(19) Touring Sites Associated with Dostoevsky in Geneva, the City of Reformation - Thoughts on the City that Became a Turning Point in the Couple's Journey

Dostoevsky and His Wife's Fateful Journey: Travels in Western Europe of Madness and Love

(19) Touring Places Associated with Dostoevsky in Geneva, Switzerland - Thoughts on the City that Became a Turning Point in the Couple's Journey

Previous ArticleThe birth and untimely death of Sonya, the long-awaited first child of Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky: Heaven and Hell in Geneva."In the following section, we see the extremes of Dostoevsky's joy and sadness.

It was during his stay in Geneva that he saw a completely different kind of rock bottom than the gambling hell of Baden-Baden.

We, too, will now walk in this city where Dostoevsky walked.

Geneva, a cosmopolitan city on the shores of Lake Geneva

About three hours by train from Basel, I arrived in the city of Geneva. Geneva is a cosmopolitan city on the shore of Lake Geneva. As you can see in the photo, Geneva is also famous for its large fountain on Lake Geneva.

Geneva is a city near the border between Switzerland and France, and as its name suggests, it is a cosmopolitan city where a diverse range of people come and go.

I was surprised that from the moment we arrived in Geneva, the language and information signs switched from German to French. Even though we were in the same country, the language used was different. Even when I entered a café, the language was completely French. It is true that Geneva is very close to France if you look at a map. Many people commute to work from France.

The atmosphere of the city was also very different from that of Basel. While the atmosphere in Basel was stiff and formal, Geneva had a more relaxed and open atmosphere. Geneva is indeed a cosmopolitan city. The open atmosphere is probably due in part to Lake Geneva.

Geneva is also known as the home of Calvin's Reformation.

The atmosphere of this cathedral is also different from that of Catholic or Orthodox cathedrals. It is a very huge structure, as you can see if you compare it to the people on the stairs.

Cologne Cathedral Photo by blog author

Compared to the soaring lightness of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the Geneva Cathedral seems to have a lower center of gravity. There may be a difference in the time period in which the cathedral was built, but even so, the difference is significant.

Both Germany and Switzerland had a solid image, but Switzerland's image was even more massive.

The interior of the church is also simple, as is typical of Protestant cathedrals. For me, accustomed to Catholic and Orthodox churches, I felt uncomfortable. However, people from a Protestant culture would probably feel more uncomfortable in a Catholic or Orthodox church. As cultures, regions, and ethnic groups change, what is "comfortable" and "familiar" also changes. In Switzerland, I felt that even within the same Christian community, there is diversity. The fact that Calvin was able to promote the Reformation with this city as his home base must mean that this city had something different from the Catholic world.

The house where Dostoevsky lived

Unfortunately, the house where Dostoevsky lived when he first arrived in Geneva is no longer extant. It was a fairly large second-floor room on the corner of rue Guillaume Tell and rue Berteil, with a central window overlooking the bridge over the Rhone River and the islet of Jean-Jacques Rousseau," said Madame Anna. The street itself has disappeared due to the rezoning of the city.

The photo above was taken from the opposite bank of the Rhone River in the area where Dostoevsky's house would have been located.

This is Rousseau's island. It is much smaller than I had expected. I can understand why Madame Anna describes it as "Jean-Jacques Rousseau's little island.

And here is the house that Mrs. Anna moved into for the birth of her child.

In mid-December 1867, in anticipation of the birth of her child, she rented a new house just a few blocks away on Mont Blanc Street, which was also home to the Church of England. This time I had two rooms, one of which was very spacious, with four windows, and a church was desired.

The building under construction on the right side of this photo is the Church of England. The main street, rue Mont Blanc, is a convenient place to go anywhere, and you can reach Lake Geneva within a 5-minute walk.

Here Mrs. Anna gave birth, and DostoevskyEvil Spirits."He was to be a throbbing daddy's boy, like Shurtleff in

Dostoevsky, the father of children andThe Moron.Dostoevsky lived in this very house when he wrote

A commemorative plaque was also placed on the wall of the first floor. I wonder how many people on the busy rue Mont Blanc are aware of this plaque. But for me, it meant a lot to see this house. I cannot help but remember the life of the Dostovskys here, where I saw heaven and hell. I went here every day during my stay in Geneva and kept looking at this house.

