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This report is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

Leningrad Letter Michael Molnar
The myths of Petersburg are not a literary product alone; they are a living tradition. What equivalent could be imagined in an English context? De Quincey's London become the backcloth of a soap opera? In April 1983 'Tradition and Culture' was the theme of a symposium held by a group of Leningrad writers known as Club 81. The poet Krivulin gave a talk on 'City folklore'. The jazz musician Kuryokhin tried to apply Saussurean linguistics to musical composition. The ex-physicist Kushev, armed with a plan of the Ekaterinskii kanal area where the critical moments of Crime and Punishment occur, attempted to demonstrate that the movements of characters in the novel corresponded to laws governing the motion of sub-atomic particles. . . . Meanwhile, somewhere in the United States, the émigré Leningrad poet K.K.K. (Konstantin Konstantinovich Kuz'minskii) continues work on his monumentally chaotic compilation of unofficial Russian culture, The Blue Lagoon Anthology of Modern Russian Poetry, in which these and dozens of other writers and artists stew in a gamey ragout of gossip, slander, anecdote and reminiscence. Incidentally, for Andrei Belyi, Muscovite author of the paranoid masterpiece Petersburg (and my patron in that city since it was to research his archives that I had been granted a scholarship there), according to the mystical linguistics of his 'Glossaloliya' (sic) the sound /k/ is sinister and represents stifling, death, coldness, murder, stone, crystal, quartz, and the skeleton. . . .

If this flight of ideas seems delirious, that is because of its ...

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