Continuing with my ongoing Russian reading project, I’ve made my way through Chernyshevsky’s ‘What Is to Be Done’. The plan is to read the Russian classics in chronological order. Yes, I’ve read them individually as great novels in their own right, but this project is about finding the connections between them and seeing how they fit into my rather superficial understanding of Russian history.
This book turned Lenin into a revolutionary and was therefore probably the most influential publication in Russian of the century. This, not Marx, was the book that brought socialism and revolutionary idealism to the masses, so it’s a shame that, as a novel, it’s pretty rubbish. If you want to make it sound like you’ve read it, while saving yourself the tedium, go to the Russian Reading page to learn about this nineteenth century best-seller. I apologise for posting more of a rant than a review but trust me, if you read the book you’ll understand.