Northern Illinois University Press

Memoirs of a Revolutionist

Vera Figner

Introduction by Richard Stites

Born into the comforts of the Russian aristocracy in 1852, Vera Figner as a child harbored the fairy-tale dream of one day becoming tsarina. By the age of thirty-two, however, Figner had become one of Russia's most vocal revolutionaries, a terrorist and member of the Executive Committee of the People's Will party, and a prisoner sentenced for life for her involvement in the assassination of Alexander II.

In this classic memoir, Figner recounts her journey from aristocrat to revolutionary, candidly relating the experiences that shaped her ideas and provoked her to political action and violence. As she reflects on her own lifelong commitment to improving the lives of ordinary Russians, she reveals much about the concept, structure, and leadership behind the radical movement in late nineteenth-century Russia. In his incisive introduction to this edition, Richard Stites discusses the importance of the memoir as a personal testimony and provides background for understanding a courageous woman's role in the struggle for political change.

(1991) 336 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-552-8
paper $20.00s

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Study in Rebellion
Introduction to 1927 Volume
Author's Foreword
Book One: A Task Fulfilled
I. My Family
II. The Institute
III. My Environment
IV. In Zurich
V. The Programme of the Narodniki
VI. In the Village
VII. Dissension
VIII. Land and Freedom Splits
IX. Revolutionary Attempts
X. The Military Organisation
XI. February Days
XII. After the First of March
XIII. The Centre of the Party Moves to Moscow
XIV. In Kharkov
XV. Degayev
XVI. The Seizure of the Printing Press in Odessa
XVII. In the Police Department
XVIII. "The Court Is In Session"
Book Two: When the Clock of Life Stopped
I. The First Day
II. The First Years
III. Execution and Suicide
IV. I Acquire a Friend
V. The Punitive Cell
VI. Paper
VII. The Hunger Strike
VIII. My Mother's Blessing
IX. Some Comrades Leave Us
X. Chautauqua
XI. Correspondence
XII. Workshops and Gardens
XIII. A Wiry Cobweb
XIV. Books and Magazines
XV. Our Benjamin
XVI. After Eighteen Years
XVII. Shoulder Straps
XVIII. Under Threat
XIX. An Execution
XX. A Broken Promise
XXI. Fear of Life
XXII. Mother
XXIII. Polundra
XXIV. The First Meeting

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-552-8
paper $20.00