A Few Words About N. Y. Fedoseyev

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 6 December 1922


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First Published in N. Y. Fedoseyev, a Pioneer of Revolutionary Marxism in Russia (A Collection of Reminiscences), Moscow-Petrograd, 1928 Signed: Lenin; Published according to the text in the collection
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 452-453

This article was written at the request of the Party History Commission for a special volume dedicated to the revolutionary activity of N. Y. Fedoseyev. Fedoseyev wrote a number of Marxist works directed against the Narodniks, primarily against N. K. Mikhailovsky. The correspondence with Fedoseyev mentioned by Lenin has not been found.

My recollections of Nikolai Yevgrafovich Fedoseyev go back to the beginning of the, nineties. I cannot vouch for their accuracy.

At that time I was living in the provinces-namely, in Kazan and in Samara. I heard about Fedoseyev while I was in Kazan, but I never met him. In the spring of 1889 I went to live in Samara Gubernia, where, at the end of the summer, I heard of the arrest of Fedoseyev arid of other members of study circles in Kazan—including the one to which I belonged. I think that I, too, might easily have been arrested had I remained in Kazan that summer. Soon after this, Marxism, as a trend, began to spread, merging with the Social-Democratic trend initiated in Western Europe very much earlier by the Emancipation of Labour group.[1]

Fedoseyev was one of the first to proclaim his adherence to the Marxist trend. I remember that this was the grounds of his polemics with N. K. Mikhailovsky, who in Russlcoye Bogatstvo[2] replied to one of his secretly circulated letters. This, too, prompted me to start corresponding with Fedoseyev. I remember that the go-between in our correspondence was Hopfenhaus whom I met once, and through whom I made an unsuccessful attempt to arrange a meeting with Fedoseyev in Vladimir. I went to that town in the hope that he would succeed in getting out of the prison, but 1 was disappointed.[3]

Later, Fedoseyev was exiled to Eastern Siberia. This was at the time I was in exile there; and it was in Siberia that he committed suicide, because, I think, of certain tragic incidents in his private life connected with the exceptionally unhappy conditions under which he lived.

As far as I remember, my correspondence with Fedoseyev was concerned with the problems that then arose about the Marxist or Social-Democratic world outlook. I particularly remember that Fedoseyev enjoyed the affection of all those who knew him, and was regarded as a typical old-time revolutionary, entirely devoted to his cause, who, perhaps, had made his conditions worse by certain statements, or unguarded actions towards the gendarmes.

Probably I have some fragments of Fedoseyev's letters or manuscripts somewhere, but I cannot say definitely whether they have been preserved or may be found.

At all events, Fedoseyev played a very important role in the Volga area and in certain parts of Central Russia during that period; and the turn towards Marxism at that time was, undoubtedly, very largely due to the influence of this exceptionally talented and exceptionally devoted revolutionary.

December 6, 1922

Lenin

  1. Emancipation of Labour was the first Russian Marxist group. It was formed in Switzerland in 1883 by G. V. Piekhanov. The group did much to popularise Marxism in Russia.
  2. Russkoye Bogatstvo—a monthly magazine published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to mid-1918. Early in the 1890s it became the organ of liberal Narodniks. It preached conciliation with the Tsarist government and was savagely opposed to Marxism and the Russian Marxists.
  3. Lenin went to Vladimir at the beginning of October 1893 with the intention of meeting N. Y. Fedoseyev.