Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mentioned in passing

  • “Achristoff, the 17-year-old priest’s daughter, who made love to the detective Lavroffski, in order to betray him into the hands of the nihilists…”
  • “Victoria Goukoffski, daughter of a medical dispenser of Odessa, who, on hearing that the Nihilist Kovalsky had been sentenced to death, created a riot…”
  • “the daughter of Major General Herzfeld, who was arrested at Kief…”
  • “Jude Krakoffski, the daughter of a university official at Kieff, whose banishment to Siberia for having destroyed certain compromising papers in 1877, was confirmed only the other day…” (1881)
  • “the lady Levandovski, aged 25, and condemned to 15 years hard labour…”
  • “Anna Makharevna, who fled with a forged passport for her part in the vitriolization of the spy Goronovitch…”
  • Vera Panyutin
  • “Olga Rassoffski, who sent a bullet through the head of a police sergeant…”
  • Larissa Sarudneff
  • Olga Shilinski

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Tragedy In San Francisco (1893)

Tragedy In San Francisco.—A shocking accident is reported from San Francisco during the performance of a charade representing a Nihilist plot, which was being given at the residence of Mrs. M’Coy, whose son, Mr. Albert M’Coy, appeared in the role of a Russian officer. Miss Grace King, who took the part of a Nihilist girl, and had to assassinate the officer, had been suffering from a sprained ankle. She had used a crutch, which, however, she laid aside previous to the charade. At the moment she was making a dagger-thrust her ankle failed, and she fell against M’Coy, the weapon piercing his heart. The unfortunate young man died in a few moments. Miss King, who was completely prostrated by the tragic accident, was arrested, but released on bail tendered by M’Coy’s brothers. At the inquest the jury entirely exonerated Miss King, and returned a verdict of accidental death.

Australian Journal (June, 1893): 580.

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Beautiful Nihilists, Pretty Anarchists, Red Virgins and Others

Makarov_Mar'ja_Sof'ja_PerovskajaWelcome to The Beautiful Nihilist: Representations of Revolutionary Women. The goal here is to gather material from the popular press depicting radical and particularly militant women, in all its sensationalist and often exploitative glory. The articles and tales collected here document a familiar fascination with a political variety of femme fatale, often with a great deal of emphasis on the sexual desirability and social status of the women portrayed in presumably “unwomanly” acts of violence. At the same time, however, the tabloid presentation often allows important bits of history and biography to show through. Indeed, in many cases, this spectacular journalism is all that we have to document the lives of women who were on the front lines of the most militant sorts of struggles.

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Hubert Church, “Vera Figner” (1908)

[Vera Figner, Russian Revolutionary; a woman of great charm and radiant beauty. She was condemned to imprisonment for life, and for twenty years was immured in the living rave of the Schlusselburg Fortress. When these lines were composed the writer thought that Vera Figner was still in prison. By a strange chance, on three days after the lines were written, he read that Vera Figner had been released.]


Vera Figner, when the breezes blow,
Do you awaken to the hostile morn?
Or do you live so numbed you do not know,
Like a toad in a granite tempest-worn?
Vera Figner, are the eyes bedewed
That men had died for in the far-away?
Is your face like a wounded soul—subdued
To grief that never heals for any day?


Does the clock in the turret tell you now
The morn is vanishing, the day declines?
Or is all thought beneath the drooping brow
Vacant and gloomy as the winter pines?
Have men betrampled through the many years
Your soul submitting till its very deep
Has oozed away to dust: till you lack tears,
Denied the unhappy ones who cannot weep?


Oh marvel of misfortune that a soul
So full of liberty and love should be
Tired, ever tired, to creep like any mole
From wall to wall in darkling vacancy.
To wrap the rich thought of the brain in death,
For never any sound may let it forth.
Oh God, that givest consecrated breath
To holy truth, why tarryeth Thy wrath?


Beloved of all spirits that achieve
Through agony—Oh, miserable, thou,
Who hast all suffering, but cannot leave
Thy burden ever! What is breathing now
But a poor disinheritance of days?
And even that poor remnant is defiled;
For thee that shouldst have trod delicious ways
No morn, no eve, no love, no roof, no child.


Thou canst not be endungeoned evermore:
Thy soul is where the breezes blow with pain
Past Ladoga: there is not any shore
That hath not felt thy yearning. If again
Thou hast all agony, thou hast the crown,
The heaven within the spirit that shall save,
Though earth be cruel. Death hath his renown,
But cannot pass our conquerable grave.

Hubert Church, “Vera Figner,” Egmont (Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1908): 52-53.

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