Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 2, Sections 1-18

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Chernyshevsky’s second chapter concerns Vera’s liberation from her old home and the old ways, and a decisive rejection of that old way. Chapter 2 begins with a contrast between the older days, nowadays, and the future. The key variable separating these days is the existence of “decent people,” more of which emerge as time goes […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 1

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Chernyshevsky’s What is to be done? concerns ultimately the emancipation of Vera Pavlovna from her mother, Marya, and her mother’s way of life. This video gives us a glimpse into the wicked ways of the old order and to the promise of the new order. Read Chapter 1 entirely before watching this video, for the […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 3.25-32

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Here we analyze Vera’s moral revolution and the ways in which the great woman of the future would approach human life in economics and in love. She is a woman of unbelievable competence in running the dress-making establishment, and a concerned hub of community, and a woman whose love can attach to others, if they […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 3, Sections 1-6

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Chapter 3 of Chernyshevsky’s What is to be Done? begins to display vera and Lopukhov living together as husband and wife. The were a passing strange couple, in the eyes of those taken with the old order. Vera conceives of a plan to organize a dressmaking establishment along communal lines. Vera organizes this with skill, […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 2, entire

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The remainder of Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 2 raises the issue of materialism and socialism–a very theoretical debate that seems very important to our author. The central tenet of socialism is the doctrine that says human beings are what they are because society makes them that way. Socialism goes with materialism. Let […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 3.7-20

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his is an account of the great people of the future generation, through the person of Vera and her two lovers. These are the vanguards of moral virtue, with carefully tuned moral compasses. We can only hope the world someday comes to look like this. Especially crucial here is the virtues of Kirsanov and Lopuhkov […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 3, near the end

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This video is an analysis of the character Rakhmetov, an entirely new kind of person. He embodies many virtues, and turns them all in the direction of revolutionary action. Most of all, he is a great analyzer of people for their revolutionary potential and is totally dedicated to the cause of revolutionary change. He is […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Introductory Video

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What is to be Done? is one of the most influential works of Russian literature. This video gives some of the theoretical background to understanding the work and its significance. The book is, as Russian authors like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy see it, the epitome of modern scientific point of view and hence reveals the destructiveness […]

Nikolai Chernyshevsky, What is to be Done?, Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 of What is to be Done? reintroduces Lopukhov to the action, under a different name. He marries a young lady. But perhaps the most important event or development in Chapter 4 is the transition of Vera to a feminist–the equality of women will become her life’s mission and Chernyshevsky tries to describe all […]