Plan Palais cemetery where Sonya, his beloved daughter, was buried

I also wanted to visit the grave of Sonya, my beloved daughter, who had died at the age of three months.

Mrs. Anna said, "I was moved to an allotted plot in the Plan Palais cemetery. A few days later, cypresses were planted around the grave and a white marble cross was placed in the middle. Every day, we visited the grave, placed flowers, and shed tears. It was too hard for us to say goodbye to our precious, precious baby, whom we loved so much and on whom we had put endless dreams and hopes! andRecollections."I wanted to visit Sonya's grave if I could.

Unlike Japanese graves, the Plan Palais cemetery is not strictly divided into plots for individual headstones. Instead, large gravestones are placed one after another in the grassy lawn.

The cemetery is quiet and secluded, overgrown with trees. It was easy to forget that it was in the city of Geneva.

There are hardly any people. Occasionally you will pass someone taking a walk, but it is definitely a space where you can confine yourself to alone time.

I walked around looking for Sonya's grave, but could not find anything that looked like it.

After all, Sonya was buried in 1868. That was about 150 years ago. Moreover, Dostoevsky and his wife did not have the financial means to erect a magnificent gravestone, and they left Geneva soon after the burial. Perhaps they were reburied and now rest in a different place.

If anyone knows where the graves are located, we would be very grateful if you could let us know.

The Russian Orthodox church in Geneva where Sonya's funeral took place.

A Russian Orthodox church located approximately 20 minutes away from Dostoevsky's house on foot.

This church was built in 1866. It was built in 1866, just one year before Dostoevsky arrived in Geneva. The church where Sonya's funeral was held was a brand new church at that time.

When I was in front of this church, a priest and his congregation had just come out of the entrance and were chatting outside. Apparently, it was a day of worship, and they must have come outside for a break in between.

The congregation began to go back inside, and as the priest remained outside to clean up a bit, I ventured to speak to him in Russian.

Hello. My name is Takahiro Ueda. I am from Japan. I am studying Russian Orthodoxy and Dostoevsky. May I come in?"

The priest smiled and let me in. But you can't take pictures," he said. Of course not!

I have never been so glad to have learned Russian as I was at that time. I had been learning Russian for two years at a citizens' course at the University of Far Eastern Russia in Hakodate, my hometown. I managed to convey my thoughts in Russian, even though it was very one-sided. With the world situation as it is, things related to Russia have become very sensitive. I was able to enter the church even though I am not a believer because I spoke to them in Russian, not in English.

Hakodate Haristos Orthodox Church

In Hakodate, where I live, there is a historic Russian Orthodox church called the Haristos Orthodox Church. The connection between Hakodate and Russia is deep.

Thus I feel some strange connection that I have come to study Dostoevsky.

Now, they let me into the church and I was to attend the service.

The interior has a new atmosphere as it was built in 1866. The dimly lit hall is lit by the soft glow of candles. And then there was the smell of incense, a smell peculiar to Orthodox churches. I felt a strange sense of security and nostalgia from the slightly sweet aroma. I guess I am more comfortable in Orthodox churches than in Protestant churches.

There were probably about 50 believers. There were more people there than I had imagined from the outside.

The church is a church where voices resonate well. The priest's recitation and the women's voices in the choir are pleasant. What a nice voice. The voice is soft yet powerful, as if it is going deep into your heart. I naturally felt a sense of solemnity. Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky held their daughter's funeral here. At that time, they must have listened to the voices of the priests and shed tears, just as I am doing now. Thinking about that, I almost cried myself to tears. No, let me be honest. I was crying too.

Dostoevsky longed for happiness at home. And just when he thought his difficult first half of life had finally paid off, tragedy struck. The blow was immeasurable.

On my way home, I offered a candle in memory of Sonya and the late Mr. and Mrs. Dostoevsky, who had passed away prematurely.

Being present at the prayer in this church was one of the most memorable events of the trip.

be unbroken

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

Click here for a list of Dostoevsky's recommended books.
List of recommended Dostoevsky biographies."
List of recommended Dostoevsky commentaries.
A list of recommended commentaries on "Dostoevsky and Christianity."

Related Articles