Literary St. Petersburg - Little Bookroom - StadsgidsLiterary St. Petersburg - Little Bookroom - Stadsgids
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Literary St. Petersburg - Little Bookroom - Stadsgids

€ 19.50

Much of Russian literature is St. Petersburg literature: set in the city, about the city, or written by writers living there. This unique guide profiles fifteen authors whose works and lives were intimately connected to this magnificent setting. Biographical sketches focus on the city as the writers knew it, a sense of their work, the literary and social circles in which they moved, and the sites associated with them.

Travelers can wander through the museum where the teenage Vladimir Nabokov romanced his girlfriend and see the prison where Anna Akhmatova was inspired to write her epic poem about the Great Terror. They can find the statue that comes to life in Pushkin’s poem The Bronze Horseman and visit the square where Crime and Punishment’s murderer/hero kneels on the ground to ask God’s forgiveness. Literary St. Petersburg opens the door to one of the most beautiful cities on earth and a body of literature that is as rich, subtle, and expressive as any in the world.

From the introduction:
Russian literature began in St. Petersburg—a late start, considering that the city was founded in 1703. Russia was largely isolated from the West during the years of the Renaissance, and at the turn of the eighteenth century it was still feudal and deeply religious; the living conditions and worldview of its people had changed little since medieval times. Even the nobility was largely uneducated. Secular art did not exist. Written Russian was used mainly for ecclesiastical writings and had little in common with the language that people actually spoke. When Milton was writing Paradise Lost and Molière his great plays, Russia still had no literary language to speak of.

But in 1682, Peter I, better known as Peter the Great, was crowned emperor. Within thirty years he had built a new city on Russia’s western border, made it his capital, and set about transforming Russian society with ideas he had picked up in Germany, France, Holland, and Italy. It was his initial reforms of the Russian language, and his encouragement of a secular press, that allowed Russians to develop, over the course of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a literary language and a body of literature that was as rich, subtle, and expressive as anything in the West. The speed with which Russian literature “caught up” was extraordinary. The setting for this achievement was mainly St. Petersburg, where the first literary salons formed and the first of the famous “thick journals” on politics and literature were published.


Over the decades Petersburg has been home to scores of novelists, poets, journalists, and essayists. In writing this book I’ve focused primarily on writers who not only lived in Petersburg but also wrote about the city. I’ve also included two writers, Leo Tolstoy and Andrei Bely, who did not live in the city for significant lengths of time but whose depiction of Petersburg has been particularly influential and inspired. I’ve limited this guide to writers whose work is easily available in English translation, though some will of course be less familiar to English readers than others. This is by no means an exhaustive list of Petersburg writers, or of the streets, monuments, and buildings that the writers described and inhabited. I’ve chosen the most significant and representative sites, which I hope will give a flavor of the city as well as of the writers, and I’ve assumed that most visitors to Petersburg will not want to ride two hours by subway, bus, and tram to see—for instance—the suburban park where Alexander Blok liked to take his afternoon walks. For readers who do want to know and see more of literary Petersburg, there’s a selected bibliography.

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  • Artikel: 9781892145376

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