Culture and the People

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The Minerva Group, Inc., Jun 1, 2001 - Political Science - 228 pages
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This collection contains the last essays of Gorky which are related centrally to the theme stated in the title of this book culture and the people. It is a representative selection from the voluminous publicist efforts in which the author was engaged during the last ten years of his life. Together with his bookfull of articles, On Guard for the Soviet Union, the present volume reveals a side of Gorky's writing as necessary to an understanding of his work as his novels, stories, autobiographical volumes and plays. Some of the contributions are slashing polemics; many were written under the pressure of daily journalism, appearing in numerous periodicals, including the leading Soviet papers Pravda and Izvestia; all of them reflect the vigor and depth of Gorky's literary talent.
 

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Contents

Ten Years
11
To the Anonymous and Pseudonymous
23
On the Literature of the White Emigres
33
Philistinism
46
AntiSemitism
64
If the Enemy Does Not Surrender
89
About the Little Old Men
101
Reply to an Intellectual
108
A Letter to the Workers of Magnitostroi
129
On Anecdotes
138
The Old Man and the New
160
About Soldierly Ideas
174
Soviet Intellectuals
185
Humanism and Culture
199
We Must Know the Past
216
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About the author (2001)

Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, better known as Maxim (Maksim) Gorky, was born on March 28th, 1968. Until the recent collapse of the Soviet state, Gorky was officially viewed as the greatest Russian writer of the twentieth century---an evaluation far above the true measure of his nevertheless considerable talent. Proclaimed the founder of socialist realism, he significantly influenced many Soviet writers, as well as others in Europe and in the developing world, and his works were for decades part of the Soviet school curriculum. His formal education was minimal. From the age of 11, he fended for himself with a variety of jobs. Self-taught, he published his first story, "Makar Chudra," in 1892. His first collection, Sketches and Stories (1898), is a romantic celebration of society's strong outcasts---the hobos and the drifters---and helped to popularize such literary protagonists. Foma Gordeyev (1899), Gorky's first novel, depicts generational conflict within the Russian bourgeoisie. A popular public figure on the left, Gorky was often in trouble with the tsarist government. During the 1900s, he was the central figure in the Znanie publishing house, which produced realist prose with a social conscience. Some of his own works were extremely successful. The play The Lower Depths (1902), set in a poorhouse and a strong indictment of social injustice, was not only a staple of Soviet theater but also influential in the United States. Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh was influenced by it. The propagandistic, extraordinarily influential novel Mother (1906) presents an iconic working-class woman who is transformed into a saint of the Revolution; its optimism in the ultimate triumph of the cause made it a prototype of socialist-realist fiction. During the years prior to 1917, Gorky published a number of autobiographical stories: All Over Russia (1912--18) (also Through Russia) and his memoirs; My Childhood (1913--14), My Apprenticeship (1915--16), and My Universities (1923). This trilogy shows his art at its best and includes some very lively reminiscences of such writers as Tolstoy and Chekhov. Although a Bolshevik party member since 1905, Gorky strongly criticized the new regime after the October Revolution: His collected articles from 1917-18, Untimely Thoughts, remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until recently. A cultural activist, he helped to save the lives of many writers, artists, and scholars during the cold and hungry years of the civil war. In 1921 he left Russia for Italy but returned permanently a decade later, recognized as the grand old man of Soviet literature. He then worked for Stalin's economic policies and presided over the institutionalization of socialist realism. At his death, he left unfinished a major novel of considerable interest, The Life of Klim Samgin, which he had been working on since 1925.

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