Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: Lower Depths - Maxim Gorky: ~~~The~Bitter~One~~~

About Gorky This great author had a very little formal education from school but his passion towards literature drove into the category of world famous Authors. Aleksey Makimovich Peshkov was born on 16th March 1868 in Russia at a place called Novgorod Nizhny. This place was latest renamed in his honor to Gorky. 

His father worked as a shipping agent at Astrakhan, but died when Gorky was just five years old. After that Gorky lived with his grandparents (maternal) who were very poor and used to be offensive with the little child. When Gorky was eight, his grandpa dropped him from school and put him to work. He was so inclined towards studies that he started learning from a fellow cook at work. Next few years were quite stressful for him and therefore at the age of 12, he ran away from his grandparent’s house. 

He worked at various places doing different jobs. During this period he chose a new name for himself as Maxim Gorky which means “The Bitter One” in Russian. At 21, he attempted an unsuccessful suicide which ultimately developed tuberculosis and damaged his lungs badly. Next few years he moved frequently from place to place and during this course of journey he go familiar with the lowest class of society comprising of prostitutes, thieves and similar characters. At 24 he got associated with several revolutionaries and emerged as an outspoken personality thereby getting popular in public very fast. He went to jail several times during this period and got few of his stories published in local newspapers mainly based on his experiences gained over these struggling years. 

Later he joined with Marxists to fight against Tsars of Russia. His major earnings became a source of funds for Marxists. He spent his last phase of life from 1922 to 1930 in Italy. In 1930 he returned to Russia and was greeted overwhelmingly. He died on 14th June 1936 at the age of 68. There is some controversy regarding his death, some say he died of illness while others say that he was ordered to death by Stalin My views about the Book titled – THE LOWER DEPTHS This was Gorky’s second play which he wrote in 1902 after the first one which was titled as “The Smug Citizen” which became very controversial at that period because of its content and outspoken nature of Gorky. 

The 'Lower Depths' was very successful and was produced at Moscow Art Theatre in the same year. The play is about some powerful characters based on his encounters over the years with various types of people he had known. It was a protest against the inhumanity in particular. 

This is a play in four acts having no solid plot but a series of sequences framed together. More emphasis is on characters, their thoughts and motives and how they act under certain circumstances. He made certain things in the play happen suddenly or shockingly. In first act the characters themselves narrate their past. Kostoloff is one of the characters who get murdered later. Pepel, Satine and Luka are other characters of the play. Ultimately the theme of the play is – All men live for “better” man everywhere in life and keep on working till they themselves become better men. 

This is a continuous cycle and at any time Men will be working for Better Man. Many of them die during the course of serving before reaching at the stage of becoming better man. Luka is one of the brightest character of the play different from all other characters. Endlessly optimistic he is and very much eager to talk always to everyone. He keep on questioning everyone and himself about the purpose of life, meaning of life. 

This too much probing nature of his causes his failures in life. Saaransh In real life if we see, everything is true what this play tries to tell. We all keep on working for “better man” and one day when we become “better man”, all men start working under us

The language and characters? The language is pretty cool. All non-English writers’ style is different than the English writers. You read any book of Gorky and you will find the language very simple, full of continuity and descriptive sort. You can compare the writing style of Gorky with MKGandhi. Regarding characters, well, I think, I have written enough there in my review already. When I kept the book aside, what were the questions or thoughts that occupied my mind? After I read the book, and kept it aside, it stayed shuffling inside me for 3 days. 

It kept me striking the questions like “meaning and purpose of life”, “if there is God, where and what form? And what does he expects from us?” etc. etc. And one more thing that strikes is the style of Gorky as usual, he writes so simple and perfect that each character and each incidence get absorbed so well inside you and not momentarily but forever. But all his books (or for sake any books) should be read in silence so that you listen to them well. And most importantly, what should you (even if oblivious to this writer and his works) expect from this book? You are unaware of this writer or his books, no worry. If you expect sincere writing, truth, an encounter with real life, real sort of characters, real incidences, simple English and above all if you seek certain answers to Life’s happenings, do read his all books.

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