There is controversy about a new station on Moscow’s metro line named in tribute to Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Apparently it is not a particularly upbeat place.
The station, called Dostoyevskaya, is decorated with brooding grey and black mosaics that depict violent scenes from the 19th-century writer’s best-known novels. One mural re-enacts the moment when the main character in Crime and Punishment murders an elderly pawnbroker and her sister with an axe.
Another shows a suicide-obsessed character in The Demons holding a pistol to his temple. If that was not enough to darken the mood, shadowlike characters are shown flitting across the cavernous new station’s walls and a giant mosaic of a depressed-looking Dostoevsky stares out at passengers.
Assorted psychologists are trotted out to suggest that the dour decorations will inevitably draw suicides to the station, but the subway’s a pretty depressing place to be no matter where you are. I’m sure Russians, a race of gloomy alcoholics who love dark humor almost as much as they love beating their wives, will actually draw some kind of enjoyment from the whole thing. Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, they have not yet dedicated a station to Dostoevsky’s contemporary Leo Tolstoy, but if they ever do those murals are going to pretty much paint themselves.