"> Name: Vissarion Belinskii, Letter to Gogol', Russia

Date:  1800 - 1850

Location:  Russia and Central Asia

SubjectLanguage , Political/Economic/Social Opinion

MediumPublic Speech , Personal Opinion

Artist: Vissarion Belinskii, Fedor Dostoevskii

Confronting Bodies: Government of Tzar Nikolai I

Date of Action: 1840s

Specific Location: Russia

Description of Artwork: The writings of Belinskii are known for their scathing critiques of Russian society and religion. In one passage from his "Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends," he suggests that, instead of embracing "mysticism, asceticism or pietism," referring to Russian Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationalism, Russians should support laws that are "compatible with good sense and justice rather than the teachings of the church."

Description of Incident: Belinskii wrote a vitrolic letter to the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol' discussing his treatise in "Selected Passages." Dostoevskii acquired a copy of the letter and read it allowed to a group of his friends. When officials found out, Dostoevskii was imprisoned and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Results of Incident: Dostoevskii was reprieved shortly before his planned execution. The letter, "Letter to Gogol'" became infamous and was printed throughout Russia. It is said that by the mid-1850s every high school teacher in Russia could recite the letter.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones

Submitted By: NCAC

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