Category Archives: Literature

Raskolnikov had long legs

entryway to the Pawnbroker's

“He had not far to go; he knew indeed how many steps it was from the
gate of his lodging house: exactly seven hundred and thirty. He had
counted them once when he had been lost in dreams. At the time he had
put no faith in those dreams and was only tantalising himself by their
hideous but daring recklessness. Now, a month later, he had begun to
look upon them differently, and, in spite of the monologues in which
he jeered at his own impotence and indecision, he had involuntarily
come to regard this “hideous” dream as an exploit to be attempted,
although he still did not realise this himself. He was positively
going now for a “rehearsal” of his project, and at every step his
excitement grew more and more violent.”

The other day, Valentina Viktorovna took us on a short Crime and Punishment tour, and pointed out his path to the pawnbroker’s and other important areas, such as where Raskolnikov overheard the “fateful” conversation that pulled him towards murdering that old crone. To put Crime and Punishment into a nutshell for those of you who haven’t read it, Raskolnikov, after agonizing over the idea, murders a pawnbroker and then mentally suffers for his crime. The novel is essentially one part crime, five parts punishment, and is full of fun ideas about suicide, redemption, etc., etc. You all should read it, it’s very uplifting.

So, Raskolnikov knew the exact number of steps from his apartment to the Pawnbroker’s – 730 shagov. Being the huge dork that I am, I counted how many steps it took, and it was waaaay more than 730 — 1,212 steps, to be exact. Raskolnikov had long legs. And you know what that means — big steps.

Where Raskolnikov overheard that fateful conversation! I walk by this almost every day!

What my metro stop used to look like back in the day. It was an evil place, full of cretins and harlots and whatnot.

In other news, the ACTR gang is getting ready to hop on the long train to Sochi — which will be a 47 hour experiment. Sochi is the 2014 Winter Olympics Venue, and there will be a lot of hiking and nature walks. There’s apparently a ton of construction going on, but hey, a resort town is a resort town. For what it’s worth, it’s 6 days in Sochi (the other four are spent on a train…) Until then!
If you’re interested to see Putin speak English, here’s his bid to the Olympic Committee.


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Pushkin… For the Birds

Pushkin is a nice little perch for the birds

“Красуйся, град Петров, и стой
Неколебимо как Россия,
Да умирится же с тобой
И побежденная стихия;
Вражду и плен старинный свой
Пусть волны финские забудут
И тщетной злобою не будут
Тревожить вечный сон Петра!

Была ужасная пора,
Об ней свежо воспоминанье…
Об ней, друзья мои, для вас
Начну свое повествованье.
Печален будет мой рассказ.”

“Now, city of Peter, stand thou fast,
Foursquare, like Russia; vaunt thy splendor!
The very element shall surrender
And make her peace with thee at last.
Their ancient bondage and their rancors
The Finnish waves shall bury deep
Nor vex with idle spite that cankers
Our Peter’s everlasting sleep!

There was a dreadful time, we keep
Still freshly on our memories painted;
And you, my friends, shall be acquainted
By me, with all that history:
A grievous record it will be.”
– “Медный Всадник” – The Bronze Horseman

The Russian Museum


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Winter just won’t leave…

the view outside my apartment on a sunny day

The sun decided to come out today, at around 2pm, right when Polina and I stepped out of the Anna Akhmatova museum into the garden of the former Sheremetev palace. The grounds around me were still covered in thick, pillowy white snow. I shielded my eyes with my hand and squinted at the the spiraling rooftop, emblazoned by the sun, and breathed in. “Тихо,” Polina quietly said – Peaceful.

Winter may not be leaving quite yet, but spring is just around the corner.

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Paying homage to a Genius

Since I was feeling a little better after my last run in with the flu/gastrointestinal terror, I decided to pay homage to my favorite author, Dostoevsky, and head over to 5/2 Kuznechny Lane. This was the last apartment that he lived in and it was where he wrote his famous work, The Brothers Karamazov. His apartment, to be honest, was a little…sad, which is fitting, considering how troubled his life was overall. In 1849, Dostoevsky was arrested for dabbling in the Petrashevsky circle, and he, along with the other members, was sentenced to death by firing squad. On the day of his never-to-be-held execution, he was forced to stand outside in the freezing cold, waiting to be riddled with bullets, when his sentence was suddenly commuted to 4 years in a katorga prison camp in Siberia. The years following his stint in Siberia and the Siberian regiment were filled with literary greatness…along with the death of his wife and son, tons of debt, gambling problems, depression, heart break, and epileptic fits. Great writing comes from suffering, I guess. Dostoevsky was hardcore.

In my humble (and very unimportant) opinion, I truly believe that Dostoevsky is more relevant today than ever. I’m not talking about his world of saintly prostitutes and suicidal revolutionaries, but of the social issues he addresses in his works: crime, poverty, gambling, alcoholism, as well as other vices, all remain pressing issues today. Not only that, but his condemnation of materialism, which is heavily emphasized in The Idiot, is clearly applicable to today’s society. In conjunction with society’s descent into materialistic depravity, what is most noticeably relevant is the absence of faith and the loss of values – I’m not religious by any means, but it is something to be noted.

And of course, there is the ever popular question: “Where does Russia go from here?”

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