Mater Dolorosa.

St. Petersburg, [Neopalimaia Kupina], 1921.

12mo, pp. 36; some light browning to first and last leaves, but a very good copy in the original stiff paper wrappers and printed paper dust-jacket, a few small chips, tear to foot of rear cover near spine, old stamps to inside rear cover.


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First edition of Maria Shkapskaya’s first book of poems. ‘You have taken to a new and very wide road. No woman before you has spoken so truthfully and in so firm a voice of her significance as a woman’ (Gorky to Shkapskaya, January 1923).

Maria Shkapskaya (1891–1952), ‘a sophisticated intellectual with a degree from the University of Toulouse, published several volumes of highly idiosyncratic poetry devoted almost entirely to a woman’s experience as a lover, wife, and mother. Sexuality, conception, abortion, pregnancy, giving birth, and the death of a child are her themes, always approached in the presence of God: how does a mother face God when He has allowed her child to die? Shkapskaya deals with her womanhood concretely, even carnally, yet also with a deep spirituality’ (Terras). After 1925 Shkapskaya’s poems were suppressed, and she was reduced to writing Five-Year Plan reportage; her creative work was rediscovered in the West only in the 1970s.

Tarasenkov p. 417.

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