A Russian jewel in the literature crown


As with Turkey, the incredible country we featured yesterday and its city pick guide, we booktrailers do not have much experience of Russia either. However, when there is a city pick guide on St Petersburg, you don’t need to go there for real. But if you do, your visit will be all the richer if you read this before you go –

Anna Pavlova describes her school days

Vladimir Nabokov re-lives a St Petersburg winter

Helen Dunmore plunges us into the worst of times

Dmitry Shostakovich reveals a musical secret

Truman Capote takes Porgy and Bess to the Soviets

Nikolai Gogol walks us down Nevsky Prospekt

I am personally fascinated by this city, mostly due to my literary wanderings with Russian literature I have come across on my travels in bookshops. Well this book has a wealth of snippets from non- fiction and fiction to be able to tempt you around St Petersburg and maybe even further afield!

St Petersburg - image courtesy  of Wikipedia
St Petersburg – image courtesy of Wikipedia

St. Petersburg is a dream of a city –

The founding of St Petersburg in 1703 was Peter the Great’s ‘I have a dream’ moment. He did, indeed, have a clear vision of the elegant, enlightened European-style city on the River Neva…


These short introductory texts lead nicely into the range of writers who each in turn give their impression of the city either in a short paragraph or a section of their book. Perfect for hoping in and out of as you would ona tour of the city itself.

Helen Dunmore is the first to take the literary stand –

Floating, lyrical, miraculous Petersburg, made out of nothing by a Tsar who wanted everything and didn’t care what it cost. Peter’s window on Europe, through which light shines. Here’s beauty built on bones. classical facades that cradled revolution, summers that lie in the cup of winter.

The epauletted shoulders f the Winter Palace - image courtesy of Wikipedia
The epauletted shoulders of the Winter Palace – image courtesy of Wikipedia

In Duncan Fallowell’s One Hot Summer in St Petersburg for example –

..the winter canal and beyond it the epauletted shoulders of the Winter Palace……

And then there’s Malcolm Bradbury whose novel To the Hermitage contains the kind of historical information that makes it come alive right off the page. Peter the Great for example becomes a very colourful character –

A boisterous young man who broke windows, turfed friends, acquaintances, even total strangers into hedges, he drank and whored with the best.


A trip through not only the city of St Petersburg but also of Russia and its past. Visit places in novels – not just of the one or two you may know such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina – discover more about Russian literature and authors, walk down the same streets and meet people from history.


All in one book.

Quite a read

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