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Politics and emotions in St. Petersburg.

Mark D. Steinberg, Petersburg Fin de Siecle. 416 pp. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. ISBN-13978-0300165043. $45.00.

The historiography of St. Petersburg has been enriched by Mark D. Steinberg's new book, Petersburg Fin de Siecle. Over the last few decades, three Western works have opened new vistas for this particular branch of scholarship by their innovative approaches: James H. Bater's St. Petersburg: Industrialization and Change, Karl Schlogel's The Laboratory of Modernism: St. Petersburg, 1909-1921, and Katerina Clark's Petersburg: Crucible of Revolution. (1) The titles of the three books denote three distinct approaches to the study of the city. Clark's book, written after the collapse of the Soviet Union, accounts, moreover, for the revival of Petersburg studies in Russia while engaging in a critical dialogue with the proponents of the "Petersburg myth." By juxtaposing Petersburg intellectuals with the "mandarins" of German universities, Clark follows those American historians of Russian cities who reject the idea of a Sonderweg in favor of a comparative and global vision. Steinberg embraces the same tradition. Indeed, the very title of his book is a direct allusion to Carl E. Schorske's Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture, thus suggesting that the Russian imperial capital should be seen as a variation on a theme rather than as unique. (2)

According to Steinberg, St. Petersburg is "a natural place for thinking about Russia and the modern experience" and for inscribing "Russian urban modernity" into the modernity of European cities (1). Steinberg's previous works, particularly a Russian-language volume co-edited with Boris Kolonitskii in 2009, have paved the way for this new enterprise. (3) The subject seems all the more important today, since Russian cities once again feature in the headlines, and the urban classes, having caught up with the civilization of the free market, seem ready to measure up to the challenges of modernity posed by the 21st century.

It is not an easy task to extract the features of a culture from the urban fabric that nourishes it. The problem is one of method rather than definition. To establish the connection between modernity and "transformative modernization," Steinberg proposes an examination of "the relationship between words and matter"--that is, words "that arose and did their interpreting work in a material world" (4). Yet the material city itself remains relatively marginal in his book. The bulk of the work is focused on words and the "stories of modernity" that convey "public thought and opinion about urban life" (7). Steinberg's method consists of defining the linguistic field of modernity as present in canonical Western texts and then identifying the targeted vocabulary in various urban texts produced in Petersburg at the beginning of the 20th century. Steinberg's thesis is that in Petersburg (and thus in Russia) the perception of urban modernity conformed with the framework of the modern European mind and indeed reflected European preoccupations in a more intensified form because of the country's position on the periphery of Europe and its "backwardness" (a term that Steinberg sometimes places in quotation marks, and at other times does not).

The book is divided into seven chapters. City, Streets, Masks, Death, Decadence, Happiness, and Melancholy. The "City" chapter dwells on the physical growth of St. Petersburg and its modernization, as well as on the increasingly dark representation of the city in literature and urban journalism at the end of the 19th century. The role of urban journalism is discussed more thoroughly in the chapter "Streets." Here Steinberg considers the press as a part of street life. He proposes that the press helped draw the city's map and in that sense became both a record of the street spectacle and a constituent part of it. In the chapter "Masks," the author regards masks as, on the one hand, a "symbol of modernity's epistemological crisis, of the modern desire to make the world ordered and legible" (85) and, on the other, as "powerful symbols of the ubiquity of deception and illusion, and behind this, of the even deeper 'abyss' of uncertainty and the unknown" (86). The masks appear in carnivalesque form but also in a metaphorical sense: confidence games, identity performances, gender disorder, and an all-pervasive spirit of deception (dukh obmana). The chapter "Death" addresses the presence of death in modern Petersburg: the effects of cholera epidemics and other infectious diseases but also epidemics of deviant behaviors such as violence, rape, and suicide (with interesting remarks on the diverse interpretations of the last phenomenon that have been produced). In Steinberg's reading all these phenomena add up to create an impression of "Russia's mournful progress" (133). The "Decadence" chapter presents few surprises, except for seeing the futurist poets treated as "decadents" by some journalists and the term "hooligan" applied to both thugs in the street and to avant-garde writers. The chapter "Happiness" indiscriminately evokes religious faith (the association of Orthodoxy with happiness seems to me a problematic one), political programs, popular distractions, and the decadent ironical mood. The chapter "Melancholy" introduces the "theory of emotions"--I return to this below--and is concerned with the Russian variant of melancholy known as skuka and toska, which the author discusses in both their everyday and mythical meanings and interprets as a symptom of the "modern crisis suffused with the experience of ruin and loss" (263). Steinberg is of the opinion that the sentiment of "melancholy ... was wiser than happiness," although, he adds, it could also have a corrosive effect on belief in positive progress and even had the potential "to hasten the rupture" (267). In the book's conclusion he restates his doubts and takes the side of the pessimists, arguing that they are the ones most likely to avoid the disasters of history. It is not my task to weigh in on the merits of this debate. Let us simply remember that Dostoevskii and his Grand Inquisitor already tackled the issue earlier.

