1. The Admiralty &
Alexander Gardens

Fountain at Alexander Gardens

Questions to consider:

Baedeker and Keller offer descriptions almost identical in both content and organization. But how do they differ in their representation of the Admiralty, a site of foreign military power?

Both guidebooks refer to Nikolai Gogol as a “poet” – how can we interpret this overlooking of Gogol’s place in Russian literature as a prose writer? Is Gogol’s position lost for the tourist when his bust is juxtaposed in the text with the statues of two famous Russian poets, Zhukovskii and Lermontov? Is this misnomer also a gesture of appropriation on the traveler’s part?

Nikolai Gogol’s novel Dead Souls (published in 1842) was indeed subtitled “poema” and Gogol referred to it as a “lofty poetic creation in prose.” But even if for Gogol his work escaped generic confines, it is nevertheless regarded as Russia’s first major novelistic creation. The novel follows the adventures of Pavel Chichikov as he tours the Russian countryside and visits a peculiar set of landowners, offering to buy serfs who have died since the last census. As the scholar Donald Fanger has shown, the text is organized and dominated by the road. It opens with an arrival and ends with a departure. Along the road, the text affords views of Russian landscapes, people and places. In this sense, it is a novel about domestic travel and travel encounters.

Keller misnames “Dvortsovy” Square by omitting its feminine ending whereas Baedeker gives its accurate name “Dvortzovaya.” Is this omission unintentional or also a mode of making familiar the otherwise strange name (and concept of grammatical gender)?

In a Gogolian gesture, Baedeker focuses on exact dimensions: size, height, width, and length, and gives precise figures for the Admiralty’s properties. In this way he emphasizes the tourist’s perception of the building’s grand scale and lavish decoration. Hence, the Admiralty becomes a sight, a tourist attraction rather than a seat of naval and administrative power.

Postcard Gallery

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Women Bearing Globes


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The Bronze Horseman