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What Is to Be Done?
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What Is to Be Done?

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  891 ratings  ·  38 reviews
"No work in modern literature, with the possible exception of Uncle Tom's Cabin, can compete with What Is to Be Done? in its effect on human lives and its power to make history. For Chernyshevsky's novel, far more than Marx's Capital, supplied the emotional dynamic that eventually went to make the Russian Revolution." Joseph Frank, The Southern Review

Almost from the moment
Paperback, 445 pages
Published January 8th 1989 by Cornell University Press (first published 1863)
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Community Reviews

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The Narrator
Jul 23, 2008 The Narrator rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone remotely involved in contemporary political issues
Recommended to The Narrator by: A mysterious friend, who calls himself "Rakhmetov"
Dear Reader, the criticism of this novel is that it is poorly written. I can assure you this is not the case. Chernyshevsky - indeed once a dear friend of mine (we spent some time together in the Fortress of Peter and Paul) - with a few initial "striking scenes" comes right out and admits he's not trying to win you over with plot. Plot is grossly overrated anyhow; most modern "authors" would be well served to learn that lesson (and why must a plot have this silly, redundant arc to it? You've see ...more
Michael Steger
This is a rather peculiar book, which I enjoyed quite a lot. It was
written in 1863, while its author, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, was in prison for opposing serfdom. Chernyshevsky, who spent a number of years in prison and died in forced exile in Siberia, was considered one of the
most radical men of his time, one of the 'new men' of the 1860s, who opposed themselves to the 'men of the '40s' such as Dostoevsky and
Turgenyev. 'What Is to Be Done?' was for a long time considered the
exemplary radical
Maria Georgiadou
Απόσπασμα από τη σελ. 387:
«Ό,τι σου δείξαμε, δεν θα έχει σύντομα την πλήρη ανάπτυξή που διαπίστωσες τώρα. Θα περάσουν πολλές γενιές μέχρι να πραγματοποιηθεί αυτό απ’ το οποίο τώρα παίρνεις μια πρώτη γεύση. Όχι, το «πολλές γενιές» δεν είναι ακριβές: η δουλειά μου τώρα προχωράει γρήγορα, κάθε χρόνο και γρηγορότερα, μα, παρ’ όλα αυτά, δεν θα εισέλθεις ακόμα σ’ αυτό το βασίλειο της τελειότητας που κυβερνάει η αδερφή μου. Τουλάχιστον το είδες, ξέρεις πώς θα είναι το μέλλον. Φωτεινό, εκπληκτικό. Πες
If you want to understand the underpinnings of modern Russia and its recent history, you have to understand Nikolai Chernyshevsky. Lenin for one credits "What is to be done" as the most influential book in the development of his social conscious, and without him no doubt the world would be a very different place than it is today. A must read.
May 07, 2007 jon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Russian lit
Shelves: recentlyread
This is the middle book in an important Russian literary and philisophical argument. The first was Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, and the third was Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground. All that stuff Dostoevsky is talking about in Notes - advantage motivating action, the crystal palace, etc. - comes from What is to be Done. Chernyshevsky thought Turgenev treated nihilism unfairly in Fathers and Sons, so he portrayed nihilism in another manner. Dostoevsky then destroyed Chernyshevsky's vision of an ...more
Книга достаточно интересная. После ее прочтения я стала лучше понимать настроение людей перед революцией 1917 года. И если бы я жила в то время, то, думаю, что я сама была бы однозначным ее сторонником.

