Marsden, Christopher. Preface by Sacheverell Sitwell.
Title PALMYRA OF THE NORTH: THE FIRST DAYS OF ST. PETERSBURG.
Publisher Faber and Faber, London, 1943, 2nd impression.
Seller ID 18215
280 pp, 8vo (8 13/16" H), hard cover in dust jacket. B&w plates. "Early in the eighteenth century Russia, like Japan, in the nineteenth, suddenly decided to adopt Western ideas and to extract herself from the slough of darkness and mediaevalism in which for many centuries she had been plunged. This wrench, carried out with that magnitude and ruthless, exaggerated completeness which has characterized all Russian revolutions, was inaugurated by the titanic Peter the Great - who buil t a n e w c a pital, St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) for the purpose - and brought to fulfillment by his successors, that series of flamboyant and high-spirited Empresses. Among them Peter's daughter, Elizabeth Petrovna, was the most frivolous, c er t ai n ly t he be st -looking and certainly the least known today. Mr. Marsden's fascinating book brings the St. Petersburg of Elizabeth's time vividly before us. It was mainly from France and Italy that she and the other Russian autocrats of th e eig ht een th cen t ury dr ew the fashionable painters, architects, actors, musicians and others who designed the glittering 'mise en scene' against which the changing tableaux of this budding Versailles were posed. But in spite of the stupe ndou s roco co pala ces , th e feve rish display and extravagance, the often highly artistic gaiety (the beginnings and gradual development of the Russian ballet are among the subjects of the book), there was always an element of comedy in the hast y ama lg amati on of Fr ench eleg an ce an d bas ic Muscovite rudeness. This history of sixty years of Russian court life contains many amusing tales and scandalous anecdotes as well as a sober and detailed account of the creation - from literally nothi ng but ba rre n wast es - of a c api tal an d cour t whose grandeur by the time of Catherine the Great had become second to none." Light browning to endpapers - darker at top corner and fore-edge of free endpapers, a couple of very small fox ing mar ks on endp aper s, book ligh tly cra cked at pag es 112/ 113 and 208/209, bump at top/bottom corners of front board and tiny bumps at top/bottom edges, rear corners slight bumped, light wrinkling at top/bottom of spine, tiny tear on inside rear hi nge , slight wavi ness to top ed ge of pr elimi nary pag es. Dus t jacket is price clipped, has light to moderate edge wear/wrinkling, browning to spine and flap-folds, several small tears and tiny chips, old tape residue on inside edges, small li ght watermark at bo ttom of spine. Good/Goo d only .