Maksim Gorky: Selected Letters

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Clarendon Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 391 pages
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It has been Gorky's great misfortune to be remembered mostly for the wrong things - for the composition of the novel Mother (held up by generations of Soviet critics as the model for Socialist Realist fiction): for his support of the Stalin regime: and for his direct involvemet in thefoundation of the Soviet Union of Writers. With the advent of glasnost and perestroika, and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet order itself, these conventional notions are at last becoming subject to a radical and necessary reappraisal in Gorky's native land.Yet, despite the steady stream of revisionist attitudes, the republication of controversial works long suppressed in Soviet Russia, and the publication of new material from the archives, the creation of a full biography is likely to remain a distant prospect for many years. The present volume hasbeen conceived first of all as a sketch towards such a new biography. The two hundred letters it contains, written between 1889 and Gorky's death in 1936, have been selected so as to allow Gorky to tell the story of his own life and reveal his hopes and fears, his observations and preoccupationsover a literary career which spanned almost fifty years. Gorky's letters are of considerable interest on a number of levels: biographically; as representation of the development of Russian literature; in terms of the light they shed on many writers and cultural-political figures of the period(including Lenin, Chekok, Tolstoy, Pasterak); and as period documents in their own right. Remarkable for its sheer immensity and the variety of its addressees, Gorky's correspondence provides a unique personal commentary on all aspects of Russian culture and society in the era of revolution, by oneof the most fascinating figures of an extraordinary generation.

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About the author (1997)

Andrew Barratt, Associate Professor in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Otago. Barry P. Scherr, Professor in the Department of Russian, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.

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