Maxim Gorky quotes

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Maxim Gorky

Birthdate: 16. March 1868
Date of death: 18. June 1936

Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method, and a political activist. He was also a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Around fifteen years before success as a writer, he frequently changed jobs and roamed across the Russian Empire; these experiences would later influence his writing. Gorky's most famous works were The Lower Depths , Twenty-six Men and a Girl , The Song of the Stormy Petrel , My Childhood , Mother , Summerfolk and Children of the Sun . He had an association with fellow Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov; Gorky would later mention them in his memoirs.

Gorky was active with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime, and for a time closely associated himself with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov's Bolshevik wing of the party. For a significant part of his life, he was exiled from Russia and later the Soviet Union. In 1932, he returned to the USSR on Joseph Stalin's personal invitation and lived there until his death in June 1936. Wikipedia

Photo: Unknown author / Public domain

Works

The Lower Depths
The Lower Depths
Maxim Gorky

Quotes Maxim Gorky

„Just as science is the intellect of the world, art is its soul.“

—  Maxim Gorky

Untimely Thoughts (1917-18) (original: Наиболее успешно и могуче будит в нашей душе ее добрые начала сила искусства. Как наука является разумом мира, так искусство — сердце его.)
Context: The good qualities in our soul are most successfully and forcefully awakened by the power of art. Just as science is the intellect of the world, art is its soul.

„Some one has to be kind, girl — some one has to pity people! Christ pitied everybody — and he said to us: "Go and do likewise!" I tell you — if you pity a man when he most needs it, good comes of it.“

—  Maxim Gorky

The character "Luka" in The Lower Depths (1902) English translation by Laurence Irving (1912)
Context: Some one has to be kind, girl — some one has to pity people! Christ pitied everybody — and he said to us: "Go and do likewise!" I tell you — if you pity a man when he most needs it, good comes of it. Why — I used to be a watchman on the estate of an engineer near Tomsk — all right — the house was right in the middle of a forest — lonely place — winter came — and I remained all by myself. Well — one night I heard a noise — thieves creeping in! I took my gun — I went out. I looked and saw two of them opening a window — and so busy that they didn't even see me. I yell: "Hey there — get out of here!" And they turn on me with their axes — I warn them to stand back, or I'd shoot — and as I speak, I keep on covering them with my gun, first on the one, then the other — they go down on their knees, as if to implore me for mercy. And by that time I was furious — because of those axes, you see — and so I say to them: "I was chasing you, you scoundrels — and you didn't go. Now you go and break off some stout branches!" — and they did so — and I say: "Now — one of you lie down and let the other one flog him!" So they obey me and flog each other — and then they began to implore me again. "Grandfather," they say, "for God's sake give us some bread! We're hungry!" There's thieves for you, my dear! [Laughs. ] And with an ax, too! Yes — honest peasants, both of them! And I say to them, "You should have asked for bread straight away!" And they say: "We got tired of asking — you beg and beg — and nobody gives you a crumb — it hurts!" So they stayed with me all that winter — one of them, Stepan, would take my gun and go shooting in the forest — and the other, Yakoff, was ill most of the time — he coughed a lot... and so the three of us together looked after the house... then spring came... "Good-bye, grandfather," they said — and they went away — back home to Russia... escaped convicts — from a Siberian prison camp... honest peasants! If I hadn't felt sorry for them — they might have killed me — or maybe worse — and then there would have been a trial and prison and afterwards Siberia — what's the sense of it? Prison teaches no good — and Siberia doesn't either — but another human being can... yes, a human being can teach another one kindness — very simply!

„There's a little book I'm thinking of writing — "Swan Song" is what I shall call it. The song of the dying.“

—  Maxim Gorky

Foma Gordeyev (1899) [also translated as The Man Who Was Afraid; the English music group Led Zeppelin would later name their record label "Swan Song".
Context: There's a little book I'm thinking of writing — "Swan Song" is what I shall call it. The song of the dying. And my book will be incense burnt at the deathbed of this society, damned with the damnation of its own impotence.

