“Demon of Space”: Poe in St. Petersburg
“‘Demon of Space’: Poe in St. Petersburg,” by Alexandra Urakova, focuses on one of Poe’s imaginary destinations—St. Petersburg, Russia. The first part of the essay describes the growth and the persistence of the autobiographical myth in the USA, France, and particularly in Russia from the early biographical records in mid-nineteenth-century magazines to the Soviet time. It argues, in particular, that Poe’s Russian adepts almost tangibly felt Poe’s “ghostly” presence in St. Petersburg while the story of his alleged visit to the Russian capital circulated as both a legend and fictional plot. The second part highlights typological parallels and affinities between Poe and his kin spirits and literary doubles, Gogol and Dostoevsky. Comparative reading of “The Man of the Crowd,” “Nevsky Prospect,” and “The Landlady” reveals that Poe’s imaginary London bears an uncanny resemblance to the St. Petersburg that we find in Gogol’s and Dostoevsky’s texts.