Anatol Lunacharsky

Maxim Gorky

Written: 1932
Translator: Y. Ganuskin
Source: A. Lunacharsky: On Literature and Art Progress Publishers, 1965
Transcribed: Sally Ryan for, January 2002.


FORTY years in the literary career of a great writer will always cover a large area on the ever-growing map of world culture. It is only at a distance that such a mountain range can be evaluated as a whole.

The results and full significance of Maxim Gorky's work as concerns our epoch and Russian and world culture as a whole, and his relative place on the great map of human achievement will only become clear at a future date. All the more so since the mountain range that is Gorky has not yet been completed, and we hope to see him grow most wonderfully and gigantically for many years to come.

And yet, forty years is a long time. When a person who has worked for forty years looks back from the vantage point to which life has brought him he sees a long and winding river whose source appears as remote as ancient history, while the ribbon itself acquires an integral significance which such a person wants to discover and establish for himself, and sometimes for others as well.

It was approximately after forty years that Goethe, for instance, felt the irresistible need to comprehend the meaning of his life and his work and tell others about it.

I do not know whether Gorky now has a desire to embark on a similar preliminary summing-up of everything he has experienced and accomplished.... He is not devoid of an inclination to autobiography, and it is responsible for a number of books which are truly the pride of Russian literature.

Neither does Gorky lack a sense of retrospection, for what else is the great structure of Klim Samgin if not a very original panorama, a sum-total of his recollections in the course of several decades?

But we cannot wait until Gorky himself gets down to writing his Dichtung und Wahrheit.

The golden bell of the grand fortieth anniversary is ringing, reminding us literary critics of the great Marxist-Leninist school that we as yet do not have a major work which would at least present a series of clear, concise photographs from all the chief angles of the mountain range Gorky has erected in forty years.

Such a work must be written. It must be written soon. I do not know whether this should be done by an individual or by a group of authors. At any rate some preliminary work has been done.

I am far from the thought of presenting in this article, which finds the allotted space too restrictive, a sketch or outline of this likewise preliminary Marxist book on Gorky.

I am merely pointing here to the far horizon, where Gorky's might mountain range rises above the sea level, above the glades and the forests. I am merely pointing most sketchily to its vital foundation, to the elemental deposits from which it "grew".

I am merely drawing an outline for the reader to help him recognise the profile of the mountains lost high in the clouds.


Perhaps the great majority of outstanding literary phenomena and significant writers appear as a result of major social changes, of social catastrophes. Literary masterpieces mark these changes.

Lenin, in his magnificent works on Tolstoi, which no Marxist literary critic can afford to ignore, defines the basic elemental, social, unavoidable reason for Tolstoi's appearance, for the existence of Lev Tolstoi per se, for the scope of his talent, his triumph in Russia and throughout the world, for the immortality of his artistic achievement and the poverty of his philosophical and social ideas: this was the colossal catastrophe which shook Russia at the time. The old Russia of peasants and landowners was perishing under the pressure of the relentless onslaught of capital.

The Russian peasant was the hero and, unfortunately, the passive hero of this terrible bloody and tear-drenched drama.

There arose then a great cloud of tears, grief, moans, destitution, cries of despair and anger, passionate, heart-wrenching bewilderment, a searching for a way out; a fiery question mark rose over the land as a terrible nightmare: where was one to find the truth?

While tormenting the peasants, this crisis dealt the landowners a terrible blow as well, sending them down to the bottom. All the old ways began to shake, as things do in an earthquake.

And a man came forth whose background, education, culture, sensitivity and gift for writing made him capable of transforming the peasants' grief and the peasants' bewilderment into works of art. This man was a landowner, and, therefore, there were many scenes of aristocratic life in his works, although the peasant spirit predominated and the peasants' suffering dominated the Count's every thought. This did not divert Lenin's keen insight to a superficial evaluation of Tolstoi as a writer of the nobility. No, Tolstoi's fiery revolutionary spirit, ready to sweep away thrones, altars and the nobility itself, was not of the nobility; nor of the nobility was the essentially noxious and most harmful spirit of submission, patience and non-violence, which for centuries had been the faithful helpmate of every executioner in the heart of the peasant himself.

