Andrey Bely’s “Petersburg”: A Centennial Celebration

Andrey Bely’s “Petersburg”: A Centennial Celebration


Edited by Olga M. Cooke
Foreword by Thomas R. Beyer Jr.  

Series: The Real Twentieth Century
ISBN: 9781618115751 (hardcover)
Pages: 276 pp.; 6 illus.
Publication Date: May 2017

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Celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of Andrey Bely’s Petersburg, this volume offers a selection of essays that address the most pertinent aspects of the 1916 masterpiece. The plot is relatively a simple one: Nikolai Apollonovich is ordered by a group of terrorists to assassinate his father, the prominent senator Apollon Apollonovich Ableukhov.  Nevertheless, Bely’s polyphonic, experimental prose invokes such diverse themes as Greek mythology, the apocalypse, family dynamics, psychology, Russian history, theosophy, revolution, and European literary influences. Considered by Vladimir Nabokov to be one of the twentieth century’s four greatest masterpieces, Petersburg is the first novel in which the city is the hero. Frequently compared to James Joyce’s Ulysses, no other work did more to help launch modernism in turn-of-the-century Russia.

Olga M. Cooke is associate professor of Russian at Texas A&M University. She edits Gulag Studies. Her recent publications focus on the works of Andrey Bely and on Gulag literature.  She is completing a book called "The Most Interesting Man in Russia": Andrey Bely’s Life in Letters.


This collection of studies by American, British, Scandinavian, Russian and Israeli scholars is a welcome contribution to our knowledge of Belyi’s extraordinary novel. … What this collection does, and does brilliantly, is not so much to promote Petersburg to a wider readership as to provide a fascinating companion-guide, a complex and erudite Baedecker to the living world of Belyi’s invention, a guide which helps us situate it in its early twentieth-century Russian and European context.
— Avril Pyman, University of Durham, Slavonic and East European Review Vol. 96, No. 4

Table of Contents

Foreword by Thomas R. Beyer Jr.

Vladimir Nabokov, “On Petersburg
Introduction by Olga M. Cooke
Carol Anschuetz, “Bely’s Petersburg and the End of the Russian Novel”
Maria Carlson, “Andrei Bely’s Astral Novel: A Theosophical Reading of Petersburg
Charlene Castellano, “Synesthesia as Apocalypse in Andrey Bely’s Petersburg
Jacob Emery, “Kinship and Figure in Andrey Bely’s Petersburg
Roger Keys, “Metafiction in Andrey Bely’s Novel Petersburg
Timothy Langen, “Petersburg as a Historical Novel”
Aleksandr V. Lavrov, “Andrey Bely between Conrad and Chesterton”
Magnus Ljunggren, “The Bomb, the Baby, the Book”
Anna Ponomareva, “‘Know Thyself’: From the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to the Pages of Petersburg
Ada Steinberg, “Fragmentary ‘Prototypes’ in Andrey Bely’s Novel Petersburg
Adam Weiner, “The Enchanted Point of Petersburg
Judith Wermuth-Atkinson, “Reality and Appearance in Petersburg and the Viennese Secession”