The Mariinsky


The Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg was named for the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II, and held its first performance in 1860. It was around this time that Fyodor Dostoevsky was hitting his stride. In 1864, his novel Notes from Underground was published; it is narrated by an unnamed retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. Dostoevsky had noted the influence of the West on Russian culture: “Why, everything, unquestionably almost everything that we have — of development, science, art, civic-mindedness, humanity, everything, everything comes from there — from that same land of holy wonders!” Dostoevsky was worried that the Russian soul was being displaced by foreign content. His narrator is a spiteful bureaucrat who shares this view and warns that we can’t trust him to tell the truth; he doesn’t even trust himself. Notes from Underground has been called the first existential novel (by Sartre, no less), and it could serve as a guide to the several competitions to build a new Mariinsky Theatre.

more from Don Gillmor at The Walrus here.