Nina’s diary

I read this very depressing LRB review of a Soviet schoolgirl’s diary while languishing in my sickbed over the weekend:

The basic themes of Nina L.’s diary were, in her own words, ‘pessimism and boys, boys and pessimism’. ‘Pessimism’ (depression) was a fundamental condition of her life between the ages of 13 and 16: irritation, boredom, misery, a feeling of futility and emptiness, disgust at herself and an anguished sense of being unattractive pervade the diary’s early years. She sought solitude and tried to escape into daydreaming. Her father was impatient, construing her depression as laziness and self-centredness; her mother, according to Nina, didn’t understand her feelings and was anyway too busy to pay attention. Nina wrote repeatedly about suicide, and in October 1934, deciding that poison was the best solution, took a vial marked ‘opium’ from her grandmother’s medicine cabinet and drank it. The opium turned out to be diluted, however, and the suicide attempt was both unsuccessful and unnoticed.

(Thanks for the newsprint, TMFTML.)


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