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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia


Sonya. Sofia Ivanovna "Sonya" Bliuvshtein (?-?) was one of Tsarist Russia's most notorious and colorful criminals. Originally from Odessa, Bliuvshtein was a thief, pickpocket, murderess, bootlegger, and adventuress, and became a folk hero. She appeared in several Russian Celebrity Pulps, including serials written by Vlas Doroshevich in Russkoe Slovo in 1902-1903 and two films in 1914 and 1915.

The fictional Sonya is “Light-Hearted Sonya,” a Femme Fatale master thief who leads a gang of thieves in successful robberies and murders across Russia and eastern Europe, breaking hearts and netting hundreds of thousands of rubles. She leaves behind her gang and ventures into western Europe, finding success in Monte Carlo and Rome but failing in London and being captured by the police. But she uses her body and a winning manner to charm the judge and escapes with no jail time. She steals her way across America, the Middle East, and back through eastern Europe, in and out of jail but always passionate and wily. She is even, on rare occasions, sentimental, helping the police catch very wicked men.

* I'm including the Sonya stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of their historical importance. The Sonya stories were the first major Celebrity Pulp stories in Russia and helped establish the genre of the femme fatale master thief in Russian popular literature. The stories gave fame to Sonya and helped make her into a national icon. The stories are also an interesting (if rarely well-written) merging of the femme fatale, the picaresque, and the detective genre--a combination that other nations' authors would make work but which in 1902 Russia was a novelty in the hands of mediocre writers. 

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