Taken together, the seven chapters amount to a rich ensemble full of pointillist impressions. But at the same time the reader will not know why precisely these seven aspects of modernity were chosen and not others. To put together disparate phenomena--urban spaces, emotions, cultural notions, and so on--would present no serious problem if such an approach had been conceptualized, and if the different levels of urban life had been articulated so that one could see them at work in the shaping of a modern city. This is not the case in Petersburg Fin de Siecle, however. Instead, fragmentary exposition stands in for argumentation. To be sure, the fragmentary form is a constitutive element of modernity, but the challenge of composition was the obsession of modern writers and painters.

Among several possible definitions of modernity, Steinberg prefers those coined by Zygmunt Bauman, Walter Benjamin, Susan Buck-Morss, and Matei Calinescu. He evokes also the writers and thinkers who, in his opinion, paved the way: Baudelaire, Freud, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and so on. These intellectual celebrities guide him in circumscribing the concept and keywords of modernity. It does not take long to notice that there is not a single Russian name among these illustrious personalities. Does this mean that although it also experienced modernity, Russia failed to produce thinkers worthy of note? (4) Is this a paradox or confusion? Steinberg is aware of the difficulty and explains that the term modernity, "properly speaking," is absent from the fin-de-siecle Russian narrative (except for architecture). The Russian language, in fact, uses vernacular expressions like nashe vremia, sovremennost' (just as German historians spoke of Neuere Geschichte while the rest of the West was already using the Latin word modern). (5) But in the 20th century, the circulation of language accelerated, and many Western terms--such as "hooligan" and "decadence"--made their way into Russian, as the author himself notes (160). Curiously, Steinberg does not dwell on the reasons for the absence in Russian of a distinct term for "modernity" but resorts to a simple stratagem of translating different Russian terms by a single word. "Deformities of sovremennost" in the Russian text thus becomes in his translation "deformities of modernity" (165) and "the cultural conditions of our times" becomes "the cultural conditions of modernity" (262). For a book that intends to place verbal material at the center of its attention, such an expedient is astonishing. Nor is this shortcut actually justified in the eyes of the historian: nothing, indeed, permits the affirmation that the term sovremennost" (contemporaneity) referred explicitly and exclusively to the big industrial city. In the writings of journalists and writers, it also denoted the vast country spinning out of control--shaken by the madness of war, revolution, and terrorism--and the condition of the countryside with its peasants suddenly uprooted and condemned to wandering by Stolypin's reforms. In contrast, the big city of Kiev, where the Beilis trial took place, was stigmatized as a theater of medieval behavior.

How then do we explain the absence of the term "modernity"? Steinberg's reasoning offers one answer. The author reminds us that modernity arose out of disenchantment with the "vision of time as linear movement forward" (5). But could one say that the Russians possessed such a "rigid structure of time marching inexorably forward" (202)? Their historical time was arguably one of discontinuity. Peter the Great had founded modern Russia by breaking, for the third time, the linearity of the country's development. Modernity was imposed at the cost of blacking out the retrograde Muscovite past and Byzantine Kievan origins. The 19th-century supporters of a European Russia--those who actually believed in a "linear movement forward" (and toward the West)--knew perfectly well that this movement had begun only yesterday and that it was built on amnesia. Cut off from their origins, Russian partisans of modernity were deprived of the assurance and combativeness that distinguished their French, English, Spanish, and Italian contemporaries. For modernity exists only with "the ancient" as an antidote. The Russian condition was, on the contrary, one of transition; it was ephemeral and uncertain. (6) Modern Russians could neither claim a rupture nor project themselves into the future as long as they had not recovered the landmarks of an obliterated past: "It is in our futurism of those days that one must seek the roots of our passeist excursions and our various acts of restoration" (v nashem togdashnem futurizme nado iskat' kornei k nashim passeisticheskim ekskursiiam i k vsevozmozhnym restavratsiiam), Andrei Belyi wrote, and in his words I read the definition of an impossible Russian modernity. (7) The hypothesis I advance here to explain the absence of the term "modernity" from a culture that was indeed its shining example may be contested. Another explanation can be put forward, but the problem cannot simply be overlooked. The silences of a culture are just as important as its words, and our task is not to fill them in with our own sounds and meaning.

