History of Literature

Russian literature


Zinaida Gippius

Zinaida Nikolaevna Gippius, (Russian: Зинаи́да Никола́евна Ги́ппиус; 1869, Belyov - 1945) was a Russian symbolist poet and author. She was married to philosopher Dmitriy Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky. Their union lasted 52 years (despite Gippius' probable lesbianism[citation needed]) and is described in Gippius' unfinished book Dmitry Merezhkovsky (Paris. 1951; Moscow., 1991). She was a freemason.


Merezhkovsky and Gippius hoped for the demise of the bolshevik rule, but after they learned of Kolchak's defeat in Siberia and Denikin's defeat in the south of Russia, they decided to flee Petrograd. On 24 December 1919 together with their friend Dmitry Filosofov, and secretary V. Zlobin, they left the city as if going to present lectures to the Red Army regiments in Gomel, while in actuality, in January 1920 they defected to the territory occupied by Poland and settled for a while in Minsk. Here the Merezhkovskys lectured to the Russian immigrants and wrote political pamphlets in the Minsk Courier newspaper.

The tragedy of the life and work of a writer, destined to live outside of Russia is a constant topic in the later works of Gippius. In exile she remained faithful to the aesthetic and metaphysical mentality that she acquired in the pre-revolutionary years while involved in the Religion and Philosophy Assembly and Religion and Philosophy Society. She was preoccupied by mystical and covertly sexual themes. She was also an alert, if harsh literary critic and connoisseur of poetry, who became known for dismissing many of the Symbolist and Acmeist Russian writers. This made her unpopular with the younger generation in her time, but she is now recognized as one of Russia's most important women writers.

In exile Gippius republished several works which had previously been published in Russia. A collection of stories Nebesnye slova was published in Paris in 1921, a book of poems Stikhi: Dnevnik 1911-1912 was published in 1922 in Berlin, while in Munich a book by four authors (Merezhkovsky, Gippius, Filosofov, and Zlobin) Tsarstvo Antichrista (The Kingdom of the Antichrist) came out, where the first two parts of Peterburgskiye dnevniki (St. Petersburg Diaries) were published for the first time, and with an introductory article by Gippius "The Story of my Diary."



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