In The Doomed City ("Град обреченный"), when Andrei finally (spoilers, kind of) finds the Red Building and enters it, he sees a surreal host of people expecting him to a game of chess with some grandmaster.

During the game, while they both sacrifice some of their pieces, Andrei somehow realises he isn't actually supposed to play against his opponent, but that they're on the same side, in a sense. And yet he leaves.

My questions are as follows:

  • What is the Red Building? What does it represent?

  • What did the game of chess represent?

  • Who was Andrei's opponent?

  • What happened to other people who entered the building? Where did they go?

  • How and why was Katzmann different, how was he able to enter and leave the building?


1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: such questions are practically impossible to answer. Anyway,

What is the Red Building? What does it represent?

As Katzman put it, the Red Building is a delirium of an agitated shame. I am not sure I translate it correctly; Russian совесть is very hard to translate. It refers to our ability to tell right from wrong, and particularly to an ability to feel the shame when choosing wrong.

Who was Andrei's opponent?

It wears an unmistakable mask of Stalin. It is hinted that whoever enters the Building has its own opponent (or rather has its own experience).

  • Please could you edit to explain this answer better? In particular, why does "delirium of an agitated shame" refer to our ability to tell right from wrong, and where/how is it "hinted" that the opponent/experience is personalised for each visitor?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 12:23
  • @Randal'Thor There are so many hints, that I'd have to quote about a half of the text. Start with Katzman's "How can I know what happened there from your point of view?". Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 23:22

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