The body of texts on which Steinberg's book rests consists of journals and magazines--"high-brow" and popular, with a predominance of the latter--occasionally expanded by belles-lettres and poetry. The author attacks this rich but uneven material armed with scissors, snipping away nimbly and mercilessly, leaving the reader with piles of citations composed of one, two, or four words. His aim is to show the ubiquity of certain terms, themes, and cliches: "Persistent public repetition of the same images, ideas, and arguments is what is most telling," he writes (8). He acknowledges that his method has earned him reproach for "underemphasizing the differences between authors" (7). A priori, however, this method seems to me quite adequate for studying a modern outlook that deliberately refused to distinguish between "high" and "low" culture. This usurpation of authority, this intellectual "hooliganism" of the Moderns was poorly received in a Russia caught in a patriarchal straitjacket, but this only makes Steinberg's project more audacious. The same is true for his project of introducing popular literature into the canonical "Petersburg text" (36). Here, too, his approach goes straight to the heart of the culture of the big city, where the traditional cleavages had been shaken up, giving way to a new kind of public space: "Here," Steinberg remarks, referring to the minor urban poets' texts, "the boundaries between types of urban writing--between high and low literature, literature and journalism, imagination and description, symbols and facts--were especially blurred" (45). This remark seems to me a fundamental one, worthy of substantial exposition as a major methodological proposition. Instead, it is limited to one sentence. The author's intuition is original, the body of texts that nourishes it is impressive, but the project's execution leaves a lot to be desired.

From the moment that one undertakes to deal with verbal material, the word must be taken seriously. In the present book, this is not really the case. On the pretext that all quoted authors, independently of the genre they work in, "shared similar concerns, used similar vocabularies and images" (7), Steinberg tends to reduce his work with the word to the study of occurrences. The recurrence of an expression or a cliche testifies at most to the emergence of mass culture, but it is a poor indicator for apprehending a phenomenon as complex as modernity, its nuances and contradictions. (8) "Time as experienced in everyday social life" (5) is very important for describing modernity, says Steinberg. Indeed. But is it possible to capture time while confining the analysis to "vocabulary and images"? Verbal time consists of rhythm, pace, repetitions, onomatopoeia, the clustering of words, the blending of syntax, and even silences. Imagine a study of Petersburg, the novel of Petersburg modernity, that would ignore the rhythm of Bely's sentences. (9) I am therefore inclined to reproach the author not for the mixture of texts of different status but rather for the little attention he pays to the analysis of his sources, both boulevard papers and novels.

Steinberg defends his method by saying that it should "enable the reader to hear not only my voice, but the many untidy fragments, splinters, and dissonant tones in urban writing" (8). The objective is legitimate and is the principle that lies at the basis of anthologies. In Petersburg Fin de Siecle this method proves to be doubly frustrating, however. For one thing, the book is not an anthology, and thus the method is not appropriate. For another, the failure to provide the reader with larger segments of the original texts weakens the authority of the author's voice. His hypotheses, both pertinent and innovative, should be articulated with force and defended with conviction. Instead they are hidden away in the midst of "untidy fragments."

To illustrate the attendant problems, let us take the chapter "Streets." (10) Following a Begriffsgeschichte approach, Steinberg abounds in references to Western theories concerning urban space, ones often produced much later than the fin de siecle. Yet these very notions--"seeing 'the street,'" "street spectacle"--nave written history within Russian culture. Steinberg mentions them in the first chapter; he even insists on the precocious modernity of the Petersburg texts of the 1840s, marked, as he writes, by "unresolved tension, ambiguity, and instability." However, he neither defends nor develops his own idea, yielding to the authority of V. N. Toporov's cliched "antinomic unity" (21). (11) The idea of a rich sediment of Petersburg ambiguous modernity is forgotten, superseded by name-dropping of "comparative and theoretical writing on modern history" of the late 20th century "in order to highlight themes already visible in everyday Petersburg street texts" (82). But when Steinberg comes to interpret the melancholic spirit of the tabloid Gazetakopeika in light of theories proffered by Sartre, Kristeva, Freud, Levinas, Heidegger, Ngai, Nietzsche, and Benjamin combined--and summarized in less than a page (240-41)--one wonders if the method of "fragments" might not result in arbitrary associations and over-interpretation.

