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The Boarding-School Girl [Paperback]

Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaya , Karen Rosneck


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Book Description

Jan. 25 2000
This tale of a young woman's not-so-sentimental education is the story of fifteen-year-old Lolenka, who encounters an exiled radical named Veretitsyn and begins to question her education and life. Under his influence, Lolenka breaks with tradition and embarks upon a new life as a translator and an artist, but a chance meeting with Veretitsyn years later leads to a sobering reappraisal of her mentor's convictions.

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From Publishers Weekly

This slender, realistic and powerfully dramatic tale was first published in Russia in 1861 by a writer well known in her day who has since fallen into obscurity. The title character is Lolenka, a dutiful 15-year-old schoolgirl living in the provincial city of N, who is dangerously swayed by the bitterly irreverent speeches of her neighbor, a handsome, exiled poet consigned to a numbing job as a copyist. Veretitsyn, who has been censored by the authorities as an example of a "harmful trend" in society, is throwing his life away in self-pity and derision. He is in love with a paragon of kindness and beauty, Sofya Khmelevskaya, but she won't have him. When he sees Lolenka across the fence, reciting her lessons, Veretitsyn decides to make her as miserable as he is. He cynically interrogates her about her schoolwork, pointing out how mechanically she is being taught. Susceptible Lolenka experiences doubt for the first time in her life, and, taken with Veretitsyn, she intentionally flunks her exams and refuses to marry the odious suitor chosen for her. A break in the narration brings the reader to St. Petersburg eight years later, where Lolenka, now a painter and feminist espousing the modern ways, reencounters her nemesis, whose unrequited love for Sofya has tempered his driving anger. Clearly grappling with social and cultural currents such as the supplanting of traditional values and the quality of education for women, Khvoshchinskaya (1824-1889), who published under the masculine pseudonym V. Kretovsky, fits squarely among her contemporaries Turgenev and Dostoyevski. Despite the sometimes stilted language, her characters are fallible and thus completely believable: Veretitsyn leaps off the page and his passion for Sofya is palpable. Khvoshchinskaya's brief and vivid story is like a sharply composed snapshot. Here is a writer to learn more about. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The first English translation of this little-known novella, originally published in 1861, tells the tale of Lolenka, a provincial schoolgirl, and her interactions with exiled poet Veretitsyn in the Russian countryside. Moreover, the story chronicles the education of young women in Russia during that period, and Khvoshchinskaya indicts those methods for being reactionary and insipid. The more that Lolenka is exposed to Veretitsyn, the more she begins to despise the petty bourgeois lifestyle she has known throughout her life. Veretitsyn offers reading suggestions, beginning with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Lolenka is moved, not with the love story, but with the freedom and willful abandon of the characters. Lolenka becomes engrossed in her extracurricular books and begins to fail at school, "forgetting all she has known." Her exasperated parents are concerned only with keeping up appearances and have her betrothed to a young man with a prosperous future. We meet both Veretitsyn and Lolenka for the last time eight years later; nothing has turned out as expected, but all has ended well. Michael Spinella

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Woman Question Oct. 27 2006
By Allison L. Ryall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book deals primarily with the evaulation of women's education in Russian society in the 19th century in response to the Woman Question. It is a fastinating book and in many ways is still applicable to the women's movement today.
4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book May 25 2001
By Tracy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed The Boarding-School Girl! I will be going to a boarding school this year, and this book really helped me prepare for school. I liked this book more than the other books I have read to prepare me for school, because this one had a story to it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who plans on going to a boarding school, or collage.
1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dont waste ur time July 3 2005
By hocus pocus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book has nothing to do with boarding schools. it talks about a 15 year old girl who's life's ruined by her neighbor Veretitsyn, who started questioning her about her education getting her all confused which led her to failing all her exams. he drove her to a miserable life. but then they meet again after 8 years in Petersburg where she becomes happy again as an artist with a new life.

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