TSVETAEVA, Marina Ivanovna (1892-1941). Series of 22 autograph letters, 3 postcards and two notes signed to the poet Anatolii Shteiger (1907-1944), France, 29 July 1936 - 22 January 1937, INCLUDING NUMEROUS QUOTATIONS FROM HER POETRY, in Russian, with some citations in French and German, 65 pages, 8vo and 4to (some short tears, one letter with a large ink stain), with one autograph letter signed by Shteiger in reply, all together in a modern clamshell case. Provenance: A.S. Golovinaia -- Aleksandr Bakhrakh (1902-1985, author; by repute).
A RICH AND EXTENSIVE CORRESPONDENCE WRITTEN WHILE TSVETAEVA WAS WORKING ON HER 'STIKHI SIROTE', AND HER FRENCH TRANSLATION OF PUSHKIN. Tsvetaeva did not adjust well to exile in France, where she had lived for over ten years, becoming increasingly estranged from her husband and daughter who both returned to Stalin's Soviet Union in 1937; letter-writing afforded her some solace from the isolation that she felt. Tsvetaeva responds to a long, confessional letter sent by Shteiger which initiated the correspondence, and which Tsvetaeva says reflects the life of a Romantic. The young Shteiger, like Tsvetaeva earlier, was struggling with tuberculosis. Tsvetaeva's letters quickly begin to evoke ambiguity between longing and almost maternal caring. One of the early letters, unwittingly foreshadowing later tension, quotes Wilde: 'children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them'. Writing about her translation of Pushkin, Tsvetaeva notes: 'before receiving your letter, I was spending all my time on translating Pushkin, the best of his poetry. (Maybe I will send you some or will read it for you one day.) Since that time, I haven't translated a single line. Now I'm only thinking about you'. She writes that she has become more tender and happier, thanks to him, and that she dreams of them living alone together in the castle where she then lived. In another letter she imagines herself to be the jacket which she sent to him 'so I could warm you up and known when and what for I'm needed'. 'When you encounter my translation of Pushkin's Besy into French, you will be the only one to know how it was translated and how far from the author's homeland and his soul it was made'.
Tsvetaeva gives lengthy advice to Shteiger on his writing, but the correspondence often touches on her own work: she quotes a stanza (opening 'Nad pylaiushchim litsom') almost certainly from her lost 'Poem about the Tsar's family'; she sends Shteiger extensive transcribed extracts from her notebooks, one of these recounting a visit to a fortune-teller that relates to their relationship; she closes one letter with the first poem from her 'Stikhi sirote', published two years later in Sovremennie zapiski. As Shteiger's health vacillates, discussion moves to the inevitability of death, and Tsvetaeva encourages Shteiger to accept his condition, and to serve his mission as a poet: 'please remember that God gave you not just a diseased body but also a vibrant soul'. She cites Rilke and Beethoven, as examples of artists who overcame affliction, and in discussing Rilke quotes her own poem 'Tridsataia godovshchina'.
Writing with news that she has been offered a tour of Switzerland in connection with the Pushkin centenary, she suggests once again a long-desired meeting. 'I'm waiting for our meeting as if with my son, not a stranger, but the one to whom I gave birth, who was taken away from me in childhood'. But Shteiger decides to go to Paris, and Tsvetaeva takes the rejection badly: 'if you're thinking about poetic Montparnasse, what do you need me for? It is hideous to imagine you there. But it's all right, the less you need me... the less I need you... the same happened with [Tsvetaeva's daughter] Alia... she made her choice and she's out of my life now... I'm ready to help you, but I don't want to behold you in misery'. Shteiger's reply is included with this lot: 'you can be cooler than a star if you want. I was always afraid of it', he writes that his illness is secondary to him, that the cure he longed for was for a lack of love in his life. Tsvetaeva replies that her hardness was prompted by his unwillingness to embrace life, and is surprised by Shteiger's complaint, despite her letters to him: 'my dear friend, I loved you as a lyric poet and as a mother. And I also loved you as who I am, which is difficult to explain ... I'm writing this to you as proof, so that when you stand before God, at the hour of your death, you will not be able to say: "I came to your world and no one loved me there"'. Published by the Tsvetaeva Museum on the basis of photocopies in Marina Tsvetaeva pis'ma Anatoliiu Shteigeru (Kaliningrad: 1994). (28)