Maxim Gorky. A Political Biograhy

By Dowler, Wayne | Canadian Slavonic Papers, September 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Maxim Gorky. A Political Biograhy


Dowler, Wayne, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Tovah Yedlin. Maxim Gorky. A Political Biography. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1999. xiv, 260pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $59.95, cloth.

Amidst the horrors of WWI Maxim Gorky wrote to Roman Rolland: "A man must learn that he is the creator and master of the world, that he carries a responsibility for all the disasters as well as the glory for all the good that there is on earth." This is the closest that Gorky came to enunciating a political credo. A humanist and a Westernizer, he believed in the role of culture as the agent of progress. Although he loved Russians and predicted for them a "failylike and heroic life," Gorky also deeply despised the anarchy and destructiveness that he saw as Russian history's legacy to the peasants. The solution for him was enlightenment through long and patient cultural work, and the transmission of the values of European civilization to the Russian masses that were so deformed by their history. Gorky believed in proletarian socialism, but not in its premature introduction. For that reason he opposed the October revolution in spite of his friendship with many leading Bolsheviks. During the Civil War and subsequent repressions, Gorky worked to preserve and promote culture, using his network of friends to save an impressive list of intelligenty from prison or death. The Bolsheviks, anxious to take advantage of his prestige at home and abroad, countered his criticisms of their rule by distinguishing Gorky the artist from Gorky the publicist. Believing that only the leadership of Lenin could restrain peasant anarchism in Russia's current political climate, Gorky tempered but did not cease his criticism of the fledgling regime. In such accommodations are moral tragedies forged.

Gorky maintained his uneasy relationship with the Soviet regime throughout the 1920s. He did much good in his pursuit of enlightenment for the masses. From 1928 onward, however, accommodation for noble ends inexorably metamorphosed into complicity in unspeakable crimes. Early in the revolution Lenin had warned Gorky, "It is time that you realized that politics is a dirty business and you had better stay out of it." Far too late did Gorky comprehend that under Stalin politics was not only dirty but also inescapable. And what one man could carry a responsibility for the disasters of Stalin's rule?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Maxim Gorky. A Political Biograhy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?