The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars

The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars

sensitive introductory essay." --Times Literary Supplement..".

a remarkable journal worthy of the attention of a wide audience." --Doris Grumbach, National Public RadioIn male guise, Nadezhda Durova served ten years in the Russian cavalry.

The Cavalry Maiden is a lively narrative which appeals in our own time as a unique and gripping contribution to the literature of female experience.

Read Online The Cavalry Maiden: Journals of a Russian Officer in the Napoleonic Wars

L'autobiografia si apre dunque con alcuni episodi, siamo verso il termine del diciottesimo secolo, relativi all'infanzia di una "signorina" dal carattere vivace ed esuberante che mal si accompagna alle convenzioni della sua epoca e della sua classe, la quale infine fugge di casa per aggregarsi all'esercito. L'aspetto negativo di tutto questo sono i vuoti, è quel che manca: quando narra in prima persona, la Durova dice di essere fuggita di casa a sedici anni, ma le note in postfazione dicono ben altro, la ragazza sarebbe in realtà partita per arruolarsi a venti e passa anni, dopo un matrimonio e un figlio. Come se l'è smazzata col problema delle regole mensili che, a quanto mi risulta, esisteva già anche nel diciottesimo e diciannovesimo secolo? Probabilmente queste omissioni sono causate da quello stesso motivo che l'ha spinta a lasciare casa, sono solo il frutto del gusto dell'epoca che non consentiva di parlare apertamente di certe cose, eppure è un peccato perché queste omissioni finiscono per dare una vaga aria di finzione ad una storia che invece è proprio vera che più vera non si può. La postfazione suggerisce che il fatto di aver costruito la biografia operando non solo senza alcuna aggiunta, ma addirittura per sottrazione, serva a conferire maggior valore all'opera e a sottolineare maggiormente i caratteri più veri e profondi dell'autrice e protagonista.

Nadezhda Durova was the first female officer in the Russian military. She disguised herself as a man and ran away from home to join the cavalry. Durova ruins her needlework, runs away at night to explore the woods, she "thirsted for dangers and longed to be surrounded by them." Although she does not mention this in her narrative, she did marry and bear a son, but returned to her father's house, presumably after some dispute with her husband. Surprisingly, Durova's journals are less about disguising her sex than simply about serving in the cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars. It is an interesting snapshot of life in the military, which Durova describes as a great deal of marching, waiting, freezing, starving, and generally being uncomfortable, interspersed with periods of battle and rest and relaxation in the great houses in which the cavalry were quartered. Early in her military career, she rescues a fallen officer: I caught sight of several enemy dragoons surrounding a Russian officer and knocking him off his horse with a pistol shot. She gives the wounded man her horse, and later is chastised by her superior for this act of compassion, as well as for falling asleep after two days on the march without food or rest: At Guttstadt in the heat of battle, you decided to give up your horse to some wounded man or other.They let you go into Heilsberg for half an hour, and you settled down by the fireplace and went to sleep, at a time when even to think about sleeping was impossiblethat is, impermissible. Durova's tendency to wander into the heat of battle out of curiosity causes her to be sent to the wagon trains along with the wounded men, to her great shame. Durova was wounded once, and distinguished herself leading a minor skirmish in which she captured several French officers as prisoners-of-war, in addition to saving two wounded officers from death. She did not suffer a serious injury nor kill vast numbers of the enemy; in fact, she apparently did not take any lives in the course of her military career.

Twenty years later Durova sends her journal to Pushkin. Pushkin was unknown when Durova wrote her journals and the literary style Maiden does have must come from Pushkin's limited editing. Pushkin has just died and Lermatov has still to write "Hero of Our Time". Taking style and readability aside I do find Durova lacking as an officer. Her journal may be the points that she failed on and wrote about as a way to reminder herself not to do that again. Durova believes that she was passed over for promotion because of her youthful looks. But again in 1808 she is made an officer and by 1816 she has promoted once. Writing is a common way for PTS patients to deal with our nightmares and anger. Also that the most graphic images she wrote may have found there way onto Pushkin or her brothers floor.

I really enjoyed Durova's writing style, her joy and exuberance leapt off the page. Throughout the book, I shared her utter enthusiasm and I was glad she was able to escape the constraints of her time and follow a path which enriched her life. A book about a soldier's day to day life, something which often includes more tedium than thrilling and dangerous pursuits.

Nella prima parte, che si legge davvero con grande godimento, la Durovna narra quasi con levità, nonostante la gravità di qualche episodio della sua primissima infanzia (quando la madre la buttò letteralmente fuori dal finestrino della carrozza in movimento mettendo a serio rischio la sua vita; la bimba venne poi salvata dal padre ed affidata alle cure del suo reggimento di ussari) del suo burrascoso e opprimente rapporto con questa madre poco amorevole e rigida che voleva imbrigliare la sua esuberanza di ragazzina selvaggia e ribelle, relegandola a quei ruoli per cui le ragazze del suo tempo erano predestinate. Cosa che, attraverso varie peripezie, realizzò combattendo durante le guerre napoleoniche in territorio russo in groppa al suo amatissimo Alkid, mostrando un coraggio e una temerarietà non comuni e qualche vulnerabilità legata al suo essere donna e quindi meno resistente fisicamente, ma distinguendosi sempre per la sua profonda umanità e valore, tanto che venne ricevuta dallo zar Alessandro I in persona il quale le diede l'onore di portare il suo nome e la innalzò al grado di ufficiale, assegnandola ad un reggimento di elite.

The humor in the story is great, it made me laugh many times. The words used to describe her recollection of events are very emotive, describing a dead corpse in a barn as: the sole inhabitant of this dwelling in his eternal rest I felt very sad at the end when she chose to leave the Cavalry for her aging father, bidding farewell to the romantic life of swords and good steed and going back to ordinary civilian life.

  • English

  • History

  • Rating: 3.63
  • Pages: 288
  • Publish Date: August 1st 1989 by Indiana University Press
  • Isbn10: 0253205492
  • Isbn13: 9780253205490