opposite of Adam as both are tempted by the devil and corrupted by laughter. Unlike Sonia's silence, which is only broken to connect it to the word of Christ, Margarita's laughter is an explosive and even destructive energy associated with the devil and the downfall of mankind. However, Margarita's "fall" is a form of liberation, a liberation from her miserable life. This is an uplifting case: a happy paradox in which Marguerite's transformation into a witch presents a challenge to the patriarchal Christian God.

Bakhtin emphasizes the power of laughter in the carnival tradition and its role in challenging the "official language" and rigid conventions of society. He affirms that laughter “represents an element of victory, not just over supernatural fear, over the sacred, over death; it also means the fall of power, of earthly kings, of the earthly upper class, of all that oppresses and narrows" (rabelais92). Thus, Margarita's laugh not only challenges the patriarchal god, but also Soviet society with its false virtues and its denial and suppression of the mystical and artistic.

Ultimately, Margarita can no longer be a witch, and both her powers and laughter are lost when Azazello poisons her. At the moment of death, "the momentary squint, cruelty, and ferocity of [Margarita's] facial features vanish. The dead woman's face brightened and eventually softened, and her smile was no longer predatory, but that of a woman who had endured much suffering” (Bulgakov 313). Margarita is rewarded with the "silence" of her new home after death and a promise to stay with the Master and keep "her dream" (325) for all eternity. Margarita must sacrifice her witty laugh in order to live happily with her lover. insideThe Master and MargaritaThe topos of female silence is only temporarily disturbed, but must eventually return to restore balance in the patriarchal world.

Marguerite's witch-like language encompasses both the devilish laugh of revenge and the soft murmur of a mother, evident in her impressive ability to calm a small child who frightens her in the Latunksy building. The cruelty inherent in the collective punishment of all residents of the privileged literary community is tempered by the tender feelings Margarita shows toward the innocent embodied in the frightened child. However, her compassion is best shown when she asks Woland to absolve Frieda of her guilt, knowing that she just lost her only wish. Marguerite "becomes in [Voland's] hands, almost against her will, a comforter and healer, a source of mercy" (Beaujour 73), leading to her benevolence towards Frieda. With her voice, Margarita frees Frieda while the former utters the magical words: "'You are forgiven. You will no longer receive the handkerchief'” (Bulgakov 242-243). Elizabeth Beaujour claims that "Marguerite is indeed the true bearer of Christian charity in the novel because of her altruism" and that she is "a disciple of Yeshua as well as the Master" (78). The Jerusalem accounts make no mention of any significant biblical women, particularly the Virgin Mary. The compassion of female discourse is thus taken from its original history and set in Moscow, where Margarita inherits the traits of the Virgin. While it is true that Margaret is neither pure nor a virgin, she nonetheless retains the alienating "morally superior" status that classical Russian literature ascribes to women through association with the Virgin, who in the Dantesque tradition is the mediator between God and humanity . Although Bulgakov gives his heroine an unconventional speech – that of a witch – his female voice retains traces of the “heavenly being”, whose main strength lies in Christian ethics.

Margarita's voice is primarily defined by its contrast to the Maestro's voice. Her strength contrasts with his weakness, and her role as a muse is defined by her creative genius. As Sonia and Raskolnikov engage in a literal and symbolic dialogue, the female emerges as the loudest voice and the only one capable of breaking the killer's arrogant "word". The speeches of the Maestro and Margarita are not ideological opposites, but are entangled in a zero-sum game.

In her role as the Master's lover and savior, Margarita's voice seems to triumph over the artist's moral limits. She calls him "Master" due to her unwavering belief in his creative genius and her devotion to his novel. The act of giving the title to the lover gives immense power to Margarita's voice as "the one who names". The master differs from Raskolnikov in that the latter is ideologically arrogant while the former is a coward. The female-male roles are reversed in DostoyevskyThe Master and Margarita, where the man is the victim and the woman is the agent of change. Margarita's speech joins that of the devil, linking her to greater powers that give her the authority to punish and forgive. As he embarks on a peripatetic adventure, the master remains immobile, unable to save himself or others. In fact, at the end it is Margarita's speech addressed to Voland that redeems the master and gives him another chance to live in peace.

Bakhtin argues that one of the hero's tasks in the novel is to "separate [his] voice from another voice with which it is inseparably fused" (Problems239). Bulgakov's heroine tries the opposite - to merge her voice.costwith the teacher. She is ultimately his student and follower. In the company of Woland, the power vested in his word is used only to avenge and then save his beloved. Despite his strength, his language is inferior to that of the master and is used only to assert his artistic brilliance and to offset his flaws. This becomes clear when the master suddenly appears in Voland's room after Margarita has asked him to save her lover. As soon as the master sits down, Margarita falls to her knees beside him and realizes that “her nudity suddenly disappeared and she was now wearing a black silk cloak” (Bulgakov 243). If Margarita's nudity and laughter are associated with freedom of expression, as discussed above, then immediately after the master's materialization, the concealing of her body becomes significant to represent the mastery of her language.

Margarita is not only the mistress of the master, but also his faithful reader. While Sonia reads the Word of God, Margarita reads the "alternative" New Testament words of the Master. Bulgakov's heroine is denied the artistic vision reserved primarily for man, whose words, despite their fragility, retain their authority. The reader's inferiority is best illustrated in the scene of the release of Pontius Pilate. Margarita feels sorry for the prosecutor and tries to free him as she did Frieda. "'Let it go,' Margarita suddenly screamed piercingly, just as she had screamed when she was a witch" (Bulgakov 323). Needless to say, her crying produces nothing more than Woland's mocking laughter. Only the voice of the Master can free Pilate: “[The Master] put his hands over his mouth like a megaphone and shouted […]. 'Free! Free! It's waiting for you! The mountains turned the master's voice into thunder, and the thunder destroyed it ”(Bulgakov 324). The author's voice is associated with a force of nature, thunder, capable of breaking Pilate's chains and putting him out of his misery. Margarita's speech is finally silenced and her influence diminished before the male artist's indestructible power.

In summary, Margarita's discourse focuses on a personal rather than a collective quest, and she distances herself from the superwoman political activism promoted in Soviet propaganda. Struggling to make ends meet in overcrowded communal apartments, royal women worked hard to support their families while pursuing physically demanding jobs. In this case, Margarita's voice does not represent the harsh everyday life of real women in Soviet Russia. Her loyalty to Woland's society and her transformation into a witch removes her even further from this reality, and her undying love for the Master elevates her to an unattainable state. However, despite her "terrible perfection", Margarita's voice is drowned out by the Master's speech once she has achieved her goal of freeing him. Within the novel's polyphony, Bulgakov's heroine follows the tradition of the superior woman, who embodies in her speech the virtues that can rescue the Russian man from the 'darkness' he carries within.

Matryona: the suffering mother

Na obra by Alexander SolzhenitsynMatryonas Haus(1963), the female protagonist represents the timeless motif of the suffering peasant mother. Mother iconography has a long history in the Russian literary canon and often symbolizes the generous and constantly suffering homeland. Matryona is an uneducated, professional woman whose kindness and straightforwardness exemplify genuine traditional peasant values. The main contrast between the idealized Soviet mother and the Russian peasant mother is that the former is arrogantly fair while the latter is humbly unassuming. The female language in this story is rooted in its symbolic power to represent Mother Russia, traditional values ​​and the supremacy of female language.

Like Dostoyevsky's Sonya, Matryona is a quiet woman. One could almost imagine Matryona as Sonja in old age, almost a century later still calm, gentle and full of faith. Matryona lives alone with a stray cat, various worms, and her precious gum plants, which "peopled [her] solitude like a mute but living multitude" (Solzhenitsyn 30). Her movement is characterized by silence as she walks "silently, thoughtfully, trying not to make any noise" (31) in the kitchen or leans against the stove when she is nauseous. Your quiet lifestyle enhances your gentleness and gentle personality; this sets her apart from the oppressive male characters, the exploitative bureaucracy of the collective farms, and the mocking gossip and wailing of the women present at Matryona's funeral at the end of the story. In Dostoyevsky's writings, "good" women succeed because they are able to endure hardship calmly while putting family and social values ​​ahead of their own interests. Similarly, Solzhenitsyn evokes the superiority of the Russian peasant mother through her quiet devotion to family and community.

The image of the mother as a representative of traditional Russia has long been a prominent theme in literature and art. In the Soviet Union, this was especially manifested in the novel by Maxim Gorky.Breast(1906), which was considered the ideal model for works of socialist realism. In this novel, the protagonist is a widow who follows in her son's footsteps by joining the revolutionary movement. Gorky used maternal language to communicate the importance of "socialist love" over personal love and the need to serve the "common cause" (Lapidus 18). Joanna Hubbs states that "the Soviet regime appropriated the mother myth to bind the nation on an affective level" (234). The selfless mother-wife is like a mythical heroine who upholds the collectivist utopian hope not only for her family but for all of Russia.

Matryona doesn't look like Gorky's heroine, and her speech isn't politicized in the same way. While Gorky's protagonist Pelagueya Nilovna transforms into a revolutionary worker, Matyona lives a docile life in the Soviet state, where the workers' revolt was already raging. However, Solzhenitsyn suggests that greed and materialism have not been eradicated from the Russian male psyche. Matryona, through her pro-social and non-profit attitude, represents a kind of "silent resistance" to subvert the greed that was prevalent in Soviet society. Furthermore, the ideal Soviet mother portrayed by Gorky is arrogant in her unwavering belief in communist doctrine. This is particularly illustrated in Pelagueya's proclamation at the end of the novel that her oppressors “will not drown reason in blood; they will not erase your truth! (Gorky). Matryona, on the other hand, remains humble, does not speak of revenge, but silently helps those who destroy her homeland to their deaths.

Matyona's native language is strongly associated with Mother Russia. Matryona's maternal voice rises from her surroundings, the Russian countryside, which Hubbs observes "seems to bring back the prodigal sons to their original homeland" (xiii). The narrator flees to the rural part of the country to “get lost in deepest Russia” (Solzhenitsyn 29). Hubbs argues that Russian writers portrayed the homeland as a "source of creativity" and inspiration, but also as the suffering victim of his children's crimes (xv). Solzhenitsyn's portrayal of Matryona conforms to these portrayals: she becomes a moral teacher to the narrator while suffering at the hands of bureaucracy and her opportunistic relatives. Both Matryona and the Homeland never lose their devotion to their "children" and continue to give their love selflessly, without expecting recognition. The intersection between female and native discourses culminates in the accident in which Solzhenitsyn suggests the disfigured body of Matryona as a metaphor for Russia's "tragic fate" (Hubbs 237). Matryona (and Russia) is mutilated "by men driven by the crudest material impulses" (237). The suffering old woman thus symbolizes the pain of the homeland exploited by the Soviet regime and the insatiable greed of men. Thus, as in the works discussed above, the voice of the earthly woman is not individualized but mythologized as a symbol of broader ideological concepts that convey the author's nationalistic sentiments.

