Maxim Gorky (real name - Alexei Maksimovich Peshkov) is the largest Russian and Soviet writer, five times nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Many of Gorky's works have become an obligatory part of the general educational program; more than 2,000 streets, several settlements, theaters and cultural institutions are named after him. The complete collected works of Gorky occupy dozens of volumes.
Over the course of his writing career, Maxim Gorky wrote more than a hundred short stories, with the most famous early works - many of them were filmed and included in the school curriculum in Russia and the CIS countries. The literary debut of the writer was the story “Makar Chudra”, published in 1892 by the small newspaper “Kavkaz”. The story is told on behalf of the old gypsy Makar Chudra, who tells the legend about the love of Loiko Zobar and Radda.
"The Old Woman Izergil" (1895) is a story in three parts, including the legends about Larra and Danko and the old woman's story about her youth and love. It is known from Gorky's correspondence with other writers that he considered The Old Woman his best work.
In the same year, the story "Chelkash" was published, in which for the first time there was a turn towards realism (while the early works bear the stamp of romanticism). It was based on a story told by a barefoot and a neighbor in Gorky's hospital ward in 1891. From the point of view of some researchers, it was "Chelkash" that became a pass to the world of "big literature".
Many literary scholars consider the story to be Gorky's crown genre. His stories are short and dynamic, plot-based, with an unpredictable ending and vivid images.
"Song of the Petrel" (1901)
Probably the most famous work of Gorky, a prose poem that is part of the compulsory school curriculum. Written after the bloody dispersal of a student demonstration in St. Petersburg. During this period, Gorky himself was engaged in revolutionary propaganda and called for protests. Initially, "Song" was a poem, part of the short story "Spring Melodies", which the censors were not allowed to publish. In the satirical story, different segments of the population were portrayed as birds, and the performance of the song about the petrel belonged to Chizh. However, the censorship imposed only a partial ban, which did not affect the song of the siskin, symbolizing the young generation. As a result, Gorky published The Song as an independent work with minor changes. It was an overwhelming success, for some time the nickname "petrel" was assigned to the author himself.
Gorky the playwright
Gorky's dramatic debut. In writing the play, the aspiring writer was helped by Nemirovich-Danchenko, who came to Nizhny Novgorod especially for this. The protagonist of the work, Vasily Bessemenov, is a typical philistine, domestic tyrant and traditionalist, concerned only with increasing his capital. The play exposed the inertia and conservatism of the philistine as a class and was repeatedly censored.
The premiere took place in March 1902 at the Panaevsky Theater during the Moscow Art Theater's tour in St. Petersburg. The play was awarded the prestigious Griboyedov Prize.
"At the Bottom" (1902)
Perhaps the most famous play by Gorky, included in the compulsory school curriculum and written at the turn of 1901-1902. It depicts the inhabitants of a poor house with a realistic accuracy that provoked the outrage of censorship and the public. Her production was banned in all theaters except the Moscow Art Theater. On December 18, 1902, the premiere of Stanislavsky's production took place, which was a resounding success. Nevertheless, until 1905, staging was allowed with large bills, and each time it had to be coordinated with the local authorities. In 1904, the play won the Griboyedov Prize.
"Vassa Zheleznova" (1910)
The tragedy of the wealthy owner of the shipping company Vassa Zheleznova, whose unhappy but measured life is disturbed by the sudden arrival of her daughter-in-law Rachelle, a rebel and revolutionary who is on the wanted list. The situation is even more heated when Vassa's husband becomes involved in the seduction of a minor, and the woman decides to poison him.
"Egor Bulychov and others" (1932)
The play came out after a long hiatus - in the 1920s, the writer did not do drama at all. Gorky intended to create a cycle dedicated to pre-revolutionary Russia, the beginning of which would be laid by the play "Yegor Bulychov and others."
The main character, a cancer patient merchant Yegor Bulychov, returns from the hospital in 1917 and is terrified of the consequences of the war, which he considers unnecessary. Waiting for death from the then incurable disease, he also foresees the collapse of the social system, but no one from the environment takes his reasoning seriously.
