There are books in every language that are landmarks, even turning points, in the history of the literature in that language. Such a book for Russians is Maxim Gorky’s Mother, for, though it was written ten years before the establishment of Soviet power in Russia, we count it the first stone laid in the foundations of Soviet literature. Mother was first published in Russia in 1907, When Gorky wrote it he was a mature craftsman, fully aware of his historical mission. He was, at that time, almost forty years old. For fifteen years he, had devoted himself to literature and public activities. He had already written novels, stories and plays that had brought him international recognition.
For his political activities and close ties with the Bolshevik Party he was persecuted by the Tsarist government. More than once he was arrested but this did not deter him. During the Russian revolution of 1905 that is, two years before Mother came out in Russia first met Vladimir Lenin, who was to become his great friend. His vagabond roving in Russia in the nineties of the last century, his social awareness and his revolutionary prescience enabled him to see and understand Russia as few of his contemporaries were able to at that time.
He was overwhelmed by the vastness of his native land arid by the beauty and variety of its scenery, and at the same time he was appalled by the ignorance, poverty and needless suffering of his countrymen. The social awareness in all of Gorky’s work was not exceptional in Russian literature. It is to be found in the works of the poets among the Decembrists, whom Gorky called the first generation of Russian revolutionaries These poets, participants in the uprising against the monarchy and serfdom which took place on December, 1825, were republicans at heart and looked upon their creative efforts as a means of serving the people and support them.
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