Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In the fourteen chapters of My St. Petersburg: A Reminiscence of Childhood, the last being a brief epilogue, E. M. Almedingen discusses the founding and early history of St. Petersburg: the beautiful parks, bridges, and buildings; the slums; the lavish stores and colorful markets; the seasons and harsh weather; and some of the people, both important and simple, of the cosmopolitan capital. Although the incidents are not arranged in chronological order, the book starts with historical background and ends with the first riots of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Throughout the book, the city is seen through the eyes of the author as a child, either directly from her observation or in her memories of what she has been told or has read.

Almedingen was in a peculiarly fortunate situation to observe the great variety of the city. The youngest in a large, upper-class family, she was taken by her mother when her parents separated and lived virtually as an only child. Because her father, whom she never knew, provided no financial support, her mother gave English lessons all day, and they lived in comparative poverty. On both sides of the family, however, she had wealthy and important relatives who occasionally remembered them and invited her to parties, where she met the poet Alexander Blok, Count Leo Tolstoy (the novelist’s son), Madame Dostoevski, and other literary and artistic figures. Occasionally, cousins or aunts took her shopping at grand stores, to...

(The entire section is 402 words.)