1880-1890s. Item #212
[311 leaves]. 22,5x17,5 cm. Manuscript with the extracts of the printed text glued to some pages. Contemporary half-leather binding. Owner’s inscription on the title page ‘Presented to my dear friend Taniechka by M.
What is to be done? is the publicistic discourse that Tolstoy wrote in 1884-1886 as a result of moving to Moscow in 1882. He was amazed with the sights of town poverty and the social injustice. ‘What is to be done’ is a passionate analysis of the contemporary society and a proclamation of Tolstoy’s moral principles. This text along with Ispoved’ [i.e. Confessions] published at the same time was fundamental in the changing of Tolstoy from novelist to philosopher and moral leader of the nation. Only a brief version of the text appeared in print in Russia. But even that provoked big reaction among Russian readers.
‘‘Tolstoy’s appeal shook the Muscovites. Even people who were actually standing on the quiet side of life, even clerks and civil servants, people that were more or less distant from the current topic of the day - they were worried and suddenly wanted to do something, he suddenly felt the need to do something’’ – this is how Alexander Prugavin is describing the reaction to the publication.
This book is a compilation of the extracts from the periodical ‘Russkoe bogatstvo’ where bits of this work were published in 1887.
The ones that were not published and were denied by the censor are handwritten in this copy. This book probably was created by the early follower of Tolstoy or someone who had the access to the full text of 'What is to be done?'
This volume should be regarded as an early artifact of Tolstoyan movement.