Matryona has a clear affinity for the legendarygrandfatherRussian folklore figure often portrayed as a benevolent matriarch. From the 1960s through the 1980s there was a prominent return ofgrandfatherdue to the dramatic decline in the male population, most of whom died in World War II or perished in the gulags (Doak 172). This left the grandmother with the task of bringing up the children and supporting the family in addition to the young single mothers (173). EITHERgrandfatherHe particularly stood out in "Village Prose," which examined the rural areas of the Soviet Union and was characterized by "a search for national values, concern for the environment, and a nostalgia aroused by the loss of traditional country life" (Parthé 3 ). . Of course, older women were perfect ambassadors for the ideals of this genre, as they were seen as keepers of folk and spiritual traditions. insideMatryonas Haus, agrandfatherHis speech is linked to romanticized rural Russia and the morally superior pre-modern Slavic ethic subverted by the communist state.

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Barbara Clements notes that in the 1930s Stalin's government launched campaigns among peasant women to encourage education and participation in political and social programs (71). These attempts failed to shake the strong roots of peasant beliefs and beliefs that had existed for centuries. Eventually, the Soviet regime abandoned these efforts and allowed older women to practice orthodox rituals and traditions (Hubbs 235). Solzhenitsyn's short story reflects this reality by depicting the country as a 'microcosm of pre-revolutionary Russia' (235) where religion and superstition continue to be part of everyday life. The element of superstition is evident in the village women's fear that Matryona's children will die because she was cursed (Solzhenitsyn 38). Even Matryona's "strongest belief was superstitious" (Solzhenitsyn 35), and she has an ambivalent attitude towards modernity, being afraid of trains (35). Matryona's discourse is therefore closer to the ideals of the 19th century woman than to the Soviet master Gorky imagined. Its principles are not based on the atheistic collectivist ethos of the Soviet regime, but on Christian virtues in which humility plays a fundamental role.

Matryona's altruism is evident in her willingness to help. When asked for help, she "gave up on what to do next and went to help her neighbor" (Solzhenitsyn 34). His selfless actions are free from envy or malicious thoughts, even when exploited by the chairman of the collective farm where he used to work. In her dialogues with others, Matryona simply does not envy her efforts and never accepts payment for her work. Critics have suggested that this generosity and perseverance in the face of adversity elevated her to the status of a saint (Ivanits 73, Lefcowitz & Lefcowitz 451). She is very similar to Virgo, who willingly renounces her own body in the service of humanity. Interestingly, Solzhenitsyn emphasizes that Matryona is far from a true believer, but she is "a heathen" (Solzhenitsyn 35) who is never seen praying or crossing herself. Hubbs suggests that Solzhenitsyn did not want to associate Matryona's compassion with Christianity but with an older religion (236). This may be the pre-modern peasant myth of the bountiful Mother Earth, which, as Helena Goscilo points out, influenced the way Christian Russia viewed the Virgin Mary ("Mother" 69). On the other hand, Matryona's faith can be as silent as her voice, since the narrator claims that icons hung on her walls and that she began each work with "God bless us" (Solzhenitsyn 35). Pagan or Christian, Matryona's voice is a distilled essence of pro-social religiosity devoid of any sense of righteousness. Her humility is total, which is in contrast to Gorky's arrogant revolutionary female voice.Breast.

Matryona's voice has another connection to tradition in its association with fairy tales. The narrator describes her voice as "a warm, guttural chuckle, the kind of sound grandmothers make in fairy tales" (Solzhenitsyn 31). He is led to her by an old milk seller who resembles the archetypal helper in the fairy tale scheme. Joanna Hubbs notes that when the new tenant first meets Matryona, she resembles Baba Yaga lying in a house with various creatures on her hearth (236). Her initially sour reaction to the stranger may resemble that of the wicked witch, but the narrator soon discovers that Matryona is a "restoring moral force" and mentor (236). By equating his speech with a well-known fairy tale character, Solzhenitsyn uses the same literary convention as Soviet authors who base their depictions of the mother heroine on mythology.

Bakhtin states that "one can approach [the inner man] and reveal it or, more precisely, force one to reveal oneself just by addressing it dialogically" (Problems252). Likewise, Matryona's "inner self" is revealed to the narrator during their nightly dialogue, where he is able to see her in a new light. His statement metaphorically brings Matryona into being after the narrator "forgot that [she] was in the room" (Solzhenitsyn 37). Through language woman can exist and Matryona can finally tell her own story. Although this dialogue should have revealed Matryona's nature to the narrator, it only captures her true nature at the end, after her death, in the exchange with her sister-in-law. The narrator says: "Only then, after these disapproving remarks by the sister-in-law, did I understand [Matryona] in a way I never understood when I lived next door to her" (45) . Ironically, Matryona's voice is completely absent from this dialogue, but that's exactly what it isabsencewhich reveals the true nature of the dead woman. While Sonia and Margarita benefit from being addressed dialogically, Matryona does not. She is the subject rather than the subject of discourse, ensuring that she remains in some ways an emblem rather than an individual.

Matryona's gentle speech is contrasted with Faddei's greed and cruelty in another allegorical conflict between female and male voices. Externally, there is a clear division between the two characters. Faddei retains his black hair and youthful health while Matryona is crippled by illness and old age. The narrator observes the tension between the two as he realizes that Faddeihe obviously didn't have much to say to Matryona" (Solzhenitsyn 36), while Matryona remained "like a pleading mute" (37). while inCrime and PunishmentmiThe Master and Margarita, the hero and the heroine engage in a dialogue, Faddei and Matryona keep a pact of silence. When the question of dismantling the upper room became urgent, Faddei "became a frequent visitor, laid down the law for Matryona, and insisted that she should surrender the upper room at once before she died" (39). Matryona's passive speech is countered by Faddei's assertive methods, and ultimately the outcome for the female voice is tragic as it is the old man's greed that causes Matryona's death. Hubbs argues that "Faddei seems to reincarnate the brutality and greed of the Soviet regime and Russian men" (236). Echoing Dostoyevsky's sentiments, the spiritual magnanimity of female speech once again morally triumphs over male materialism and arrogance. Her voice carries the soul of Russian traditions and her undeniable goodness that has survived despite the terrible events that have devastated her sacred land.

