Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Robert A. Magure (trans.); Robert

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky; Robert A. Magure (trans.); Robert Belknap (ed.)

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Charles Moser, who wrote the best book on the Anti-Nihilist Novel, considers Demons the culmination of the genre. Kirillov, Shigalyov and Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky give monologues in Part II that enunciate and embody different implications of Nechayevism: Kirillov links it to self-destruction; Shigalyov to enslavement; Pyotr Stepanovich to madness; but all three to domination by the will. Dostoyevsky boasted that his imagination was prophetic and could use limited data to deduce truths not yet evident; later readers have said that the clarity of his understanding of Nechayev and the many extremists of his time gave him uncanny prescience.

Laying a house-sprite in the ground? Giving in marriage a witch’s hand? — Alexander Pushkin, ‘Demons’ (1830)1 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

4. In Boris Godunov (1825). 5. My translation. See Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Complete Letters, tr. and ed. David Lowe, vol. 5, p. 178. 6. André Gide, Dostoevski (Paris, 1923) and Leonid Grossman, ‘Dostoevskii i Evropa’, Russkaya Mysl’ (November-December 1915). 7. Henry James, Letters, ed. Leon Edel (London and Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 1984), vol. 4, p. 619. 8. See Further Reading. 9. For Vladiv, see Further Reading. Yurii Fyodorovich Karyakin, Dostoevskii i kanun XXI veka (Dostoyevsky and the Eve of the Twenty-first Century) (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1989), p.

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