Avrahm Yarmolinsky, foreword – Dostovesky, ‘The Possessed’
The PDF file posted here contains the text of the foreword by Avrahm Yarmolinsky to the Modern Library edition of Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed.
[The Possessed] is book begotten of fear and wrath. Dostoyevsky had drawn indiscriminately on his memories of the Fourierist dreamers with whom he had associated in his youth, and on more recent phases of social and political insurgency, and he freely intermingled these elements. The result was an exaggerated, distorted, anachronistic picture of .gullible fools and fiends with a mania for destruction. And yet The Possessed testifies to the fact that Dostoyevsky was not without some insight into the nature of the upheaval from which he was separated by nearly half a century. It was to be such “an upset as the world has never seen before,” a transformation ruled by a violent intransigent spirit, and going beyond mere political and economic change. In the midst of the stormy events of 1905-06, [Dmitry] Merezhkovsky, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dostoyevsky’s death, spoke of him as “the prophet of the Russian revolution.” More recently, opponents of the Bolshevik regime have seen in The Possessed a prophetic anticipation of the events of 1917. But if he was a prophet, he was one whose vision was clouded by horror. At bottom what he feared was that the individual, whose needs, he felt, are of a spiritual and irrational order, must be degraded in a Socialist society organized according to a reasoned scheme in the interests of the group. [italics added]
— Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Foreword (excerpt), The Possessed, By Fyodor Dostoevsky; translated by Constance Garnett (The Modern Library, 1930)
Reading works such as Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and Pitirim A. Sorokin’s The Sociology of Revolution has gotten me thinking about observations such as those made in the passage above; and so have recent developments in the US, where supposedly correct thinking people are being driven mad by abstractions to impose their “ideologically correct” edicts and sanctions.
— posted by Roger W. Smith