The Greatest City You’ve Never Seen
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  • thibaud

    The Hermitage comprises one of the greatest art collections in the world in the most spectacular setting of any art museum. It includes what is probably the greatest oil painting ever: Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son.”

  • Rusky

    WRM, another visit to the ‘burg in January would perhaps round off your opinion. Its been ten years since I’ve been there, but I was amused at the influence of the mafia in that city… they were essentially sentinels of the subway. Also, thank you for keeping up on the content during the trip – I for one truly appreciate it.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I still hope to go to St. Petersburg. Here a couple of movies related to the city that are well worth watching

    “Russian Ark”
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318034/

    A trip through the Hermitage and Russian History — A bit “tripy” but extremely worthwhile.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090319/
    “White Nights (1985)”

    Starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines in a cold war thriller. Great dance scenes too.

  • Gary L

    I’ve never been, but the missus & I are planning a visit to St. P & Mosocw next year. WRM, are you familiar with Andrei Bely’s 1913 novel Petersburg? Joyce once boasted that if Dublin were to be destroyed, it could be rebuilt simply by consulting Ulysses, and Bely might have made a similar boast about Petersburg on behalf of his novel. Vladimir Nabokov ranked it with Ulysses, Kafka’s Metamorphoses, and Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu as the greatest masterpieces of 20th Century prose – but none of those other works feature a ticking time-bomb at the narrative climax. I just checked Amazon, and the excellent translation by Robert Maguire & John Malmstead is available on Kindle.

  • Thanks for a very warm and moving account of what is – by everything I’ve read and heard – a truly great city. And also for a reminder that goes clean against the grain of today’s fashionable Russophobia (though is it just me, or does every Age have its own fashionable Russophobia? And, most recently, one promising to ensure the most “Westernized” Moscow that money can bribe?). In other words, even those barbarous Russians can do something really excellent every now and then. Though frankly it does often seem to me, on balance, that those rulers most aggressively bent on “Westernizing” and “modernizing” Russia – Peter, Catherine, Lenin, Yeltsin – only succeeded in further barbarizing both elites and masses.

    And of course to every Age its own excellence. Besides which, who’s to say our own contemporary definition isn’t vastly superior to that of every preceding era?

    So no doubt it’s just the irrational imp in me – or the curmudgeonly reactionary – that’s waiting to hear of those human gods, the Germans and the Chinese, producing something as retrograde as a Gogol, or Dostoevsky, or Chekhov. Or Solzhenitsyn.

  • rkka

    What staggers is the contrast with the skies there. Striking. Unforgettable.

  • Yisroel Markov

    As one born and raised in St. Petersburg, I thank you for this tribute. The beauty of that city was one of the few things that made life in the USSR a bit less bleak.

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