In like manner, Maxim Gorky signifies a tremendous step forward in the history of our country at a later date.

The bourgeoisie came to power, it asserted itself as the dominant class, though it still shared its power with the lions of the nobility. But these were new noblemen--the very same ones whose first representatives Tolstoi described with such loathing in Anna Karenina.

On the whole, the moneybag now ruled the country. However, it only fulfilled its rather relative cultural and economic role to a very small degree. It was carnivorous and grasping. Naturally, it created something, but; it destroyed much more.

The historical experience of other countries and its own instincts indicated that the stylish European parliamentary dress which fitted the foreign big bourgeoisie so well was not made for it. And though well-fed Russian capitalism would from time to time mutter something unintelligible about a constitution, it relied above all on the gendarme and the priest.

Nevertheless, this capitalism, which oppressed the country both by its maturity and immaturity, was dangerously ill. It was grieved. It was tortured by terrible premonitions. It was full of fear and divarication. It had its connivers, its oppressors and pessimists, but all of them carried the stamp of doom on their faces. This giant in golden armour, but weak of heart, had not been born to a long and happy life.

The further growth of capital continued to oppress the villages mercilessly. But it was not their groans that filled the new and powerful artistic organ and the many organ pipes of the young Gorky.

His social standing made him more familiar with the stagnant, swampy, tortured society of the city petty bourgeoisie, gripped as it was by rigid routine and overflowing with strange characters.

They were Gorky's first subjects. He chose as his theme one of the city's strangest phenomena, the tramps, and then, in time, turned to the proletariat.

As we listen keenly to Gorky's music, from its very inception, we can but laugh as we reject the superficial and, I would say, silly little theories that Gorky was a writer of the lower middle classes.

Following in Lenin's giant footsteps, we can say that Gorky's indomitable, turbulent, rainbow-bright joy of life, which burst forth from his very first lines, was not of the lower middle classes. Nor is his merciless indignation at the ruling evil of the middle class; nor is his firm belief in man, in his mighty culture, in his coming victory; nor is his bold call for courage and his stormy petrel, heralding the coming revolution, of the middle class. None of this is of the lower middle classes--all is of the proletariat.


The social change which gave birth to Tolstoi, and which can be defined as the destruction of old Russia by the swift advance of capitalist industry, was a change that was one-sided and irreparable.

Tolstoi made his ideological escape from his class, which was doomed by history, to the peasantry. But there was no way out for, the peasantry, either. It was only much later that a way out would be found for the impoverished peasantry, and only the victorious proletariat would be capable of showing this way to it.

One can rightly say that the proletariat, as such, did not exist for Tolstoi. The revolutionary democrats, representatives of the progressive peasantry, and their great leader Chernyshevsky, appeared in a distant haze as dim but most unpleasant silhouettes. He considered them to be children of the same Satanic city, madmen who wanted, by using violence to quench violence, to further increase the hellish confusion of the advancing pseudo-civilisation and who strove in vain to tempt the simple folk by their crude promises of plunder, distribution and the false carnal sense of well-being.

The change of which Maxim Gorky was born was, on the contrary, of a dual nature and provided a way out.

Though the full, leaden weight of capital had descended upon the country, this great mass, as we stated previously, had already begun to crack, an indication of its impending doom. Even in literature the triumph of capitalism was reflected not so much in triumphant songs as in a groaning and creaking, while such portrayers of life in a capitalist society as the seemingly capable and observant Boborykin began their descriptions of capitalist life with its inherent defects, crashes and inner doubts.

