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Apostles into terrorists : women and the revolutionary movement in the Russia of Alexander II

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Apostles into terrorists : women and the revolutionary movement in the Russia of Alexander II
Author(s): Broido, Vera
Date published: 1979
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
Russia in the nineteenth century was an extremely backward, authoritarian society. The tsars, resolved to maintain their iron grip on the Russian people, had virtually strangled the economy, subverted religious and cultural institutions to their own ends, and drained the people of their spirit. Yet from this repressed society emerged a remarkable group of women, enlightened in their thinking, determined in their fight for equal justice, dedicated to humanist and feminist principles, who made a major contribution to the revolutionary movement of their time. In Apostles into Terrorists Vera Broido tells the story of Sofya Bardina, Vera Figner, Vera Zasulich, and many other who participated in the revolutionary movement between 1860 and 1880. They were populists who started out as peaceful propagandists and preachers among workers and peasants but who gradually turned to political militancy, terrorism, and eventually regicide. As the author shows, they were also pioneers of female emancipation who supported feminist demands for higher education and economic independence for women. By choosing to enter the general political struggle to liberate the whole intellectual class, they escaped the narrow confines of pure feminism and won for themselves complete equality with their male comrades. In this clear eyed, compassionate chronicle Vera Boirdo shows how these women, in their efforts to educate themselves, to work among the peasants and organize them for revolutionary activity, finally arrived at their inevitable response to the government's repressive and degrading policies: terrorism and assassination. And she shows how women - probably for the first time in history- came to play a political role equal to that of men. Born into a Russian revolutionary family, personally acquainted with many women revolutionaries, and steeped as she is in Russian literature and memoirs. Ms. Broido is uniquely suited to deal with her subject. She has produced not only a definitive scholarly work, but an extraordinarily vivid portrait of Russian life in all its dimensions, from its political and economic aspects to the social, cultural, and - most important- human facets. Against this authentic background her heroines come to life not merely as historical figures but as vital, recognizable individuals.


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