The premiere took place at the Vakhtangov Theater.
Few know that one of Gorky's most famous novels, Mother, was written during a trip to the United States of America. The work is replete with biblical references (although the writer himself considered himself an atheist, due to his upbringing and education he was well versed in the subject), the May Day demonstration was compared to a procession with the cross, and the characters rethink the commandments. After the book was published, a criminal case was opened against the writer on charges of blasphemy.
The Life of Klim Samgin (1927)
Alternative titles are Forty Years and The Story of an Empty Soul. The epic novel of 1,500 pages, the largest work of Gorky, on which the writer worked for more than a decade, remained unfinished and was interrupted immediately after the 1917 revolution. The author passed away without completing the final fourth part.
The action takes place at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. In the center of the narrative is Klim Samgin, an intellectual, carried away by the ideas of populism, but infinitely distant from the people. Gorky conceived the book back in 1905 after the February events. According to him, he wanted to show "an intellectual of average value, who passes through a whole series of moods, looking (…) where it would be convenient for him both financially and internally."
The next year after the publication of The Life of Klim Samgin, in 1928, Gorky was nominated for the Nobel Prize. In 1987, a television adaptation of the novel by director Viktor Titov was published. The series made the winged quote "Was there a boy?"
Maxim Gorky wrote a trilogy of autobiographical works: Childhood, In People and My Universities (1932). In Childhood, the writer spoke about the early years of his life, when his father died and at the age of 11 he had to earn his own living. He worked as a messenger, baker, washer, loader, etc. After the death of his grandmother in 1887, the young man tried to shoot himself, but the bullet went through the lung without touching the heart. At the age of 24, Gorky began working as a journalist for provincial publications - this period of his life is described in My Universities. It was then that the pseudonym of the writer appeared, hinting at the "bitter" life of the heroes he described.
Gorky's works for children
Gorky gained fame for his revolutionary prose and plays scandalous for his time, but he also studied children's literature. Such tales of Gorky as "Sparrow", "Burning Heart", "Once upon a Time There Was a Samovar", "About Ivanushka the Fool", "The Case of Yevseyka", "Morning" are widely known. This cycle was written for pedagogical purposes especially for the pupils of the correctional "School of rascals" in Baku.
Another cycle of stories for children, "Tales of Italy", was created during the first emigration of Gorky, when he lived in Italy on the island of Capri and traveled around the country. In 1906, the writer was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and the next seven years he spent in Italy, whose climate has a beneficial effect on lung health.Gorky began printing the stories that later formed the basis of the cycle in 1911.
Not being a professional teacher, Gorky thought a lot about raising children and in the 30s corresponded a lot with young readers. In letters, he advised children to read the classics of Russian literature: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Leskov, etc. The writer's childhood was difficult, and he advocated the protection of children, equating it with the protection of culture.
In the article "A man whose ears are plugged with cotton wool" (1930), Gorky defended entertainment literature for children. At the same time, in another publication of the same year - "About irresponsible people and a children's book of our days" - he argues with those who believe that "adult" art is not intended for children. The writer argued that "even about the difficult dramas of the past, one can and should be told with laughter." Children should know how "the idiocy of people who cared to assert their personal well-being forever impeded the development of a common human culture." In his article "Literature for Children" (1933), Gorky complains that large and serious writers do not consider it necessary to write for children and is trying to outline an educational program for preschoolers and children of primary school age.
Maxim Gorky went down in history not only as a writer, but also as a publicist and literary critic. The cycle "Untimely Thoughts: Notes on Revolution and Culture" (1918) is composed of notes published in the Petrograd newspaper "Novaya Zhizn" from May 1, 1917 to June 16, 1918. The first edition, published in Berlin, contained 33 notes, the second (Petrograd) - 48. In them, Gorky analyzed the events taking place in the country: politics, war and, of course, revolution.