Dostoevsky and Doves

Dostoevsky and Doves


I was not the first to notice that pigeons were the main connoisseurs of street sculptures. Why are they so obsessed with these stone statues? They trample on hats, caps, bowlers, hair, bald heads, mustaches, uniforms, tailcoats and jackets. No dodgy patina would drive them away. Something in human images seems very charming to them.

In the case of Dostoevsky, it can be explained. In the writer's vocabulary, the lexeme “dove” and its derivatives are among the most frequently used. There is even a statistical word selection of Dostoevsky's language, carried out by scientists of the Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. More than 25,000 “Dostoevsky’s” words were researched using computerised analysis. So, the word “dove” and its derivatives occur in the letters, articles, and novels of the writer more than 600 times. Well, who will cast a stone at these gray-winged birds? They perched on and above Fyodor Dostoevsky because they felt a kinship and mental closeness with him. He took tender care of them with his art.

The monument itself is not much liked by Muscovites and visitors to the Russian capital. A hunched, stooped old man with a sullen face stands in the center of Moscow. As if he were at the doctor's office, or in line for the social security department, or being questioned by an investigator. Well, probably, there are grounds for criticism. Though I will argue with them anyway.

Each year, I often walk along Vozdvizhenka Street. To my thinking, this is precisely where Dostoevsky belongs. There is the famous State Library behind his monument. The Rumyantsev Museum of Fine Arts, the Manege Central Exhibition Hall, and the Alexander Garden are within walking distance. The very same historical and cultural context.

A sullen and slouching stone-made writer? Well, maybe. On the other hand, a philosopher on a universal scale, turning his thoughts to God and the essence of humanity, is most often like that. Remember the Greek, Roman, and Arab thinkers. Do you remember them bright-eyed with straight postures? I do not.

Sculptor Alexander Rukavishnikov captured the image of a restless genius in stone, who went through severe trials of life. Almost broken-down by them, but not completely and looking for answers to the most difficult questions of existence. So, should this monument be in some amusement park? On a city embankment? Or a railway station square? Well, of course, by the central library.

By the way, there are not so many Fyodor Dostoyevsky monuments. There is not even a dozen for the whole country. Maybe that is why Moscow’s pigeons came to him as they value the rare opportunity to bask in the glory of a great writer. Dostoevsky is a Muscovite by birth. For them, he's a fellow countryman. Not sullen, but wise, and not stooping, but thoughtful.

I am of the same opinion.

This November will mark Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 200th birthdate, an excellent reason to once again remember the great classic. In the meantime, thanks to Moscow pigeons, who posed calmly and with dignity for the camera. They did not realize it but they let my thoughts soar. They perched on the writer's sculpture perfectly on time. Please, stay there, pigeons. Fyodor Dostoyevsky has no complaints against you. On the contrary, he is happy about the living thing. He cared so much about it in his books.

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