Reading through the prefatory stuff last night (but skipping over bits that seemed too full of spoilers) I could seriously hardly believe the story of Dostoevsky’s (and his friends from the Petrashevsky circle) fate when they were imprisoned for planning to print and circulate revolutionary pamphlets:
On December 22nd, they were marched out blindfolded to Semyonov Square in Saint Petersburg. As preparations were made, every person was prepared to die that day. … As the squad pointed their guns at the three tied to the posts (as noted, not Dostoevsky, who was off to the side), the shout went out, “Prepare to fire!” and, then, another sound rang out – that of a drummer who had been commanded to beat the “refuse,” meaning stop the previous order. The messenger had arrived with Tsar Nicholas’s I new order. “Long Live the Tsar” was yelled, blindfolds were taken off, and the prisoners, including Dostoevsky, had tears in their eyes. They were saved, but this wasn’t a last second show of mercy. This pardon was actually agreed upon the day before, but with the orders that it was to be announced only at the last possible second.
So yes, I would think that could mess with your head for life. Jeez. Also they weren’t exactly pardoned — they were still sentenced to four years of hard labor in Siberia. Crime and Punishment was published 6 years after he returned to St. Petersburg after finishing this sentence.
Omsk, Siberia penal colony
Even with modern cars and highways this is a really, really long way from home.