Irina Odoyevtseva

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Irina Odoyevtseva
Odoevceva heinike.jpg
Born Iraida Heinike
(1895-06-15)June 15, 1895
Riga, Russian Empire
Died October 14, 1990(1990-10-14) (aged 95)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Occupation poet, novelist, memoirist
Ethnicity Latvian
Literary movement Acmeism
Spouse Georgy Ivanov

Irina Vladimirovna Odoyevtseva (Russian: Ирина Влади′мировна Одо′евцева, real name Iraida Heinike; born in Riga, Russian Empire, on 15 June 1895,[1] according to some sources in 1901;[2] died in Leningrad, Soviet Union, on 14 October 1990) was a Russian poet, novelist and memoirist. In 1922 Irina Odoevtseva (with her husband Georgy Ivanov) left Russia but returned in 1987 and enjoyed warm reception, not long before her death in 1990.[1][2]


Iraida Heinike was born in Riga to the family of a lawyer. In 1918 she moved to Petrograd and adopted Irina Odoevtseva as a pen name. She joined the Second Guild of Poets, was tutored by Nikolai Gumilyov and become his favourite student. According to Yevgeny Yevtushenko, she "enchanted everybody, her teacher included, with her brilliant, masterful poetry" and had tremendous success with her debut book Dvor Tchudes (The Yard of Wonders, 1922), "skint bohemia learning her 'Cabman' and 'Pressed-down Glass' poems by heart." Formally an acmeist, Odoevtseva developed her own distinctive style and was in many ways ahead of her times, preceding the latter experiments of oberiuts and even 1960s Soviet conceptualists.[2] Her trademark was a distinctive speech impediment (she couldn't pronounce her "r"'s), which she mentioned a number of times in her autobiographic dilogy "On the Banks of Neva" and "On the Banks of Seine".

In 1923 Odoevtseva with her husband Georgy Ivanov emigrated to Paris. There she wrote several novels (Angel of Death, 1927, Isolda, 1931, Leave Any Hope, 1954) but became famous for her memoirs, On the Banks of Neva (1967) and On the Banks of Seine (1983), on the people she knew well: Nikolai Gumilyov, Zinaida Gippius, Andrey Bely, Osip Mandelshtam, Ivan Bunin among others.[3] These two books caused much controversy among the Russians in France but still "might be regarded as a priceless document of the time, even if full of aberrations and frivolous twists of fantasy," according to poet and Russian poetry historian Yevgeny Yevtushenko.[2]

In 1987 Odoevtseva returned to Leningrad to enjoy warm public reception and for a couple of years, as Yevtushenko puts it, "was transported from one concert stage to another as a kind of a talking relic and was, indeed, talking a lot — in the most gracious manner, at that."[2]

A popular figure on the Russian TV in the times of Perestroyka, the poet enjoyed some commercial success too, having 200,000 copies of her memoirs sold — a figure by far surpassing whatever she might have sold through her 65 years abroad. Irina Odoevtseva died on October 14, 1990.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Ирина Одоевцева". Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1995). "Ирина Одоевцева". Строфы века / Rhymes of the Century. The Anthology of Russian Poetry. Minsk-Moscow. Polyfact Publishers. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  3. ^ "Ирина Одоевцева". (St Petersburg encyclopedia). Retrieved 2010-10-13.