Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, primarily known as Maxim Gorky, was a Russian author who wrote during the realist era. His writings mainly focused on political topics and strongly opposed the Tsar, which was uncommon for writers of that era. Some other peculiar features of Gorky’s works included the fact that, beyond being politically unique, they were simply considered “strange” for his time period.
Gorky, by many authors is currently considered a Marxist Feminist, because a lot of his works hinged on the idea that for women to truly be equal to men, they would have to first revolt against the government and eradicate capitalism in its entirety. Only then would they be able to free themselves from the oppression of society. This idea was prevalent in his short story titled “Mother”, where he discussed the role of women, especially the elderly, in revolutions.
I don’t wholeheartedly agree with the idea that Gorky was a Marxist-Feminist, because in a lot of his stories, such as “Twenty-six Men and A Girl”, Gorky seems to emphasize the idea that women will always be considered inferior to men, no matter what sort of world we live in.
Here’s an excerpt of the essay that I wrote on this topic:
Gorky shows that even in a world where men are working and a girl has the freedom to visit them every day, she will still be objectified by them and has no capacity to be subject to change. This idea is shown when Gorky talks about the perpetual state of the world in his stories, with phrases that reference the fact that the world is going nowhere, and that people being stuck in their professions and social classes is always inevitable. This is a rather large contrast from Marxist-feminism because here Gorky is accepting the fact that women will never be accepted as equals to men, rather than encouraging them to reject capitalist ideals because that is what is imprisoning them in reality.
The Gorky stories that I read included: Twenty-six Men and A Girl, Karamora, Notch, and The Affair of The Clasps. I also read one of Gorky’s essays titled “Soviet Intellectuals”, which discussed the conflict between the bourgeois and the proletariat, which were the two largest social classes at the time. He also impressed upon the reader the importance of perspective- the contrast between a hummock view and a point of view.
All in all, Gorky was one of the most unusual writers of his time where he voiced unpopular opinions and criticized governments and their ideals, and although his writing was under wide criticism, some of his ideas did shape literary history.
If you would like to read these stories, you can purchase them here: The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky