Vital Question, or, What is to be Done? cover

Vital Question, or, What is to be Done?

Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828-1889)

1. Translators' Preface
2. Introduction: Chapter 01
3. Introduction: Chapter 02
4. Introduction: Chapter 03
5. Part I: Chapter 01a
6. Part I: Chapter 01b
7. Part I: Chapter 02
8. Part I: Chapter 03
9. Part I: Chapter 04
10. Part I: Chapter 05
11. Part I: Chapter 06
12. Part I: Chapter 07
13. Part I: Chapter 08
14. Part I: Chapter 09
15. Part II: Chapter 01
16. Part II: Chapter 02
17. Part II: Chapter 03
18. Part II: Chapter 04
19. Part II: Chapter 05
20. Part II: Chapter 06
21. Part II: Chapter 07
22. Part II: Chapter 08
23. Part II: Chapter 09
24. Part II: Chapter 10
25. Part II: Chapter 11
26. Part II: Chapter 12
27. Part II: Chapter 13
28. Part II: Chapter 14
29. Part II: Chapter 15
30. Part II: Chapter 16
31. Part II: Chapter 17
32. Part II: Chapter 18
33. Part II: Chapter 19
34. Part II: Chapter 20
35. Part II: Chapter 21
36. Part II: Chapter 22
37. Part II: Chapter 23
38. Part II: Chapter 24
39. Part III: Chapter 01
40. Part III: Chapter 02
41. Part III: Chapter 03
42. Part III: Chapter 04a
43. Part III: Chapter 04b
44. Part III: Chapter 05
45. Part III: Chapter 06
46. Part III: Chapter 07
47. Part III: Chapter 08
48. Part III: Chapter 09
49. Part III: Chapter 10
50. Part III: Chapter 11
51. Part III: Chapter 12
52. Part III: Chapter 13
53. Part III: Chapter 14
54. Part III: Chapter 15
55. Part III: Chapter 16
56. Part III: Chapter 17
57. Part III: Chapter 18
58. Part III: Chapter 19
59. Part III: Chapter 20
60. Part III: Chapter 21
61. Part III: Chapter 22
62. Part III: Chapter 23
63. Part III: Chapter 24
64. Part III: Chapter 25
65. Part III: Chapter 26
66. Part III: Chapters 27-28
67. Part III: Chapter 29a
68. Part III: Chapter 29b
69. Part III: Chapter 29c
70. Part III: Chapter 30a
71. Part III: Chapter 30b
72. Part III: Chapter 31
73. Part IV: Chapter 01a
74. Part IV: Chapter 01b
75. Part IV: Chapter 02
76. Part IV: Chapter 03
77. Part IV: Chapter 04
78. Part IV: Chapter 05
79. Part IV: Chapter 06
80. Part IV: Chapter 07
81. Part IV: Chapter 08
82. Part IV: Chapter 09
83. Part IV: Chapter 10
84. Part IV: Chapter 11
85. Part IV: Chapter 12
86. Part IV: Chapter 13
87. Part IV: Chapter 14
88. Part IV: Chapter 15a
89. Part IV: Chapter 15b
90. Part IV: Chapter 15c
91. Part IV: Chapter 16
92. Part IV: Chapter 17
93. Part V, Chapter 01-03
94. Part V, Chapter 04-05
95. Part V, Chapter 06-07
96. Part V, Chapter 08-11
97. Part V, Chapter 12-16
98. Part V, Chapter 17-18
99. Part V, Chapter 19-22
100. Part V, Chapter 23a
101. Part V, Chapter 23b, Part VI

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Summary

Despised by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, What Is To Be Done? is a fascinating, sympathetic story of idealistic revolutionaries in mid-nineteenth century tsarist Russia; translator Nathan Haskell Dole affirms in his preface his conviction that it is a thriller that no one can put down once s/he begins it. Its variegated cast of characters includes Vera Pavlovna, a boldly independent woman in a time of great oppression, and the inspirational radical Rakhmetov. The author wrote the novel from the depths of the infamous Peter & Paul Fortress of St. Petersburg, the Abu Ghraib of tsarist Russia, and later spent many years of exile in Siberia. Dostoyevsky disparaged Chernyshevsky's novel repeatedly, most notably in The Possessed (as sort of bedside reading material for some of the more despicable characters) and in Notes From Underground. Chernyshevsky's legacy, however, was in inspiring an ascetic, self-abnegating radicalism in later revolutionaries and activists.