To be sure, one can argue that Russian 19th-century thought evolved more by way of literature than by way of philosophy, that the social sciences were in an embryonic state, and that conceptualization of social phenomena lagged behind. If this was indeed the case, then it is necessary to make it explicit. But would it not be more judicious to begin by looking more closely at the original Russian texts and clarifying their intellectual genealogy? While Dmitrii Merezhkovskii is often cited, his crucial 1893 text that heralded the birth of Russian decadence, the Causes of the Decline and on the New Tendencies in Contemporary Russian Literature" is not--unless I am mistaken. Merezhkovskii's article "Mystic Hooligans" is interpreted as a campaign against the "amoral egotism" of his time (177), even though it is basically a polemic against Dmitrii Pisarev's materialista and the nihilists of the 1860s (a point that is interesting in light of the resurfacing of the ideology of "material culture," which Steinberg discusses on 204). Doesn't this somehow neglected manner of treating Russian culture in its historical depth, while relying essentially on Western, often anachronistic references, run the risk of bringing about cultural hybrids, similar to the navodel (new historical buildings) of today's Russian cities, in which the flamboyant "neoRussian" style is recreated at a height of 15 stories, enhanced by imported aluminum and smoked glass?

In the book's most accomplished chapter, "Melancholy," Steinberg takes up "the theory of emotions," a trendy current in historical studies. It is a judicious choice, one that corresponds to the testimonies of Petersburg inhabitants of those days, who were conscious of living in "an unprecedented era of emotions" (237). This theoretical perspective brings to light a larger problem: the epistemological limits of the study of emotions or, more broadly, the problem of the autonomy of cultural history. To state the matter directly, is it possible to place oneself under Walter Benjamin's aegis, as Steinberg does, using him as a guide in deciphering urban modernity, while ignoring the political imperative--the aspiration to reveal with uncompromising lucidity the forces underlying ideological, aesthetic, and other intellectual systems-that is put explicitly at the core of that philosopher's project? Does this not violate Benjamin's thought? Is this not what Benjamin would call, following the Marxist tradition, "commodity fetishism"?

In contrast to Steinberg, I do not consider as political an exercise that consists in placing different Russian parties on a scale that runs from "optimista" to "pessimism" in order to measure their respective impacts on the march of history ("Political Optimism," 208-11). As far as autocratic power is concerned, neither Nicholas II nor Alexandra Fedorovna is mentioned (although Steinberg knows the subject perfectly well). As Richard Wortman has shown in his now classic work, the Romanovs continued to exert significant pressure on codes of conduct and on the semantics of emotions, especially in the court city of Petersburg. They were exposed to urban modernity no less brutally than other segments of Petersburg society. The move of the imperial couple to Tsarskoe Selo in 1904, their loudly voiced aversion to contemporary Petersburg, their unconventional friendships cultivated in the isolation of the retreat--all this only reinforced, in a perverse manner, the play of mirrors between Tsarskoe Selo and the capital.

Steinberg affords the revolution of 1905 more careful treatment, although he fails to state clearly that the upheaval brought the State Duma and important civil rights to the grand majority of His Majesty's subjects. To exercise these rights proved anything but simple, as they would frequently be trampled underfoot. But under no circumstances can one maintain that "there was the politically unmentionable elephant in the room: the ineffective, archaic, and oppressive persistence of autocracy" (269). Whatever the "room" stands for, the "elephant" was mentionable and was indeed mentioned frequently. The corruption of high society, the spinelessness of the emperor, and the depravity of Rasputin became first the talk of the salons, the ministerial halls, and the public at large, and then ended up being denounced from the tribune of the Duma and in the press.

