«У меня не жизнь, а биография»
This essay charts the unconventional academic career of Olga Freidenberg (1890–1955), exploring the degree to which she was forced to bend her scholarship to fit an ideological straightjacket and how she escaped the common fate of Soviet scholars who had either to perish or to become subjugated. Two people played serious roles in Freidenberg’s scholarly fate: N.Ia. Marr and Boris Pasternak. The former supported her at the beginning of her career and compromised posthumously with bruit on her reputation as his admirer. The latter could not help his cousin during her lifetime but in 1970s sparked an interest in her works among Russian humanitarians, especially after publication of their correspondence. Decades after her death the publications and translations of hundreds of Freidenberg works into foreign languages as well as research and thesis about her works show that in Russian scholarship Freidenberg plays the same role as Russian scholarship played in the world one: the back wardness and marginality can paradoxically carry a potential of innovativeness and originality.