Nikolai Bugaev was well known for his influential philosophical essays, in which he decried geometry and probability and trumpeted the virtues of hard analysis. Despite — or because of — his father's mathematical tastes, Boris Bugaev was fascinated by probability and particularly by entropy, a notion to which he frequently refers in works such as "Kotik Letaev".
Bely's creative works notably influenced—and were influenced by—several literary schools, especially symbolism. They feature a striking mysticism and a sort of moody musicality. The far-reaching influence of his literary voice on Russian writers ( and even musicians ) has frequently been compared to the impact of James Joyce in the English-speaking world. The novelty of his sonic effects has also been compared to the innovative music of Charles Ives.
Bely's symbolist novel "Petersburg" ( 1916; 1922 ) is generally considered to be his masterpiece. The book is vivid and memorable, and employs a striking prose method in which sounds often evoke colors. The novel is set in the somewhat hysterical atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Petersburg and the Russian Revolution of 1905. To the extent that the book can be said to possess a plot, this can be summarized as the story of the hapless Nikolai Apollonovich, a never-do-well who is caught up in revolutionary politics and assigned the task of assassinating a certain government official — his own father. Nikolai is pursued through the impenetrable Petersburg mists by the ringing hooves of the famous bronze statue of Peter the Great.
In his later years Bely was influenced by Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy and became a personal friend of Steiner's.
Bely has been credited with foretelling in this novel, which some have called semi-autobiographical, the Russian Revolution, the rise of totalitarianism, political terrorism, and even chaos theory.
Bely was one of the major influences on the theater of Vsevolod Meyerhold.
He is the namesake of the Andrei Bely Prize (Russian: Премия Андрея Белого), one of the most important prizes in Russian literature.