Revolutionary self-fulfilment?: individual radicalisation and terrorism in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from underground, Crime and punishment and The devils

Marco Ceccarelli

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This thesis analyses Fyodor Dostoyevsky's discussion of individual radicalisation and terrorism in three of his major novels: Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment and The Devils. Whilst the issues of radical ideology and terrorism have often been independently discussed by Dostoyevsky scholars, little attention has been devoted to the study of the process of radicalisation undergone by Dostoyevsky's protagonists, whereby the extreme fulfilment of radical ideals culminates in political violence. This investigation traces the evolution of Dostoyevsky's individual in the context of the radically changing socio-political environment of nineteenth-century Russia. The development of this individual will be examined throughout the novels as he initially questions, and is hostile to, radical ideology, gradually embraces its tenets and tests its validity through the use of violence and eventually engages in terrorist activity. Dostoyevsky felt himself impotent in the face of the gradual assimilation of utilitarian, materialistic and nihilist ideals by the new generation of Russian intellectuals. In the emulation of Western revolutionary culture, he came to see a threat to Russian nationhood, to true Russian identity and to traditional Russian values such as Orthodox Christianity. In his novels he sought to examine and question the ideologies of leading theorists influenced by Western radical thought; ideologies that he believed were flawed, deceptive and contradictory. This study focuses on the development of the themes of radicalisation and terrorism in the three chosen novels. Emphasis is laid on the devastating impact of radical ideology and terrorist activity on the individual.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009


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