Studies the importance of N.G. Chernyshevskii, the most influential figure in the Russian radical movement of the 60s. Separates the study of his ideas and importance from the ideological insistence of portraying him as a Marxist-Leninist saint. Considers the wider significance of his ideas and life, and determines whether he produced any distinctive theory of his own. In addition, examines his contribution to the Russian populist movement and his influence on radicals of later generations.