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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Dostoevsky on Constantinople

In his Diary of a Writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky asserts that Constantinople is the lifeblood of the Russian culture and history, and it must belong to the Russians. He writes:

“Constantinople must be ours, conquered by us, Russians, from the Turks, and remain ours forever. She must belong to us alone, and possessing her we may, of course, admit into her all Slavs and, in addition, anyone whom we please, on the broadest basis. But this would not be federal possession of the city along with the Slavs.

“One has merely to consider the fact that a whole century would be required before a federal union of the Slavs could be achieved. Russia will take possession of Constantinople and the necessary metropolitan area, as well as of the Bosphorus and the Straits; there she will maintain troops, fortifications and a fleet. And thus it should be for a long, long time.”

Dostoevsky's explanation of why Russians must occupy Constantinople runs across several essays in his Diary. He was politically, and perhaps emotionally, attached to Constantinople and the Byzantine Orthodox legacy. The excerpt that I have given above is from the essay titled, “Constantinople Must Be Ours," written in March 1877.

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