So Solzhenitsyn follows the Dostoyevsky tradition, which sees women as the only ones capable of saving and restoring the values ​​of the "Old Russian". Faddei's character resembles demonic figures in fairy tales, whose cruelty and meanness symbolize the malevolent forces of Soviet life (Ivantis 71-72). This creates the contrast between female and male voicesMatryonas Hausit has broader implications as the two forces also represent concepts of good and evil. The evil in this case comes from greed and the obsession with "property" that invaded the Soviet Union. Hubbs notes that despite her death, Matryona remains "the one true communist" because "[her] ethos [in] her unselfish devotion to those around her [and] in her lack of will to win continues to challenge that of the state." "Things" (237).

Finally, Solzhenitsyn uses the age-old theme of the suffering mother to challenge Soviet arrogance and expose its inherent hypocrisy. Matryona's kindness reveals the greed of her community and shows that the abolition of private property has not diminished the materialistic obsessions of Soviet citizens. His humble voice is reminiscent of the romantic past, when basic social values ​​were the true hallmark of egalitarianism rather than the arrogance of economic and scientific progress. By equating Matryona's voice with Mother Earth and the fairy taleBabuschkas, Solzhenitsyn suggests that the roots of the Russian spirit are good, but damaged and distorted by Soviet patriarchal ideology. Paradoxically, Solzhenitsyn uses the same method used by socialist realist writers to criticize this ideology: mythologizing women. Despite her positive qualities, the woman remains a simulacrum of the homeland that cannot escape the symbolic discourse imposed on her by the male authors of the Russian tradition.

Sonechka: the domesticated virgin

The tradition of female passivity has its origins in Eastern Orthodoxy and was repeated in classical 19th-century literature and later returned in Soviet state socialist propaganda. Helena Goscilo argues that this led to Russian women "so completely [internalizing] the traditional male entitlement system that they themselves propagated the very inequalities that marginalized them" (Dec10). Although the period fromVolumemiPerestroikademanded liberalism and openness in the 1980s, the new programs failed to change the rigid gender roles of Soviet society (2). However, the Western influences seeping into the USSR at the time, particularly the discourse of feminism, led to a renewed debate about the “appropriate niche” of women (13). Despite this new focus on women's issues, the self-image of Russian women remained limited to traditional roles. This attitude extended to Russian authors, who in their writing “focus on what they do best and what they are most interested in: human interaction, often heterosexual relationships, family dynamics, generational conflict, self-actualization issues, and conflict between work and family demands ” (17). As a departure from the women's literature of the earlier era, the so-called "New Women's Prose" emerged in the mid-1980s. The "new female prose" referred to works that were "resolutely and deliberately gynocentric, in contrast to those writers who denied the importance of gender issues" (Adlam 16). This new form of female prose was also based on the alternative literature of the time, which, as Carol Adlam emphasizes, distanced itself from the moralizing ideological approach of socialist realism (5).

Previously, Russian critics used female prose as a synonym for the banal writing ofan apartment, the mundane, with all its negative qualities: "small, insignificant, mundane, exhausting, repetitive, and ultimately deadly" (Sutcliffe, "Engendering" 2). This contrasted with the male-dominated Russian canon, which often focused on universal themes and existential crises and the epic struggles of men. Beginning with Dostoyevsky, the three authors discussed above confront such grand themes as man's struggle against nihilism, the artist's attempt to individualize himself in a collectivist society, and the destruction of traditional values ​​in the face of modernity. Women's prose, on the other hand, used an inductive approach to understanding life, focusing on the trivial details of everyday life rather than the deductive approach used by most Russian male authors (38).

Ludmila Ulitskaya published her first novel,Sonechka, which received critical acclaim in 1992. The events of the soap opera are set in its not-too-distant past and encompass important events in the Soviet Union, including the purges, WWII, the thaw, and stagnation. As the story progresses, Ulitskaya's eponymous heroine transforms from a pseudo-intellectual to a domesticated housewife. The female language in Ulitskaya is characterized by change and is used as a tool to convey the impact of major events on the individual and the home. The tension in the masculine/feminine dialogue focuses on the notion of creativity and the possibility of a feminine domestic aesthetic matched with masculine artistic ingenuity. While Sonechka's voice is heard mostly through passive murmurs and sighs, Ulitskaya does not ignore the heroine's domestic discourse, but rather affirms it among other types of female voices, avoiding the tendency of her male predecessors to moralize female virtue or promote her superiority.

Ulitskaya sees the story through the female discourse on domesticity and personal struggles. Sonechka and her family experience the great upheavals of the 20th century, but these events remain pushed into the background. Instead, the narrative highlights the impact they have on the individual. Benjamin Sutcliffe calls this a “transhistorical temporality” that offers “an indirect critique of history” (“Begetting” iv) through the depiction of women's domestic lives. Sonechka's domestic discourse is emphasized amid the social upheavals of the period, in contrast to large-scale "male" economic and political struggles (3). However, the female voice remains indifferent and sometimes naïve in the face of historical changes unfolding outside the home. Sonechka flees to the classics of Russian literature in order “not to have to live in the shrill pathos of the 1930s and to let her soul touch the immensity of the great Russian literature of the 19th century” (Ulitskaya 5). After her marriage, Sonechka is only interested in how external events benefit or harm her family, which is shown when she tells Robert in a dream: "'When the war is over and we win, our life will be so happy'" (15 ) , revealing his political naivety. Furthermore, she does not interfere in the intellectual conversations among Robert's artist friends, who "have little to do with the worries of the outside world" (31). She simply goes on with her domestic duty of mending her daughter's socks and "warms reverently in the warmth and light of [the] universally relevant [men's] conversations" (31). In this sense, Sonechka resembles the heroines of Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn, who live in turbulent times but speak only of romantic love and the desire to be part of the community, respectively. There is essentially no dialogue between the historical reality and the female leadSonechka. Unlike Dostoyevsky's dialogued male hero, Sonechka does not "look out" (Bakhtin,Problems251), but inwards.