Is it not strange that in all of Russian literature it is difficult to find a writer at all famous who might be called the bard of capitalism? I believe that Pereverzev's attempts to delegate this place to Goncharov are most unsuccessful.

Capitalism, on the other hand, had its own proletarian lining on which history was later to base all of society.

True, that which the chief literary giant of the epoch, Maxim Gorky, found most obvious was yet another side of capitalism. As we have already noted, the discordant, wretched howling of the suffering lower middle classes, over whose bones the capitalist chariot was rolling just as it was rolling over the bones of the peasantry, was the first wild, spontaneous dissonance of which the mighty chords of Gorky's rage were born.

Yes, Gorky came to literature dressed in peasant boots and a peasant shirt, tuberculous, yet mighty, having drunk deeply of the cup of grief, yet yearning for happiness; he came to the sunny offices of the magazines which were salon editions compared to his native cellar, to tell the full and terrible truth about the "moles" and their blind, filthy, horrible life. This was Gorky's great mission, this was his great speech of indictment. This determined his biting, sarcastic, merciless realism.

Gorky condemned Luka (Lower Depths) as a man who consoles the suffering by hastily stuffing their mouths with a narcotic pacifier of lies. Gorky did not want to lie to the poor, whom he considered to be his brothers, as "Chizh who lied". In his absolute honesty Gorky rejected the false solace, "the exalting deceit" which at times seemed to be on the tip of his pen. This honesty, this courage was the quite subconscious reflection in his early writings of the approach of a new type of music: the march of the advancing proletarian battalions.

Who knows but that, if spring and revolution were not in the air as a result of the increasing numbers and growing social consciousness of the workers, Gorky would not have fallen a victim to the blackest pessimism? We know that he was dissatisfied with the frayed idealism of the Narodniks. And does not his pen-name, Gorky, [Bitter in Russian-Tr.] seem a threat to pessimistic moralising?

One thing certainly could never have happened to Gorky. No matter how much soot from the iconlamps and the various strange religious fantasies had accumulated in the middle-class cellars where he had spent a part of his life, he had quickly developed an immunity against "God" in all shapes and forms.

It is much easier to imagine Gorky as the prophet of dark despair, cursing an ill-starred humanity, than as a saint a la Tolstoi, with a saintly halo above his shaggy head and his hand raised in blessing.

However, Gorky, who spoke to the Russian reader in his deep, muffled voice of the terrible life of the poor, and whose stories were at times unbearable in their intensity, did not strike the reader as being bitter.

Why was this so?

Because Gorky's pockets were full of golden, carmine and azure pictures and fairy tales that were full of a rather naive romanticism, but heroism as well. And even in the magnificent and realistic Chelkash, which brought the author great fame, this gold, carmine and pure blue of man's true dignity, of the clear clarion protest of magnificent heroic spirit, illuminate Chelkash's shaggy head, his bronzed chest and rags.

Gorky soon threw off his fairy-tale plumage, but the heroic protest was becoming ever more a part of the truth of life, and thus Gorky's chords, Gorky's harmony and Gorky's symphony were created.

Lev Tolstoi could not draw upon a heroic protest, a call to a struggle enlightened by hope from the lords and ladies of his circle, nor from the peasants of the village of Yasnaya Polyana.

And no one anywhere in the terrible blackness that was Russia, none of its artists could draw upon it. The intellectual novels of the 1860s, grouped around the great What Is To Be Done?, appear as a faint promise of the future, but more as monuments of a premonition than true calls to action.

The author of nearly thirty volumes under the general heading of The Collected Works of Maxim Gorky is none other than our dear, good friend Alexei Maximovich Peshkov.

But not even in his own heart could he find the fiery ink with which he wrote so many of these pages. He dipped his pen in the fountain of life which had its source in the incoming tide of the revolution.

That is why we see behind the great, vital and dearly beloved figure of Alexei Peshkov a co-author, the monumental figure of the proletariat, whose mighty hand rests gently on the shoulder of the man who became its spokesman.


