Commuters Can Download Free eBooks of Russian Classics While Riding the Moscow Metro


Image by Zig­urds Zakis

They say that Mus­solin­i’s brand of fas­cism made Italy’s trains run on time. Mean­while, it looks like Com­mu­nists and Post-Com­mu­nist auto­crats made the morn­ing sub­way ride in Rus­sia some­thing of a cul­tur­al expe­ri­ence.

As you can see below, the Sovi­ets designed the Moscow sub­way sta­tions as under­ground palaces, adorned withhigh ceil­ings, stained glass, mosaics and chan­de­liers.” (Check out a gallery of pho­tos here.) In more recent times, city plan­ners opened the Dos­toyevskaya sub­way sta­tion, a more aus­tere sta­tion where you can see black and white mosaics of scenes from Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky’s nov­els — Crime and Pun­ish­ment, The Idiot and The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov. Some­what con­tro­ver­sial­ly, the mosaics depict fair­ly vio­lent scenes. On one wall, The Inde­pen­dent writes, “Raskol­nikov from Crime and Pun­ish­ment bran­dish­es an axe over the elder­ly pawn­bro­ker Aly­ona Ivanov­na and her sis­ter, his mur­der vic­tims in the nov­el. Near by, a char­ac­ter from Demons holds a pis­tol to his tem­ple.” Noth­ing like con­fronting mur­der and sui­cide on the morn­ing com­mute.

If these gloomy scenes don’t sound famil­iar, don’t fret. Late last year, the Moscow sub­way sys­tem launched a pilot where Moscow sub­way com­muters, car­ry­ing smart­phones and tablets, can down­load over 100 clas­sic Russ­ian works, for free. As they shut­tle from one sta­tion to anoth­er, rid­ing on sub­way cars equipped with free wifi, straphang­ers can read texts by Dos­to­evsky, Tol­stoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Bul­gakov, Ler­mon­tov, Gogol and more. Per­haps that takes the sting out of the soar­ing infla­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Dig­i­tal Dos­to­evsky: Down­load Free eBooks & Audio Books of the Russ­ian Novelist’s Major Works

The Com­plete Works of Leo Tol­stoy Online: New Archive Will Present 90 Vol­umes for Free (in Russ­ian)

Stephen Fry Pro­files Six Russ­ian Writ­ers in the New Doc­u­men­tary Russia’s Open Book

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Comments (5)
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  • Igor says:

    Total­ly biassed com­ment. Just say: “I hate Rus­sians even if they read FD books on trains. (I hate and nev­er read any­thing by FD either)”

  • Larry Hancock says:

    I remem­ber well my favorite Eng­lish pro­fes­sor saying,“Compared to Tol­stoy and Dos­to­evsky, every oth­er nov­el­ist is at best third rate.” I have read most of their nov­els and agree.

  • Igor says:

    Thank you, Lar­ry. I’m a cos­mopoli­tan and so are these great men — still remem­ber how Dos­toyevsky (and part­ly Tol­stoy) total­ly changed my per­cep­tion of life as a teen.

  • Daedalus_x says:

    Dos­toyevsky was a lot of things but he was pret­ty far from being a cos­mopoli­tan.

  • Igor says:

    All great minds are. Of course , he was a Russ­ian but the land he treads on & explores has no nation­al­i­ty.

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