The novel White Nights, published in 1848, is one of the first works written by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is no coincidence that the story is set in St Petersburg, the city where the author spent his youth. The main themes are: dreams, solitude, introspection and love from the point of view of the dreamer.
The protagonist is a young boy who usually wanders alone in the streets of St Petersburg. He has no friends or family and lives on unrealisable dreams and realities. Aware of the unrealizability of his thoughts, he prefers to isolate himself, because only with himself he can truly be happy. His life is turned upside down when, one evening, wandering through the streets of the city, he meets a girl. The woman cries and despairs and tells the young man her sad fate: in love with a man to whom she and her grandmother had rented a room, he promised to return after a year with enough money to guarantee her a future. A year has passed, and still no trace of the man. The two begin to confide in each other and become more and more intimate when, on the fourth day, the fiancé suddenly returns. The woman does not hesitate for a moment to leave the protagonist alone to his fate who, resigned, returns to his world.
This work has the exquisite traits of existentialism. The Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky influenced many philosophers of the later period, including Sartre and Heidegger, best known for their existentialist works Being and Nothingness and Being and Time respectively. Man, even if surrounded by thousands of people who populate the metropolis, is always alone and nothing in the world can change the fate of this hopeless destiny.