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Max Gorki - An Inspirational Writer

Updated: Sep 26, 2018

#Russian Writer, dramatist, politician

Famous Author Maxim Gorki
Portrait of Gorki 1906

Max Gorki's original name was Alexei Peshkov, but he changed his name to Maxim (or Maksim) Gorki because Gorki is the Russian word for bitter and he had had a horrible, impoverished and abusive childhood. There is a large wide street named after him in Moscow.

Max Gorki is the author of quite a few books which have particularly appealed to me. One of these, “The Mother” describes the lives of young socialist/communist factory workers. I read this book when I was 16 and it converted me to communism. I became an immature, starry-eyed communist and even joined the Party, although I later resigned, because I did not think Lenin had kept any of the promises set out in his Manifesto.

If it hadn’t been for my joining the Communist Party, and for my having taught myself Russian, as well as my going to Moscow alone, against my parents’ wishes, I would never have enjoyed the glorious friendship with the late #RobertMaxwell, of which I am so proud.

I was also strongly influenced by Gorki’s My Childhood and My Universities.

Another book by Max Gorki, which impressed me enormously, was his first novel, Foma Gordyev, which he dedicated to Chekhov. Foma is the main protagonist and is the son of a wealthy, Volga-combing barge-owner, called Ignat. Ignat dies in rather morbid circumstances. He goes into his son’s room, tells him that he is close to death and orders him to accompany him into the garden. The older man and the younger man have tea, while ripe apples fall into their tea. Suddenly, the older man drops dead.

Foma is unable to recover from his father’s death. He inherits from his father, a love for vodka and a marked difficulty in getting on with others.

Foma is nearly always drunk and loses his temper with a group of greedy merchants, as the book draws to a close. He shouts the words:

Instead of improving the world, you have turned it into a cesspit. Even hell is too good a place for swine like you! Not in clean flames, but in sizzling dung ought you to be scorched, tormented for centuries on end!”

The bemused merchants do not know how to react to this maniac’s tirade initially. Finally, they tie him up and send for his godfather. In a way, Gorki’s prose is comic.

Due to his outbursts of insane behaviour, Foma is presented as a spoilt, rich nihilist who keeps repeating the words,

I’m afraid I haven’t got used to life yet.”

We are also introduced to Foma’s rather weird friend, Lyuba. She lacks a sense of humour and is a fantastic book-worm. Added to this, she is gloomy and phenomenally uninteresting.

I feel she lowers the tone of the book and lessons its otherwise robust and pithy authorial message.

I know of other novels by Max Gorki, but I have not got time to list them.

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