Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, In Memoriam

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

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A Note on Translation, Transliteration, and Other Technicalities

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pp. xiii-xiv

Many of the works cited are classics of Russian literature that have been translated by professional translators and scholars. Where such outstanding translations exist, I use and cite them. Where I have relied instead on the original Russian in order to underscore a particular nuance, I cite only the original in the notes. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-17

In July 1877, in the course of a lengthy review of his great compatriot Leo Tolstoy’s latest novel Anna Karenina, Fyodor Dostoevsky struck an unexpectedly plaintive note: “If we have literary works of such power and execution, then why can we not eventually have our own science as well, and our own economic and social solutions? ...

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Prologue: “Just You Wait! (Uzho tebe!)”

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pp. 18-40

Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto famously begins with an act of political prophecy that is cast as an act of ghost seeing. “A specter is haunting Europe,” intones the manifesto, but in the ironic rather than Gothic mode.1 For the inveterate materialist, Marx, there could of course be no “real” specter. ...

Part One: Enigmas of A-synchrony

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pp. 41-42

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1. What Do Nihilists Do?

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pp. 43-51

The easing of repression marks the most dangerous time for an authoritarian government, and Russia in 1861–63 is an object lesson. Even in advance of the Emancipation, rumors of uprisings, upheavals, and a revolution at the gates were rife and struck fear into already apprehensive hearts. ...

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2. “Very Dangerous!”

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pp. 52-59

What could be more innocuous than a placid and well-fed country squire, lounging indolently on his divan, sunk in pleasant reverie? Nothing, and this was precisely the problem, according to the radical young literary critic Nikolai Dobroliubov (1836–61), the tireless advocate of literature’s power to generate new social types. ...

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3. Extraordinary Men and Gloomy Monsters

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pp. 60-66

The conflagration that consumed not Oblomovshchina but the market quarter of St. Petersburg in the late spring of 1862 seemed confirmation that Dobroliubov’s “real day” had finally come, or so Alexander II’s government was convinced. The radical journals The Contemporary and The Russian Word were forced to suspend publication ...

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4. “Daring and Original Things” (Assez causé!)

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pp. 67-72

Although almost a decade had passed since Goncharov’s Oblomov, the point of departure of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is essentially the same. It is the bed of the protagonist, Rodion Raskolnikov, and the “fantastic nonsense” that he dreams up there. “‘I want to attempt such a thing, and at the same time I’m afraid of trifles!’ he thought with a strange smile. ...

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5. “Vous trouvez que l’assassinat est grandeur d’âme?”

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pp. 73-81

In the Epilogue of Crime and Punishment, after Raskolnikov has confessed and been tried for the double murder, there is a niggling discrepancy between the crime as a “brute fact” and as a “social fact.” To all appearances, the crime was an ordinary one, but the criminal, on the other hand, “did not quite resemble the ordinary murderer, outlaw, ...

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6. Spoiling One Idea to Save Another

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pp. 82-92

There is only one explicit mention of Dmitry Karakozov’s attempted regicide in Dostoevsky’s correspondence in the months following April 4, 1866. It would be expected that with M. N. Murav’ev, the notorious “hangman of Warsaw” and head of the investigative commission, unleashing what Herzen’s The Bell referred to as the “White Terror” on St. Petersburg and all of Russia, ...

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7. A Gloomier Catechism

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pp. 93-102

In 1868, the extraordinary man according to Raskolnikov’s specifications still had not appeared, but the young radical writer Peter Tkachev had not lost hope. On the contrary, in the newspaper The Deed (Delo) Tkachev insisted on the imminent appearance of those he rebranded as “People of the Future” (in his article “Liudi budushchego i geroi meshchanstva”). ...

Part Two: Apparitional Terrorism in Demons

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1. “Again, Like Before”

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pp. 105-109

On November 25, 1869, a casual reader of The Moscow Gazette (Moskovskie vedomosti) might have easily overlooked the following notice: two peasants, walking through the park of the Petrov Agricultural Academy, spied a trail of blood leading to the frozen pond in the grotto. There, a corpse had floated to the surface and was visible beneath the ice.1 ...

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2. “The Only Possible Explanation of All These Wonders”

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pp. 110-117

If Dostoevsky’s aspiration, as author, is to “clarify possibility,” his narrator G—v’s much more modest ambition is “to describe the recent and very strange events that took place in our town.”1 Between these two purposes lies a hazard that Demons repeatedly exposes: explanation. Particularly in those cases where there is “only one possible” explanation ...

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3. Tarantulas with a Heart?

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pp. 118-124

The lack of a final conclusive explanation is not only the consequence of Dostoevsky’s choice as an artist, but a consequence of the fact that he knew he really did not know. When it came to Nechaev, Dostoevsky’s notes go only so far in penetrating the mystery before trailing off into a series of unanswered questions. ...

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4. Dostoevsky’s Counterterrorism: “The First Step”

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pp. 125-133

When Nechaev was eventually tried in January 1873, his trial attracted remarkably little attention, and a guilty verdict was handed down after less than an hour’s deliberation. The trial itself had lasted only five hours. What need was there to try Nechaev again, contended the prosecutor, when the Swiss Canton Court had judged him guilty of a common ...

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5. Dostoevsky’s Counterterrorism (Continued): Laughter through Fear

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pp. 134-140

Dostoevsky’s tactic of division effectively renders Peter a “zero,” who like all Gogolian zeroes (Khlestakov, Chichikov) slips the net and is buoyed out of town by his first-class bons vivants. Just so, Spasovich, in his in absentia trial of Nechaev, declared that “there was a lot of Khlestakov in him”—too much for him to be taken entirely seriously.2 ...

