Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. German and Russian Dept.


Sheila M. McCarthy

Second Advisor

Julie Kay Mueller


This study examines the evolution of the literary myth of St. Petersburg from 1904 to 1917, concentrating on how three artists, the poets Anna Akhrnatova and Alexander Blok and the symbolist novelist Andrey Bely, brought the Petersburg myth, a literary phenomenon firmly rooted in the nineteenth century, into the swirling, fragmented subjectivity of twentieth century modernism. My thesis contends that as the myth advanced from nineteenth century "realism" into the more personal, subjective art of the twentieth century, these writers employed Petersburg imagery as a poetic device to refract cognitive, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Hence, the city in Petersburg, Bely's great urban novel, becomes a symbolic vehicle through which to convey the spiritual vacillations of the book's main characters. while the architecture and objects appearing in Akhmatova's cityscape serve to gauge the emotions of her poetic heroines. In Blok's poetry, a tavern is not just a tavern. but often an embodiment of the poem's narrator himself.


Literary myth, St. Petersburg, Anna Akhrnatova, Alexander Blok, Andrey Bely, Russian Literature


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