Tolstoi undoubtedly loved Nature. And very much so, indeed. Much more than the average man, for did he not understand so perfectly the psychology of animals? He loved Nature with every fibre of his soul, with every sense, with every pore. Tolstoi was an inveterate hiker, a horseman until he was eighty, for many years a dedicated hunter, a man who lived mostly in the country; he was, to a very great extent, a man of Nature.

Only such a man could have created a type such as Yeroshka. And can one ever forget the great little old man at the seashore whom Gorky portrayed? One must add a hatred of the city. There is so much of this scornful hatred in the famous beginning of one of Tolstoi's novels which describes the way people choked down the living earth beneath their cobblestones and how it stubbornly sent up green shoots through the stones.

Nevertheless, Tolstoi the writer, Tolstoi the ideologist does not like Nature: he is not only indifferent to it in his own way, but he is afraid of it, he practically hates it.

He is prepared, if the worst comes to the worst, to accept Mother Earth, since it can be ploughed and the ripe ears can then be reaped for man's meagre daily bread, but that is all. For what is Nature? This brightness of day and charm of night? These flowers, sparkling in every hue, their aroma intoxicating? This play of elemental forces which calls upon one to live, to fight, to seek pleasure, to multiply, as the animal world lives, finds pleasure, fights and multiplies, but more wisely, i.e., more forcefully and consciously? What is Nature then? It is temptation! It is a mirage! It is difficult to believe that God could have created this. God has for unknown reasons sown our souls as a myriad of sparks into the luxuriant and evil world and has set these souls a task: not to be tempted, to live a pure life and return to Him, the source of the spiritual fire, cleansed of the filth of contact with Nature.

This is less the peasant than the Asiatic attitude towards Nature, imposed upon the peasantry from Asia, and one which Tolstoi, despite his flaming sensuality and his sensitive genius, tried to adopt and called upon others to adopt.

That is why Tolstoi is so sparing in his descriptions of Nature. If you do come upon a few landscapes in his works, they seem to have been done at random and rather grudgingly.

The few exceptions merely prove the rule.

Now recall Gorky's descriptions of Nature!

Though it weeps and rages and inflicts pain upon man, this is not the impression one carries away. What remains is an elemental grandeur, a great, and, I believe, despite Turgenev, incomparable variety of landscapes unequalled in Russian literature.

Gorky is truly a great landscape painter and, more important, a passionate landscape lover. He finds it difficult to approach a person, to begin a story of a chapter of a novel without first glancing at the sky to see what the sun, the moon, the stars and the ineffable palette of the heavens with the everchanging magic of the clouds are doing.

In Gorky we find so much of the sea, the mountains, forests and steppes, so many little words he invents to describe it! He works at it as an objective artist: now as Monet, breaking down its colours for you with his amazing analytical eye and what is probably the most extensive vocabulary in our literature, now, on the contrary, as a syntheticist who produces a general outline and with one hammered phrase can describe an entire panorama. But he is not merely an artist. His approach to Nature is that of a poet. What if we do not actually believe that a sunset can be sad, that a forest can whisper pensively, that the sea can laugh! Indeed, they can do all this; it is only when man will become a dry old stick (and he will never become one) that he will stop seeing in the forces of Nature a magnificently delicate and enlarged version of his own emotions.

In order to create Nature's majestic and beautiful orchestrations for his human dramas, Gorky uses most skilfully the frailest similarities and contrasts between human emotions and Nature, which at times are barely discernible.

Those who will doubt the truth of this and think that I am too lavish in my praise of Gorky, the artist and poet of Nature, should pick up any volume of The Life of Klim Samgin and reread the pages which create a background of Nature for the human drama.

But why does Gorky devote so much space to Nature? And does this prove that he is a proletarian writer? How much of Nature does a worker see? Do not the brick factory walls conceal it? Has it not been exiled from the workers' barracks, from the workers' settlement?

