Research and other investigations by Matthew Niederhauser out of Beijing, China.

Moscow Metro’s Darkest Corners: Dostoevsky Underground

Dostoevsky appears in a mural at the end of a long tunnel in the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro station

Moscow bears the historical stigma of a brooding city fringed with murder, corruption and greed. Now these grim trappings of the Russian psyche have found a home underground. The Dostoevskaya Moscow Metro station, named in honor of Russia’s dark prince of literature, delves into the most gruesome nooks of Dostoevsky’s oeuvre. The graphic nature of the murals even went so far as to delay its opening earlier this year. A prominent Russian psychologist, Mikhail Vinogradov, declared before the unveiling, “The deliberate dramatism will create a certain negative atmosphere and attract people with an unnatural psyche.” There is no doubt that death hangs heavy over the polished marble of Dostoevskaya with depictions of Raskolnikov wielding an ax against an elderly pawnbroker and her sister from Crime and Punishment and the suicide-obsessed Kirillov holding a gun to his head from The Demons. Concerned Muscovites fear the station might become a magnet for those contemplating suicide, adding to the almost eighty committed on a yearly basis in the Moscow Metro. However, after my own visit, I felt such concerns are unwarranted. The entire station inspired a sense of reverence and awe. I felt like I was meandering through a church instead of a public transportation hub. The aura of Dostoevskaya was only punctured when a train screeched into the station and let off another teeming load of commuters. The artist behind the murals, Ivan Nikolayev, remains rightfully unapologetic, “What did you want? Scenes of dancing? Dostoevsky doesn’t have them.”

A suicide-obsessed character from Dostoevsky's The Demons holds a pistol to his head in the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro station

A passenger passes in front of a mural at the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationCommunters pass through the recently opened Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationA mural in the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro station

An old women looks at a mural depicting a hanging man at the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationA mural in the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationA passanger exits the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro station

A character holds a gun to the head of supine man in a mural at the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationSubway security guards monitor the platforms at the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro stationA mural depicts the main character from Crime and Punishment murdering an elderly pawnbroker and her sister with an axe in the Dostoevskaya Moscow metro station

    5 Responses

    1. Pingback: Dostoevsky images in subway station ‘could cause suicides’ « Numéro Cinq

    2. VV

      That’s not young Kirillov, who shot himself indoors. That’s old Svidrigailov from Crime and Punishment, who did it al fresco.

      December 5, 2011 at 1:22 am

    3. It seems I was misinformed. Thanks for the correction…

      December 5, 2011 at 3:24 am

    4. savas

      this is awesome

      April 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    5. Pingback: Discover Russia's History Through the Moscow Metro Rail | When On Earth - Places to See, Things to Do, Gear to GetWhen On Earth – Places to See, Things to Do, Gear to Get

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