Chernyshevsky, Nikolai Gavrilovich [key], 1828–89, Russian socialist reformer. He was the leading disciple of Vissarion Belinsky inside Russia; from 1853 to 1857 he wrote for the radical journal Contemporary, presenting and expanding the principles of Belinsky, who himself also wrote for the journal. Chernyshevsky advocated basic agrarian reform and emancipation of the serfs, and he envisioned the village commune as a transition to socialism. In 1862 he was arrested and was later sent to Siberia. In prison he formulated his ideas in the vastly influential novel What Is to be Done? (1863, rev. tr. 1961). His Selected Philosophical Works was published in English in Moscow in 1953. Chernyshevsky is looked upon as a forerunner of the Russian revolutionary movement.
See biography W. F. Woehrlin (1971); study by I. Paperno (1988).
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