In "Tragic Erotica" Images of the Imperial Family during World War I, Boris Kolonitskii casts the question of emotions in a different light: "The language of the monarchy had long been emotionally saturated, and the normative requirements of monarchical rhetoric presuppose the use of a language of love and happiness." (12) The matrix of this rhetoric had molded elites as well as the people, rural people as much as urbanites. Its impact was both reinforced during the "unprecedented era of emotions" and pulverized by the adverse examples coming from the throne, as attested by Kolonitskii's study of the diffusion of images of imperial debauchery. Therefore it seems strange to see Steinberg raise the issues of gender disorder, homosexuality, a "cult of debauchery," and a pervading sense of decadency and degeneracy (108, 161-62) without pausing over Her Majesty's example in Tsarskoe Selo. It seems equally artificial to highlight the theme of the mask and disguise without dwelling on the Azef affair that was instrumental in revealing the duplicity of the autocratic policy and Stolypin's police. Alas, Azef is mentioned only once, and only indirectly, in connection with Frederick Cook, the great explorer of the North Pole.

The absence of the kind of political thinking that one would expect from someone drawing on Benjamin is even more striking with respect to the city. "As the largest and most enduring creation of human imagination, will, and work, the city has long stood as a potent symbol of human capacities," we read in the introduction. "The metropolis has long been seen in western culture as a contradictory expression of human achievement (or hubris) and human inadequacy" (6). The Greek polis and the Roman city--these communities of free and independent citizens, actors of political life--are not even mentioned, nor is the legacy of these institutions in European political culture and its struggle for liberty. There is not one word here about the buildings and public spaces, the architectural markers of the free polis, whose usage was hardly limited to free transit, as the author says, but above all sustained the right to assemble (granted to Russian cities only in 1906) and to exchange opinions: the agora, the forum and--to make a long story short-12 Offentlichkeit, or indeed burgerliche Offentlichkeit, which Vissarion Belinskii translated as publichnost' in his 1848 essay, designating it a characteristic feature of Petersburg life.

Yet in the 19th century, the Russian city was still considered, except by a few liberals, an appendix to the rural world. Two opposing camps--official ideologues of autocracy and narodniki, or partisans of "peasant socialism"--in unison condemned the bourgeois city and the political liberties that it nourished and denounced urban industrialization. Without taking into account this substratum of Russian urban history and of anti-urban thought, one cannot but puzzle over why the first social historian of Russian culture, Pavel Miliukov, deals with the city only in the second volume of his Notes on the History of Russian Culture, which focused on "material culture." Nor can one understand why, after having briefly presented the arguments of the so-called "State" school, which denied to the Russian cities any historical role, Miliukov concludes on an optimistic note about the future of the Russian "third estate." In "our third estate," Miliukov remarks, "one notices the rise of the same forces that have built up the cultural life of contemporary Europe: the force of capital and the force of knowledge." (13) This is Miliukov's interpretation of the idea that Francois Guizot had developed in his History of Civilization in Europe 66 years earlier. According to the French historian, the progress of European civilization had followed the thread of the struggle for two freedoms, intellectual and political, both having the city as their hearth; this struggle culminated in the bourgeois liberties won by the revolution of 1789. (14) In Miliukov's rendition, the argument pleads for the leading role that the Russian cities and urban classes should play from now on in the advance of civilization, leaving behind the landholding segments of the country (what Russian authors called zemlevladel'cheskaia Rossiia). It is precisely because the fusion of "the forces of capital" and "the forces of knowledge" had occurred so late as compared to Western countries that Russian modernity was so much more violent, as Mark Steinberg rightly remarks.

Miliukov defines urban modernity in sociological and historical terms. Modernity is also about the arrival of merchants and the bourgeoisie into the realm of culture; modernization is also about the claims of democratic urban self-government. The history of urban self-government (gorodskoe samoupravlenie) was not the favorite topic of Soviet historians. In recent decades, this field has been explored in an exemplary manner by V. A. Nardova, for Petersburg, and by L. F. Pisar'kova, for Moscow. (15) The rise of the bourgeoisie at the turn of the century, the demographic and economic rise of cities, and the liberalization of exchange with foreign countries stimulated the explosion of scientific thought. Knowledge, the university, and the figure of the rebellious student stand at the heart of modernity. If European historiography abundantly highlights the tumultuous cohabitation of the urban bourgeoisie with the university, one cannot say the same for the historiography of Russian cities. This gap has been filled by The University and the City in Russia, a volume published by the Russo-German team of Trude Maurer and Aleksandr Dmitriev. (16) They approach the issue of democratization of urban self-government through the lens of sily znaniia, to repeat Miliukov's term--in other words, of academic community. Two rich introductory articles are followed by four equally interesting contributions, dedicated respectively to Petersburg (E. Rostovtsev), Moscow (D. Tsygankov), Kazan (I. Giliazov), and Tartu (S. Tamul).

