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Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster
“Besieged Leningrad is a sophisticated, immensely rich exploration of what the author calls ‘siege spatiality.’ The core analytical chapters present fascinating treatments of aspects of the Leningrad Blockade, and the prose is lively, precise, and elegant.” —Andreas Schönle, coeditor of The Europeanized Elite in Russia, 1762–1825
During the 872 days of the Siege of Leningrad (September 1941 to January 1944), the city’s inhabitants were surrounded by the military forces of Nazi Germany. They suffered famine, cold, and darkness, and a million people lost their lives, making the siege one of the most destructive in history. Confinement in the besieged city was a traumatic experience. Unlike the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp, for example, who were brought from afar and robbed of their cultural roots, the victims of the Siege of Leningrad were trapped in the city as it underwent a slow, horrific transformation. They lost everything except their physical location, which was layered with historical, cultural, and personal memory.
October 2017 200 pp., 6x9
Polina Barskova was born in Leningrad. She received a BA from Saint Petersburg State University and an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She is associate professor of Russian literature at Hampshire College, and has published eight books of poetry in Russian and three in English translation. She is also the author of Living Pictures, which received the 2015 Andrey Bely Prize, and the editor of Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad.
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