Gorky, the proletarian writer, loves Nature for the very reason the old peasant writer Tolstoi does not and is afraid to like it.

We have already said that Nature calls upon man to live, struggle, enjoy life and multiply, but more wisely, i.e., more forcefully and consciously than the animal world.

According to Tolstoi and Christianity, this is temptation, it is Satan's trap. And both the feudal landowning and capitalist systems of the world have proven that, indeed, this principle of life and struggle, no matter what creative force it develops, what sciences it calls to its aid, what arts it adorns itself with, can lead only to sin and filth, to moral death of some as the oppressors and others as their victims.

But it is at this point that the proletariat disagrees with history, it is at this point that it wants to change the course of humanity.

The proletariat says: Yes, Mother Nature, our great, wonderful, merciless and blind Mother, you are right; your world and your way of life is good. They will become a supreme good, surpassing all our hopes in the hands of a wise, united mankind, in the hands of the universal commune which we shall achieve, which we shall build, sparing no effort at all. And we know how to win it, how to build it. And then, what a true paradise you will be, Nature, for the new and wonderful man the future will produce. That is why we love you, Nature.

"And that is why I love it," says Gorky.


The very same difference exists in Gorky's and Tolstoi's attitudes towards man. Certainly, Tolstoi loves his fellow man. This love for his fellow man may be considered the chief commandment of his teaching. But this is a strained sort of love. According to it, one must not love man as a whole, but only "God's spark" that lies hidden within him. And one must love only this "spark" within oneself as well, only one's own power to believe and to love. In this respect Tolstoi is a true proponent of the teachings of some Asiatic gnostic, philotheistic, etc., theories.

Tolstoi's man is made of two men: one born of God, the other of Satan. He who perhaps is often endowed with a beautiful body immortalised by sculpture, he whose breast harbours the gentlest emotions and fiery passions, which find expression in music; he whose head contains that most amazing apparatus, a brain, which has created such miracles of science; he who wants happiness for himself and for others, implying by happiness the fulfilment of the ever-growing demands of the rich human body and the human collective--that man is born of Satan, Tolstoi does not love him, he is afraid of him; he has cast him aside, because he sees him as the victim of a terrible social system and, at the same time, as the one responsible for this system; because in the future he sees no happiness for this man, but only an increase in the greedy oppression of capitalism, the state and the Church, and the useless bloody revolutions.

That is why Tolstoi's love went to the other man: the quiet, meek little angel, the passionless, incorporeal and kind one with ever-tearful eyes, everthankful to dear God.

While still living on earth this man, this Abel, can cast off all of Cain's magnificence, all of culture, and divide the land up into tiny gardens, he can grow cabbages there, eat them, fertilise his garden and plant some more cabbage, and thus, sustaining himself self-sufficiently and ever so sweetly, he will have no need for his neighbour, except for soulsaving talks or mutual prayer. Gradually, according to Tolstoi, marriages will cease between these little fools (that is how he fondly though seriously calls them, viz., the tale of their kingdom); the human race will blissfully die out, having fulfilled its mission and, washed clean of all the passions of terrible matter, it will return to the source of the spirit.

Such a love for man is more terrifying than any hatred and we Communists consider Tolstoi's teachings to be but another variety of the old Asiatic poison which crippled man's will.

Goethe confessed that he hated the sign of the Cross. Many of the best representatives of the young bourgeoisie shared this view. With even greater vehemence we hate and reject Christianity and all the teachings which paved the way for it, and any of its distillations which the decadents of all colours are busy with to this day.

Gorky, on the other hand, loves man in his entirety. It is Gorky speaking when Satin says: "How proud the word rings--MAN!"

Gorky knows that people can be mean and foul and these are the people he hates. But he knows that these are ignoramuses, that these are freaks, that these are mere scabs on the beautiful tree of human life.

