Gorky's Tolstoy and Other Reminiscences

Key Writings by and about Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky; Translated, Edited, and Introduced by Donald Fanger

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March 31, 2008
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300111668
Cloth

Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) enjoyed worldwide fame of a kind unmatched by that of any other writer in the first half of the twentieth century. Prodigiously gifted and prolific, riddled with contradictions, praised increasingly for political rather than literary reasons, he left a vast body of writing that contains acknowledged masterpieces alongside many currently neglected works that still await impartial assessment.

 

Taken together, the pieces in this book (many of them based on fuller texts than those of previously published translations) present a surprising and unfamiliar Gorky—a figure who, once the clichés are stripped away from him, becomes ever more fascinating and enigmatic as man, as writer, and as historical figure. Among the volume’s selections are portraits of Gorky by four particularly astute observers: poet Vladislav Khodasevich, critics Boris Eikhenbaum and Georgy Adamovich, and novelist Evgeny Zamiatin.

 

Fanger’s generous annotations and brilliant introduction will make this book indispensable to every reader with an interest in Tolstoy, Gorky, modern Russian literature and politics, or the art of the memoir.

Donald Fanger is Harry Levin Professor of Literature Emeritus, Harvard University.  His previous books include Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism and The Creation of Nikolai Gogol.  He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Fanger’s Introduction is splendid, judicious, stimulating, and elegantly written. He explores and illuminates the many dark corners in the troubling and even tragic life of the extraordinary Gorky, so acute an observer, yet often so blind.”—­Hugh McLean, University of California at Berkeley 

“Was Gorky a dissident, a witness, a martyr, a collaborator, simply a survivor? His biography and reputation were badly in need of a new synoptic look, and Donald Fanger has crafted a fascinating multi-dimensional portrait of him, both as subject and object.”—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

"This book is a treasure chest of brilliantly told and revealing anecdotes. Donald Fanger’s English translation is so wonderfully readable that it is hard to believe these pieces could be any more effective in the original Russian."—David Lodge, novelist, critic and Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, England

"[Gorky's] memoir of Tolstoy is the centerpiece of Donald Fanger's fascinating new volume of translations. The memoir, which Fanger translates for the first time in its entirety, is torn-edged, surprisingly vicious, unpredictable, and empathic to the point of being almost an X-ray of a spirit. [It is] composed of forty-four fragments recording anecdotes and quotations, as well as an unfinished letter written on the eve of Tolstoy's death."—Alexander Nemser, New Republic

"Fanger does a superb job not only in editing and annotating the volume, but also in translating it. His prose is more than 'readable,' as one editor's blurb correctly notes, for examination alongside the Russian originals reveals great creativity behind the elegance." —Charles Rougle, Slavic and East European Journal
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