But if a comparison of municipal life in the two capitals definitely gives the advantage to Moscow, it is still Petersburg that occupies center stage. It is here that the central bureaucracy, exasperated by the decay of the city and the bad management of the city duma, imposed a reform of the urban statute in 1903. The essential, and most controversial, point in the reform was the granting of the right to vote to educated city dwellers who did not own real estate (kvartironanimateli). The reform's long gestation--it had been debated since 1860--was followed attentively by the Petersburg press. What was at stake was nothing less than the political ascent of the new bourgeoisie. Two years later, in the midst of revolution, Max Weber would consider the latter's conquest of political rights to be a sine qua non condition of the empire's successful modernization, which was otherwise doomed to fail under the pressure of the imperial bureaucracy and rural forces. (17)

To write, as Steinberg does, that "twentieth-century city administrators sought to bring rational order to the management of the capital" (17) reflects a misunderstanding. Instead, the opposite is true: too close to the central bureaucracy, the St. Petersburg duma was notorious for its corruption and corporatism, which made it the protector of rich merchants at the expense of the public interest, and for its deputies' low levels of education. One has only to read the memoirs of Count Ivan I. Tolstoi, mayor of the capital beginning in 1913 (and a great figure rehabilitated by Boris Anan'ich), to be convinced how unsuitable the word "rational" is here. (18) Had Steinberg taken an interest in the political stakes of Petersburg's modernization, he would also have been less inclined to characterize the journal Gorodskoe delo misleadingly as an organ of the aforementioned urban duma. The journal was indeed launched by two municipal deputies, but both of them were elected on the list of the Societies of Petersburg City Dwellers and Voters (Obshchestvo obyvatelei i izbiratelei), founded in opposition to the city elected administration in 1907 and immediately dissolved by Stolypin. (19) Steinberg cites the articles of the two editors among many other sources on urban modernity, but his exposition would have been more insightful had he specified that they conceived Gorodskoe delo as a spearhead in the struggle for the emancipation of the cities, for the extension of townspeople's voting rights, and for an increase of urban dumas' power.

Steinberg's book is an important contribution to Russian history. No doubt, its innovative hypotheses and approaches will invigorate and enrich urban studies. He has introduced into the historical literature a vast corpus of texts that will surely be explored and compared to the "urban texts" produced by other cities. In regard to modernity, however, I would say that Nietzsche's beautiful quotation, used as an epigraph to one of the chapters of his book, has not been adequately explored: "It is precisely in times of exhaustion that tragedy runs through houses and streets, that great love and great hatred are born, that the flame of knowledge flares up to the sky" (157). Steinberg's work goes no further than diagnosing the "exhaustion," even though there is, in Nietzsche's text, an invitation to follow the research up toward a higher ambition. As I see it, lumbering attempts to separate "pessimistic" modernity from "optimistic" modernity, as if one of them contained the secret to the "right" course of history, simply misses the point, as does criticism directed at Russian writers for their "failure to glorify the city" (33). The dialectic taught by the very masters that Steinberg invokes is a long way from such an oversimplified vision. Steinberg's diligence in citing the big-name writers and their Geflugelte Worte will never replace curiosity and intellectual freedom in reading the original texts, qualities that the author has fully displayed in his audacious choice of subject and method. Because Europe serves as a normative frame here, it would not have been superfluous to note that Europe is composed of numerous cultures and a multitude of cities, many of which have experienced the same disconcerting mixture of backwardness (meaning a weak national bourgeoisie and a strong feudal hinterland) and modernity as Russian cities have. Between 1860 and 1914, these various European cultures produced a rich literature--fictional, poetic, analytic, polemical, philosophical--dedicated to the city. To compare only the comparable--namely, urban modernity in the field of literature and journalism--let us note that, for all of Europe outside Russia, Steinberg cites only three names: Baudelaire, Poe, and Verhaeren. That is not a lot. But maybe, after all, this famous European "fin de siecle" never existed? Maybe, in fact, it was only a mask, a deception, an obman?

