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St Petersburg: A Cultural History Paperback – February 13, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684832968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832968
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 emigre 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Volkov, a Russian emigre 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Not only is the author obviously erudite about his subject matter, he is in love with it, making this book more than just an outsider's account of a city's cultural history. Exploring the 'mythos' of St. Petersburg through the work and lives of many of the creative spirits who either lived here or reflected the city in their works -- Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevski, Akhmatova among the better-known -- Volkov brings to life the very streets, houses, and canals of a great city on the border of Russia and Europe. But even more, his reader has the great pleasure of being accompanies on this journey by the very Russian-intellectual thoughtfulness and erudition, 'intelligentnost', of the author. Warmly recommended indeed.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Solomon Volkov has prepared for Western readers a breathtaking history of St. Petersburg's cultural treasures. Anyone who has seen "The Nutcracker Ballet" should read this book. Volkov brings forth the great ballet artists, classical music composers, painters, and writers who were centered in St. Petersburg, Russia's "window on Europe". Most of these great artists are as familiar to western readers as Tchaikovsky. But we are also introduced to equally great artists, poets, and writers we didn't know before. The introduction is invaluable. Underlying the "stars" of center stage, and running throughout the 300 years of cultural history is a constant reference to the "mythos of St. Petersburg" which Russian emigres worldwide will recognize with longing and affection. It is important to learn of the deeply-felt magical aura this city imposed on the artists and writers who lived there, including on Solomon Volkov himself.
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Solomon Volkov is a sorcerer. He will have you chuckling out loud one minute & weeping the next! In the pages of this book, you will come to know the people of St. Petersburg; their glory, their sorrow, their passion, their genius. Volkov has brought this immortal city across the ocean and planted it firmly in my heart. It has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the talents of those who, in some cases, forfeited theirs lives for the sake of creative freedom.
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By William on January 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This video is beautifully done and demonstrates why we love Kultur Films (Except "Versailles" See my review of that disaster. We have many Kultur DVDs. Charming entertainment.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Linda L. Boote on February 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book very boring to read and it didn't give the history in a way that made any sense. Mostly the author wrote about various artists, writers, actors, etc. I was visiting St Petersburg and wanted to know the history of the land and the people. I do not recommend this book for that purpose.
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