32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2009
For 30 years I've proselytized this book, but converted not a single person. In my opinion this is consistently the greatest work of art ever created, greater than 'Tristan and Isolde', 'Ulysses', 'Moby-Dick', 'The Idiot', 'Hamlet', or any of those other works of genius which find profound patterns of beauty in extremes of human chaos. This plunges deeper into the chaos and brings up stranger, wilder, more intimate forms of beauty than any of them, and then weaves them into a more coherent whole. I suppose most people can't get past the narrator being an unreliable, disturbingly schizophrenic prat, out-Gogoling Gogol; but this is a joyful, wonderfully funny subversion of all our comfort zones. Oh well.
Malmstad and Maguire's translation is the one to get, not McDuff's turgid effort.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2010
I had not of heard of Andrei Bely until some weeks ago when researching Robert Musil the author of The Man Without Qualities and The Confusions of Young Torless I came across a reviewer who averred that great as Musil was Bely was the one who should be up there with Proust and Joyce as an innovator of Modernism.Such a claim could only be responded to by sending for his novel Petersburg. And I am glad I did.It is an entirely different book from any other book written by a Russian yet is most definitely about Russia and more specifically St Petersburg 1905 with Pushkin's Bronze Horseman supplying the chapter heading rubrics.It is definitely Modern, demands the readers full attention and makes no concessions yet is very entertaining and in in its way enthralling but I will have to read it again.I read it without recourse to the background information the translators provide.I therefore missed a lot of the books import.It is a book that should be on the shelf of anyone who enjoys Modern literature along with Proust, Joyce and Musil.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2013
I began reading this having just returned from my first and long anticipated trip to st petersburg and the style of the book is decidedly off-beat, a bit james joyce a bit laurence sterne but the cumulative effect is actually quite absorbing in its recreation of a city and its atmosphere
4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2011
I have found this book almost unreadable, but I am intrigued to know if it is untranslatable or if there is a better translation somewhere. Maybe I am losing the ability to concentrate on difficult works but it seems to me that either you read this in Russian or you forget about it.