A logical redeemer: Kirillov in Dostoievskii's Demons

Derek Allan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The engineer Kirillov, an important character in Dostoievskii's Demons, has provoked considerable critical disagreement. In a well-known section of Le Mythe de Sisyphe, Albert Camus describes him as a figure who expresses the theme of 'logical suicide' with 'the most admirable range and depth'. Other commentators have not always been so sanguine, some dismissing Kirillov as a madman in the grip of a mad theory. While dissenting from Camus's analysis in certain respects, this article offers an interpretation consistent with his basic argument. Kirillov's decision to commit suicide is based on a simple, if implacable, logic which convinces him that as long as he kills himself for the right reason, his death will be an act of redemption for all humanity. Kirillov is a wholly 'metaphysical' character - one of the earliest in modern fiction - whose ambition to become the 'man-god' is explored by Dostoievskii to its ultimate, desolate conclusion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-111
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of European Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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