MAXIM GORKY Biography - Writers


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Maksim Gorky, also Gor’kiy, pseudonym of Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov (1868-1936),       
Soviet novelist, playwright, and essayist, who was a founder of socialist                 
realism. Although known principally as a writer, he was also prominent in the             
Russian revolutionary movement.                                                           
Gorky was born in Nizhniy Novgorod (renamed Gorky in his honor from 1932 to 1991),         
into a peasant family. He was self-educated. Compelled to earn his own living             
from the age of nine, Gorky worked for many years at menial jobs and tramped               
over a great part of European Russia. During this time he shot himself through a           
lung in an attempted suicide, later developing tuberculosis, which left him in             
ill health for the rest of his life. His pen name means “the bitter one” in           
Gorky's first short story was published in a Tbilisi newspaper in 1892, and               
thereafter he wrote stories and sketches frequently for publication in various             
newspapers. His collected Sketches and Stories (1898) was an instantaneous                 
success and made him famous throughout Russia. He had thrown off his earlier               
romanticism and wrote realistically although optimistically of the harshness of           
the life of the lower classes in Russia. He was the first Russian author to               
write knowledgeably and sympathetically about workers and such people as tramps           
and thieves, emphasizing their courageous fight against overwhelming odds. “Twenty-Six   
Men and a Girl” (1899; translated 1902), a tale of sweatshop conditions in a             
bakery, is considered by many his finest short story.                                     
In 1899 Gorky became associated with the revolutionary activities of the                   
Marxists, and in 1906 he went abroad to raise funds for the Russian Social                 
Democratic Labor Party. In 1907, because of failing health, he settled on the             
Italian island of Capri. He returned to Russia in 1915.