Russia's first female crime writer, Aleksandra Sokolova (1833-1914): gender, violence and agency

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Abstract

This article discusses the work of Russia’s first female crime writer: Aleksandra Sokolova (1833-1914). Amongst the numerous authors writing crime fiction in the late Imperial era, Sokolova was one of only two women working in the genre. The analysis here focuses on two of Sokolova’s crime novels: Bez sleda (Without a Trace) from 1890 and Spetaia pesnia (The Song Has Been Sung) from 1892. It argues that, whilst adhering to certain conventions previously established by male authors in the genre, Sokolova productively exploits or departs from others so as to criticize the patriarchal organization of both the judicial system and Russian society more broadly. Most notably, the use of a female focalizer in Bez sleda allows Sokolova to illustrate the brutalization of women that results from their lack of agency and authority in Russia at the time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-675
Number of pages29
JournalSlavonic and East European Review
Volume99
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2021

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