Чернышевский подробно описывает то, как он видит устройство послереволюционного общества, общества, которое в его представлении будет на голову выше, достойнее современного ему. Социализм, эгоизм, феминизм - неотъемлемые составляющие этого нового общества. И, читая книгу, я была абсолютно согласна
Per me un libro speciale. Non per i meriti letterari o per lo stile, ma per la storia di questo rapporto uomo-donna basilare per la societ, per il modo di vedere l'organizzazione del lavoro, attuali utopie che non vediamo realizzarsi neppure ora. Nessuna indagine psicologica (cos non si rischiano toppate ;-) che toglierebbero freschezza al racconto, apprendiamo i fatti in maniera quasi oggettiva. E lo scrittore ci bacchetta pure nella buffa prefazione ed epilogo. Vera una donna moderna. Ci si ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Lucas added it
So hard to appreciate the historical context through only reading. Some of the ideas out forth don't translate well to the modern west, others have an amazing prescience in regards to modern feminism and liberalism. I especially like one aspect which appears to be a continual theme in Russian lit in the 19th century, particularly with Gogol, are the intermissions in which the author pauses the story to harangue and condescend to the reader. I found these to be particularly funny, for he pulls no ...more
An invaluable insight into the mindset of the mid-19C utopian Russian nihilist. As a novel, however, this is pretty terrible. Chernyshevsky's style leant itself far better to literary criticism than it did to actual literary writing, to the extent that there are sections of this novel that are impossible to read without either laughing or sighing in despair. The naivety of the plotting, and the flaws of the characterisation, are indicative of the chaos of the Russian revolutionary movement at th ...more
That was wonderful. Indeed, I want to read this book again eve after I have just read it. Is there there a better way to rate a book?
Стойностен роман. Класика!
I was expecting a lot from What is to be Done? naturally because of the buzz this book caused around its time. I can put it down finally with only mixed feelings about it. I suppose the book struck a chord loudly with those of its time, and as much as we present day "readers with penetrating eyes" wish to be struck with the same impact I believe we can only pretend to be so. If a book is not written for you and only you, there's only so much you can take away from it. I don't resolve to pretend ...more
Çernişevski'nin hapiste kurnaz bir dille yazdığı 'Nasıl Yapmalı' kitabı hayli tartışılmış bir kitap. Hatta rivayet odur ki kitaba karşı bir eleştiri yazmaktansa, toplumsal meselelere bu kadar naif çözümler sunmaya kalktığı için 'Yer Altından Notlar'ı yazarak yanıt verir Dostoyevski. Kimileri ise Çernişevski'nin kitabı Turgenyev'in Babalar ve Oğulları'na yanıt olarak yazdığını söylüyor. Neyse kitabın yazıldığı dönem serflerin bağımsızlığını kazandığı, Rusya'da çarlık rejiminin kazanının kaynadığı ...more
At times this novel was extremely tiresome. Especially the many philosophical reflections by each of the main characters on their motives for their thoughts and actions were hard to digest, unrealistic and hard to empathize with. The coldness and rational treatment by the author of the first marriage between Eva Pavlova and Lupokhov was hard to digest, no matter what the outcome. Finally, the frequent attempts of the author to confront and abuse the reader didn't improve what was already lacking ...more
Page. 58 chapter 2

This book is fucking long, I keep staring at it on the floor....I don't know, I might skip it for later...Seems all these graphic novels are getting ordered from the library, which is pretty great. This should be my focus...Not outdated commie literature...

These are just quotes from the intro....

"Social, political, and religious institutions likewise tended to preserve distorted images of reality in order to protect the power and privileges of the social groups that benefited f
Kristin King
Fascinating book! Avoid the 1961 edition at all costs. The translator cut out all the sex, and then the editor complained that it was prudish. Oh yeah, and the editor, EH Carr, not understanding the last few chapters, cut them. ("This material is omitted from the present edition," pg xii.) So be careful which edition you read. The 1986 Ardis Publishers edition fixed both problems.
Mayta Quix
Knowing the reputation of the book, I thought it would turn out to be a dry reading...well...some parts of the book did, a large proportion of the text serve to convey Chernyshevsky's socio-political propaganda in a heavily didactic manner (some tend to be rather corny too, eg Verochka's first dream and the final fate of Lopukhov). Yet, it also possesses scenes of sardonic wits, sound arguments and surprisingly whimsical tone, just like when the materialist author acknowledged that "...the mater ...more
Katie Herring
This was the first novel I had to read for my Russian literature course, and it was okay. It's been said that this piece was the most influential Russian work (in Russia), and I can understand why.

I really enjoyed how Chernyshevsky talked to the audience. Also, I really liked all the quotes concerning reading, and how it would better society.

My professor has read this many times, but I don't think I'll read it again...

I do, however, look forward to the rest of the novels/short stories I will re
The author, or narrator, claims this book has no "artistic merit". He was right. I do appreciate reading this, however, since this book had such an impact that would eventually lead to the Revolution. It is basically the Uncle Tom's Cabin of Russia. I don't agree with the ideas Chernyshevsky presents, but nonetheless it is interesting to get an insight into the cultural dilemmas of mid 19th century Russia.
I was really tempted to talk to one of my Russian girl friends after this book. There were definitely parts where I feel the wit and sardonicness was lost in translation or the temporal confusion expected of an modern American reading a historically, politically potent novel. Too smart for me, but fascinating.

