Archive for Mother

Maxim Gorky’s ‘Mother’ — a review

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , on November 25, 2008 by Umer

Kazim Aizaz Alam

“Mothers are hardly ever pitied,” wrote Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) in his landmark novel Mother around 100 years ago. The novel is about the pre-revolution proletariat of Russia and focuses on the role women played in the struggle of the Russian working class on the eve of the revolution of 1905. Maxim Gorky, who was persecuted by the tsarist government and forced to live abroad for his ties with the Bolshevik Party, was moved by the brutal social and economic disparity that existed in Russian society during the tsarist government.

The novel is based on two actual events — the May Day demonstration of workers in Sormovo in 1902 and the subsequent trial of its members. The protagonist, Pelagea Nilovna, is the mother of Pavel Mikhailovich, the novel’s hero. She gives the book the name of Mother. At the outset of the novel, Pelagea is no different from the rest of the workingwomen of Russia who toil in factories throughout the day and put up with wife-beating men at night. For 20 years, she lived a miserable life with her husband Mikhail Vlassov, a bad-tempered misogynist, whose passing away didn’t sadden anyone.

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