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Maxim Gorky’s Romantic Hero: On the History of the Question. P. 103–111

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Section: Philology




Emiliya Ya. Fesenko
Severodvinsk Branch (Arkhangelsk Region) of Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov; ul. Karla Marksa 36, Severodvinsk, 164500, Arkhangel’skaya obl., Russian Federation;


This paper is devoted to the unique Russian literary process that took place in the early 20th century, with its urge to transform classical artistic methods and upgrade literary techniques, and, in particular, with Maxim Gorky’s aspiration to “depict extraordinary people” that are in some ways similar to the Nietzschean hero. The article turns to one of the most important problems of poetics of a literary work, i.e. the concept of a hero, and analyses Maxim Gorky’s writings of different genres: early romantic stories of the 1900s, the socio-philosophical play The Lower Depths (1901–1902), and the story Mother (1906). The paper studies the dual nature of Maxim Gorky’s personality (his “face” and “mask”) and his attitude to the problem of duality representing human “variegation”. In addition, the article provides various, at times contrary, interpretations of Gorky’s heroes by philosophers, Russian émigré critics and Russian researchers. Maxim Gorky’s romantic philosophy is introduced in a new type of hero, a kind of Nietzschean Superman with his tragic combination of pride and despair. The study reveals the philosophical problem of Gorky’s idea of “ultimate freedom” of a tramp hero with his existential longing and craving for freedom, as well as the solution to the “Dostoevsky question” about the “license to shed blood according to one’s conscience” in Mother. Further, a new type of hero is described, who was the forerunner of the hero of socialist realist literature in Soviet Russia. In addition, the paper presents the views of various researchers on the realism of Maxim Gorky’s works, “softened by romanticism”, on the “false freedom” of his tramps and the futility of their rebellion, as well as on the ethical maximalism and duality of Gorky’s humanism.


Maxim Gorky, concept of a hero, romantic philosophy, romantic hero, Nietzschean hero, duality
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