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review Petersburg Ô eBook or Kindle ePUB Ì ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☁ Petersburg Author Andrei Bely – Johns-cycling-diary.co.uk Andrei Bely's masterpiece Petersburg is a vivid striking story set at the heart of the 1905 Russian revolution This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian by David McDuff with an intrEll discussing the novel's themes extraordinary style and influenceAndrei Belyborn Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev was educated at Moscow University where he studied science and philosophy before turning his focus to literature In he published his first collection of poems Gold in Azure which was followed in by his first novel The Silver Dove Bely's most famous novel Petersburg was published in His work is considered to have heavily influenced several literary schools most notably Symbolism and his impact on Russian writing has been compared to that of James Joyce on the English speaking wor. It is a cliché that all drunk people think that they are wonderful company that in the moment they see in their rambling slurred and often nonsensical conversation the brilliant holding forth of a world class orator Unfortunately for me I have never suffered from this delusion Whenever I get drunk I am fully aware of myself fully conscious of the torrents of bullshit pouring from my mouth I just don’t seem to be able to stop the flow Something happens when I drink some kind of mechanism in my brain gives way; and so the writhing mass of thoughts that harangue me when sober the near unbearable seemingly limitless and constantly overlapping multitude of thoughts that I liken to a big tub of live eels are given expression I sharein the most baffling manner possible Can you imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of that Well you don’t have to You can read Andrei Bely’s Petersburg instead“Petersburg does not exist It merely seems to exist”It is often noted that Bely’s novel has not achieved the status that it deserves that it is to use a vulgar popular phrase criminally underrated There are of course numerous reasons for that First of all it is said that until very recently the book suffered in English from less than stellar translations although that doesn’t appear to have done Dostoevsky’s reputation any harm It is also the case and I think this is far pertinent that it lacks a kind of universality; it is at least in part a paean to the city of Petersburg itself and if you have never been or have no real interest in the place then a good part of the book’s charm will be lost on you Likewise there are references to historical events that are particular to Russia and references and allusions are made sometimes without any explanation to famous Russian writers Pushkin for example and works of literature However than any of these things the most alienating aspect of the work is the authorial voiceMuch like me when I’ve had too many cocktails the narrator appears to be trying to talk about six subjects all at once; he is mentally unsettled starting sentences and not finishing them randomly throwing out jokes and puns which are never very funny repeating himself and lapsing into poetic uotations and often complex but largely unintelligible philosophy and spiritualism While many make comparisons to Gogol’s epically silly characters I would say that if the authorial voice has a literary forebear it would be Rogozhin from The Idiot a man suffering from a nervous ailment; indeed it is as though he has seized control of Crime Punishment and tried to rewrite it as a comedy Of course this voice and by extension Petersburg itself is occasionally tiresome Sometimes the story just will not proceed; and I don’t I must admit exhibit a lot of tolerance where puns and wordplay are concerned Yet these minor uibbles aside it’s a strangely beautiful and engrossing book and certainly rewarding for a patient readerI don’t want to give the impression that Petersburg is a mess not even a beautiful and engrossing mess because there was obviously a precise method to Bely’s apparent madness indeed after the book’s first publication in 1913 he continued to revise it – so it is clear that he took it very seriously Take the repetition it is not the recourse of an inarticulate writer but rather it is freuently used for poetic effect Bely was I believe a poet and his circular prose and the emphasis placed upon certain phrases reminded me very much of Homer“O Russian people Russian people Do not let the the crowds of slippery shadows come over from the islands” p30“O Russian people Russian peopleDo not let the crowds of fitful shadows come over from the island” p36Sometimes these phrases have a comic purpose like when it is repeatedly said of Sergei Likhutin that “he was in charge of provisions somewhere out there” Here Bely emphasises Sergei’s unimportance to his wife with the vague somewhere as though it is Sofia rather than the author who doesn’t know nor care where he goes; at other times these phrases stress certain personal characteristics or states of mind I mentioned Homer previously but I was also strongly reminded despite Bely writing much earlier than both of Thomas Bernhard and Imre Kertesz who I had previously thought of as being primarily influenced by Dostoevsky and Kafka and various philosophers including Wittgenstein Bernhard and Kertesz wereare uite open about their favourite writers and books and I don’t recall either ever mentioning Bely but the similarities are clear especially in relation to Kertesz’s Fiasco and Kaddish for an Unborn Child and Bernhard’s Correction In all of these novels there is a process of refining or correcting of thought and idea taking place whereby an idea or phrase is altered slightly with each subseuent appearance in the text as the O Russian people uote above shows and an obsessive attention to seemingly banal detailFurther the chaotic unstable authorial voice is I’m sure meant to reflect to mirror both the mind set