1905 – Russia at the crossroads

Andrei Bely’s Petersburg is not just about the growing pains of anti-establishment forces and a view into their use of terror to make political points but also provides an insight into just what the capital of Russia felt like in 1905, when the first signs of major unrest surfaced, only to be submerged, but never really eradicated, until they sprung up again in 1917.

For those interested in Russian history there is also a great passage on pg185 that describes the gap between those seeking change and those happy to ignore it and cling to the status quo:

“From observing the procession of bowlers, you would never say momentous events were rumbling in the town of Ak-Tyuk, in the theatre in Kutais. In Tiflis a local policeman had discovered that they were manufacturing bombs. The library in Odessa had been closed. The universities of Russia were one big mass meeting. The citizens of Perm had started acting ornery. The Revel iron works had already begun running up red flags.

From observing the bowlers, no one would have said that a strike had already begun on the Moscow – Kazan railway line. Here and there windows had been smashed in the stations, warehouses broken into, and work was being stopped on the Kursk, Windau, Nizhny-Novgorod and Murom railway lines. And railway cars stood idle. And no one would have said that momentous events were rumbling in Petersburg. Typesetters from all the printing shops had elected delegates and had held meetings. Factories were on strike: the shipyards, the Alexandrovsky Factory.

The circulation was not disrupted: the bowlers continued their deathlike flow.”

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