Moreover, he knows that there are still very few really great men, pure of heart, courageous and wise, that there are practically no perfectly wonderful people.

But this does not keep him from loving his fellow man with a feeling that is true love and to have real faith in him, a faith born of knowledge.


And now we come to the question of Tolstoi's and Gorky's attitudes towards progress.

Here the two writers have much in common. Tolstoi came through his sufferings to despise patriotism, royalty, the nobility, the feudal past and all its remnants.

Gorky can be said to have been born with this burning disgust.

Tolstoi came to hate capital with a truly great hatred and would not be bribed by the glitter of European culture, but, after visiting Europe, he returned full of rage, having seen quite clearly all the black lies that lay beneath the surface of life with its marble and tapestry drapes.

Gorky, too, became a sworn enemy of capital from his earliest youth. And neither was he fooled by America's Yellow Devil, and he spat gall and blood into the face of the bourgeois la belle France.

Tolstoi saw every manifestation of cowardice, gross drunkenness, petty chicanery, the spider-like cruelty of the petty townsfolk--and of the peasantry to a very great extent as well.

And Gorky, too, driven by horrified curiosity, likes to dig up the Okurov dens and bring their filth to light.

Nevertheless, Tolstoi drew the line here: having washed all that he considered to be a superfluous accumulation from the visage of the old peasantry, he restored the saintliness of the forefathers, the saintly Akims, with their eloquent ineloquence, the fairy-tale-like patriarchs who would give to poor mankind "grain as large as hen's eggs".

Tolstoi built his mystical cabbage heaven for mankind on the myth of the saintly peasantry, on the myth that hidden in each muzhik was a saint that could not wait to pop out of him.

Gorky, too, nearly drew the line at the little man, but he searched among them for large and proud specimens, for the nuggets in the gold ore. He felt they were to be found where life's waters washed ashore all that seemed most unsuitable to it, there on the bottom, among the outcasts, among the wolfmen, the unruly protestants, individuals who were not shackled by property and morals, giants of antisocial behaviour, instinctive anarchists.

But Gorky did not stop for long at this extremely anti-Tolstoian stage of development.

There followed Gorky's natural merger with the proletariat and its vanguard, the Bolsheviks.

This great event was marked in literature by many magnificent works, among which Enemies, Mother and The Life of Klim Samgin are most notable.

Herein, naturally, lay the reason for the great difference in Tolstoi's and Gorky's attitudes towards mankind's cultural treasures.

There is undoubtedly much truth in Tolstoi's invective against bourgeois science and bourgeois art, but he has cast out the child with the bath water. And the child, no matter how badly brought up by the ruling classes, is nevertheless hardy and viable.

If people of the old tenor of life, whom Tolstoi joined, regard science and art suspiciously and have no use for technical progress, the proletariat, on the other hand, accepts them enthusiastically and takes them for its own. It knows that only under socialism can science develop and culture flourish.

Gorky knows this, too. I believe there are very few people on earth who are so inspired by the achievements of science and art and who await new miracles with such anticipation.


The proletarian writer rises to his full height in Gorky the publicist.

We will not analyse this aspect of Gorky here. It is a significant part of the writer's work, an integral part of his forty years of writing.

It rises as a watchtower and bastion against the background of his mountain range.

Even writing from Western Europe, Gorky the publicist has taken it chiefly upon himself to ward off the treacherous blows against the communist cause, inflicted by fear and hatred.

Gorky often disregards a public or even official blow, or snap of one of his many poison-pen correspondents; they circle like a cloud of gnats above his head.

His replies usually deal a moral mortal blow to the inquirer.

On the whole the greater part of Gorky's journalism can be collected and issued as an impressive and forceful well-argumented volume entitled On Guard of the U.S.S.R.


However, there is more than "gnats" buzzing about Gorky's head.