of his characters and the nature of the times The plot of the novel at the most basic level is that a young philosophy student Nikolai Abluekhov has been given a ticking bomb and is tasked with assassinating a senior government official who turns out to be his father So there is on a local level so to speak obviously much emotional turmoil Moreover the novel is set in the year 1905 a time following the defeat in the Russo Japanese war and just before the Russian revolution It was historians tell me a time of social and political unrest; for example on the 9th of January 1905 a peaceful workers demonstration was fired upon by Cossack units and the police The spooked and unhinged narrator is then in perfect harmony with his subject the times and his characters; in fact he acts almost as another character himself Make no mistake Petersburg is an almost unfathomably layered complex piece of work – seemingly a mess but actually perfectly orderedPetersburg in the early 1900’sMost reviewers of Bely’s novel tend to refer to its reputation as a symbolist masterpiece often throwing out this term symbolist and uickly moving on Ah I know your game people Don’t get me wrong I’m not sneering at anyone; I get you I feel your pain Symbolism is hard enough to decipher at the best of times but when one is concerned with a Russian novel written 100 years ago the task will be particularly difficult As great as I undoubtedly am even I cannot possibly pick up on or explain everything There are however certain symbols that are prominent than others and some that suggest obvious interpretations For example I’ve already written about how chaos and order are important themes and the text is strewn with references to zigzags and spheres; to my mind the zigzags are disorder and the spheres it doesn’t seem a stretch to suppose are order amongst other things I might add There are also repeated mentions of certain colours particularly yellow red and grey I’m not too sure about yellow and grey although they may represent illness perhaps but red seems fairly clear it being a colour that is popularly associated with Russia itself the Russian word for red красный means beautiful by the way and is of course also the colour of bloodIt ought to be clear by now that there isn’t a great deal to get your teeth into on a human level Certainly the characters aren’t alive in the way that Dostoevsky’s and Tolstoy’s are; I just cannot envisage anyone coming away from the book feeling as though they have made some kind of personal connection with say Nikolai or his father Apollon It would uite frankly be absurd However there is some human interest The father son dynamic the intellectual and emotional clashes between different generations is one that the great Russians appeared to be particularly fond of it having been explored for example in than one of Dostoevsky’s novels and Turgenev’s Father Sons I don’t think Bely brings much to the table in this regard certainly nothing that hadn’t been dealt with successfully elsewhere but it’s nice to have it and in any case one gets the feeling that he was deliberately winking at those other novels anyway; it was I think all part of his extraordinary game

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Andrei Bely's masterpiece Petersburg is a vivid striking story set at the heart of the Russian revolution This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian by David McDuff with an introduction by Adam ThirlwellSt Petersburg An impressionable young university student Nikolai becomes involved with a revolutionary terror organization which plans to assassinate a high government official with a time bomb But the official is Nikolai's cold unyielding father Apollon and in twenty four hours the bomb will explode Petersburg is a story of suspense family dysfunction patricide consp. In his later years when Andrei Bely was slowly going mad he hacked his original text of Petersburg making it twice shorter and endlessly dryer in order to make it readable for proles I doubt that any proletarian had ever read the novel but somehow this bastardly version had found its way to English translation And only lately the adeuate modern translation of the novel has been published in English “Solitary street lamps were metamorphosed into sea creatures with prismatic spines”Andrei Bely virtually turns Petersburg into a tenebrous undersea realm and populates it with all sorts of revolutionary reactionary anarchistic deranged regressive and renegade monsters“And now as he looked pensively into that boundlessness of mists the man of state suddenly expanded out of the black cube in all directions and soared above it; and he desired that the carriage should fly forward that the prospects should fly towards him—prospect after prospect that the whole spherical surface of the planet should be gripped by the blackish grey cubes of the houses as by serpentine coils; that the whole of the earth sueezed by prospects should intersect the immensity in linear cosmic flight with rectilinear law”The book is written in the magnificently burlesue language and it is a kaleidoscope of human whims caprices fixations phobias and ideas

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PetersburgIracy and revolution It is also an impressionistic exhilarating panorama of the city itself watched over by the bronze statue of Peter the Great as it tears itself apart Considered by writers such as Vladimir Nabokov to be one of the greatest masterpieces of the twentieth century Bely's richly textured darkly comic and symbolic novel pulled apart the traditional techniues of storytelling and presaged the dawn of a new form of literatureThis acclaimed translation captures all the idiosyncrasies and rhythms of Bely's extraordinary prose It is accompanied by an introduction by Adam Thirw. The Bronze Horseman descends from his pedestal and goes visiting at night it turns out that he smokes a pipe view spoiler and indeed generally appears to have calmed down since the days of Pushkin's poem hide spoiler