Pushkin's palaces or Dostoevsky's slums? Many a modern-day visitor to St. Petersburg has one or, more likely, both of these images in mind when setting foot in this stage set-like setting for some of the world's most treasured literary masterpieces. What they overlook is the vast uncharted territory in between. In Mapping St. Petersburg, Julie Buckler traces the evolution of Russia's onetime capital from a "conceptual hierarchy" to a living cultural system--a topography expressed not only by the city's physical structures but also by the literary texts that have helped create it.
By favoring noncanonical works and "underdescribed spaces," Buckler seeks to revise the literary monumentalization of St. Petersburg--with Pushkin and Dostoevsky representing two traditional albeit opposing perspectives--to offer an off-center view of a richer, less familiar urban landscape. She views this grand city, the product of Peter the Great's ambitious vision, not only as a geographical entity but also as a network of genres that carries historical and cultural meaning.
We discover the busy, messy "middle ground" of this hybrid city through an intricate web of descriptions in literary works; nonfiction writings such as sketches, feuilletons, memoirs, letters, essays, criticism; and urban legends, lore, songs, and social practices--all of which add character and depth to this refurbished imperial city.
"[Mapping St. Petersburg] challenges the enduring myth of the city's uniqueness by exploring its ordinariness, as depicted in "middlebrow" fiction and non-fictional sources, uncovering a rich body of material that in itself should prove invaluable to researchers in a number of disciplines."--Lindsey Hughes, Times Literary Supplement
"[Buckler] conveys very effectively what many writers have felt about the city--its elusively cerebral characters, its insubstantiality verging on evanescence."--Catriona Kelly, Russian Review
"[Buckler] offers a useful, thematically organized synthesis of interesting writing on St. Petersburg, many of them otherwise inaccessible to anglophone readers."--Stephen Lovell, American Historical Review
"[A] brilliant and intriguing exercise in urban textology. . . . [Buckler] conveys the sense of complexity and mystery that defines, and always has defined, Saint Petersburg."--Cynthia Hyla Whittaker, Bookforum
Table of Contents:
CHAPTER ONE: Petersburg Eclecticism, Part I: City as Text 27
CHAPTER TWO: Petersburg Eclecticism, Part II: Literary Form and Cityshape 61
CHAPTER THREE: Armchair Traveling: Russian Literary Guides to St. Petersburg 89
CHAPTER FOUR: Stories in Common: Urban Legends in St. Petersburg 116
CHAPTER FIVE: Literary Centers and Margins: Palaces, Dachas, Slums, and Industrial Outskirts 158
CHAPTER SIX: Meeting in the Middle: Provincial Visitors to St. Petersburg 195
CHAPTER SEVEN: The City's Memory: Public Graveyards and Textual Repositories 218
CHAPTER EIGHT: Timely Remembering and the Tricentennial Celebration 247