Sonechka is, at least initially, in an exchange of a different kind: a dialogue with literature. She is described as an "ardent reader" (Ulitskaya 3) who consumes literature obsessively, and the first literary figure she is identified with is Tolstoy's Natasha Rostova.war and peace. The heroines of Russian literature (written by men), which includes Tolstoy's Natasha, were portrayed, as discussed above, as having "a 'natural' superiority, uneducated and virginal" (Heldt 4). If Sonechka's initial transformation and early influence are these idealized literary martyrs, then the question is how she is posed by Diane Price Herndl, what her true discourse is, and what she has learned from tradition (7). Sonechka's life unfolds in an almost stereotypical archetype of the altruistic, victimized women seen in the tales of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn. In her dreams, Sonechka weaves her own narrative in which she “exists as a full-fledged heroine (or heroine), a balancing act between the author's will, of which she was fully aware, and her own autonomous impulse to move. ” , actions and action” (Ulitskaya 4). Ulitskaya's awakened heroine also doubts between the monologized female voices in the literature she reads and her own autonomous and dialogic will. This begs the question whether he accepts Robert's betrayal because of his big-hearted personality or simply because he's following in the footsteps of his literary heroines. Her return to reading in old age and the cyclical nature of her life seem to confirm that she is bound by the will of canonical male authors.

In addition to her fondness for reading, Sonechka is distinguished by her clumsy, almost caricature-like physicality: her pear-shaped nose, her “immemorial ass” and large breasts (Ulitskaya 3). Goscilo affirms that the "new female prose" has developed a "strategy of externalization of maximum violence, in which not tearful lamentations, but the female body - as the physical and tropological center of the text - testifies to the woman's experience" (Dec89). The body becomes the "language" of the woman and not her actual expression. So while Sonechka's voice is barely audible, her body speaks a lot. When the tradition of male-written literature claimed and silenced the language of Russian women, female authors were forced to find a new medium through which to communicate their unique experiences. In the heroine's speech, her female body unites the identity of mother and wife. The first gave mother's milk to the daughter, and the second to the husband, with "[Sonechka's] body, speechless and happily, satisfying the appetites of those two precarious beings inseparable from her" (Ulitskaya 24). Physicality thus goes with family in Sonechka's discourse (Sutcliffe, “Mother” 616) and is aimed at the younger generation who see the body as a means of experimentation and self-discovery (Tania) or as a tool to be used. for survival (Jasia). In all three cases, although they have different connotations and consequences, shame emphasizes rather than obscures the female body.

Sonechka's language changes after her marriage to Robert, where she turns away from the escapist fantasies of literature and into the banalities of everyday life. Her talent for reading is replaced by the mundane chores of motherhood and household chores, which Sonechka finds more meaningful than any literary event or character. The heroine's imaginative discourse is abruptly interrupted by reality, suggesting that the intellectual and the domestic cannot coexist in a woman's life. However, Ulitskaya does not describe Sonechka's domestication as a negative transformation, thereby challenging the Russian literary canon by shifting the ideal of (male) spirituality and intellectualism into (female) everyday life (Salys 446).

Ulitskaya does not reject tame language or consider it sterile and uninspired; rather, the mundane is seen as "an artistic device" and a "channel to a higher meaning" (Sutcliffe, "Engendering" iv). Even Robert sometimes asserts "the true aesthetic quality, sublime importance and beauty of Sonechka's domestic creativity" (Ulitskaya 43). Aspects of domestic life become a way to reconnect and express the heroine's creativity and spirituality. Ulitskaya said in an interview that Sonechka “builds her life […] simply and quite naturally around family, for family. [...] [Satisfaction with life is directly related to how well he manages to do his duty, how he understands it” (quoted in Salys 452).

Unlike the male writers discussed above, Ulitskaya finds balance in her writing about women because she explores other female discourses. The author brings happiness to Tania and Jasia, although they are completely deprived of the domestic discourse of family life. Tania is rewarded with a child and a prestigious career, and Jasia is rewarded with a fairytale happy ending. All three voices are authenticated and presented without judgement, as a nuanced challenge to the traditional binary view of women as holy mothers or prostitutes.

But even in Ulitskaya's novel, a slight connection with the venerated figure of the Virgin remains. Sonechka's disinterest can be seen as an expression of Our Lady's leniency. However, Ulitskaya undermines this connection by emphasizing the heroine's Jewish character. Sonechka fulfills her religious duties by doing housework, equating the first, second, and third courses she serves her family with the three parts of the Old Testament—Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim—and protecting the orphan Jasia sees as a mitzvah (good act). Ulitskaya subverts the traditional image of the female martyr by removing her heroine's Christian indoctrination, thereby claiming that the root of this image is cultural (or even biological) rather than religious.