Thousands upon thousands of news items reach the writer's sensitive ears. He keenly absorbs books, magazines and newspapers, he listens to people and has at his disposal an amazing store of knowledge about what is going on in the Soviet Union and in the hostile world that surrounds it.

There is not much he can do for the rest of the world, though he cannot lose sight of it for a moment. However, the news that reaches him from the Soviet Union is not stored away in the vast chambers of Gorky's erudition. It must all serve the cause.

Here Gorky can lend a helping hand.

His aid is undoubtedly valuable as a collector of the achievements of our vast building programme, for instance the magazine Nashi dostizhenia (Our Achievements).

But this is not his true calling.

And he knows it.

What we need are major literary works. What we actually need is great literature. We do not have it.

And he knows it.

It would be a great undertaking to win over the old writers, among whom there are many talented men and skilled craftsmen, to throw bridges over to them and help them overcome the various inner barriers which prevent them from understanding and accepting our great times. And Gorky can undoubtedly play a tremendous role in this respect.

But our power does not lie in this.

Our power is not to be found in the yesterday, but in the future. Our basic strength lies in the young growth. Without for a moment forgetting our daily tasks and our own work, we must give very much of our attention to our wonderful youth.

The Party delves deep into it to find its cadres.

It is just as understandable that we must delve into it to find our artistic cadres and our writers as well. It is quite understandable that this is a vital detachment of our Soviet creative army.

Ever since the now deceased Valery Bryusov noted so correctly that an artist of the written word, just as any other artist, must possess beside his talent both skill and a cultural background, something is constantly being done to promote such study. But what is being done is done timidly, lacking generosity and vitality.

There are many amateur literary circles, but things are apparently moving too slowly there.

And especially disappointing was the insufficient attention the young leaders of proletarian literature paid to Lenin's great behests on learning from the vast culture of the past.

The dialectics here are very refined: since one must study critically, it means one must study and criticise! If you begin to study without a critical approach or with an insufficiently critical approach, you will find yourself among the epigoni. If you begin to criticise without sufficient learning to back you up, you will not become a one hundred per cent proletarian Wunderkind, but Saltykov-Shchedrin's "Neuvazhai Koryto". Pdany were the times that, in my capacity as editor of encyclopaedias, magazines and collected works, I came upon such dim-witted criticism. And when you attempt to arouse in such a young, and at times very sincere and sympathetic "critic", a feeling of respect for some great writer of the past, he will drop a rather heavy hint about the mistakes of some "venerable old" Bolsheviks.

It is time to put an end to such things.

We must be able to understand, finally, how we must learn the old skill, how we must analyse the old cultural treasures with true understanding and respect, which in no way precludes but merely presupposes criticism.

In no way is this limited to the literary and other artistic models of the past; this has bearing on the great philosophy of the past, this is especially relevant to science. A young writer should not shun anything, he should strive to achieve the greatest amount of learning, he should not be limited by ignorance when he undertakes to portray life in a new way for hundreds and thousands of readers.

In a recent letter to Romain Rolland Gorky referred to the young writers by saying, "What they lack is culture."

The reader of this article might say, "The author's last statement is probably right, but it has no direct bearing on the subject."

He will be wrong.

In the first place, all that I have written of the necessity of our young writers to acquire a cultural background are things I have read in Gorky's works or heard Gorky say.

Secondly, we can expect real help from Gorky as an organiser in this respect. He can not only convince our young people of the necessity of acquiring a cultural background. They already agree to this and indeed wish to acquire such a background, but do not quite know how to go about it.

No single man, however, is equal to the task.

Even Gorky cannot do it alone. But he can head a group of people who are well suited for the job, who will be entrusted with developing a plan for the tremendous cultural advance of the young writers towards that great socialist literature we all strive for.


We hope Gorky will give us the promised volumes of Klim Samgin and other brilliant works of fiction.

We hope he will raise high his sword and shield as a publicist many times over, defending our cause.

Such are our wishes on the fortieth anniversary of the great writer's literary career.