Translated by Emiliana Kissova


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UMR 8547 Transferts culturels

(1) James H. Bater, St. Petersburg: Industrialization and Change (London: Edward Arnold, 1976); Karl Schlogel, Jenseits des grossen Oktober: Das Laboratorium des Moderne, Petersburg 1909-1921 (Berlin: Siedler, 1988); Katerina Clark, Petersburg, Crucible of Cultural Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).

(2) Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York: Vintage, 1981).

(3) Mark D. Steinberg and Boris Kolonitskii, eds., Kul'tury gorodov Rossiiskoi imperii na rubezhe XIX-XX vekov (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii dom, 2009).

(4) The brilliant Ley Shestov, for example, is cited only in the book's last pages.

(5) Jacques Le Goff, Histoire et memoire (Paris: Gallimard, 1988).

(6) Let me express here my gratitude to Michael Holquist and his brilliant seminar on Russian Literary Criticism of the 19th Century that I was lucky to attend at Yale University, 1971-72. The above remarks are very much inspired by his teaching.

(7) Andrei Belyi, Na rubezhe dvukh stoletii [1931] (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1989), 37.

(8) Mark Steinberg pinpoints the problem by speaking of the "democratization of modern melancholy" (242).

(9) See Georges Nivat, "Le 'jeu cerebral,' etude sur 'Petersbourg,'" in Andrei Biely, Petersbourg (Lausanne: L'Age d'homme, 1967). One should also consult Donald Fanger, Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism: A Study of Dostoevsky in Relation to Balzac, Dickens, and Gogol (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), a fundamental contribution to the study of the "urban prose" of the first half of the 19th century.

(10) The author blurs the distinction between "square" and "street." These are, however, two different urban spaces, not only because of their architectural form but also because of their urban functions. The agora and the Roman forum were squares.

(11) Steinberg refers to V. N. Toporov, Peterburgskii tekst russkoi literatury: Izbrannye trudy (St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo-SPb, 2003).

(12) Boris Kolonitskii, "Tragicheskaia erotika": Obrazy imperatorskoi sem 'i v gody Pervoi mirovoi voiny (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2010), 11.

(13) P. N. Miliukov, Ocherki po istorii russkoi kul'tury (Moscow, 1896), 4th ed. (St. Petersburg: Mir bozhii, 1900), 1:202.

(14) See Wladimir Berelowitch, "Villes libres et franchises urbaines dans l'historiographie russe du XIXe et du debut du XXe siecle: Les references occidentales," Cahiers du monde russe 51, 4 (2010): 629-52.

(15) V. A. Nardova, Samoderzhavie i gorodskie dumy v Rossii v kontse XIX-nachale XX veka (St. Petersburg: Nauka, 1994); B. B. Dubentsov, V. A. Nardova, et al., eds., Peterburgskaia gorodskaia duma, 1846-1918 (St. Petersburg: Liki Rossii, 2005); L. F. Pisar'kova, Moskovskaia gorodskaia duma, 1863-1917 (Moscow: Mosgorarkhiv, 1998).

(16) Aleksandr Dmitriev and Trude Maurer, eds., Universitet i gorod v Rossii: Nachalo XX veka (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2009). The book contains a rich bibliography on the Russian university: its history, sociology, and policies, on the one hand, and urban affairs, on the other.

(17) Max Weber, Zur Russische Revolution von 1905: Schriften und Reden 1905-1912, Gesamtausgabe, Abt.I/10, ed. Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Dittmar Dahlmann (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1989).

(18) Boris Anan'ich, I. I. Tolstoi i peterburgskoe obshchestvo nakanune revoliutsii (St. Petersburg: Liki Rossii, 2007); I. I. Tolstoi, Dnevnik, 1906-1916 (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii dom, 1997).

(19) See A. S. Sukhorukova, "Gorozhanie, gorodskaia duma i pravitel'stvo," in Peterburgskaia gorodskaia duma; and V. A. Nardova, "Ley Aleksandrovich Velikhov i reforma gorodskogo obshchestvennogo upravleniia, 1907-1916 gg.," in Vlast', obshchestvo i reformy v Rossii: Istoriia, uchastniki i istoriografiia (St. Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriia, 2009), 165-78.
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Title Annotation:Petersburg Fin de Siecle
Author:Berard, Ewa
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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