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Mother: Maxim Gorky

“Immortal Classic of Maxim Gorky….To read Mother is to undergo a great emotional experience” – thus goes the back cover of this book. After reading this at the library of my Grandpa – I was tempted to bring this book among many others. I never knew this one before – after all Maxim is not as known as his ‘compatriots’ Tolstoy, Chekhov or Dostoevsky. The book, as it suggested, did not disappoint.

It begins with a vivid description of a daily routine of a workingman; the whistling factory would summon the workers who would drag their feet to work, they worked and cursed at the same time, the evening would throw the workers out of factories – like an ejected production – and the evenings, relief for the workers, was a nightmare for the wives as they awaited drunken and violent husbands. Occasionally a holiday would be respite but these days were rare. Thus lived Nilovna Vlasova and her son Pavel Vlasov. But Pavel was different.

He believed in reason over power of wealth. He was a Socialist fighting for the cause of the workingmen. He, like his fellow-thinkers believed that God is also forced to adorn falsehood – one goes to Church because Christ, who lived bedraggled, helps the poor but he wears gold. He reads, learns and understands. And in doing so he goes against the authorities, the Tsar, the police. As planned, with the courage to
sacrifice his love for a women, he unfurls the flag of workingmen on May, the first. For this he and his beloved Ukrainian friend among many others are arrested.

But is this the story of Pavel? Amidst all this rises the heart and soul of his mother, Nilovna. She understands that her life was a waste as she spent it in fear. She finds that this young generation has arisen: they are willing to die. She forgets her fear and joins the fight. Walking miles to distribute books, going to factory as a cook to spread the word, disguising as a nun, the Mother carries forwards the work of her only son.

The atmosphere is revolutionary. Even the nature mourns the death of these young like-minded revolutionists. The trees shed its leaves and the sky is unusually calm. Even the shadow near a bonfire quivers. But the hearts are strong. There are vivid and lucid descriptions about demonstrations, emotions, pain and sorrow. Personally, this book is worth a read.

Maybe one is not a Socialist but this book is not about socialism. It is about a mother’s love for her only son. The fear of living under Tsar and later Socialism is something that I cannot write at this moment and so I will differ on the views on Socialism and/or Communism until I have read Oscar Wilde’s ‘Soul of Man under Socialism’.

Trivia about this book: This book is based on real life of Pavel Zalomov and the factory described s very much inspired from Krasnoye Sormovo shipyards. The character of Mother is derived from many Zalomov’s and many other mothers. The town described resembles his birth place – Nizhni-Novgorod. The book was written in America and faced a lot of revolution in Russia. The first part was destroyed and the second mutilated. However the copies of this book were distributed secretly and were translated to many languages. Gorky, needless to say received a heroic welcome to his birthplace which was later renamed Gorky.

Categories: Classic, Maxim Gorky
  1. June 28, 2013 at 8:54 am

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