What Is to Be Done? by Nikolai Chernyshevsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had been meaning to read this book for a while, so after finishing another Russian book, "The Master and The Margarita", I picked it up. What surprised me most is how few radicals I know have actually read the book. It was extremely influential on the growth of the Russian Socialist movement and is the oldest feminist novel I have ever read.
The book itself is a very thinly vaneered revolutionary propaganda story told through a number of young people in middle russian society. It uses a drama story about relationships and society as a way of pushing more radical messages through the tsarist censors. Though it wasn't the most exciting story, it was still very interesting from a historical perspective how it discussed the rationality of socialism and feminism. There was also a vivid example of a garment workers collective and long descriptions about the economic and social logic of doing so as well as critiques of marriage, the rich, the nuclear family, and others. Definitely an interesting read and a classic of Russian literature.
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