Dostoevsky Saw It Coming

What would be “a thousand times more serious” is revolutionary killing such as Dostoevsky was to predict in The Possessed. This book, alone among nineteenth-­century works, foresaw what we have come to call totalitarianism, not only in scale but also in detail. Surveying the carnage of Lenin and his successors in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, and elsewhere, p­eople have repeatedly asked: how did Dostoevsky know? The answer is that he appreciated how Rus­sian revolutionaries thought—he was himself a former radical who had served time in Siberia—­and asked what such p­eople would do if, having gained power, they could actually use their extreme ideas as a blueprint for practice.
––Gary Saul Morson,  Wonder Confronts Certainty:  Russian Writers on the Timeless Questions and Why Their Answers Matter

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