This 1981 postal cover from Latvia commemorates Zenta Mauriņa (15 December 1897 – 25 April 1978) a writer, essayist and researcher in philology (the study of the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages).

ZentaMaurinaFDCADDR70

Zenta contracted polio at the age of 5 and spent the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair. After studying at the Russian girls high school in Liepaja (1913–1915), she studied philosophy at the Latvian University in Riga (1921–1923) and philology of Baltic languages (1923–1927).

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Zenta Maurina in 1930

After the war, Maurina published 20 books in Latvian, and 27 in German. Her works have been widely translated into Italian, English, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish and Danish. Notable among her works in German are a biography of Dostoyevsky and her autobiography The Long Journey.

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Exiled in Germany and Sweden, before finally ending up in Basel, Switzerland, where she died in 1978, Zenta picked up a typewriter or three along the way. Typewriters owned or used by the author are on display at the Museum Grobina, Latvia, and at her former childhood home which is now a cultural centre:

A Torpedo standard typewriter as depicted on the postal cover

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A cruciform Hermes Standard 6 typewriter supported by stanchion …

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 A slightly more portable Hermes typewriter …

MaurinaZenta-HermesTypewriter

While working as a lecturer at Uppsala University in Sweden (1949-1963), Zenta met her future husband, Konstantin Raudive.

Raudive was an Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) researcher who spent the last ten years of his life making thousands of hours of recordings of “voices from the dead”.

Konstantins-Raudive

One sure way of hearing a voice from the dead is to read an autobiography long after the author has passed away. I think I’d prefer to get in touch with Zenta that way.

It’s a long journey from which, I’m afraid, there is no return.

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