From Library Journal
This fascinating memoir of a Russian woman soldier of the 19th century is presented for the first time in two independent English translations, each a graceful rendering of the original Russian. Nadezhda Durova (1783-1866), a young woman of the gentry, spurned her family, disguised herself as a man, and joined the Russian cavalry. She fought with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars and served from 1807 until her retirement as captain in 1816. The details of a soldier's life and attitudes during this era are uniquely revealed through the eyes of this very special womana woman whose commitment to the military officer's conduct and spirit is a singular statement for her time. While there are minor differences between the translations, Zirin's extensive introductory essay and notes illuminate Durova's life and place it in its proper historical and literary context; this translation is further enhanced by a bibliography and index. Mersereau and Lapeza offer a brief introduction outlining Durova's life, but nothing more. Enhancements to any study of feminist literature or Russian history, both translations can be read with pleasure; at least one belongs in medium to large collections. Rena Fowler, Northern Michigan Univ., Marquette
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In the early nineteenth century, Nadezhda Durova ran away from home dressed as a man and joined the Russian calvary, where she maintained the secret of her gender and served with distinction as an officer for more than nine years. Her diary, published as The Cavalry Maiden
, was one of Russia's first autobiographical works, making this book noteworthy both for its content and its place in literary history. Not every reader will enjoy the disjointed and occasionally impersonal style; nor will everyone be interested in Nadezhda Durova's recounting of Russian geography and military history that comprises much of the middle portion of the book. Yet you don't have to be from the nineteenth century to sympathize when she writes: "I jump for joy as I realize that I will never again in my entire life hear the words: You, girl, sit still! It's not proper for you to go wandering out alone." Nor need you be a Russian scholar to appreciate her descriptions of officers, horses, local citizens, and dress balls. Mary Fleming Zirin's introduction illuminates those areas where Nadezhda Durova was not exactly truthful (she was not sixteen and single when she ran away, but twenty-three, married and a mother), and brings further understanding to this headstrong woman who, as a child, refused to knit shoelaces but "ran and galloped around the room in all directions, shouting at the top of my voice: 'Squadron! To the Right, face! From your places, charge - CHARGE!'" -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister