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Pavel Basinsky – about how the novel “What to do?” Chernyshevsky gave rise to the institution of fictitious marriages KXan 36 Daily News

Date: September 29, 2023 Time: 17:06:01

Meanwhile, Chernyshevsky had a great influence not only on Vladimir Lenin, who dramatically changed the whole world, but also on Karl Marx.

As befits a revolutionary of the 19th century, Chernyshevsky was born into the family of a priest. His main predecessor in literary criticism, Vissarion Belinsky, and his main colleague in the Sovremennik magazine, Nikolai Dobrolyubov, also came from a priestly family. It is a separate question why political radicals and notorious materialists came from priestly families. Where were their parents? Either something was unfavorable in the Church itself, or education in theological seminaries and academies was of such high quality that the sons of priests mastered foreign languages ​​and early joined European liberal thought, or the very preaching of Christianity contained the communist ideals of fraternity and altruism… But the fact is that the Russian Church contributed a lot to the Russian revolution.

Chernyshevsky had a great influence not only on Vladimir Lenin, but also on Karl Marx.

His father was the archpriest of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Saratov. As a child, Nikolai Chernyshevsky suffered from severe myopia. “As a child,” he wrote from a Siberian exile, “I couldn’t learn any of the childish arts that my fellow boys were engaged in: not cutting any shapes with a razor, not making anything out of clay, not even learning to weave a net (for fun catching small fish).

Non-participation in children’s games gave rise to a passion for reading. She remembered that she read everything all the time, indiscriminately. Perhaps this is what later gave rise to the eclecticism of her own artistic style. The novel “What to do?” It begins as a thrilling detective story with a staged suicide, continues as a love story, and ends with a cryptic political manifesto calling for revolution. I do not say this as a criticism of the novel, which undoubtedly became one of the most remarkable literary events of the second half of the 19th century, but to emphasize an important point: not everything that is brilliantly written becomes a literary fact, and vice versa.

Chernyshevsky early showed himself as an aesthetic thinker. At university, he defended his dissertation “On the aesthetic relations of art with reality” with a harsh critique of “art for art’s sake” and the assertion that not a single work of art is capable of fully reflecting life. (This is indisputable, but perhaps art has other tasks?) His other philosophical work, The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy, contained the same sharp critique of idealism, based on the latest achievements in the natural sciences.

In the Sovremennik magazine, headed by Nekrasov, he, together with Dobrolyubov, headed a critical section, and this was a period when literary criticism in the magazine was almost more popular with readers than the artistic section, and Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Goncharov, Druzhinin and other luminaries of Russian prose were published in this magazine.

But sensational fame brought him, of course, the novel “What to do?”, Written in the prison of the Peter and Paul Fortress. This novel had a very strange fate. It was written as a polemic with Turgenev’s novel “Fathers and Sons”, where, as it was believed, Turgenev criticized the “nihilists”. In fact, in the person of Yevgeny Bazarov, Turgenev simply came up with the type of “nihilist” and introduced him into life as a role model, but Chernyshevsky saw it differently. The novel written in a prison cell penetrated its walls and… Nekrasov lost it when he was riding in a carriage to the magazine’s editorial office. That is, it is possible that there was no major revolutionary work in Russian literature, since, of course, there were no copies of it, just as there were no drafts (what drafts are in prison?). But some reputable dealer found the manuscript and took it to the Sovremennik publishers. Thanks to him!

In 1863 the novel was published in a magazine, which was closed soon after, and Chernyshevsky was civilly executed and exiled to Siberia, where he spent almost twenty years in hard labor and exile. Only in 1883 he was allowed to return to the European part of Russia without the right to reside in the capitals. At the age of 61, he died in his native Saratov. His contemporary Dostoevsky coped much easier in this regard.

“To do?” – a work that gave rise to the institution of fictitious marriages

Actually “What to do?” amazing novel! This is the only work of Russian literature that gave rise to the institution of fictitious marriages, which did not exist before. Young men began to marry girls to rescue them from parental care. The institution turned out to be very tenacious and exists to this day, only for other reasons.

And more “What to do?” It is the first feminist novel written by a man. In this sense, it is very possible that his return to current literature is still to come.

Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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