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.
Click titles to view postcards
The Main Map
The Bronze Horseman
The Admiralty, on the left bank of the Neva, lies to the W. of the Dvortzovaya Square, to the N. of the Alexander garden, and to the E. of Peter Square. It was founded by Peter the Great in 1705, and re-erected in 1806-23 after the plans of A. Sakharov (d. 1811). The extensive building consists of a central block, 458 yds. long, and two wings, turned towards the Neva and each 196 yds long. The space between the wings has been filled up since 1871 by other buildings ... , so that the ends of the wings are the only part of the Admiralty visible from the river side. The entrance is in the centre of the façade towards the Alexander garden; to the right and left are groups (by Th. Shtchedrin) of three female figures bearing the terrestrial globe. The attic contains a relief by A. I. Terebenev (Foundation of the Russian Navy), and at each of the four corners is a figure of a seated warrior, by Shtchedrin. Over the gateway rises the Admiralty Tower, 230 ft. high, ending in a tapering gilded spire, and surmounted by a weather-vane in the form of a crown and ship. The lower part of the tower is adorned with 28 pillars and 28 statues. The extensive inner rooms contain the Board of Admiralty, a library, and (on the first floor) the – Marine Museum ...
In front of the Admiralty, on the N., are two bronze Statues of Peter the Great, by Bernstamm (1909). In one he is represented as building a boat, in the other as saving drowning men.
To the S. of the Admiralty is the Alexander Garden, with a fountain, near the Gorokhovaya, and several bronze busts. To the E. are the poets Zhukovski (1783-1852) and Lermontov (1814-41), and the composer Glinka (1804-57); to the W., the poet [sic] Gogol (1809-52) and the Asiatic traveller Przhevalski (1839-88).
The Admiralty (Glavnoe Admiralteistvo), on the left bank of the Neva, is bounded by the Dvortsovy Square [sic], the Alexander Gardens and by the Peter or Senate Square. It was founded by Peter in 1705 and later rebuilt in stone. The massive buildings consist of a main building and two wings. The space on the Neva is filled up by new buildings ... so that only the narrow ends of the wings are visible from the quay. The yellow gable towards the Alexander Grardens, is divided up by columns and with a cornice of fine reliefs (angels bearing ensigns towards the Neva; Peter the Great receiving the trident from Neptune). At the entrance gate are the figures of three women bearing the globe. Over this gate is the tower, with its Golden spire, which was built in 1735 by the Empress Anna. It has 28 columns and as many Statues round it and is 240 ft. high. At the top of the spire is a crown and ship as weathercock. The spacious interior of these buildings contain the Marine Ministry, a Library, and in the first story the Marine (Morskoy) Museum. The entrance is the first gate to the left of the main gate, opposite the Alexander Gardens...
To the north of the Admiralty are two bronze monuments of Peter the Great built by Bernstamm. One is of Peter making a boat, the other of Peter saving the Drowning at Lake Ladoga.
To the south of the Admiralty lies the Alexander Garden with a fountain and several Busts in bronze: on the east, the poet’s Zhukovsky (1783-1852) and Lermontov (1814-1841) and also the composer Glinka (1804-1857); on the west, the poet [sic] Gogol (1809-1852) and the Asiatic Explorer Przhevalsky (1839-1888).