It is hard to work out what is a dream and what is reality as the sense of hallucination spreads from character to character all stemming from the bomb. It is a bit like the Macbeth hand washing guilt in reverse because although no one has used the bomb yet, and plan if anything to throw it in the river, there is the guilt of having been prepared to use it.
There are powerful reminders of the power of the mind to confront the soul with guilt that echoes through other Russian literature, most notably Crime and Punishment and to a certain extent at the end of Dead Souls. You think of Kafka as being a writer that can take your world view and turn it upside down but this is similar in that reading it feels like being in a spinning bubble that has no visible sign of which way is up or down. But that is not a barrier to enjoying the book because if anything it involves the reader more in the conspiracy.
Bullet points between pages 178 – 232
* Having thought about it and dreamt that he himself is the bomb Nikolai seeks out the stranger Dudkin who gave him the bundle to tell him that he will not carry out the bombing and is advised to throw it in the Neva
* After Nikolai leaves Dudkin, who leaves in an attic room and imagines faces coming out of the wallpaper when things are normal, starts to fall apart and dreams up strangers and becomes obsessed with the idea he is a form of doom
“If he didn’t immediately break this nonsense down with his conscious mind, his conscious mind would break down into nonsense.” P206
* Dudkin loses it when he starts to visualise the Bronze Horseman (a famous statute in St Petersburg of Peter the Great pictured above) dismounting his horse and climbing the stairs into the attic room to tell him what he must do with his life
* All of the characters see the bronze horseman and even Nikolai is troubled by it in his visions but he day dreams about putting the bomb underneath his father’s pillow and graphically pictures the scene after the body and the explosion are discovered but is stopped by a clean shaven Sergei (husband of Sofia) who wishes to confront him over his behaviour towards his wife
* Nikolai cannot think about the events of the last few days only being able to concentrate on the bomb and the fact it is ticking away in his drawer back in his rooms getting ever closer to going off
Will he be able to get to the bomb before it goes off? What will the form of doom that is Dudkin do? More tomorrow…