Marina Tsvetaeva - "Life Insurance." In this story, we encounter another aspect of one's culture - values. The protagonist of the story articulates and defends her values in the conversation with a life insurance salesman exploring the differences in the way French and Russian cultures conceptualize life, death, and fate.start by reviewing the study questions below
Marina Tsvetaeva, "Life Insurance"(E-Reserve, the password is "worldlit")
Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow, Russia in 1892. Her work was not looked kindly upon by Stalin and the Bolshevik régime; her literary rehabilitation only began in the 1960s. Tsvetaeva's poetry arose from her own deeply convoluted personality, her eccentricity, and tightly disciplined use of language. Tsvetaeva was fluent in Italian, French, and German languages. In 1908, Tsvetaeva studied literary history at the Sorbonne (France).
Her father was Ivan Tsvetaev, a professor of art history at the University of Moscow, who later founded the Alexander III Museum, which is now known as the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Tsvetaeva's mother, Maria Meyn, was Ivan's second wife, a highly literate woman. She was also a volatile (and a frustrated) concert pianist, with some Polish ancestry on her mother's side.
Tsvetaeva and her husband Efron had two daughters and a son. When World War I started in 1914, Efron volunteered for the front; by 1917 he was an officer stationed in Moscow with the 56th Reserve. Tsetsaeva was to witness the Russian Revolution of 1917 first hand. On trains, she came into contact with ordinary Russian people and was shocked by the mood of anger and violence. After the 1917 Revolution, Efron joined the White Army, and Marina remained in Moscow hoping to be reunited with her husband. She was trapped in Moscow for five years, where there was a terrible famine.
In 1925, the family settled in Paris, where they would live for the next 14 years. At about this time Tsvetaeva contracted tuberculosis, adding to the family's difficulties. Tsvetaeva received a meagre stipend from the Czechoslovak government, which gave financial support to artists and writers who had lived in Czechoslovakia. In addition, she tried to make whatever she could from readings and sales of her work. She turned more and more to writing prose because she found it made more money than poetry. In 1939, she and her son returned to the Soviet Union. Tsvetaeva's life came to a tragic end when she committed suicide in 1941.
 White Army was formed by the officers who resisted the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The White Army was defeated by the Red Army (the bolshevik army) and most of the officers had to flee abroad to avoid execution.
Biography source: wikipedia.org
Image source: russland.de
Map source: http://www.reisenett.no
Find Russia on the map
Think about the way in which the protagonist of the story articulates and defends her values in the conversation with the life insurance salesman. Think about the dialogue between them - what does the man manage to understand? What does he fail to understand?