Andrei Bely’s Petersburg

Andrei Bely's Petersburg, excerpt
     

n Andrei Bely's modernist masterpiece Petersburg, of which the first edition was published in 1913, the bridge figures as a symbol of civilization unfurled across the primordial chaos of Petersburg’s misty and swampy topography. In the above passage, the author deploys a foreboding metaphor by which Troitsky Most, although only a feature of urban architecture by day, acquires a sinister, snake-like significance by night, when its coils of noctilucent electric lights unfold, race forward in a fiery spurt, plunge downward and then, as a crescendo, seem to risе toward the heavens like celestial chords of stars once reflected in the Neva’s murky waters. This whole serpentine spectacle enthralls one of the novel’s principle personages, Nikolay Apollonovich.

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