Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky

The name ‘Maxim Gorky’ means a lot to lovers of Russian culture. Gorky became famous at the turn of the 19th century as the author of realist novels, short stories and dramas with a focus on the harsh reality and tragic lives of ordinary people in tsarist Russia. Gorky, a fierce opponent of the tsarist regime, was very close to Lenin and other Russian revolutionaries. Gorky’s works are known all over the world, and he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature five times. Universities and cities, trains and planes were named after him in the Soviet Union, and the number of his works in circulation was 242 million copies!

Maxim Gorky’s main address in Moscow is the museum dedicated to him on SpiridonovkaRussian: Спиридоновка Street. The museum features original interiors, with the dining room, library, bedroom and study still as they were. One of Moscow’s most exciting museums (not only owing to Gorky), the building and interior of the Gorky Museum is a masterpiece of Russian Art Modern architecture built by F. Schechtela Russian architect, the most influential and prolific master of Russian Art Nouveau and late Russian Revival.

Gorky’s addresses in Moscow

МХАТMaxim Gorky is, in fact, a pen name made up by Gorky himself, whose real name was Alexei Maximovich Peshkov. He was born on 16 (28) March, 1868 in the town of Kanavino in the Nizhny Novgorod provinceRussian: Nizhegorodskaya guberniya or Нижегородская губерния. His father, Maxim Peshkov, managed a steamship company in Astrakhana city in southern Russia. Maxim Gorky wandered a lot in his early years. He ran away from his grandfather’s house on several occasions and left for good at the age of 17. Gorky’s first story Makar ChudraRussian: Макар Чудра was published in 1892, but his creativity reached its peak at the turn of the 19th century. His Essays and Short Stories, The Song of the FalconRussian: Pesn o Sokole or Песнь о Соколе, The Song of the Stormy PetrelRussian: Pesn o Burevestnike or Песнь о Буревестнике, and the novel Foma GordeevRussian: Фома Гордеев were published at that time. In 1901, he also wrote his renowned play The Lower DepthsRussian: Na dne or На дне .

Дом Ярошенко. Угол Подколокольного и Хитровской площадиThis play about life in the slums was staged at the Moscow Academic Art TheatreRussian: Moskovskiy khudozhestvennyi akademicheskiy teatr or Московский художественный академический театр (usually abbreviated as MHATRussian: МХАТ) (3, Kamergersky LaneRussian: Kamergerskiy pereulok or Камергерский переулок). While rehearsing, the actors visited restaurants in the KhitrovkaRussian: Хитровкa area, a Moscow neighbourhood notorious for its night shelters and rookeries. One of the best-known addresses associated with Gorky’s play is Yaroshenko’s night shelterRussian: nochlezhnyi dom Yaroshenko or ночлежный дом Ярошенко (11, bldn.1, Podkolokolny LaneRussian: Podkolokolnyi pereulok or Подколокольный переулок). This ancient mansion was inhabited by commoners who led utterly miserable lives there, along with scribes of theatrical roles, whom the MHAT actors as well as V. Gilyarovsky, a well-known Russian writer and journalist, visited to discover the everyday life of ragamuffins. They also visited the notorious tavern KatorgaRussian: traktir «Katorga» or трактир «Каторга», located at the corner of the Yaroshenko’s house, which was known as a den for thieves and convicts on the run.

1965_image4_sAt the time, Gorky used to visit the publishing office of Ivan Sytinhe built the largest publishing house in pre-revolutionary Russia’s newspaper Russkoye SlovoRussian: Русское слово. This spectacular Art Nouveau building constructed between 1904 and 1906 by Adolf Erichson can still be seen today. In Soviet times, it was one of the buildings relocated as part of the Tverskaya Street reconstruction project (18b, Tverskaya StreetRussian: Tverskaya ulitsa or Тверская улица).

