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Petersburg (1916)

by Andrei Bely

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,2171811,125 (4.08)1 / 55
..". a translation that captures Bely's idiosyncratic language andthe rhythm of his prose, and without doing violence to English, conveys not only theliteral meaning of the Russian but also its echoes and implications." -- TheNew York Review of Books "This translation of Petersburgfinally makes it possible to recognize Andrei Bely's great novel of 1913 as acrucial Russian instance of European modernist fiction." --Inquiry "All people who go in for the B's -- Beckett, Brecht, Bu uel -- better get hold of Bely. He came first, and he's still the best." --Washington Post Book World ..". a jewel-cutter'sshowcase." -- Kirkus Reviews ..". the most important, most influential and most perfectly realized Russian novel written in the 20thcentury." -- Simon Karlinsky Here is the long-awaited, authoritative, unabridged translation of Petersburg, the Chef d'oeuvre of Symbolistwriter Andrei Bely. Nabokov has ranked Petersburg beside Joyce's Ulysses, Kafka'sMetamorphosis, and Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu as one of the fourgreat works of prose fiction of the twentieth century.… (more)
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    The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge (uru)
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    Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky (kitzyl)
    kitzyl: "The turbulent late years of the Russian empire produced not one but two novels about terrorist plots that abound in images of carnivalesque horror. Dostoevsky’s Demons (1873) and Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (1913, revised 1922 [!]) both dramatize the activities of radical terrorist groups. Members of terrorist cells engaged in secretly planned and spectacularly performed acts of violence, and both Dostoevsky and Bely employ theatrical imagery to represent the dual nature of terror, as a both private and public phenomenon. This theatricality ranges from Shakespearean allusions to acts of costuming and scripting to images of puppets and clowns." Issue 35 of Hypocrite Reader… (more)

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English (15)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This is a difficult book - at least it was for me. However, it is worth the effort and I am glad I persevered.
It meanders all over the place and time. The main plot is almost secondary to the many distractions along the way. The city itself is a primary character with many moods but mostly brooding and cold and menacing. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Apr 4, 2020 |
Yana N.

Yana N.'s Reviews > Petersburg
Petersburg by Andrei Bely
by Andrei Bely, J.D. Elsworth (Translator)
Yana N.'s review
Oct 06, 2017 · edit

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, fiction, russian

Amazing. I can barely find words to describe this book, not least because anything I write seems stale in comparison to Bely's prickly prose. Where to begin? Petersburg is not a novel that can be described - it is much greater than the sum of its parts, which themselves are considerable. A story about a father and a son, about a city and a swamp, about the absurdity of life. A summary? When Nikolai Apollonovich is charged with a mission to assassinate his own father by bomb, chaos ensues. And what chaos...

The plot itself takes the backseat to the unimaginably exceptional prose of this novel. The descriptions of hallucinations, of the ever-present Petersburg mists, of the tender gaze that burgeons between Apollon Apollonovich and Anna Petrovna - all of it is simply brilliant! There is such a richness of imagery, such inventive forms and metaphors, a fascinating use of recurring images and fixed expressions as in an ancient epic, a wealth of biblical allusions and style that makes one's heart pound in visceral reaction. The depth of abstract feeling that assails the characters is rendered to perfection in its intensity and complexity. The density of prose and opaqueness of certain turns of phrase do nothing to take away from that experience of perfect unity with the characters, with the city, with Bely's entire universe, which sucked me in and still won't let me out. There is even something fitting about the fact that I didn't understand everything, that certain references went over my head and that more than one or two words might have necessitated a trip to the dictionary... This is not a book to be understood, but one to be felt in the flesh. I am simply beside myself, so I'll just stop here. Maybe when I reread Petersburg one day, I will manage a more coherent review. For now, I will just bask in the wonder that was this novel. ( )
  bulgarianrose | Mar 13, 2018 |
Definitely a strange book. At first glance a Laurence Stern ramble full of digressions. But the book was written, rewritten and revised many times over many years. If it is a ramble it is a very deliberate one. A very conscious adoption of a specific style carried through with great imagination and persistence. A drift from figurative to impressionism tending towards abstract in literature rather than art. Thanks to the extensive footnotes a realisation that there is much, much more to this than a casual reading gives. ( )
  Steve38 | Jul 25, 2017 |
I've read it a couple of times now. I highly recommend it - great book. ( )
  Garrison0550 | May 5, 2016 |
I’ll generally give any novel or collection of short stories fifty pages before I give up. In the case of Boris Nikolaevich Bugayev’s (nom de plume: Andrey Biely) St. Petersburg, I gave it two hundred—and then abandoned ship. I just didn’t get it.

Both John Cournos, who wrote the Introduction and did the Russian – English translation, and George Reavey, who provided a Foreword, may rightly feel that Biely was an unrecognized genius. I don’t dispute that. I just don’t get him.

It could well have to do with my immediate reading environment: almost exclusively in the NYC subway system. But I do much of my reading on the subway – and do it to a good end. Unfortunately, this was not the case with St. Petersburg. I found the plot line every bit as noisy and chaotic as the subway system itself.

Far be it from me to dissuade anyone with a serious interest in Russian literature from undertaking a read of St. Petersburg and correcting, for him- or herself (and for any other potentially interested reader her at Goodreads my negative verdict. I’d prefer to think I just don’t have the right stuff for Biely.

Rather than give the novel a low rating, however, I'd prefer to leave that part of this review blank. If there's any fault here, I have to believe it's with the reader and not with the writer or translator.

Brooklyn, NY

  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrei Belyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Elsworth, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leupold, GabrieleÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maguire, Robert A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malmstad, John E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ripellino, Angelo MariaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ripellino, Angelo MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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