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Lida. A novel by Countess Tolstaya from the Grand Duke's library.

Lida. A novel by Countess Tolstaya from the Grand Duke's library.

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Boston Book Fair 2023 / Russian literature / Women
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[Countess Elizaveta Tolstaya and others] [Lida. A Novel / In The Herald of Europe: Journal of History, Politics, Literature]. Lida. Roman / Vestnik Evropy: Zhurnal istorii, politiki, literatury. The Thirty-Third Year of Publication. Issue 1-2 (January-February). 

SanktPeterburg, Tip. M. M. Stasiulevicha, 1898.
8vo, Is. 1. 464 pp., Is. 2. 452 pp.

In contemporary brown half leather, spine lettered in gilt. Original wrappers preserved. Spine with gilt crowned 'SA'.
In good condition, spine lightly torn at foot (is. 2), some scuffing and soiling, edges rubbed.

From the library of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.

The late 19th century marked a transformative period for women's roles in Russian society. Aristocratic women began to break free from the confines of refined society life, redirecting their focus towards feminist reform and actively participating in various organizations and initiatives aimed at assisting the less fortunate and underprivileged in Russian society. Simultaneously, some women were willing to sacrifice their social prestige and wealth in pursuit of financial and personal independence. During this time, Russia stood on the cusp of becoming the first major world power to grant women the right to vote.
It's important to note that one means by which women could earn a livelihood was through writing. But in Russia, women's literature occupied a somewhat marginalized space within the literary sphere. Female authors were often associated with children's literature or translations, and only a select few could publish their fiction works until the 20th century. They often did so using pen names and with the support of influential male writers.
These issues of the major late-nineteenth-century Russian liberal magazine include the novel 'Lida', which was published under the pseudonym 'Count. E.V.T.'. It is believed that the novel was authored by 24-year-old Countess Elizaveta Tolstaya (1874-after 1940), who was also the sister of the prominent Soviet writer Aleksey Tolstoy. She was born into the family of representatives from illustrious lineages: Nikolay Tolstoy and Alexandra Turgeneva. In the 1890s, she also published her stories in the Russian Review. Following the revolution, Elizaveta emigrated and eventually passed away in Belgrade.
The publication of this novel marked a significant milestone in the magazine's history, which had featured renowned male authors such as Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov, Alexander Ostrovsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Bunin, and Maxim Gorky. Therefore, despite the novel being published under a pseudonym, it stands out as a rare example of fiction literature written by a woman that received publication.
It's worth noting that Elizaveta's mother was also known as a writer; her first novel was published in 1882, and later, her essays and stories appeared in various periodicals. According to her letter dated March 8, 1898, the novel 'Lida' was considered 'very talented', and it was noted that 'particularly striking is the psychology of the old man - a husband married to a young girl, in love with his stepson'.
These volumes originate from the private library of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia (1857-1905), the fifth son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. Between 1891 and 1905, he served as Governor-General of Moscow and tragically met his demise when he was assassinated by a terrorist bomb at the Kremlin during the 1905 Russian Revolution.

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