Tag Archives: Dostoyevsky

Caryl Emerson: “The Revolutionary Specters of Russian Letters”

The great Russian writers between “apocalypse and nihilism.”

Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s novel _What Is to Be Done? Some Stories about the New People_ (1863)

Much of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s oeuvre was written as a kind of retaliation against Chernyshevsky’s ideas. In 1902, Lenin named his first serious book What Is to Be Done? in homage to Chernyshevsky’s novel. Progressive young Russians, in imitation of Chernyshevsky’s “new people,” practiced free love and new forms of marriage and experimented with Chernyshevsky’s communal economic model.