Sanin is a novel by the Russian writer Mikhail Artsybashev. It has an interesting history being written by a 26-year-old in 1904 – at the peak of the various changes in Russian society (democratic activities, first democratically-elected Duma, as well as the Russian Revolution of 1905). It was published and criticized in 1907, the year of one of the most horrific political reactions in Russian history. In the early 1900s Russia society was heavily influenced by religions primarily the Russian Orthodox Church. Though there were many other religions such as Uniate Catholics, Judaism, and Muslims, non-of which condoned an open expression of sexuality. By 1908 the novel was no longer being produced due to censorship. It was banned as a " work of pornography" Otto Boele. When Artsybashev emigrated to Poland after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was condemned by the Soviet authorities and his books were banned from publication, only to be revealed afresh to readers in the 1990s.
Sanin is a novel of true originality of form and content. Its hero, twenty-something Sanin, after a long absence from home, comes back to visit his mother and sister. "Sanin" deals with sex and sexual activity through out the novel. The main character Sanine along with his sister Lida dappled in premarital sex. Lida describes her experience with Sarudine as her body filled with "thrilled and shaken with passion". She knows it is not the best thing for a young lady not to be married and have relations, she longed for another chance to experience that same passion and lust. It deals with Nihilism the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value. One of the character'a gets to a point where they admitted "that life was the realization of freedom, and consequently that it was natural for a man to live for enjoyment". Lida had some remorse because of society and their views on premarital sex, but then came to the realization that it is her life saying " I wanted to do it and I did it; and I felt so happy". His stay he meets various people, some of whom are neutral, amazed, threatened or excited by his way of thinking about the world and human existence. Sanin remains confident and self-assured having seduced and deflowered a local virgin, but at the end of the book leaves town under a cloud.
Of Sanin Colin Wilson wrote:
"The book's hero sneers at the unhealthy moral preoccupations of most Russians, and preaches a doctrine of sunlight and frank sensuality. The book had an enormous impact on Russian youth, who were eager to put its doctrines into practice. Probably no book in world literature has been responsible for the loss of so many maidenheads." [Colin Wilson, Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, New York, 1964.]
Sanin deserves more study in English, Colin adds.
The novelty of Sanin lies in its insertion of progressive and liberal thoughts and ideals in the literary form of a novel. Critics in 1907 and later in the Russian SFSR were furious to find such views as Sanin's in existence. They put their efforts to discrediting the book, whose references to the Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and whose precipitation of the dramatic changes in the morality and political life of the following decades were, in their view, dangerous for the Russian people.
- Template:Boele, Otto. Erotic nihilism in late imperial Russia the case of Mikhail Artsybashev's Sanin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. Print.
- Boele, Otto. Erotic nihilism in late imperial Russia the case of Mikhail Artsybashev's Sanin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. Print.