Category: Andrei Bely

Petersburg – post V

This book ends in a way you could not have predicted with the victims emerging just at the end without any real victors. The phrase that will linger is “cerebral play” referring to the thoughts and dreams inspired by a city where everything seems to have its own lifeforce from the statutes to the fog.

Bullet points between pages 232 – 293

* Following his son’s performance at the ball Apolllon the senator is ruined and seems to suffer some sort of break down which sees his glittering career literally disappear overnight

* He wanders through the house into his son’s rooms and discovers the sardine tin with the bomb and takes it back into his study and then heads out to see his estranged wife in her hotel

* Meanwhile Nikolai has been taken prisoner by Sergei who declares after a spell of hysterical rage that he has taken Nikolai to make sure he doesn’t use the bomb to kill his father but allows his captive free after the denials make him believe he is mistaken

* Dudkin fulfils his oath to the bronze horseman and kills the party contact who had started the whole ball rolling about the bomb and he has clearly gone mad because he is still crouched over the body and discovered the morning after

* Nikolai having escaped from Sergei’s clutches heads home to try to find the bomb and ransacks his room without discovering it and tries to calm himself believing that Sergei has taken it and then is called to meet his mother

* He cries when he sees his mother and for the first time in years his father shows tenderness towards him and then allows his son to take his mother back to her hotel and they all turn in for the night with the bomb still undiscovered but getting closer to going off

* The bomb explodes in the study but does not kill Apollon but he seems to understand that it was meant for him and his son was going to use it and does not see his son again instead running away from him

* Apollon moves to the country after paying for his son and wife to travel and Nikolai becomes an expert on Egyptian history ending his life living completely alone after his parent’s death – his reward for making the promise to kill his father one presumes

Full review will follow after my own cerebral play after reading this book has calmed down…

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Petersburg – post V

This book ends in a way you could not have predicted with the victims emerging just at the end without any real victors. The phrase that will linger is “cerebral play” referring to the thoughts and dreams inspired by a city where everything seems to have its own lifeforce from the statutes to the fog.

Bullet points between pages 232 – 293

* Following his son’s performance at the ball Apolllon the senator is ruined and seems to suffer some sort of break down which sees his glittering career literally disappear overnight

* He wanders through the house into his son’s rooms and discovers the sardine tin with the bomb and takes it back into his study and then heads out to see his estranged wife in her hotel

* Meanwhile Nikolai has been taken prisoner by Sergei who declares after a spell of hysterical rage that he has taken Nikolai to make sure he doesn’t use the bomb to kill his father but allows his captive free after the denials make him believe he is mistaken

* Dudkin fulfils his oath to the bronze horseman and kills the party contact who had started the whole ball rolling about the bomb and he has clearly gone mad because he is still crouched over the body and discovered the morning after

* Nikolai having escaped from Sergei’s clutches heads home to try to find the bomb and ransacks his room without discovering it and tries to calm himself believing that Sergei has taken it and then is called to meet his mother

* He cries when he sees his mother and for the first time in years his father shows tenderness towards him and then allows his son to take his mother back to her hotel and they all turn in for the night with the bomb still undiscovered but getting closer to going off

* The bomb explodes in the study but does not kill Apollon but he seems to understand that it was meant for him and his son was going to use it and does not see his son again instead running away from him

* Apollon moves to the country after paying for his son and wife to travel and Nikolai becomes an expert on Egyptian history ending his life living completely alone after his parent’s death – his reward for making the promise to kill his father one presumes

Full review will follow after my own cerebral play after reading this book has calmed down…

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.”

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.”

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.”

Petersburg – post IV


It is hard to work out what is a dream and what is reality as the sense of hallucination spreads from character to character all stemming from the bomb. It is a bit like the Macbeth hand washing guilt in reverse because although no one has used the bomb yet, and plan if anything to throw it in the river, there is the guilt of having been prepared to use it.

There are powerful reminders of the power of the mind to confront the soul with guilt that echoes through other Russian literature, most notably Crime and Punishment and to a certain extent at the end of Dead Souls. You think of Kafka as being a writer that can take your world view and turn it upside down but this is similar in that reading it feels like being in a spinning bubble that has no visible sign of which way is up or down. But that is not a barrier to enjoying the book because if anything it involves the reader more in the conspiracy.

Bullet points between pages 178 – 232

* Having thought about it and dreamt that he himself is the bomb Nikolai seeks out the stranger Dudkin who gave him the bundle to tell him that he will not carry out the bombing and is advised to throw it in the Neva

* After Nikolai leaves Dudkin, who leaves in an attic room and imagines faces coming out of the wallpaper when things are normal, starts to fall apart and dreams up strangers and becomes obsessed with the idea he is a form of doom

“If he didn’t immediately break this nonsense down with his conscious mind, his conscious mind would break down into nonsense.” P206

* Dudkin loses it when he starts to visualise the Bronze Horseman (a famous statute in St Petersburg of Peter the Great pictured above) dismounting his horse and climbing the stairs into the attic room to tell him what he must do with his life

* All of the characters see the bronze horseman and even Nikolai is troubled by it in his visions but he day dreams about putting the bomb underneath his father’s pillow and graphically pictures the scene after the body and the explosion are discovered but is stopped by a clean shaven Sergei (husband of Sofia) who wishes to confront him over his behaviour towards his wife

* Nikolai cannot think about the events of the last few days only being able to concentrate on the bomb and the fact it is ticking away in his drawer back in his rooms getting ever closer to going off

Will he be able to get to the bomb before it goes off? What will the form of doom that is Dudkin do? More tomorrow…

Petersburg – post IV


It is hard to work out what is a dream and what is reality as the sense of hallucination spreads from character to character all stemming from the bomb. It is a bit like the Macbeth hand washing guilt in reverse because although no one has used the bomb yet, and plan if anything to throw it in the river, there is the guilt of having been prepared to use it.

There are powerful reminders of the power of the mind to confront the soul with guilt that echoes through other Russian literature, most notably Crime and Punishment and to a certain extent at the end of Dead Souls. You think of Kafka as being a writer that can take your world view and turn it upside down but this is similar in that reading it feels like being in a spinning bubble that has no visible sign of which way is up or down. But that is not a barrier to enjoying the book because if anything it involves the reader more in the conspiracy.

Bullet points between pages 178 – 232

* Having thought about it and dreamt that he himself is the bomb Nikolai seeks out the stranger Dudkin who gave him the bundle to tell him that he will not carry out the bombing and is advised to throw it in the Neva

* After Nikolai leaves Dudkin, who leaves in an attic room and imagines faces coming out of the wallpaper when things are normal, starts to fall apart and dreams up strangers and becomes obsessed with the idea he is a form of doom

“If he didn’t immediately break this nonsense down with his conscious mind, his conscious mind would break down into nonsense.” P206

* Dudkin loses it when he starts to visualise the Bronze Horseman (a famous statute in St Petersburg of Peter the Great pictured above) dismounting his horse and climbing the stairs into the attic room to tell him what he must do with his life

* All of the characters see the bronze horseman and even Nikolai is troubled by it in his visions but he day dreams about putting the bomb underneath his father’s pillow and graphically pictures the scene after the body and the explosion are discovered but is stopped by a clean shaven Sergei (husband of Sofia) who wishes to confront him over his behaviour towards his wife

* Nikolai cannot think about the events of the last few days only being able to concentrate on the bomb and the fact it is ticking away in his drawer back in his rooms getting ever closer to going off

Will he be able to get to the bomb before it goes off? What will the form of doom that is Dudkin do? More tomorrow…