Trams on Znamenskaya Square in front of Nikolaevsky Station.
Photograph from the top of the station building, looking back down Nevsky.
Having completed its journey through the bustle of Nevsky Prospect, the tram reaches Nikolaevsky Station. This is the terminus for railway journeys to Moscow. Anna Karenina’s intensely charged night-train journey ends here, returning her to Petersburg and – she hopes in vain – to her old life, after the disquieting encounter with Count Vronsky in Moscow.
Here, then, we may escape into the terrain of the novel. Anna Karenina is, famously, a novel patterned by the work of motifs, foremost amongst which is, of course, the railroad.
The tram too moves through the city organizing its space in the same way as a work of literature may be patterned by motifs.
On its route signboards, its own outwardly visible texts, the tram plucks names and locations out of the continuity of the city, endowing them with a heightened significance as stops along the route. These names potentially acquire a greater degree of familiarity as locations within the city.
For the travelers of the city streets and the readers of its urban text of everyday life, they provide a shorthand way of navigating the route’s narrative, highlighting the central details around which the rest of the story is constructed.