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The Devils: Dostoevsky’s novel of political evil

The Forum

November 4, 2021

40 minutes

The Devils, The Possessed, or Demons, as it’s also known in translation, is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s most political novel but it’s also his bleakest and funniest. It’s a hundred and fifty years since its publication and two hundred years since its author’s birth. The novel tells the story of a group of young revolutionaries who run riot in a small provincial town in Russia, all under the indulgent eye of their elders, the liberal and progressively minded elite. It is a grim prophecy of totalitarian rule in the 20th century in what is a penetrating psychological study of the human consequences of extreme philosophical ideas. Joining Bridget Kendall to discuss Dostoevsky and his novel The Devils or Demons, is Tatyana Kovalevskaya, Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow and the author of the bilingual edition Fyodor Dostoevsky on the Dignity of the Human Person; Carol Apollonio, Professor of the Practice of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University in the United States and President of the International Dostoevsky Society; and Dr Sarah Hudspith, Associate Professor in Russian at the University of Leeds, and author of Dostoevsky and the idea of Russianness. Produced by Anne Khazam for the BBC World Service. [Image: A production of The Devils staged at the Union Theatre, London. Credit: Stagephoto (Perri Snowdon as Stavrogin), Matt Link (Tara Quinn as the little girl Matryoshka). Design by Spiff]

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