On 21 February, 1902 Gorky, already a well-known playwright and writer, was elected as an honourary member of the Imperial Academy of SciencesRussian: Imperatorskaya akademiya nauk or Императорская академия наук. However, the tsarist government revoked the decision, whereupon Anton Chekhov and Vladimir Korolenkoa Russian and Ukrainian short story writer, journalist, human rights activist and humanitarian resigned as members of the Academy. Gorky’s revolutionary activity reached its peak in 1904 and 1905. He wrote a proclamation related to “Bloody Sunday” (the shooting of a peaceful demonstration in St. Petersburg) on 9 January, 1905 resulting in Gorky’s arrest and imprisonment in the Peter and Paul fortressRussian: Petropavlovskaya krepost or Петропавловская крепость, where he spent several months. In November 1905, Gorky joined the Social Democratic Party and took part in revolutionary street fights in Moscow.

1967_image6_sDuring the Russian Revolution of 1905a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire, some of which was directed at the government, Gorky and his common-law wife, actress Maria Andreyeva (Yurkovskaya), rented a room in the luxurious Hotel PeterhofRussian: gostinitsa «Petergof» or гостиница «Петергоф» (4, Vozdvizhenka StreetRussian: ulitsa Vozdvizhenka or улица Воздвиженка). The insurgents set up their headquarters in Gorky’s apartment, with an onsite weapon workshop, managed by Leonid Krasin who would later become a prominent Soviet state and party leader. In later years, Andreyeva wrote about this time as follows: “I had a laboratory to produce the so-called Bulgarian bombs. The laboratory occupied the room… behind Alexei [Gorky]’s study, accessed only through the study. Alexei Maximovich was passionate about birds and always kept them at home, wherever he lived, so there was a cage with all sorts of birds taking up the whole window, this is why this room was called the bird room”. The bombs were stored in the same room, and “not only Alexei Maximovich but the entire site could be blown up because quite a heap of these bombs piled up in the room”, Andreyeva added.

The apartment was guarded by a squad of Georgians “armed with revolvers, dynamite and bombs”, who participated in street fighting. “They have already fought three times, and each time with considerable success,” Gorky wrote, himself actively engaged in the uprising. He wrote appeals, raised money, and obtained weapons and materials for the printing office. Today, this building houses the reception office of the State Duma of the Russian FederationRussian: Gosudarstvennaya duma Rossii or Государственная дума России.

Gorky lived abroad between 1906 to 1913 due to an illness. He returned to St. Petersburg on the eve of 1917 and, in 1921, emigrated to the island of Capri (Italy), where he spent several years. One of Gorky’s addresses in Moscow at that time is Gribov’s tenement houseRussian: dokhodnyi dom Gribovykh or доходный дом Грибовых on Chaplygina Street (1, Chaplygina StreetRussian: ulitsa Chaplygina or улица Чаплыгина). This beautiful neo-Classical building designed by G. Gelrich in 1911, was inhabited in Soviet times by renowned scholars, including biochemist A. Bakh, historian Y. Gauthier, doctor N. Gamalea and others. Gorky’s wife Ekaterina Peshkova and his son Maxim lived in this house, where Gorky met Vladimir Lenin on 20 October, 1920. The plaque on the building says: “Alexei Maximovich Gorky stayed in this house during his visits to Moscow between 1915 and 1929”.

Gorky returned to the USSR as late as 1928 on Stalin’s invitation. Every Russian seemed to come and give Gorky an enthusiastic welcome at the Belorussky railway stationRussian: Belorusskiy vokzal or Белорусский вокзал in Moscow (7, Tverskaya Zastava SquareRussian: ploschad Tverskaya Zastava or площадь Тверская Застава). In October 1932, Gorky returned to the Soviet Union for good.

1968_image7_sThe Government granted Gorky the Ryabushinsky mansionRussian: osobnyak Ryabushinskogo or особняк Рябушинского in Moscow (6, Spiridonovka Street) as well as summer residences in GorkiRussian: Горки and TeselliRussian: Теселли (Crimea). Gorky lived in his Moscow mansion until 1936, and it was here that he received Stalin, head of NKVD Genrikh Yagoda and French writer Romain Rolland. Today, the building houses the Maxim Gorky MuseumRussian: muzey M. Gorkogo or музей М. Горького, which recreates the authentic interiors in the Russian Art Nouveau style by F. Schechtel.

