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Saint Petersburg. A Royal Dream on Ice
Peter and Paul Fortress
Fyodor Dostoevsky. 1881
The Peter and Paul Fortress
was the first structure of mud and wood to be built in St Petersburg,
on the delta of the Neva River, as the spot where it is located is particularly wide. The cathedral, the first building constructed within the walls, would become one of the city's most striking monuments. It consists of several parts, such as the high and thick walls, and the grim prison in which I spent many years of my life, accused of subversive activity,
of disseminating writings of a criminal nature. I was condemned to death by firing squad, but was pardoned by Nicholas I. I atoned for my "non-collegiality". I expiated my "non-guilt" at hard labour until one day I was sent to Siberia. I spent my time shoveling snow, carrying wood, in the freezing winter of that land,
and letting my soul speak on paper, living by its own means, that is, with only my head and nothing else. In the Fortress, I wrote Memoirs from a House of the Dead, in which I extolled the dignity of man, even in the miserable condition of a prisoner. I used to talk for hours with Mikhail Bakunin; we seemed to understand each other...
and I watched the waters of the Neva River flowing, which lifted my spirits, but the illness, which I have had for years, is getting worse and worse... I feel that my death is not far away and part of my memories will remain within the walls of this fortress forever.
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