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Karolina Pavlova (1807–1893)

Author of A Double Life

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Karolina Karlovna Pavlova, née Jänisch, was born in Yaroslavl in the Russian Empire. Her father Karl Andreevich Jänisch was a German professor of physics and chemistry at the School of Medicine in Moscow, and her mother was French-English. Karolina was educated at home and grew up speaking German and French as well as Russian. She began writing at an early age. At age 19, she met met Adam Mickiewicz, who became her Polish language tutor. They began a love affair and planned to marry, but the relationship ended a couple of years later. In the late 1820s, Pavlova began translating Russian poetry into German. Her first published collection of translations, Das Nordlicht (1833), made her famous in literary circles and won praise from Goethe and others. In 1837, she married Nikolai Filippovich Pavlov, a writer, with whom she had a son. She hosted a literary salon at their home in Moscow that was frequented by both Russian "Slavophiles," of which she was one, and western Europeans. She published a volume of Russian, German, English, Italian, and Polish poetry translated into French, entitled Les préludes (1839) and a novel called A Double Life (1848) that combined poetry and prose. Her husband gambled away her inheritance, and their marriage ended in 1853. She went to live with her mother and son in Estonia, where she fell in love with Boris Utin, a law student. After her son went back to Moscow to live with his father and attend university, she followed Utin to St. Petersburg. The relationship ended, and she moved to Dresden, Germany. There she supported herself by translating works among Russian, French and German, as well as in other languages. Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy, whose works she translated, also became a close friend. Although her own poetry was heavily criticized by her contemporaries, she is now considered Russia's greatest 19th-century female poet.
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