Literary St. Petersburg
As the cultural capital of Russia, St. Petersburg has always been centre stage for the life and work of famous Russian luminaries, such as Pushkin, Griboyedov, Lermontov, Gogol, Nekrasov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Blok, Nabokov, Akhmatova, Esenin, Tolstoy, Brodsky, to name but a few. The beautiful city with its combination of compact streets and wide avenues has inspired poets and writers to place the characters of great works that include: “Bronze Horseman,” “The Queen of Spades” and “Crime and Punishment” into its setting.
Looking for inspiration?
When visiting the Northern Capital to pursue an interest in the history of Russian Literature, there are some “must see” landmarks, which are renowned by those with insider knowledge. There has been much effort made in the city and its suburbs to preserve the mansions, villas and apartments, where famous Russian writers lived and worked, along with investment in dedicated memorial museums. There are also themed tours available all year round. Highlights include: ‘The St. Petersburg of Dostoevsky’, which is a guided tour of locations associated with the characters Rodion Raskolnikov and Sonia Marmeladova; A guided walk around places associated with Pushkin, including the picturesque parks of Tsarskoye Selo, and museums which help instill the meaning of lyrics written by Anna Akhmatova and Griboyedov. As the social, political and cultural centre of Russia throughout the 17th-19th Centuries, St. Petersburg nurtured the talents of many writers who went on to play an important role in Russian Literature; Their ideas and valuable historical artifacts of their era have therefore been carefully preserved in museums and collections of rarities, which enable tourists to explore with wonder and in vivid detail the realm of the writer’s imagination.
The Forefather of Russian Poetry
Alexander Pushkin, who is probably Russia’s most famous poet, spent most of his life in St. Petersburg, as a result, his work gives great insight into the city’s charm and history. The Apartment Museum located at 12 Moika Embankment, where the poet once lived with his family, is famous for its expert Guides, whose detailed stories expose Pushkin’s life and work. In Tsarskoe Selo, known as the town of Pushkin, tourists can visit the Lyceum, where the poet studied, and the museum based in Kitaeva’s Summer House. The Pushkin House is the oldest literary museum in Russia, and houses rare examples of original manuscripts amongst its collection.
The St. Petersburg of Dostoevsky
The famous writer spent much of his life in St.Petersburg, and the memorial Museum of Dostoevsky at Kuznechny Lane is located at the very apartment where the writer used to live. Inside,the writer’s home has been conserved, and a literary exhibition promotes his work. After visiting this exhibition, tourists might want to have a stroll over to the old house of the Lender Lady at 104 Griboedova Canal, to the house of Raskolnikov at 19 Grazhdanskaya Street, and to the house at 73 Griboedova Canal, where Sonya Marmeladova used to stay. Every year in early July the city celebrates Dostoevsky Day, and visitors can see plays, attend lectures, visit exhibitions, watch films and enjoy public readings of the works of the literary genius.
Following in the footsteps of Russian journalism
The memorial Museum of Nekrasov at 36 Liteiny Prospekt is based in the apartment where the writer lived and worked for 20 years, making it the centre of Russian literary, artistic and political life, and being the HQ of two editorials: “Sovremennik” and “Otechestvennye Zapiski.” Aside from its own impressive collection, the museum also hosts music recitals and poetry readings, along with exhibitions arranged by local artists and collectors.
The Silver Age of authors and modern prose
Fans of Anna Akhmatova will love visiting her literary memorial museum at The Fountain House, which hosts music recitals and poetry readings, and they will also want to visit the exhibition at the museum on Avtovskaya Street, which is devoted to Akhmatova’s poetry and Gumilev’s family.
The apartment Museum of Alexander Block at the Pryazhka River embankment offers an amazing collection of rare books, photographs and the poet’s personal belongings. It often hosts readings and literary evenings.
The literary memorial museum of Zoshenko on Malaya Konyushennaya Street reconstructs the atmosphere of the writer’s study and showcases the history of Soviet literature in the 1920s and 30s.
The House of Nabokov at 47 Bolshaya Morskaya Street is where the famous writer was born and lived. The museum’s authentic interiors and decorations recreate the atmosphere of the Soviet era. A collection of Nabokovian memorabilia provides insight into the family life and traditions of the Russian intelligentsia during this time.
Dine with the muse!
Tourists who feel enchanted by the Russian literature, poets and writers they have experiencedmay want to make the magic last for a while by indulging in lunch at the Literary Cafe on the corner of Nevsky Prospect, by the River Moika. Here they can sip coffee whilst listening to Russian romances, or delve into their favorite book, just as Saltykov, Shchedrin, Dostoevsky, Pushkin and other eminent writers used to do in this very place.
Translation by Svetlana Serebryakova
Edited by Kit Darling