‘A Hot Evening in Early July’: City to Celebrate Dostoevsky

‘A Hot Evening in Early July’: City to Celebrate Dostoevsky

Published: June 29, 2011 (Issue # 1663)

St. Petersburg will celebrate Dostoevsky Day for the second year running on Saturday.

Last year’s celebration was dedicated to the writer’s classic novel “Crime and Punishment,” whose action opens “on an exceptionally hot evening in early July.” Although this year’s program has been expanded and will include more venues, the date will remain the same.

“We’ve widened our borders. This year events will take place in St. Petersburg and Pavlovsk and be more open to the public,” said Sergei Sereichik, director of the Lermontov libraries and curator of the project. “Last year it was more intimate. That is why this year we organized events such as an open-air opera in the courtyard of the Mikhailovsky Castle.”

Celebrations will start at 11 a.m. at Dostoevsky’s grave in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and then continue on Kuznechny Pereulok and Bolshaya Moskovskaya Ulitsa, where the writer lived and where a monument to him is located.

Just after the midday gunshot at the Peter and Paul Fortress, people all over the city will be invited to ring small bells. In the 19th century, when Fyodor Dostoevsky lived, bells were used as means of communication. In order to be allowed entry into someone’s house, the bell had to be rung first. Dostoevsky mentioned these doorbells in every one of his novels. A bell that belonged to the writer himself can still be found in his apartment as part of the permanent exhibition of the Dostoevsky Museum on Kuznechny Pereulok.

People gathered around the monument to Dostoevsky on Bolshaya Moskovskaya Ulitsa will walk to the writer’s house, where from the balcony, Fyodor Dostoevsky (played by actor Sergey Borkovsky) will greet the procession.

In order to create the atmosphere of a bygone age, the neighborhood will be decorated with specially designed commercial signs written in pre-revolutionary Russian. Actors will perform sketches dressed in 19th-century-style clothing, and on Kuznechny Pereulok, characters from Dostoevsky’s novels will participate in a fashion parade.

The Dostoevsky Museum will take high school students on themed excursions to places featured in “Crime and Punishment,” “The Double,” “The Idiot” and Dostoevsky’s own life. Maps with significant places marked on them will be handed out near Sennaya Ploshchad and Vladimirskaya metro stations.

Concerts and performances will also be held at Pavlovsk. “Pavlovsk was the most democratic and fashionable suburb during Dostoevsky’s lifetime,” said Nikolai Tretyakov, director of the State Pavlovsk Reserve. “We want to recreate the atmosphere of the time described so well in ‘The Idiot’.”

“We want to celebrate this day in a bright and modern way, without any glamour or formality,” said Alexander Platunov, deputy chairman of the Culture Committee. “We want all young people to get Dostoevsky’s books and start reading right away, because the answers to many of today’s burning issues can be found in those novels.”

A full version of the event’s program is available at www.lplib.ru.

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