Russian Readers Club discussion

Literary St. Petersburg

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message 1: by Tom (last edited Sep 05, 2008 08:46PM) (new)

Tom Just got a book I think everyone in this group would enjoy: "Literary St. Petersburg: A Guide to the City and Its Writers." Elaine Blair. Published by The Little Bookroom.

It includes writers from Pushkin through Brodsky, and some I had not heard of until mentioned recently by members of this group -- Blok, Zoschenko, Kharms, among others. Zamyatin, as well, which I found most propitious, since we're reading him now.

Each writer has a brief but informative bio sketch, and a guide to sites associated with the writer and his literary works. Nice illustrations and author photos / portraits, too.

The entire book design is quite attractive -- tall, slender format, modeled, I suppose, on the traditional Michelin tourist guides. Very stylish.

message 2: by Phillip (new)

Phillip I lived in Saint Petersburg in the summer of 1998, and stayed very close to where Dostoevsky wrote C&P. It was a short walk to the Sennaya Ploschad, which is mentioned in a few of his books.

It's an extraordinary city, and even after living there three months, I merely scratched the surface. I visited Anna Akhmatova's house on the Fontanka River, and had an amazing experience sitting in her rooms.

I also went into the building where Raskolnikov would have lived...and took a photograph of the famous "attic"...what a creepy place.

Dostoevsky's last place of residence is now a museum, and the rooms are pleasant and are very close to a beautiful cathedral (and a Metro station named after the great writer).

It's a town I would highly recommend visiting. I had a wonderful summer there ....totally unoforgettable.

message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Neat stories, Phillip. That must've been a great experience. My only complaint about the book is that it doesn't provide a map of any kind. Even a general sketch would be helpful. But your descriptions are quite evocative, make it easy to visualize.

I don't think Gogol ever identifies the spot, and Blair doesn't mention it, but it would be fun to stroll the city and imagine the square where poor Akaky Akakievich is robbed of his new overcoat, in that seminal short story,"The Overcoat."

message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna | 12 comments I was there during the late summer time (august/september)... exactly three hundred years after its foundation ;)

I took the same routes as you Phillip... and the most memorable was to be in Anna Akhmatova's kitchen :) it was also the place where I first read Brodsky! I couldn't believe how on earth was it possible that I haven't heard of him till that moment at Anna's house! Today I think it was 'the right' place to get to know him!

I also remember Nobokov's house- full of butterflies! And very obscure Mayakovsky's room...

The city is one of my favourite places I have ever been! I still think that those three days I spend in Hermitage weren't enough to see everything! ;) I'm desperate to experience the white nights the next time I will visit Petersburg!

message 5: by BC (new)

BC | 1 comments I'm new to this group, but I can't help but comment on this thread.

I lived in St. Petersburg for four months in the winter/spring of 2002 (January-May). It was remarkable.

Visiting St. Petersburg without knowing the cultural background of the city is to visit half the city. The cultural side of the city is omnipresent, and most people are aware of it. While walking through parts of the city, you actually feel that you're following a Dostoevsky character. There are tons of places where you can imagine poor Akaky Akakievich getting his coat stolen.

There are so few cities that live and breath their culture; where the past is so present. St. Petersburg is one of those cities.

message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne | 1 comments As a St. Petersburg resident can't help but add my two cents:)
If I'm not mistaken, literary tours are available in the city, not only to Pushkin, Gogol and Dostoevsky sites, but also to Lermontov, Nekrasov, Esenin, Mandelshtam etc.
Perhaps it may interest future visitors.

message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Interesting observation, Bradley. A good friend of mind who's been to St. P a few times says half of the locals remind him of Roskalnikov.

Anne, I just started reading Mandelshtam. So far, he strikes me a the verse counterpart to Babel's prose -- such compressed and rich imagery.

message 8: by Dark.iNiTro (new)

Dark.iNiTro | 1 comments St.Petersburg as Moscow is full of sites related with famous russion authors and poets.

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