What was Bely's project in his ambiguous novel Petersburg? For the first time, this study firmly places Bely's work at the heart of the European Modern ( die Moderne). It argues that with its concern for the spiritual and its desire to create new aesthetics, the novel helped reshape fundamental views of reality, of the Self, and of consciousness. Theories of Freud and Jung as well as the aesthetics of the Viennese Secession are used to elucidate Bely's approach to the narrative. The author also presents Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy as the prism through which Bely reflects modernist ideas.
Dr. Judith Wermuth-Atkinson teaches courses on world literature and philosophy at Columbia University in New York. Previously, she has taught German, Russian, and South Slavic languages, literatures, and cultures at different universities in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.A. Her research focuses on early 20 th century European aesthetics. She is also translator of German literary and philosophical works, and author of essays and a memoir.