Du bon usage des paradoxes: l’autobiographie de N.S. Soxanskaja


Epistolary relationship


The Good Use of Paradoxes: Nadezhda Sokhanskaia’s autobiography

The present article is devoted to the Autobiography written in 1847-1848 by Nadezhda Sokhanskaia, later known under the pen–name Kokhanovskaia (1823–1884). Besides the fact that her text raises questions about the relation between gender and genre, what is the point of writing 190 pages about your life when you are only 24 years old? The genesis of this narrative is tightly connected with the epistolary relationship Sokhanskaia had initiated with the critic and editor Petr Pletnev. The analysis points out some peculiar features of this text considered within the frame of a distinctive form (or subgenre) still emerging in Russia as such at the time – i.e. the memoirs of a kind entirely dedicated to the author’s private experience. Focusing on the sometimes prominent, sometimes underlying self–centered script of a young, insulated provincial’s calling as a future fiction writer, the paper highlights the implicit statements allowing her to overcome the paradox of a woman writer asserting that “a woman should not write”.

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