Gorky's "Mother": A Precursor of Socialist Realism Essay

Gorky's "Mother": A Precursor of Socialist Realism
An analysis of the elements in Maxim Gorky's novel "Mother" that mark it as a precursor of socialist realism.
# 154041 | 1,657 words | 23 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Oct 23, 2014 in Literature (Russian)


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From the Paper:

"Ever since the doctrine of "Social Realism" was first adopted in 1934 at the All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, Maxim Gorky's novel Mother has been hailed as the pioneering work of socialist realism and has even been dubbed "the socialist gospel." This is interesting in itself, but more so since the novel was published almost 30 years earlier, in 1906-07. The fact that Gorky wrote Mother nearly 30 years before the term "socialist realism" was invented would suggest that Gorky was ahead of his time. This raises several questions: What aspects of Mother qualify it as the "pioneering work of socialist realism?" How and to what extent did Mother influence the development of the idea of socialist realism and the works of other writers writing in the socialist-realist tradition and to what extent was it responsible for the wide acceptance of the doctrine of socialist realism by Russian writers and Russian society at large? This essay will attempt to answer some of these questions.
Gorky is generally credited with formulating the doctrine of social realism, although some attribute it to Stalin. In fact, in 1933 Gorky published a pamphlet entitled On Socialist Realism, in which he spoke of "a new direction essential to us--socialist realism, which can be created only from the data of socialist experience."In this pamphlet, he analyzed the role of Russian artists and writers in Soviet society and outlined the major principles of socialist realism. Gorkyplayed an active role in promoting socialist realism through the Writers' Union. The statutes of the Writer's Union defined socialist realism as follows:
Socialist realism, the basic method of Soviet artistic literature and literary criticism, demands truthfulness (pravdivost') from the artist and an historically concrete portrayal of reality in its revolutionary development. Under these conditions, truthfulness and historical concreteness of artistic portrayal ought to be combined with the task of the ideological remaking and education of laboring people in the spirit of socialism (Pravda 5/6/34).
Traces of this theme of truthfulness or pravdivost' can be found in Mother.For example, it is the truthfulness of what Pavel and his friends are saying that convinces the Mother that the cause for which her son is fighting is not dangerous or evil."

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