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Generally Emma Goldman is referred to as an American Anarchist However as a young girl growing up in Russia it was Russian socialist Nikolai Chernyshevsky 1826-1889 who first asked Emma the perspicacious question what is to be done Chernyshevsky was a Russian socialist during the 19th century A notable radical journalist known for criticizing liberals he believed liberalism only benefitted the wealthy upper-class After his arrest in July of 1862 for criticizing Russian government Chernyshevsky wrote the revolutionary classic novel What Is to Be Done while in prison The manuscript was smuggled out of jail and the controversial novel approved by the Tsar censors to be published It was later that Chernyshevsky received an extended prison sentence for the publication of the novel What Is to Be Done is a fictional story based upon a lovers triangle with socialist undertones The two main characters are a man and a woman Vera Pavlovna was a young activist unencumbered by the restrictions of her sex Chernyshevsky 173 She was a strong character and renounced the gender roles of patriarchy Vera sought to demolish her countries politics and culture to rebuild a better society of equality and free-love The novel follows her around as she marries one man Lopukhov and leaves him for his best friend Kirsanov Though she stands extremely committed to politics and activism love still serves as a personal fulfillment to her A main part of her dialogue revolves around debating with her lovers about free-love Vera likes the idea of being able to love who she wants instead of limiting herself to one man her entire life As a young woman Vera uses a fake marriage as an escape route from her oppressive life After escaping her former life she wanted to get rid of the oppressed role of women Vera considered herself socially useful She wanted to free women of their province to be a wife and mother Love was something Vera felt
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