Dostoevsky On The Moscow Subway
The Dostoevskaya station — which opened this summer in memory of Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky — met a fair share of opposition when psychologists expressed concern that dark murals of the violent scenes from Dostoevsky’s books could put riders in gloomy moods — or, worse, even encourage suicidal impulses.
Such criticism has clouded and delayed a 19-year effort to honor one of Russia’s greatest writers and thinkers.
Raskolnikov On The Platform
Ivan Nikolayev, the artist who was commissioned to create the murals that surround the subway platform, started rereading Dostoevsky’s books and making sketches for the project 20 years ago.
“My task was to draw out the meaning, creativity and entire life of Dostoevsky,” says Nikolayev, 69.
Nikolayev’s design takes you right into Dostoevsky’s world as soon as you step off a train.
The walls are gray and bare, except for murals capturing scenes from Dostoevsky’s famous novels: Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, and of course, Crime and Punishment, the book where Dostoevsky digs into the mind of his lead character, Raskolnikov, exploring a young man’s path to murder.
In one famous passage, Raskolnikov cries out, “Good God! Can it be, can it be, that I shall really take an ax, that I shall strike her on the head, split her skull open … that I shall tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock, steal and tremble; hide, all spattered in the blood … with the ax … Good God, can it be?”
The fictional character — poor, desperate for money to help his family and mentally tortured — ends up killing two women. And it’s all depicted in a mural right on the subway platform in which Raskolnikov holds an ax over a woman’s head, while a corpse lies on the ground.
The tale itself is stirring, and the underground tunnel and echo of subway trains make it even creepier.