Shadows of Dostoevsky’s heroes
Fyodor Mikhailovich DostoevskyFyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky wrote a little more than 30 literary works, 20 of them feature St. Petersburg. Sometimes as a background, more often as a character.
A mystical surreal city, a city of mirages and deceptions, Saint Petersburg is the best illustration for the novels of the great Russian writer. All the places where his heroes suffered, lived and died are real and recognizable. All seasons and landscapes are authentic. Dostoevsky selects walking routes for his heroes, measures distances, finds expressive houses and describes all this in the utmost detail: streets, embankments, stairs, gateways.
The heroes of Dostoevsky wander around the city, but they are unable to find peace on its streets. Here Makar Devushkin, the hero of the story “Poor People”, unsuccessfully tries to unwind with a walk: “In order to somehow freshen up, I went out to walk along the Fontanka. The evening was so dark and damp… It was boring to walk along the Fontanka! Wet granite underfoot, tall, black, smoky houses on the sides; there is fog under your feet, there is also fog above your head.
In the evenings, Rodion Raskolnikov, the hero of Crime and Punishment, most often leaves the house. The novel begins near the place where the Renaissance St. Petersburg Baltic Hotel is currently located: “In early July, at an extremely hot time, in the evening, one young man came out of his closet … slowly, as if in indecision, went to the K-nu bridge. Where is it happening? Yes, right next to it! S-th, or Stolyarny, lane – the current Przhevalsky, K-n or Kokushkin street, the bridge is thrown over the Catherine Canal near Voznesensky Prospekt.
Stolyarny Lane, where Raskolnikov lived, and its environs are the most “drunk” place in St. Petersburg. At the end of the 19th century, there were about 18 drinking establishments in the alley. And nearby, on Voznesensky Prospekt, there are as many as 50! In one of the taverns on Voznesensky, another character in the novel, Svidrigailov, sat for hours. And from here, from the tavern, he went to Konnogvardeisky Boulevard, which lies a stone’s throw from Pochtamtskaya Street. On the bench of this boulevard, his terrible meeting with a young Petersburger took place. And Sonya Marmeladova lived on the Catherine Canal. “The house was three stories high, old and green.” This is either house number 63 or number 73 – typical St. Petersburg tenement houses, both of them are now yellow, but both of them have the “cut corner” described by Dostoevsky. Behind St. Isaac’s Square, we immediately exit to Srednyaya Podyacheskaya Street. Here, in house number 15, lived an old woman, a pawnbroker Alena Ivanovna, who was killed by Raskolnikov. And nearby, in the courtyard of house number 3 on Voznesensky Prospekt, at the beginning of the 20th century, lay the very stone under which he hid the jewels stolen from the old woman after the murder.
From the city center on the Neva, in a 15-20 minute leisurely walk, you can walk to the pensive Staro-Nikolsky Bridge, where the Dreamer and Nastenka, the heroes of the White Nights, first met. And every year, on quiet white nights, the same city landscape is visible from the bridge: five bridges across the Kryukov and Ekaterininsky canals, the arcade of the Nikolsky market on one side of Sadovaya, and on the other, the majestic and tender Nikolsky Cathedral protruding from the crowns of trees at the same time.