The Spirit of Russia: Studies in History, Literature and Philosophy - Vol. 2

The Spirit of Russia: Studies in History, Literature and Philosophy - Vol. 2

The Spirit of Russia: Studies in History, Literature and Philosophy - Vol. 2

The Spirit of Russia: Studies in History, Literature and Philosophy - Vol. 2

Excerpt

In Europe, Herzen was carrying on Belinskii's work, and from 1850 onwards, unaffected by the censorship, was exercising a literary influence on progressive and radical Russia; in Russia, simultaneously, Belinskii found a successor in Nikolai Gavrilovic Cernyševskii. This writer made his literary debut in 1853. In 1854, he became a collaborator on the "Sovremennik" (Contemporary), a periodical founded by Puškin, and after 1847 edited by the poet Nekrasov. Soon he became the most active spirit in the production of this periodical, and during the responsible and difficult time that followed the Crimean defeat he was literary and political leader of the younger generation. The young writer was not slow to avail himself of the comparative freedom of authorship during the first years of Alexander's reign. His literary essays from 1853 to 1863 fill eleven large volumes, although the year of the liberation of the serfs and the subsequent epoch of reforms did not bring enhanced freedom to Cernyševskii and his organ. On the contrary, to the government and even to many liberals his trend seemed dangerous, for a political ferment, largely due to Cernyševskii's influence, now became apparent, and manifested itself in 1861 in the disturbances that broke out among the students and were directed against the reactionary policy in education. The first victim of repression ( 1861) was Cernyševskii's fellow worker on the "Sovremennik," M. J. Mihailov, translator and poet.1

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