Paris, Vienna, Berlin: These three cities usually represent the birth of modernism in Europe. This list, however, excludes a fourth city that was forgotten because for many centuries it was not on the map of Western-European perception: St Petersburg. But there, too, a great departure took place at the beginning of the 20th century when the town, with the beginning of industrialisation, suddenly found itself confronting new challenges. Everything was on the move: among the intelligentsia, utopians and visionaries blueprinted a new Russia, and writers, theatre directors and composers sought new means of expression for a new era. Entrepeneurs and bankers linked St Petersburg to Western economy, large-scale city planning projects were to prepare the town for the 20th century. War and the revolution put a sudden end to this development. This period, when St Petersburg was a laboratory of modernism, is the subject of Karl Schlögel's book, first published in 1988 and soon celebrated as a classic of its genre. Out of print for several years, it is now published in a revised and updated edition.
"Schlögel doubtlessly belongs to those historians for whom historiography is a part of literature – and passion an integral part of scholarship." (Historische Zeitschrift)