I did get a sense for the unfairness of the times in the trickle of a high class response to murder and deceit. The way things were handled was definitively not straight forward and that do
Книга заключается в том, что автор описывает нестандартного, "альтернативного" толка (особенно для того времени) людей, формы организации взаимоотношений в браке, экономической организации предприятия и проч. Описывает с откровенным восхищением, граничащим с обильным неконтролируемым слюноотделением.

Художественной, литературной ценности при этом я особо не заметил, идеологическая составляющая абсолютно перевешивает. (Даже сны Веры Павловны - это больше не метафоры, а зашифрованные (для обхода це
Krista Danis
Though I do think Chernyshevsky is scatterbrained in his storytelling, and to reject the advantages of plot yet use one to convey political meaning is to necessarily detract from both efforts, there were a few sparkling gems to extract from this influential Russian novel. His illustration of the "new" household dynamic was quite progressive, not only for his time but for modern standards of domesticity. Though idealistic, the explaination of profit distribution in the workshops and how each work ...more
Seriously one of my favorite works of fiction. I would probably learn conversational Russian just to read this without translation
Написано и вправду очень специфически, но свой шарм есть.

Также наверное стоит прочитать как исторический документ, потому что чувствуется, что на последующие поколения революционеров книга оказала большое влияние.
Non aspettatevi introspezione psicologica dei personaggi né climax né plot mozzafiato.
"Che fare?" è un saggio romanzato decisamente moderno(è stato scritto nel 1863) riguardo la concezione della donna, il rapporto egualitario uomo-donna come rapporto basilare della società.
Mi ha divertita l'espediente stilistico-narrativo di interrompere frequentemente la narrazione e il rivolgersi direttamente al lettore quasi a voler catturarlo e coinvolgerlo nella scrittura di questa visionaria e utopistica i
Nov 20, 2014 4723985 added it
Shelves: dropped
I give up.
From the vantage point of the present I am only giving this novel three stars, but this is very unfair of me as it must have had a huge effect at the time it was written. This period of Russian literature fascinated me as the political really did become personal and the great thinkers tried - often unsuccessfully - to live out different kinds of relationships. Definitely worth reading if you are interested in 19th century Russian thinkers.
Let's be very short and easy.

There is no point in reading this book if you are not familiar with the 18th century history of Russia (very familiar). Which I am definitely not.

So - my understanding of this is not full. However, what I didn't like very much - the author's attitude to the reader, showing stupidity of reader and his unability to understand "the deep meaning" of the novel.
Artem Huletski
Понравились беседы автора c читателем, логичность и последовательность рассуждений. Если отвлечься от философии, которая показалось слишком утопичной, большую часть книги составляет описание жизни молодой девушки, любви, любовных треугольников и брака. Читается тяжеловато.
He's as good as say Ayn Rand in terms of his writing chops, though some scenes I can still see nearly 16 years after having read this. Worth reading if you are a Russian lit nut and especially a fan of Notes from Underground. Definitely ham-fisted artistry though.
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Fabula: Обсуждение романа "Что делать?" 10 21 Aug 18, 2013 04:17AM  
  • The Same Old Story
  • Poor Liza
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  • The Squabble
  • The Lower Depths
  • Happy Moscow
  • The Sebastopol Sketches
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  • The Story of a Nobody
  • Cursed Days: Diary of a Revolution
  • The Galosh
  • Forever Flowing
  • The Village of Stepanchikovo
  • The Storm
  • Sandro of Chegem
  • Matryona's House And Other Stories
Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky (Russian: Николай Гаврилович Чернышевский) (July 12, 1828 – October 17, 1889) was a Russian revolutionary democrat, materialist philosopher, critic, and socialist (seen by some as a utopian socialist). He was the leader of the revolutionary democratic movement of the 1860s, and an influence on Vladimir Lenin, Emma Goldman, and Serbian political writer and socialis ...more
More about Nikolai Chernyshevsky...
Nasıl Yapmalı?  I Nasıl Yapmalı? II Hubungan Estetik Seni dengan Realitas Prologue: A Novel for the Beginning of the 1860's Selected Philosophical Essays

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“But does it really help if a person doesn't realize what he lacks, or, if he does, he insists that he doesn't need it at all? That's an illusion, a fantasy. Human nature is stifled by reason, circumstances, and pride. It keeps silent and doesn't make itself known to one's consciousness, all the while silently doing its work of undermining life.” 8 likes
“Только тот любит, кто помогает любимой женщине возвышаться до независимости.” 2 likes
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