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Confronting Dostoevsky’s «Demons»

Anarchism and the Specter of Bakunin in Twentieth-Century Russia


James Goodwin

Although criticized at one time for its highly tendentious spirit, Dostoevsky’s Demons (1871-1872) has proven to be a novel of great polemical vitality. Originally inspired by a minor conspiratorial episode of the late 1860s, well after Dostoevsky’s death (1881) the work continued to earn both acclaim and contempt for its scathing caricature of revolutionists driven by destructive, anarchic aims. The text of Demons assumed new meaning in Russian literary culture following the Bolshevik triumph of 1917, when the reestablishment and expansion of centralized state power inevitably revived interest in the radical populist tendencies of Russia’s past, in particular the anarchist thought of Dostoevsky’s legendary contemporary, Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876).
Confronting Dostoevsky’s ‘Demons’ is the first book to explore the life of Dostoevsky’s novel in light of disputes and controversies over Bakunin’s troubling legacy in Russia. Contrary to the traditional view, which assumes the obsolescence of Demons throughout much of the Communist period (1917-1991), this book demonstrates that the potential resurgence of Bakuninist thought actually encouraged reassessments of Dostoevsky’s novel. By exploring the different ideas and critical strategies that motivated opposing interpretations of the novel in post-revolutionary Russia, Confronting Dostoevsky’s ‘Demons’ reveals how the potential resurrection of Bakunin’s anti-authoritarian ethos fostered the return of a politically reactionary novel to the canon of Russian classics.


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Index 243


INDEX Index entries refer to persons cited either in the main text or in the Notes. Omitted are “Bakunin, M. A.” and “Dostoevsky, F. M.,” whose names occur with such frequency that a list of all pages would be of little practical use. Page numbers in normal font refer to the main text. Italicized page numbers refer to the Notes. For the purpose of a single alphabetized list, all entries are given in English. Instances of Cyrillic and other non-English names in the text and Notes are given here in transcription. Parentheses contain the real surnames of persons cited or known by pseudonym. Names of literary characters are not included in the Index. A Adler, Friedrich, 227 Aikhenval’d, Iu. I., 2, 66, 189, 206 Aksakov, I. S., 77, 209 Aksel’rod, P. B., 38, 140, 197, 227 Al’tman, M. S., 88, 211, 212 Aleksandr II (Tsar), 35, 50, 52, 54–56, 58–61, 97, 113, 192, 195, 203–204, 220, 226–227 Amfiteatrov, A. A., 215 Anderson, K. M., 233 Ando, A., 212 Andreev, L. N., 164, 234 Arbore-Ralli, Z. K. See Ralli, Z. K. Arshinov, P. A., 102, 127–128, 225 Ascher, Abraham, 227 Atabekian, A. M., 121, 204 Avakumovic, Ivan, 199, 200 Avrich, Paul, 43, 45, 199–201, 204, 219, 222, 226, 230, 233, 238 B Bakhtin, M. M., 4, 167, 207, 235 Bakunin, A. A., 54 Bakunin, A. I., 217 Bakunin, M. A. See prefatory note Bakunina, N. A., 228 Bakunina, T. A., 144–146, 228 Barkashov, A....

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