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SUPERBOOK: The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 12:55 IST

The Collected Short Stories of Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Price — US$ 20.95
Publication — Citadel Press

Since I literally grew up on Russian fairy tales it is not that unusual for me to have a certain fondness for Russian literature even today. And I find that I have, over the years, graduated from believing in Baba Yaga, the witch, to being enchanted by the beautiful, heart wrenching prose of Alexi Maximovich Gorky.

Most have heard of Maim Gorky in relation to his famous socialist novel Mother. But in comparison to his short stories I found Mother a little devoid of emotion. Those who have read his collection of short stories will understand what I mean. What struck me most in the collection was the melancholy that pervades them.

The story of the boy and the girl taking refuge from the rain in One Autumn Evening, the breakdown of a beautiful relationship in Twenty Six Men and a Girl, or the resigned poverty in Hobbgoblins.

Indeed it is the three or four pages long One Autumn Evening that has etched itself so deeply in my mind, that I can consider it to be one of the best short stories I have ever read. Many will find a quaint resemblance between the writings of Gorky and Dickens.

Though they were not writing at the same moment, they were writing of similar situations. A lot many of us might even be able to identify with the characters. And their misery becomes ours. The magic of Gorky lies in creating everyday situations and characters.

Simple people and a tale of their life can touch us in ways others won’t. Gorky understood that. There are no definite end to his stories. Just a feeling of hopelessness and resignation. And at times a drizzle of kindness that lights up the evening sky. That is the Gorky I know and love.