The Dreamer and the Destroyer:Two Unconventional Tolstoians and Their Impact in Australia

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    Tolstoi’s teachings, as well as producing numbers of individual ‘Tolstoians’, also inspired some of them to found colonies in which the teacher’s principles could be put into practice. The attempts of one such adherent, Nicholas Illin (1852–1922), to carry out these projects, is the subject of this chapter, together with Alexander Zuzenko (1884–1938), whose affiliation to Tolstoi’s teachings was less wholehearted. Illin’s enthusiasm for Tolstoi was initially intense, but in the 1890s he denounced him as a hypocrite, while, paradoxically, not abandoning the basic principles of Tolstoianism. He attempted to found Tolstoian colonies in Patagonia, Australia and Honduras (where he died). Zuzenko, who spent over seven years in Australia as a political agitator and trades unionist, seems initially to have held Illin in high regard, but fell out with him over his public condemnation of the execution of the Russian royal family in 1918. Having taken the well-trodden path from Tolstoian to anarchist to confirmed Bolshevik, Zuzenko returned to Russia to work as a sea captain, but was charged with espionage and executed during Stalin’s purges. The biographies of these two men exemplify the potent influence, for good or ill, that Tolstoi’s ideas had on the lives of many Russians.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTolstoi: Art and Influence
    EditorsJoe Andrew and Robert Reid
    Place of PublicationLieden/Boston
    ISBN (Print)978-90-04-53343-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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