My Childhood

the-childhood-of-maxim-gorkyBy Maxim Gorky.

After reading this autobiography you can’t help but have a new respect for Gorky. His domestic circumstances were absolutely unbelievable – but the narrative is still given in a very matter-of-fact way. Nobody is all one thing – each person is capable of kindness and evil. That Gorky emerged out of this cyclical poverty is due to his personal qualities and incredible luck. What does shine through the abject hopelessness is Gorky’s humanity. He still believes in people despite how he has been treated. His grandfather, who beats him as well as everyone in the family and is miserly and cunning, is also capable of emotion and Gorky has a few moments where they share a common understanding. Every character is the same – imperfect. But Gorky takes something from each moment and remembers these and sets them down thrity years later. This is maybe one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. There doesn’t seem to be much pride – everything is stated as remembered with no filter. This is the first part and I am going to have to read the final two parts.

Gorky was supposedly a friend of Stalin and he did intercede on behalf of many people with Stalin and Lenin. I wonder how he could have justified the actions of Stalin in later years… Gorky did die in mysterious circumstances before the beginnings of the 1938 purges – so perhaps he didn’t realise the extent of Stalin’s madness and cruelty. Or, perhaps he still believed the elements of humanity he had seen in Stalin would overcome the evil – that good would prevail. At the end of the penultimate chapter Gorky says the following:

Life is always suprising us – not by its rich, seething layer of bestial refuse – but by the bright, healthy and creative human powers of goodness that are for ever forcing their way up through it. It is those powers that awaken our indestructable hope that a brighter, better and more humane life will once again be reborn.

This is probably the answer. Gorky hoped things would get better.

Soundtrack: The American Analog Set – The Kindness of Strangers.

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