Also known as Demons, The Possessed is a powerful socio-political novel about revolutionary ideas and the radicals behind them. It follows the career of Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky, a political terrorist who leads a group of nihilists on a demonic quest for societal breakdown. They are consumed by their desires and ideals, and have surrendered themselves fully to the darkness of their "demons". This possession leads them to engulf a quiet provincial town and subject it to a storm of violence. Inspired by a real political killing in 1869, the book is an impassioned response to the ideologies of European liberalism and nihilism, which threatened Russian Orthodoxy; it eerily predicted the Russian Revolution, which would take place 50 years later. Funny, shocking, and tragic, it is a profound and affecting work with deep philosophical discourses about God, human freedom and political revolution.
Translation by Constance Garnett; appendix translated by S. S. Koteliansky and Virginia Woolf.
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