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Bakunin: A View from Within

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image of Canadian-American Slavic Studies

I never felt myself particularly suited for life in society. I felt stupid, awkward, inarticulate. I used to think that this was merely because of my inexperience. I did everything in my power to overcome it. I immersed myself in society; I scurried this way and that; and what did I find? A terrible emptiness. The pleasures and distractions that delighted others seemed to me trivial. Dances, balls-these, the pinnacle of pleasure for our youth, the highest ideals they can imagine, bored me to death. As soon as they began, I felt out of place and just as trivial as they were. I had to reject all this, and I did so, joyfully, enthusiastically, vowing never to return.... But, then, I had to find something else: the vacuum that overwhelmed me had to be filled. I withdrew into myself and locked myself in. I studied myself; and, in the end, I found within myself something to fill the emptiness.... At last I made a decision, and as soon as I did a warmth so sweet poured through my heart. I threw myself into my study; I threw myself passionately into it.... I feel as though I am being reborn; I feel as though I am watching myself being fed and nurtured. Until now I have lived only an external life. I want now to build for myself an inner existence.1

Affiliations: 1: University of Michigan

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/content/journals/10.1163/221023976x00026
1976-01-01
2016-12-04

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