Chinese Gretchen in Russian Literature: on the Genesis and Attribution of M. Shkapskaya’s Poetry Book Tsa-Tsa-Tsa

Cover Page

Cite item


This article examines in detail Maria Shkapskaya’s poetry book Tsa-Tsa- Tsa (1923) and its handwritten genesis. It explains the role and significance of ancient Chinese poetry for this literary piece of work. The problem is to attribute the texts that make up the book and find out their translated or stylized basis. The general thesis is that all the poetic texts of the book are translations: the names of Tao-Yuan-Ming, Du Fu, and Bo-Juyi indicated by Shkapskaya in the manuscripts are reported. One of the texts in the book is attributed as the Sixth Poem from the Shi ju gu shi ( Nineteen Ancient Poems ). The removal of the names of Chinese authors (not only in the book published in 1923 but also in the manuscript of 1921) and the alignment of the thematic word series silk, crane, thousand, spring that organize the book into a single text indicate a tendency to blur the border of the own-alien text (even though the book was treated by the author as “translation from the Chinese”, in autobiographies and correspondence). This trend leads to the appearance of a central artistic image of the book (it is a feature of M. Shkapskaya’s poetic books). It is the image of a lonely, longing woman. The mention of the spinning wheel connects this image with the popular (especially in Western European literature) image of Gretchen. This way the poetry book Tsa-Tsa-Tsa goes beyond the narrowly translated work and reveals some features of chronologically later literary trends (such as postmodernism and metapoesis).

About the authors

Olga N. Litvinova

Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing

Author for correspondence.

postgraduate student, Department of Modern Russian Literature

25 Tverskoy Bul’var, Moscow, 123104, Russian Federation


  1. Shkapskaya, M. (2000). The evening hour: Poems (M. Sinelnikov, Comp. and an Introductory Article). Saint Petersburg, Limbus Press. (In Russ.)
  2. Litvinova, O.N. (2020). The artistic image as the basis of a multi-stage composition of a poetry book (on the example of the books of Maria Shkapskaya). The Sixth All-Russian Competition of Young Scientists in the Field of Arts and Culture: A Collection of Works of Laureates (pp. 294–334). Moscow, Russian Heritage Institute. (In Russ.)
  3. Gacheva A. (2018). The philosopher in dialogue with the poet: Letters of A.K. Gorsky to M.M. Shkapskaya. Tekstologicheskij Vremennik (book 3, pp. 261–293). Moscow. (In Russ.)
  4. V.L. (1923). Maria Shkapskaya. Tsa-Tsa-Tsa. Berlin, Manfred Publ., 1923: Review. Novaja Russkaja Kniga, (5/6), 23. (In Russ.)
  5. Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. Fund 2182. Inventory 1. Storage unit 123. (In Russ.)
  6. Du, Fu. (1908). In the level with the water. In K.D. Balmont, Hymns, Songs and Plans of the Ancients. Saint Petersburg, Pantheon Publ.
  7. Chinese classical poetry in translations by L. Eidlin. (1984). Moscow, Khudozhestvennaya literatura Publ. (In Russ.)
  8. Kobzev, A.I. (2017). On Russian translations of Du Fu and Bo-Ju-i. Society and the State in China, 1(47), 558–577. (In Russ.)
  9. Pereleshin, V. (1970). Poems on the fan: An anthology of Chinese classical poetry. Frankfurt am Main, Posev Verlag. (In Russ.)
  10. Shuckiy, Y.K. (2000). Distant echo: An anthology of Chinese poetry (VII–IX centuries). Saint Petersburg, Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie Publ. (In Russ.)
  11. Eidlin, L. (Comp. and an Introductory Article). (1987). The poetry of Tang dynasty. VII–X centuries. Moscow, Khudozhestvennaya literatura Publ. (In Russ.)
  12. Department of Manuscripts of A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Science. Fund 509. Inventory 3. Storage unit 4. (In Russ.)

Copyright (c) 2021 Litvinova O.N.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies