Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nemser, Alexander. "Low Truths." THE NEW REPUBLIC July 30, 2008.

Gorky's Tolstoy and Other Reminiscences: Key Writings By and About Maxim Gorky. Trans. Donald Fanger. New Haven: Yale UP, 2008. Literarily speaking, Gorky was never a true 'realist': inventing heroes who were better than life, he placed them in realistic settings and convinced his readers and himself that he was a "chronicler of everyday events." According to the poet Vladislav Khodasevich, "he himself half-believed in that half-truth all his life." Gorky had a tendency toward a broad, bright clarity that blurred life into myth. "In Gorky's books," Victor Shklovsky noted, "things take on an inflated quality without being enlarged out of proportion.... It's like a card game played by some officers sitting in the basket of an observation balloon a mile up in the air." . . . Gorky appeared bearing tales of hoodlums and tramps, but also scraps and pamphlets of anarchist ideas charged with revolutionary hopes. His financial support, much of which came from his own royalties, bolstered Lenin and the Bolsheviks from 1903 until their seizure of power in 1917. Wishing to believe all his life that human reality could be improved and even perfected, Gorky achieved a greatness that was ultimately social, not artistic; at his best he was a grand-scale inspiration for a worldwide cult of human progress and social struggle. He was a famously mesmerizing raconteur, but many who heard his stories in person were disappointed when they read them. He was himself attracted to power and the raw energy of self-assertion, and idolized men who tried to remake the world. . . . Read the rest here:

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