„There — you say — truth! Truth doesn't always heal a wounded soul.“

—  Maxim Gorky

The character "Luka" in The Lower Depths (1902) English translation by Laurence Irving (1912)
Context: There — you say — truth! Truth doesn't always heal a wounded soul. For instance, I knew of a man who believed in a land of righteousness. He said: "Somewhere on this earth there must be a righteous land — and wonderful people live there — good people! They respect each other, help each other, and everything is peaceful and good!" And so that man — who was always searching for this land of righteousness — he was poor and lived miserably — and when things got to be so bad with him that it seemed there was nothing else for him to do except lie down and die — even then he never lost heart — but he'd just smile and say: "Never mind! I can stand it! A little while longer — and I'll have done with this life — and I'll go in search of the righteous land!" — it was his one happiness — the thought of that land. And then to this place — in Siberia, by the way — there came a convict — a learned man with books and maps — yes, a learned man who knew all sorts of things — and the other man said to him: "Do me a favor — show me where is the land of righteousness and how I can get there." At once the learned man opened his books, spread out his maps, and looked and looked and he said — no — he couldn't find this land anywhere... everything was correct — all the lands on earth were marked — but not this land of righteousness. The man wouldn't believe it.... "It must exist," he said, "look carefully. Otherwise," he says, "your books and maps are of no use if there's no land of righteousness." The learned man was offended. "My plans," he said, "are correct. But there exists no land of righteousness anywhere." Well, then the other man got angry. He'd lived and lived and suffered and suffered, and had believed all the time in the existence of this land — and now, according to the plans, it didn't exist at all. He felt robbed! And he said to the learned man: "Ah — you scum of the earth! You're not a learned man at all — but just a damned cheat!" — and he gave him a good wallop in the eye — then another one... [After a moment's silence. ] And then he went home and hanged himself.

„Prison teaches no good — and Siberia doesn't either — but another human being can . . . yes, a human being can teach another one kindness — very simply!“

—  Maxim Gorky

The character "Luka" in The Lower Depths (1902) English translation by Laurence Irving (1912)
Context: Some one has to be kind, girl — some one has to pity people! Christ pitied everybody — and he said to us: "Go and do likewise!" I tell you — if you pity a man when he most needs it, good comes of it. Why — I used to be a watchman on the estate of an engineer near Tomsk — all right — the house was right in the middle of a forest — lonely place — winter came — and I remained all by myself. Well — one night I heard a noise — thieves creeping in! I took my gun — I went out. I looked and saw two of them opening a window — and so busy that they didn't even see me. I yell: "Hey there — get out of here!" And they turn on me with their axes — I warn them to stand back, or I'd shoot — and as I speak, I keep on covering them with my gun, first on the one, then the other — they go down on their knees, as if to implore me for mercy. And by that time I was furious — because of those axes, you see — and so I say to them: "I was chasing you, you scoundrels — and you didn't go. Now you go and break off some stout branches!" — and they did so — and I say: "Now — one of you lie down and let the other one flog him!" So they obey me and flog each other — and then they began to implore me again. "Grandfather," they say, "for God's sake give us some bread! We're hungry!" There's thieves for you, my dear! [Laughs. ] And with an ax, too! Yes — honest peasants, both of them! And I say to them, "You should have asked for bread straight away!" And they say: "We got tired of asking — you beg and beg — and nobody gives you a crumb — it hurts!" So they stayed with me all that winter — one of them, Stepan, would take my gun and go shooting in the forest — and the other, Yakoff, was ill most of the time — he coughed a lot... and so the three of us together looked after the house... then spring came... "Good-bye, grandfather," they said — and they went away — back home to Russia... escaped convicts — from a Siberian prison camp... honest peasants! If I hadn't felt sorry for them — they might have killed me — or maybe worse — and then there would have been a trial and prison and afterwards Siberia — what's the sense of it? Prison teaches no good — and Siberia doesn't either — but another human being can... yes, a human being can teach another one kindness — very simply!

„It is quiet and peaceful here, the air is good, there are numerous gardens, and in them nightingales sing and spies lurk under the bushes.“

—  Maxim Gorky

Letter to Anton Chekhov http://books.google.com/books?id=rXsdAAAAMAAJ&q="It+is+quiet+and+peaceful+here+the+air+is+good+there+are+numerous+gardens+and+in++them+nightingales+sing+and+spies+lurk+under+the+bushes"&pg=PA28#v=onepage

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