In 1934, Gorky chaired the 1st Congress of Soviet Writers held in the Hall of Columns of the House of the UnionsRussian: Kolonnyi zal Doma Soyuzov or Колонный зал Дома Союзов (1, Bolshaya Dmitrovka StreetRussian: ulitsa Bolshaya Dmitrovka or улица Большая Дмитровка). That congress suffered the same sad fate as the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, with 220 out of over 300 of its participants being repressed in subsequent years. At the Congress, Gorky urged writers to be “reformed into people worthy of the great era”.

Along with the heritage of world-famous people and great museums, there are many attractions in Moscow, which are not so popular, but still very remarkable. Beautiful temples in the Orthodox style, the unusual architecture of the Russian Middle Ages or the recent Soviet era, ballet and drama theaters – on our website you can learn more about sightseeing Moscow.

1969_image8_sThroughout this period, Gorky actively supported Stalin’s policy on social transformation, wrote laudatory articles about the Soviet state, and contributed to a book entitled Stalin White Sea–Baltic CanalRussian: Kanal imeni Stalina or Канал имени Сталина, which was about the construction of the canal using forced labour of prisoners. Gorky, together with other USSR leaders, is responsible for the political repression and the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance typical of the USSR in the 1930s. Gorky’s expression “if the enemy refuses to give up, he is to be destroyed” has become proverbial. Participants of military parades on Red Square saw Gorky standing next to Stalin on the stand of the Lenin MausoleumRussian: Mavzoley Lenina or Мавзолей Ленина.

Литературный институт им. ГорькогоThe Literary InstituteRussian: Literaturnyi institut or Литературный институт (25, Tverskoy BoulevardRussian: Tverskoy bulvar or Тверской бульвар) was founded on Gorky’s initiative in 1933. The institute is located in the area near Tverskaya Street in the city estate dating back to the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Institute was named after Gorky, following his death. Many Soviet writers graduated from this university, known as the Soviet literary “talent pool”.

Maxim Gorky died on 18 June, 1936 in the suburban sanatorium in Gorki (the settlement of Gorki LeninskiyeRussian: Горки Ленинские, Leninsky DistrictRussian: Leninskiy rayon or Ленинский район, Moscow RegionRussian: Moskovskaya oblast or Московская область) where Vladimir Lenin also spent the last years of his life. Today, this settlement contains the large-scale Vladimir Lenin MuseumRussian: muzey V.I. Lenina or музей В.И. Ленина. At Gorky’s funeral, his coffin was carried by Soviet leaders Stalin and Molotov, and upon his cremation, the ashes were placed in an urn which was installed in the Kremlin wallRussian: Kremlyovskaya stena or Кремлёвская стена on Red Square in Moscow.

Monuments to Gorky

1970_image9_sThe popular Culture and Relaxation ParkRussian: Park kultury i otdykha or Парк культуры и отдыха (9, Krymsky ValRussian: Крымский вал) was named after Gorky, just like Moscow’s main thoroughfare, the present-day Tverskaya Street. It was renamed in Gorky’s lifetime “to mark the 40th anniversary of his literary and social activity”. TverskayaRussian: Тверская Moscow Metro Station was also called GorkovskayaRussian: Горьковская before 1990. A monument to Gorky by Vyacheslav Klykov (1987) still stands in the hallway between Tverskaya and ChekhovskayaRussian: Чеховская Metro Stations.

You can see another monument to Gorky in the Muzeon Park of ArtsRussian: Park iskusstv «Muzeon» or Парк искусств «Музеон» (1, Krymsky Val). This monument by sculptor Vera Mukhinaa prominent Soviet sculptor and architect A. Zavarzin stood on the square in front of the Belorussky railway station in Moscow. On 11 January 1956, a monument to Gorky, also created by V. Mukhina, was unveiled in front of the Institute of World LiteratureRussian: Institut mirovoy literatury or Институт мировой литературы located in the house which belonged to the Gagarins (25a, Povarskaya strRussian: ulitsa Povarskaya or улица Поварская.)

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