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This article is taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January - February 2018.

My Desire (translated by Christopher Whyte)
‘My desire has the features of a woman’
Two Letters
Translated from the Russian by Christopher Whyte
Marina Tsvetaeva
TO BORIS PASTERNAK, C. 30 NOVEMBER 1927

DARLING BORIS, Here is the story of a temptation. It reaches far back, it has its roots in Moscow when I was fifteen. She was the most beautiful of all the girls who went to secondary school at the same time as me, so beautiful it hurt. She was one year below me, and when we passed in the corridor, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. In a year during which we met each day I didn’t say one word to her. – 1917, Pavel Antokolsky. Her brother was his friend. In 1917–1918 we saw a lot of each other, he gifted his friend to me, and me to his friend. To begin with it didn’t work, then, after a year, worked far too well. You can read it all in my complete works – if they ever appear! – I couldn’t say it better. What transpired – lack of a soul, when everything spoke for its presence. 1918–1919, love. Offence. (Clouds pass over the screen.) 1925, Paris. Three days since I arrived. A letter to The Latest News, forwarded to me. ‘Marina! Probably you won’t remember me. I [the same Vera Zavadskaya] used to study with you at secondary school, I liked you, but was afraid of you’ and so on. I reply. And so on. And so on. She is ill, gets treatment. Nine meetings in two years. Once I called on her, in a cramped apartment by Port de Passy, against a background of poor-quality furniture, no space for anything, with her mother, cheerful ...


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