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Revolutionary ExperimentsThe Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction$
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Nikolai Krementsov

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199992980

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199992980.001.0001

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“The Ray of Life”: Science in Revolutions

“The Ray of Life”: Science in Revolutions

(p.13) 1 “The Ray of Life”: Science in Revolutions
Revolutionary Experiments

Nikolai Krementsov

Oxford University Press

With Mikhail Bulgakov’s novella “Fateful Eggs” as its entry point, this chapter identifies the common contexts that shaped the interactions of various actors involved with scientific and literary experiments aimed at the pursuit of immortality in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution. These multiple contexts were generated by the historic coincidence of the Revolution with three major “scientific revolutions” unfolding during the first decades of the twentieth century: an experimental revolution in the life sciences, which dramatically changed understandings of life and death, health and disease, human nature and human future; a revolution of scale, which marked the transition from “small” to “big” science and made science a mass profession; and a revolution in science’s public visibility and cultural authority, aptly manifested in the explosion of “popular science” in the media and the spectacular rise of a new literary genre, “science fiction.

Keywords:   Mikhail Bulgakov, Bolshevik revolution, scientific revolutions, revolutionary dreams, visionary biology, biocosmism, science fiction, rays of life

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