Petersburg/Petersburg: Novel and City, 1900-1921

Petersburg/Petersburg: Novel and City, 1900-1921

by Olga Matich

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Since its founding three hundred years ago, the city of Saint Petersburg has captured the imaginations of the most celebrated Russian writers, whose characters map the city by navigating its streets from the aristocratic center to the gritty outskirts. While Tsar Peter the Great planned the streetscapes of Russia’s northern capital as a contrast to the muddy and crooked streets of Moscow, Andrei Bely’s novel Petersburg (1916), a cornerstone of Russian modernism and the culmination of the “Petersburg myth” in Russian culture, takes issue with the city’s premeditated and supposedly rational character in the early twentieth century.
    “Petersburg”/Petersburg studies the book and the city against and through each other. It begins with new readings of the novel—as a detective story inspired by bomb-throwing terrorists, as a representation of the aversive emotion of disgust, and as a painterly avant-garde text—stressing the novel’s phantasmagoric and apocalyptic vision of the city. Taking a cue from Petersburg’s narrator, the rest of this volume (and the companion Web site, explores the city from vantage points that have not been considered before—from its streetcars and iconic art-nouveau office buildings to the slaughterhouse on the city fringes. From poetry and terrorist memoirs, photographs and artwork, maps and guidebooks of that period, the city emerges as a living organism, a dreamworld in flux, and a junction of modernity and modernism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299236038
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 11/18/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Olga Matich is professor of Russian literature and culture at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Erotic Utopia: The Decadent Imagination in Russia’s Fin de Siècle, which won a Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award and an honorable mention for the 2007 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the Modern Language Association.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations        



 Olga Matich


Part One: Petersburg, the Novel

1. Backs, Suddenlys, and Surveillance

 Olga Matich

2. Poetics of Disgust: To Eat and Die in Petersburg

 Olga Matich

3. Bely, Kandinsky, and Avant-Garde Aesthetics

 Olga Matich


Part Two: Petersburg, the City

4. "The Streetcar Prattle of Life": Reading and Riding St. Petersburg's Trams

 Alyson Tapp

5. How Terrorists Learned to Map: Plotting in Petersburg and Boris Savinkov's Recollections of a Terrorist and The Pale Horse

 Alexis Peri and Christine Evans

6. The Enchanted Masquerade: Alexander Blok's The Puppet Show from the Stage to the Streets

 Cameron Wiggins

7. Panoramas from Above and Street from Below: The Petersburg of Vyacheslav Ivanov and Mikhail Kuzmin

 Ulla Hakanen

8. The Button and the Barricade: Bridges in Paris and Petersburg

 Lucas Stratton

9. 28 Nevsky Prospect: The Sewing Machine, the Seamstress, and Narrative

Olga Matich

10. Meat in Russia's Modernist Imagination        

Mieka Erley

11. The Fluid Margins: Flâneurs of the Karpovka River        

Polina Barskova

12. The Voices of Silence: The Death and Funeral of Alexander Blok        

Victoria Smolkin


Concluding Remarks        

Olga Matich


Postscript. St. Petersburg: New Architecture and Old Mythology        

Gregory Kaganov


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