Bakhtin asserts that "[the] word lives, so to speak, on the boundary between its own context and another alien context" (dialogical). The female discourse thus wants to interact with the “other” in order to find its own identity and create subjective meanings. Ulitsakay recognizes this need for communication and eschews the comparative approach that favors one discourse (usually male) over the other. Rimgaila Salys argues that in Ulitskaya's text "women define themselves 'relatively' in life, that is, in connection with and with the awareness of others around them, while men define themselves 'oppositely' and separate from role models and peers" (443) . Thus Robert follows the topos of the artist/intellectual, as seen in Dostoyevsky and Bulgakov, who asserts his own individual genius by separating his voice from the cacophonic noise that surrounds him. Robert's speech is steeped in a variety of experiences: travel, fame, women, and even falling away from his Jewish roots. While Robert's speech is fully dialogued with the public through association, Sonechka is confined to a domestic bubble by her biology. In an interview, Ulitskaya affirms this essentialist vision of gender: “The world of men and the world of women are two different worlds. In some places they cross, but not quite. There are areas of predominantly male interests and areas of female interests” (Gosteva 80). This continues in the tradition of "gender dichotomy" in Russian culture, which "feminizes nature and masculinizes culture" (Goscilo,DecFour five). However, Ulitskaya does not place any discourse above the other; Although Robert dismisses Sonechka's love of Russian literature and rarely addresses it in dialogue, his speech does not come across as oppressive or malicious. Salys argues that Ulitskaya "[Roberts] acknowledges male opposition [...] the relationality that underpins his centrality in the novel" (Salys 462).

Conclude,Sonechka, in the tradition of the “new female prose”, distances itself from the classic works of 19th-century Russia and the didactic narratives of the Soviet era, and refuses “moral guardianship of the people” (Adlam 6). Ulitskaya's narration features three female voices, all of which, including Sonechka's silence, are acknowledged as positive. The feminine focus on the mundane details of everyday life offers a unique look at history from the point of view of the individual. The female body and maternal domesticity provide a new language for Sonechka, whose self-sacrifice is not mocked but rewarded with calm and contentment in old age. female speechan apartmentit is removed from its profane associations and justified as a meaningful and worthwhile realm, rather than being disparaged in favor of "strong" masculine language. Ulitskaya does not offer an absolute paradigm of femininity, instead making flexibility and change the two main aspects of the female voice. From their point of view, however, the problematic biological essentialism of femininity and masculinity remains. While creativity is permitted for both genders, the spheres in which this creativity is exercised are like two different worlds apart.

Anna Andrianovna: The underground woman

If all of the fictional women discussed above had a chance to scream, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's Anna Andrianovna would be the strongest. In your little novelThe time: late(1992) Petrushevskaya refuses to impose a discourse on religion, iconography, love or sentimentality on her heroine, instead letting her speak for herself. Although she is considered an author of 'new women's prose', as Kristin Anne Peterson notes, Petrushevskaya rejects the category 'women's fiction', claiming that her style is 'succinct and masculine' (167). She differs from other writers like Ludmila Ulitskaya when she says: “I write about events, catastrophes. Never about everyday events” (quoted in Peterson 163). The author's world is free of domestic harmony and sentimentalityThe time: lateit is fraught with "physical deprivation and deprivation [...], emotional violence, pain and abuse" (Woll 125). The heroine Anna Andrianovna's voice is grotesque in her exaggerated egotistical tales of the gentlegrandfatherand the selfless mother. The female voice remains trapped in this pattern of self-mythology, passing it from mother to daughter, making the story a cyclical entity with no hope of change. Swallowing all the others, his narrative is radical in that it silences man and relegates him to a subordinate position. Petrushevskaya's text engages in “a critical dialogue with mythical versions of femininity” (Doak 179), ironically debunking the internalized iconography of women present in Russian culture and literature for centuries.

Connor Doak notes that Anna Andrianovna uses the romanticized narrative of old wives or grandmothers prevalent in Soviet "village prose" as an "autobiographical strategy to play the role of martyr" and "maintain the archetypal role of caretaker".grandfather(174). Petrushevskaya satirizes this idealized image of the old woman through the martyrdom narrative created by Anna Andrianovna and the contradictory reality of her selfish tyranny. EITHERgrandfatherFrom Soviet literature, such as Solzhenitsyn's Matryona, she was portrayed as a kind and caring, but often taciturn woman who had no purpose other than to care for those around her. insideThe time: latethe grandmother gains a prominent voice with which to tell her own story. The female silence is broken and Anna's personality explodes from the pages to reveal the secret machinations behind the myth of the gentle mother. What is revealed in Anna's writing is the disturbing monstrosity of a controlling, self-deceiving woman who bullies her family "through creation and storytelling" (Peterson 239). It is evident that Anna's obsessive love for her young web Tima, who occasionally kept her with her mother (Anna's daughter) for long periods of time, and in her self-pitying stories about caring for her son, despite being a heavy burden on her . The reader's first impression of Anna is her visit to the neighbors, disguised as a social visit, but actually in search of food. Tima causes a scene in the house of Masha, Anna's former colleague, prompting Anna to remark: "That's why people don't want to see us because of Tima" (Petrushevskaya 2). When offered food, she "behaves like the Queen of England" (2), refusing and offering it to her grandson. It restores the reason for Our Lady's suffering to Her Son. However, in her late-night confessions, she calls him a "demanding little fellow" (11) and scolds Alyona for "leaving her son with a frail old woman" (13).

Anna uses young Tima as a bargaining chip in her arguments with Alyona in order to exacerbate her martyr complex and ally herself with the guy.grandfatheror the sad Madonna. In her love for Tima, too, Anna focuses mainly on herselfconnectionwith his grandson as if they were an inseparable unit and declared: “My sun! Always and everywhere we were just you and I and it will stay that way" (21). Anna resembles Sonechka, who defines her voice from a relational perspective, but in the former's case "the discourse of sentimental and familial love [...] easily becomes a means of oppression for the grandmother and grandson" (Doak 177). Anna becomes the slave of her grandson, who in turn chokes on her obsessive love. So the mutilation of the honoredgrandfatherThrough Anna Andrianovna's egocentric and destructive speech, the icon challenges the Russian archetype of ancient saints.

