In 1914, not the calendar, but the historical 19th century comes to an end. The second peak point of the Russian culture after the Pushkin period, later called the «Silver Age», suffers a crisis just before World War I. They still listen to Blok, Bryusov and Severyanin in salons of the capital city. The World of Art association and cubo-futurists are still holding exhibitions, unaware that «The last futuristic exhibition of paintings 0.10,” where Malevich and Suprematism will loudly present themselves to the world, will open as soon as in a year. Even the legendary artistic cafe Stray Dog will only close at the height of World War I, in 1915. And yet, the anticipation of the impending world conflict is already in the air.

Decadent moods are strong both in the society and bohemia, the opinion on the decline of civilization and people’s feebleness in the face of the time is widespread among writers and artists. The most avant-garde cultural trend of the era, futurism, which arose in 1910, is approaching the decline: having achieved scandalous fame in the field of literature, painting and theater, some futurists feel that their mission has been accomplished and are looking for new paths. Others, giving in to the mood of the times or failing to cope with personal circumstances, take their own lives (Ivan Ignatiev, Vsevolod Knyazev, Bogdan Gordeev, Nadezhda Lvova). Relations between representatives of literary bohemia are often scandalous, sometimes due to the personal relationships that are not always pure.

By the beginning of the war, anxiety among the workers is increasing. Despite the good indicators of the economic growth of the Russian Empire, strikes often occur at factories.

Visualization in the Road to Calvary

A bohemian salon for writers and artists is held by Katya and her husband Nikolay Smokovnikov. It is often visited by the star of St. Petersburg poetry, Alexey Bessonov. Many see Tolstoy’s spiteful mockery of Alexander Blok in the figure of this Decadent poet, who has lost all reasons to live. The heroes who rent Telegin’s rooms represent the types of urban creative intelligentsia. Describing their exhibitions Magnificent blasphemies”, the magazine „The Dish of the Gods“», the art cafe «Red Bells», homegrown manifestos and the apartment of Telegin, named Centre for the Struggle against Convention”, Tolstoy gives a satirical view of the end of the Silver Age and decadent moods of the younger generation.

Among other signs of the times highlighted in the saga are the strikes at factories, the shooting of protesters and the dismissal of Ivan Telegin from the Baltic factory for criticizing the management.