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6. The Unity of All Terrorism(s)

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pp. 141-148

In their exhaustive reference work Political Terrorism (revised in 2005), the social scientists Alex P. Schmid and Albert J. Jongman accord some worth to belles lettres and list Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Demons in their bibliography on the etiology of terrorism.1 This presents the student of terrorism, history, or Dostoevsky with a curious difficulty. ...

Part Three: “The Little Devil Sitting in Your Heart”

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1. A Change of Heart

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pp. 151-154

In 1880, Dostoevsky was at the pinnacle of his career, and, as the honor of writing the jubilee address from the Slavic Benevolent Society attests, in good graces with the monarchy. Nonetheless, it was not for him to say whether he was in solidarity with the nihilists. In the seven years since Demons’ completion in 1873 the political ground had undergone seismic shifts. ...

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2. An Original Plan

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pp. 155-158

On January 24, 1878, two young women, Vera Zasulich and Maria Kolenkina, undertook the simultaneous assassinations of the notorious governor general of St. Petersburg, Fyodor Trepov, and the public prosecutor in the recent mass trial of the populist propagandists (“The Trial of the 193”), Vladislav Zhelekhovsky.1 ...

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3. Emotions on Trial: Witness Testimony and the Prosecution

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pp. 159-166

Before the presiding judge, the erudite and well-respected A. A. Koni, dismissed the jury of the St. Petersburg Municipal Court to deliberate on the verdict in the Zasulich case, he instructed them to answer three questions: “1) Was Zasulich guilty so that, wanting to wreak vengeance on Commandant Trepov for his punishment of Bogoliubov and having acquired for this purpose a revolver, ...

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4. Emotions on Trial II: The Defense

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pp. 167-175

Dostoevsky was profoundly disturbed by the fact that lawyers served not their consciences, but their clients and their own agendas, and therefore were bound to use any means to achieve a verdict favorable to them.1 The most notorious example was the Kroneberg case, a case of horrific child abuse, in which the father was accused—and exonerated—of torture. ...

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5. Whose Rebellion?

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pp. 176-180

As has been frequently noted by literary scholars, Dostoevsky used some of the arguments—and some of the techniques—from the Zasulich trial in the penultimate book of The Brothers Karamazov, devoted to Dmitry’s trial. Or rather, it is more accurate to say that he exposed the arguments and techniques even as he used them. ...

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6. False Christs and Little Devils

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pp. 181-191

Alexandrov, however, was certainly not exhorting his courtroom audience of Petersburg ladies and luminaries, to say nothing of representatives of the legal profession, to commit acts of terrorism; he was merely seeking acquittal for his client. Yet after the presiding judge Koni had restored order in the court, ...

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7. “That Is the Whole Answer”

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pp. 192-196

Perhaps the riskiest move of Dostoevsky’s literary career, and the one he “trembled” most over, was the use of the conventions of faith-based hagiography for the purposes of refuting the powerfully rendered “nihilist” arguments of “Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” in Book V and pronouncing his own “new word.” Dostoevsky’s anxiety ...

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8. The Khokhlakov Principle: Russian Society in the Mirror of Revolutionary Terrorism

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pp. 197-201

Dostoevsky’s evocation of this mutual responsibility is most successful in the novel-as-allegory: the brothers’ collective guilt for their father’s murder as Russian society’s collective guilt for (attempted) tsaricide.1 In this regard, each of the brothers clearly stands for an estate or social group: Dmitry, for the feckless gentry outraged at being cheated of their inheritance; ...

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9. Again, Like Before (Again)

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pp. 202-208

Quite possibly the two most important speeches of Dostoevsky’s career were delivered in 1880: Alyosha’s momentous “speech at the stone,” which concludes The Brothers Karamazov, and Dostoevsky’s own remarkable speech at the Pushkin Days on June 8, 1880. Unsurprisingly, much has been written about both, ...

Part Four: The Beautiful Dead (Deed)

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pp. 209-210

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1. Writing in Blood

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pp. 211-214

On March 1, 1881, the Russian public could not have been surprised when a bomb thrown by a member of the People’s Will fatally wounded the emperor. As the seventh attempt on his life in less than two years, the only astonishing thing about it was its success. As the police closed in on the People’s Will’s most elaborate conspiracy ...

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2. An Icon with Death

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pp. 215-223

In concluding his summation in defense of Vera Zasulich, Peter Alexandrov had emphasized that all of the preceding arguments were made not for the benefit of his client, but rather only for the purpose of helping the jury resolve “the questions standing before it.” As for Zasulich, the ultimate proof of her selflessness was her complete indifference ...

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3. Celebrity Icons

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pp. 224-235

The year 1878 earned the distinction of “The Year of Assassinations” as across the European continent malcontents lashed out against emperors and heads of state,1 but it could just as well have been designated “The Year of the Threshold.” Not only did Russian revolutionary terrorism stand poised to emerge, but so did the attentat (attempt) of anarchist ...

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4. Terror in Search of a Face

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pp. 236-246

You are queer people, Messrs. Russian artists. Charlotte Corday! Don’t you have enough of your own? What do you have to do with Charlotte?”1 In Vsevolod Garshin’s 1885 novella Nadezhda Nikolaevna, the writer Bezsonov uses this purely rhetorical question to vent his pique at his artist friend Lopatin. ...

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Epilogue: “All of Europe Thrills to the Horror”

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pp. 247-262

As the year 1881 dawned, the outlook for Russia—at least to Western observers—was promising, and the London Times confidently referred to the country’s “much brighter prospects [and] progress towards real liberal reform.”1 By contrast, in Ireland the prospects were increasingly bleak, as the Pall Mall Gazette reported “new developments of Fenian terrorism in Dublin” ....

Notes

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pp. 263-308

Bibliography

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pp. 309-322

Index

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pp. 323-349