V. I. Lenin

A Few Words About

N. Y. Fedoseyev[1]

Written: 6 December 1922
First Published: 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’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 452-453
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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.[2]

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[3] 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.[4]

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



[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] Lenin went to Vladimir at the beginning of October 1893 with the intention of meeting N. Y. Fedoseyev.