: I really like books so firmly set in a place. I love
: to be able to read such books before travelling to
: those places.
I visited St. Petersburg two years ago, and had read the novel a few months earlier. I'm not sure that reading the novel prepared me for the visit quite as much as the visit prepared me for the second reading of the novel. Petersburg is so unlike our image of Russian cities, or of European cities in general, that you have to see it to appreciate it. The huge buildings, oversize monuments and vast open spaces make it look like a city built for giants. It is also a collection of architecture and artifacts from many places and periods, ignoring only those of Russia itself.
: I love the end of chapter 1. Steven, is this stuff
: missing from the Cournos translation?
Only part of it is missing--the paragraph that reads (in the Elsworth translation): "The author, having once displayed these pictures of illusions, ought quickly to remove them and break off the thread of the narration with this very sentence; but... the author will not behave like this: he has sufficient right not to do so."
This is consistent with what I had read about Bely's revisions in 1922, removing all first person expressions and other references to the author himself.
If the links work, you should see two of the pictures I took in Petersburg. The first is a view of the palaces lining the Neva, with St. Isaacs looming in the background as described several times in the novel. The second is, of course, the bronze horseman himself. Of course, Bely pictures these scenes in an often dark and dreary smoke-filled autumn landscape. I was there in June when the sky was bright enough at midnight to read a newspaper.
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