The Possessed is Dostoevsky’s most complex novel; its final structure emerges only in the long process of writing and rewriting. Dostoevsky admits that The Possessed cost him more labor than any other work: He feared “not to be equal” to the theme he has chosen. 1 In fact, it would be more precise to say that Dostoevsky weaves together three main themes in this work; he does it in a way that sometimes makes the unity of this novel far from obvious. One theme deals with generational conflict – a motif prominent in 112Russian literature since the appearance of Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons (1862). In The Possessed this conflict is displayed through the dissonance between the highest hopes and the deepest fears of the two generations – the romantic idealists of the 1840s and the nihilistic revolutionaries of the 1860s. In Dostoevsky’s novel (published in 1871–72), the father – in one case biological, in the other intellectual – is Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovenski. We will look at his fall from grace and his resurrection in the next section.