Literary lives: St. Petersburg's poets and authors

In its comparatively brief history, St. Petersburg has produced more literary masterpieces than probably any other city in the world. Moreover, the city itself has been far more than just an inspiration or setting for literature, becoming a central theme - a character, even - in some of the greatest works in Russian literature.

Alexander Puhskin and Nikolay Gogol, the first geniuses of Russian letters, both had a fraught and ambiguous relationship with St. Petersburg, but provided indelibly powerful images of the city's architecture, atmosphere and inhabitants. Their literary heirs continued to explore and expand on the themes they established, mapping the city's streets and developing its rich iconography. In turn, St. Petersburg repays the honour by commemorating its greatest authors and poets in a scores of monuments throughout the city, as well as in the names of its streets and institutions.