In Petrushevskaya's world, the character of Anna Andrianovna is not only divorced from the idealized depictions of motherhood mentioned above, but motherhood itself is theromantic and depraved. For Anna, motherhood is an unsatisfying and disappointing role, as she feels that 'mother' is 'the most sacred of words, but time will pass and you will find that you have nothing to say to your son and your son has nothing to say has tell you ”(Petrushevskaya 51). There are some similarities between Anna and Ulitskaya's Sonechka as both are abandoned by their children. However, while the latter can only accept her suffering in silence, the former is able to verbalize her anger and express her frustration and the occasional disgust she feels towards Alyona and Andrei, her children.

female voice inThe time: lateComplete freedom is given to address the reader directly in the first person, with no higher order narrative authority. This allows Anna, as an unreliable narrator, to construct her identity as a supposedly positive example of motherhood. She does this by constantly drawing the reader's attention to her selfless motives and speaking in exaggeratedly lyrical language of her love for her descendants. The self-sacrificing speech is reflected in her role as a grandmother: she gives up food, career and social life to support little Tima. Anna reinforces her kindness by calling Tima a "poor orphan" (Petrushevskaya 6), even though he is not an orphan, and emphasizes the fact that he calls her "mother", which makes his sacrifices even deeper. She also compares her children, particularly her son Andrei, to parasites trying to steal their resources and affection. In short, the notion of motherhood is distorted in this text. Helena Goscilo argues that Anna Andrianovna's selflessness "stems from less than admirable virtues" and "serves as a ruthless sadistic mode of control and vampirism, all in the name of love" ("Mother" 108). Anna constantly manipulates her children by playing the victim: "What did I do to deserve this?" (Petrushevskaya 8) – and insists her suffering is a “natural” consequence of great maternal love. Through the use of these mind games, Anna seeks to control her children and "use psychological power for [her] own complex and largely unknown ends" (Goscilo, "Mother," 104).

Helena Goscilo argues that the mothers in Petrushevskaya's tales "narratively obliterate [their] offspring by not allowing them an independent existence or voice of the insatiable maternal ego" ("Mother" 105). Anna Andrianovna's power unfolds primarily in the way she negates her daughter Aljona's voice and erases her from the dialogue. Mother and daughter cannot understand each other, which often leads to misunderstandings and resentment. They rarely converse through direct verbal dialogue, but rather through indirect means such as Alyona's diary or listening to one another's arguments with another person. Although Anna would like you to believe otherwise, Anna seems to be responsible for this lack of communication. He continues to talk in his head, and not with his daughter (Petrushevskaya 100), imposing his own interpretations on Alyona's diary. In a way, Anna monologues Alyona for not giving her daughter the freedom to build an independent narrative. Anna's critical and sarcastically cruel comments about her daughter's promiscuity and naivety make her a tyrannical "author" reluctant to accept each other's "infinity". The ending becomes grotesque when Anna imposes definitive silence on her family through the narration of the mass suicide, where she begins to imagine its consequences even before confirming her fears.

In the mother-daughter relationship, history seems to repeat itself meaninglessly, with no sign of progress or change. There is a certain hypocrisy in how Anna Andrianovna condemns Alyona for having illegitimate children and starting an affair with a married man, since the daughter only repeats her mother's mistakes. In addition, Anna laments her mother Sima's despotic arrogance in "eternal wisdom against [Anna's] stupidity" (Petrushevskaya 117) and her "possessive" maternal love (81). Ironically, however, Anna sees no resemblance to the way he treats Aliona. To add an extra layer of complexity, Anna satirizes the martyr's speech in Alyona's journal while continuing it in her own narrative. Helena Goscilo argues that daughters remain copies of their mothers even when they actively avoid repeating the mistakes of older women. From this follows the “peculiar final effect of stasis, from aconstant movementwithin the temporal space that produces the 'story' conceived as a mechanical repetition without significant change or dynamic" (Dec37). This futile echo of female identity reflects Soviet history, which endlessly recycled concepts with no real evidence of the progress it heralded in its propaganda. Regarding female discourse, the same tropes and archetypes resonate throughout literary history, from Pushkin to mainstream post-Soviet prose. Thus, for centuries, the idealized discourse on women has been limited to the same formula, internalized through real and fictitious female figures. Petrushevskaya questions the credibility of the female characters and invites the reader to look beyond their ideological superficiality.

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In Petrushevskaya's text there is no dialogue between male and female discourses because the male voice is silenced. In a total departure from the lyrics discussed above, the almighty female voice wraps male expression in her own narrative, interpreting men as mere objects in her world. While Alyona is allowed to speak, albeit indirectly through her diary, Andrei only exists as a character in Anna Andrianovna's self-narrative. This is a clear gender reversal of Dostoyevsky's male hero, for whom women appear only as externalized elements of his own discourse. The men offer no challenges to the matriarchal narrator, so she paints them as she sees fit. She sees men as vicious vampires who suck the life out of the women they come in contact with. Petrushevskaya satirizes the aforementioned ethos of the "superior" Russian woman morally and emotionally opposed to the "superfluous" man. The irony is that both menmiWomen are hysterical, confused, and caught in a cycle of inflicting and experiencing pain on one another in an unbroken chain of mutual abuse (Goscilo,Dec19).

In Anna's selfish tale, men are ridiculous, childish and destructive. She tells how the men of these families, when visiting the neighbors, are weak, throw tantrums and run to the matriarch to tell their "sad stories" (Petrushevskaya 6-7). The men are cruel, "rude and mean" (7) in contrast to the women who, though sometimes reluctantly, offer Anna and Tima food and companionship. Anna, in the role of the nightmare mother-in-law, did not get along with Alena's husband Sasha living in their cramped apartment. Anna makes her hatred clear when she makes comically cruel remarks in Aljona's diary: "He just shared my bed, ate[no comments needed here - A.A.]to drink tea[burp, urinate, sniffed nose - A.A.]It crumbles[Your Favorite Activity - A.A.]Plus,He did his homework and wrote his lab notes’ (italics and square brackets in the original)(22). Anna's dislike of men is barely suppressed in almost all of her interactions with them.

