Spectacles of Terrorist Violence in Boris Savinkov’s Fiction

in Canadian-American Slavic Studies
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In the early twentieth century, Boris Savinkov organized assassinations for the Combat Organization of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries (PSR). He was not only a Russian revolutionary terrorist but also a fiction writer who wrote about political violence. With the publication of The Pale Horse (1909) and What Never Happened: A Novel of the Revolution (1912), many critics assumed Savinkov became disillusioned with political violence on moral grounds. I argue instead his works question the effectiveness of the PSR’s terrorism on political grounds by revealing the Party’s failed attempts to organize terrorist acts with consistent results. With his fiction, Savinkov problematizes his culture’s desire to create a heroic myth of the revolutionary terrorist as a martyr.

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References

4

Spence, Boris Savinkov, 96.

5

Lynn Ellen Patyk, “The Byronic Terrorist: Boris Savinkov’s Literary Self-Mythologization,” in Just Assassins: The Culture of Terrorism in Russia, ed. Anthony Anemone (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2010), 165.

6

Ibid., 182.

7

Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill, 48.

8

Spence, Boris Savinkov, 38.

9

Ibid., 72.

10

Ibid., 28.

11

Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill, 67.

12

Anthony Anemone, “Introduction: Just Assassins?” in Just Assassins: The Culture of Terrorism in Russia, 5.

13

Sally A. Boniece, “The Spiridonova Case, 1906: Terror, Myth, and Martyrdom,” in Just Assassins: The Culture of Terrorism in Russia, 128.

14

Patyk, “The Byronic Terrorist,” 165.

15

Savinkov, What Never Happened, 31.

18

Brigitte, L. Nacos, Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism (London: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2007), 7.

19

Boniece, “The Spiridonova Case,” 128.

20

Steven Marks, How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 18.

21

Anna Geifman, Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Santa Barbara: Praeger Security International, 2010), 14.

22

Patyk, “The Byronic Terrorist,” 176.

25

Spence, Boris Savinkov, 93.

26

Savinkov, The Pale Horse, 104.

27

Ibid., 104.

28

Ibid., 112–113.

29

Ibid., 114.

30

Ibid., 127–128.

32

Ibid., 128.

34

Ibid., 174–175.

36

Peter G. Christensen, “The Critique of Terrorism in the Novels of Boris Savinkov,” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies 7, no. 2 (1993): 5.

37

Spence, Boris Savinkov, 94.

38

Christensen, “The Critique of Terrorism,” 6.

39

Savinkov, What Never Happened, 31–32.

40

Ibid., 22.

41

Ibid., 32.

42

Ibid., 33.

43

Ibid., 83.

44

Ibid., 83–84.

45

Ibid., 95.

46

Ibid., 34.

47

Ibid., 104.

48

Ibid., 117.

49

Savinkov, What Never Happened, 270.

52

Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946), 134.

53

Churchill, “Boris Savinkov,” 133.

56

Spence, Boris Savinkov, 96.

57

Geifman, Death Orders, 13.

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