Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0006057, Fri, 6 Jul 2001 14:20:58 -0700

NAbokov Museum and others in St. Petersburg - #674, Friday,
June 1, 2001]]

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Subject: [Fwd: Article - #674, Friday, June 1, 2001]
Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 14:18:15 -0700
From: "D. Barton Johnson" <chtodel@gte.net>
Organization: International Nabokov Society
To: lnabokv-l@listserv.ucsb.edu>

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[The St.Petersburg Times - the English-language newspaper of St. Petersburg, Russia.]Inside Private Lives
of Writersby Simon Patterson
Photo by Alexander Belenky / SPT

In such a writers' and poets' city as St. Petersburg, it is
well worth checking out the literary museums which stand apart
from the hundreds of others. The city boasts no fewer than seven
"apartment museums" of famous authors, from Alexander Pushkin to
Vladimir Nabokov.

Most visited of all is probably the Pushkin Museum at Moika 12, but
unfortunately the atmosphere of reverence means you get little feeling
that someone actually lived there. While the writer died in the
apartment in 1837, the museum was opened almost 90 years later, in 1925,
and the apartment was reconstructed according to contemporary notes and
recollections. Pushkin actually only lived here for five months, moving
in on Sept. 12 1836. The highlight of the museum is probably the
impressive library, extending to the ceiling and surrounding the walls -
Pushkin owned over 4,000 books in 14 differrent languages.

12 Nab. Moiki, 312-19-62. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., apart from
Tuesday and the last Friday of the month.

The Dostoyevsky Museum at Kuznechny Pereulok 5 is merely one of the many
residences of the writer, as he lived at over 20 different apartments in
the city. Strangely enough, Dostoyevsky lived in this apartment twice,
in 1846, and from 1878 to his death in 1881. The area where he lived is
what we think of today as being the "Dostoyeskian" part of St.
Petersburg, with the action of Crime and Punishment taking place firmly
in the neighborhood in which he lived. The Kuznechny Pereulok apartment
was his last dwelling in the city, with his study apparently the way he
left it, and a room with a range of glass-case exhibits detailing his
works in pictures and documents. A walk around Sennaya Ploshchad, still
as much a magnet for derelicts that it was in Dostoyevsky's time, will
probably give you more of a feeling of the milieu of the writer than a
visit to his old apartment.

5/2 Kuznechny Pereulok, 311-40-31. Open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Tuesday
to Sunday.

A definitely Soviet feel remains in the Alexander Blok Museum at Ulitsa
Dekabristov, where the writer lived from 1912 to 1921. There is a large,
Soviet propaganda-style display devoted to the writer's narrative poem
"The Twelve" that deals with the revolution. There is, however, an
interesting display of his manuscripts, showing how he constantly
rewrote and revised the three books of verse that are his crowning
achievement. Ironically enough, the museum itself may now seem more
archaic than the poetry it celebrates.

57 Ulitsa Dekabristov, 113-86-16. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed
Wednesday and last Tuesday of the month.

The Anna Akhmatova Museum is probably the highlight of the literary
museums, with truly engrossing exhibits, including the arrest order for
Mandelshtam and a gulag edition of the great poet's works made by
prisoners from bark and charcoal. The museum also frequently hosts
exhibits, with a display of photographs from the '30s and '40s by Soviet
writer and publicist Ilya Ehrenburg.

34 Nab. Fontanki, 272-22-11. Open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Closed Mondays
and last Wednesday of the month.

The far more modest quarters of Mikhail Zoshchenko on Malaya Ko nyus
hennaya make an interesting contrast, with a small two-room apartment,
one room of which has been done up as an exhibition hall of his works.
The miserable conditions in which the writer lived make it difficult to
believe he was once one of the most celebrated Soviet writers. After the
attack on him and Anna Akhmatova in 1946 by party functionary Andrei
Zhdanov, he was no longer able to publish original work, and lived an
increasingly straitened existence until his death in 1958.

4/2 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa, 311-78-19. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. to
6:30 a.m. Closed Mondays and last Wednesday of the month.

The Nabokov Museum is obviously limited by the fact that the property
was confiscated by the state immediately after the revolution, and thus
nothing remains of the writer's possessions. The museum director, Dmitry
Milkov, states that he has decided to take a different approach to the
concept of literary museum, preferring it to be a venue for
Nabokov-related or inspired cultural activities. See the article on the
Apertif club on page vii for more on what the museum has been up to

47 Bolshaya Morskaya, 315-47-13. Daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays
and Tuesdays.