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Myths, Urban Folklore and Local Identity in St. Petersburg

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This article examines some of the numerous myths associated with St. Petersburg. It explores the positive, official myth of the city as a modern, progressive, Western metropolis, as it emerged in travel writings, official literature and early ethnographic studies. But it also focuses on the negative myth of the city as a place of decay, oppression, filth and poverty, as it was promulgated by realist and naturalist writers in the nineteenth century. These myths also affected (and were themselves influenced by) urban folklore and legends, and they were an important part of local identity in the city as a whole and in individual neighborhoods, all the way up to the present day.

Affiliations: 1: University of Cambridge and Clare College, Cambridge, UK, Email:, URL:


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