Andrei, Anna's son, is another story. While continually apologizing for his behavior, he portrays him as a victim of his horrible prison experiences and alcoholism. He is infantilized in his dependence on his mother, who in turn uses her as "another opportunity for personal myth-making" (Doak 178), where she imitated the poetess Anna Akhmatova, who gave her name to heroin, and whose son was also sentenced to a prison camp. Although Andrei steals Anna Andrianovna, more than once threatening and insulting her, she continues to enslave her for the sake of her beloved son and, as in the case of Tima, articulates her sorrow and love for him in effusive words. Anna explains: “Andrei came back from the camp and ate my herring, my potatoes, my black bread, drank my tea and devoured my spirit as usual and sucked my blood, it was flesh of my flesh, but yellow, dirty, even tired . Death” (Petrushevskaya 73). There are references in the narrative alluding to double standards and Anna's favoritism in the descriptions of her two children. While Anna finds Aliona's sexual experiences shameful and undignified, she doesn't protest when Andrei brings home two prostitutes to prove his manhood. Anna's relationship with her son exposes the perverse masochism of maternal discourse and the way it becomes a destructive and corrosive force in family dynamics.

In summary, Petrushevskaya's writing is cynical in her approach to family life, portraying her members as egos constantly bouncing off each other with no purpose or resolution. Petrushevskaya criticizes the invented archetypes of femininity and motherhood that pervade the classical Russian literary canon. By giving her heroine a voice through which to express her innermost thoughts, the author exposes the horrors of a previously idealized family life. She dramatizes the disturbing consequences that arise when the female voice loses its flexibility and instead seeks to enact deadlocked paradigms of idealized femininity.


The male-authored literature produced in the Soviet era followed the paradigms of femininity established in 19th-century Russia. Although women gained more freedom, society remained patriarchal and the female voice was still suppressed by silence in 20th-century works. In Dostoyevsky's world, silence is associated with Christian humility and is ultimately rewarded with a chance for salvation. Among the female figures discussed above, Solzhenitsyn's Matryona most prominently embodies this virtue. Her voice is barely heard in the story, but she portrays the pro-social ethic that opposes the evils of communism. Margarita and Sonechka initially make a loud speech, but in the end they fall into self-imposed silence. Only Anna Andrianovna manages to escape the confines of silence by writing. Petrushevksaya's heroine subverts conventional views of women through her dark humor and smug storytelling. As soon as the woman is allowed to speak, she breaks with expectations and reveals a depth that the Russian canon denies her.

The motif of motherhood is an idiosyncratic element of Russian literature. From associations with the Virgin Mary to close ties with the all-encompassing homeland and later in Soviet propaganda with the zealous socialist, motherhood is often portrayed as conceptual rather than individual. While the Soviet authors discussed above celebrate the cult of motherhood, their female colleagues view the Madonna complex as "grotesquely inconsistent with [their] real life experiences as well as their literary milieus and aspirations" (Goscilo,Dec97). Ulitskaya and Petrushevskaya problematize this complex by undermining their heroines' bond with the Virgin. While Sonechka is excluded from this association because of her Jewish faith, Anna Andrianovna's motherhood is portrayed as monstrous. Therefore, the authors reject the idealized discourse of motherhood as a destructive process for real women who can never emulate such a lofty example.

Male writers in Soviet literature followed Dostoyevsky's example and used the female voice as a vehicle for their own campaign against what they saw as oppressive ideologies. The speeches of Margarita and Matryona, as mentioned above, are polemics against Soviet duplicity and greed. The three male authors featured here show little interest in the growth and struggles of womanhood. The woman is a mysterious "other" that can only be deciphered through symbolism and indirect discourse. On the other hand, the authors try to ground the lady and instead show the struggles of everyday life, family conflicts and domestic banalities.

The common denominator of all fictional women in this study is their dialogical opposition to their male counterparts. The three male authors present female and male discourse as ideological opposites: Eastern versus Western values ​​in Dostoyevsky, muse versus creator in Bulgakov, and Soviet greed versus peasant kindness in Solzhenitsyn. In these dialogues, the female voice triumphs through its "superior inferiority" and, as Barbara Heldt puts it, "terrible perfection" (5). Ulitskaya's dialogical opposition is based on essentialism: men and women are biologically and intellectually different. Ultimately, there is no competition between the two discourses because both are validated and can coexist peacefully. However, Petrushevskaya's world is fraught with conflict, including women's constant blaming of men.The time: latepresents the most violent clash between the two speeches in the total absence of the male voice.

Gender dichotomy is felt throughout Russian society, which has had a detrimental effect on feminist discourse in post-Soviet culture. Many women writers and intellectuals, including Ulitskaya and Petrushevskaya, do not consider themselves feminists, despite their gynocentric concerns (Goscilo,Dec10). Even today, Russian society is considered patriarchal and is known for its strict conception of gender roles. In 2013, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church called feminism "very dangerous" and urged women to focus on their domestic and maternal responsibilities. He argued that the fate of Russia was in the hands of women, therefore the destruction of gender roles could lead to the destruction of the Motherland (Elder). This essentially continues the trend of woman's "terrible perfection" that has been espoused by Russian literature for centuries.

In summary, the suppression of women's voice remains an important issue in today's Russian society. Examining female discourse in 19th-century and Soviet-era literature reveals the thought patterns that ensure women's inferiority today. However, the female voice must be able to exist, to speak, to dialogue with the world. After all, “two voices are the minimum of life, the minimum of existence” (Bakhtin,Problems252). ■


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