Sunday, January 30, 2011


Reading the introduction to a mid-19th century collection of essays meant to characterize the city of Saint Petersburg (this is my life), I found this commentary on the superiority of show versus tell in the literary mode:

Furthermore, Mr. Bashchurtsky's book had as its primary goal to describe Petersburg, not to characterize the city.  Indeed, its tone was more official than literary.  By contrast, the content of our book seeks not to describe Petersburg but primarily to characterize its mores and the distinguishing features of its population.

And, as a very funny (and dry) sidenote,

To expound at length on this work [Moscow and Muscovites, by a Mr. Zagoskin] is inappropriate.  Let us only say that despite all its merits, ones that fully justify the fame enjoyed by its writer, the work has a glaring deficiency;  that is, it describes neither Moscow nor Muscovites.

Oh, snap.

Thank you, Russian literature, for always having my back.

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