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Gorky portrayed the bitterness of the oppressed and exploited people of Russia and demonstrated a proud defiance against organized, respectable society.He often found strong elements of humanity and individual dignity in even the most brutalized and demoralized of these "down-and-outers." His sympathy for the underdog made him known as a powerful spokesman for the illiterate masses--their sufferings and their dreams of a better life.Almost completely self-educated, at the age of 16 Gorky tried without success to enter the University of Kazan.
During this same period Gorky began writing plays and formed close connections with the Moscow Art Theater, which in 1902 produced his most famous play, The Lower Depths.
It shows the misery and utter hopelessness of the lives of people at the bottom of Russian society and at the same time examines the illusions by means of which many of the unfortunate people of this earth sustain themselves.
He rebels against his family and his class, but he is lacking in moral fiber, and in the end the forces of tradition defeat and destroy him.
In this novel and all his later works, Gorky identified himself as being a bitter enemy of capitalism and depicted the society of prerevolutionary Russia as drab and dreary.
During the 1905 Revolution, Gorky was again imprisoned for writing proclamations calling for the overthrow of the Czar's government.
In 1906 Gorky left Russia illegally and went to America to raise funds for his fellow revolutionists and spent most of the year there, where he wrote the novel Mother.Foma Gordeyev (1899) established Gorky as a major novelist.It is the story of a well-intentioned but weak man who feels disgust, boredom, and guilt as the inheritor of a profitable family business.Coloured by poverty and horrifying brutality, Gorky's childhood equipped him to understand - in a way denied to a Tolstoy or a Turgenev - the life of the ordinary Russian.After his father, a paperhanger and upholsterer, died of cholera, five-year-old Gorky was taken to live with his grandfather, a polecat-faced tyrant who would regularly beat him unconscious, and with his Coloured by poverty and horrifying brutality, Gorky's childhood equipped him to understand - in a way denied to a Tolstoy or a Turgenev - the life of the ordinary Russian.(The third volume, My Universities, was published in 1922.) Gorky's autobiography is his finest work, describing dramatically and colorfully the people he knew and the adventures he had from boyhood to young manhood.It paints a fascinating picture of the Russia of his times.Maxim Gorky, whose real name was Aleksei Maximovich Peshkov, was born on March 16, 1868, in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod, which in 1932 was renamed Gorky in his honor.His father, a cabinetmaker, died when Gorky was 4 years old, and the boy was raised in harsh circumstances by his maternal grandparents, the proprietors of a dye works.My Childhood, the first volume of Gorky's autobiographical trilogy, was in part an act of exorcism.It describes a life begun in the raw, remembered with extraordinary charm and poignancy and without bitterness.