Napoleon, Dostoyevsky, Stendhal, Tolstoy, Döblin, Forster, Bakhtin, and Brodsky: these voices – among others equally compelling though lesser known – reveal the essence of Europe in their narratives of encounter with the threshold city of Vilnius. Laimonas Briedis has woven the letters, diaries, utterances and reflections of strangers about this gateway city at the heart of Europe into a compelling and intimate story. The author shares with the reader a deep understanding of the Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and German identities of the place, as well as its centrality in European Jewish culture. Lavishly illustrated and carefully researched, this book is a veritable hall of mirrors, which yields an illuminating vision of Vilnius and an exceptional window on Europe.
Laimonas Briedisis a native of Vilnius. He received a doctoral degree in human geography at the University of British Columbia and conducted his postdoctoral research at the History Department of the University of Toronto. He makes his home in Vilnius and Vancouver, Canada.