Thursday, February 04, 2010

Analect 2.652x

4 February 2010. Dark clouds to the west, impending storm... Emory's face on pool deck, heavy gray wool watch cap, emphatic swoon to his voice, "It'll be pouring by five..."

Vera Zasulich(1849-1919), youngest daughter in a family of impoverished minor nobility, from Mikhailov Gzhatsk , Smolenskaya Guberniya. (Dad's voice here.) She became a clerk--then a teacher, bringing reading and writing to the Petersburg factory workers. Influence of Nechaev, then Bakunin. Narodnaya Volya--the People's Will. Her partner, Lev Deitch, writes of "...the extraordinary sincerity and unaffectedness of her relations with others."

Trepov affair--a Russian colonel who ordered the flogging of political prisoner Mikhail Bogolyubov for refusing to doff his cap. Cause celebre among the early revolutionists and Russian intellectuals. It was Vera's decision to take Trepov's life--a deed she brought to bear with the assistance of a well-constructed British Bulldog Revolver. Aquitted nonetheless by a sympathetic jury in a trial whose focus was in fact Trepov himself, she later opposed the campaign of terror that led eventually to the assasination of Alexander II.

Following the trial, she took exile in Switzerland. Described by her friend, Leon Trotsky, in his book on Lenin: " Zasulich was a curious person and a curiously attractive one. She wrote very slowly and suffered actual tortures of creation.... 'Vera Ivanovna does not write, she puts mosaics together, Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) said to me at that time,' and in fact she put down each sentence separately, walked up and down the room slowly, shuffled about in her slippers, smoked constantly handmade cigarettes and threw the stubbs and half-smoked cigarettes in every direction on all the window seats and tables, and scattered ashes over her jacket, hands, manuscripts, tea in the glass, and incidentally her visitor. She remained to the end an old radical intellectual on whom fate grafted Marxism. But the moral political foundations of the Russian radicals of the '70s remained untouched in her until her death."

Narodnaya Volya--the People's Will.

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