Suspend Your Disbelief

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Moscow's Dostoevsky-Themed Metro Stop

photo credit:

photo credit:

Subways are not known for being bright and cheerful—but Moscow’s new Dostoevsky-themed station takes subway gloom to a new level. The Dostoevskaya Station opened in June in northern Moscow as a tribute to the famed Russian author and features murals based on his works. Here’s one from Crime and Punishment:

photo credit: (CC) Eugeny1988

photo credit: (CC) Eugeny1988

But some worry that the grim, black-and-white murals will have negative psychological effects on subway riders. NPR reports:

Mikhail Vinogradov, who heads a psychological help center in Moscow, went on Russian TV to complain that the murals will make people “afraid to ride the subway.” Like other psychologists who raised concerns in Russia and abroad, Vinogradov says gripping images can induce violent behavior — and a subway station is the last place for that.

“There will be suicides more often,” he says. “I can’t rule out people will commit murders or attacks.”

But Natalia Semyonova, another clinical psychologist in Moscow, defended the artist and the author, whose books she uses in lectures and to treat patients.

“We try to jump into these books and try to understand once more the motives of human behavior, the motives of human suffering, how to overcome, how to find a sense of life, and so on,” Semyonova says.

Using powerful literature to help overcome challenges in one’s own life, she says, is very Russian.

And the artist behind the murals defends his work:

Since the station opened its doors, Nikolayev, the artist of the murals, has been asked repeatedly whether the mural of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, in particular, was over the top.

His answer comes in the form of another question: “If someone handed you Dostoevsky’s own manuscript, would you just go cross out this scene from the novel?”

Grim or not, can you imagine if we had author-themed train or bus stations in the U.S.? Whose station would you most like to visit, and what would the decor be like?

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