St Petersburg: A Cultural History / Edition 1

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A compelling portrait of a city and its transcendent artistic and spiritual legacy--written by a cultural historian who has known some of the greatest figures of modern St. Petersburg, including Balanchine, Shostakovich, Akhmatova, and Brodsky. "A rich and enjoyable work."--"The Economist." of photos.

Built in 1703 by Peter the Great as Russia's gateway to the West, the city of St. Petersburg became the center of liberal opposition to the dominating power of the state, whether czarist or communist. Acclaimed Russian historian and emigre Volkov writes the definitive "cultural biography" of that famed city, sharply detailing the well-known figures of the arts whose works are now part of the permanent fabric of Western high culture. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For the city Dostoyevski called ``the most abstract and premeditated city in the whole world,'' artists were crucial to creating an identity and a mythos. In each of six impressive chapters, Volkov focuses on an era and on a typically Petersburgian art form of the time. From Peter the Great's imperial mandate impelling the city from the marshy Baltic coast in 1703, Volkov moves on to Gogol's and Dostoyevski's cynical anti-Petersburg writings; the passionate, European/Russian hybrid of Tchaikovsky and the Mighty Five (Musorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Balakirev, Cui); the waxing sense of doom and the concomitant nostalgia of Anna Akhmatova and Alexander Blok; the migr Petersburg created abroad by Balanchine, Stravinksy and Nabokov; Shostakovitch's city, depleted by the Great Terror and pounded during the Siege of Leningrad; and finally, to the beleaguered postwar city of Joseph Brodsky. This is a complicated strategy involving a tacking back and forth to pick up numerous themes and biographies and there are, perhaps inevitably, redundancies. Also Volkov, a musicologist by training and a devotee of literature by inclination (his previous books include Joseph Brodsky in New York and the controversial Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich) is sketchier in his treatment of the visual arts. But this well-researched and deeply personal book gives a complex, subtle view of the city's haughty and tortured history. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Volkov, a Russian migr musicologist, offers an absorbing overview of the traditions and individuals responsible for the great cultural evolution of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and its ever-shifting mythos-from Pushkin to Chagall, from Gogol to Stravinsky and on to the cultural diaspora of the late 20th century. Particularly noteworthy is Volkov's ability to place culture within a clear historical framework, since St. Petersburg's cultural impulse has been repeatedly assaulted by Russia's tormented history. The reader will be moved by the genius of Akhmatova and Brodsky, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, and the other St. Petersburg icons whose 150-year parade makes strikingly clear that despite floods, famine, wars, and purges, the contributions of one city represent the very core of Russian culture. In contrast to this readable work, Katerina Clark's scholarly Petersburg: Crucible of Cultural Revolution (LJ 8/95) covers a much narrower time period. Highly recommended for most academic and public collections.-Mark R. Yerburgh, Fern Ridge Community Lib., Veneta, Ore.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684832968
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 2/13/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 817,692
  • Product dimensions: 1.43 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

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