Confronting Dostoevsky's Demons: Anarchism and the Specter of Bakunin in Twentieth-century Russia

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Peter Lang, 2010 - Literary Criticism - 251 pages
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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Contents

Dostoevskys Demons
9
Demons and the Bakuninist Context
33
Bakunins Legacy in Revolution 19051921
42
Bakunin Prostrate
50
Leonid Grossmans Art of Scholarly Provocation
65
Aleksei Borovoi
101
Liberating Bakunin from Demons
109
The Bakunin Jubilee of 1926
116
Bakunin as Revolutionary Romantic O
136
At the Gates of the Bolshevik Pantheon
147
Suppressing Demons in Stalins Russia
157
Late Soviet Analysis
175
Toward New Confrontations
183
Notes
189
Index
243
Copyright

Viacheslav Polonsky and the Marxist Struggle
129

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About the author (2010)

The Author: James Goodwin is Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Slavic literatures from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles

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