PETER'S BURGH AND STALIN'S CITY
THE RUSSIAN Revolution differed from the English in that it was not a revolution of the city, but a revolution within the city, such as the French had been. And it, too, has changed the world; in fact, it is still busily doing so. No other cities have made as much history as those in the vast land between the Baltic Sea and Bering Strait. Two of these cities were named for outstanding men, though not by their proper names, Ulyanov and Dzhugashvili, but by their pseudonyms, Lenin and Stalin.
Our Russian Empire consists of a great number of cities -- capital cities, governmental cities, district cities, provincial cities . . . and, in addition, of a venerable old residence, and of the mother of all Russian cities. The venerable old residential city is Moscow, and the mother of all Russian cities is Kiev. Petersburg also belongs to the Russian imperium.
With such plain disparagement, the Russian poet Andrei Bely introduced in 1913 the capital of the Tsarist empire in a novel called Petersburg. The artificial metropolis built by Peter the Great never became popular with the Russian people.
"The first requirement for the expression of national sentiment in Russia is to hate Petersburg with heart and soul!" The fanatic patriot Ivan Aksakov wrote these words to Dostoyevsky from Moscow. And the latter wrote of the "twofold misfortune of living in St. Petersburg, the most intentional and abstract city on the globe".
The intention to which Dostoyevsky refers was that of a great, wild, stubborn man, Peter I, called the Great, who in 1682 at the age of ten ascended the throne of the Tsars and who led his country to the rank of a world power during the forty-three years of his. reign. Impetuous and unscrupulous, he even tried to push it into the orbit of European civilization.
He began with reforms concerning dress and the old-Russian full beard; and ultimately he chose a new capital as a decisive means of changing the character of his country: he transferred the capital from Moscow, the treasure trove of tradition in the heart of Russia,