Maxim Gorky was his pen-name. Alexei Maximovich Peshkov was Russian. The son of peasants, he became a novelist and playwright, a revolutionary and a member of the Marxist Internationalist Group. My Childhood (1913), the first installment in his autobiographical trilogy, reads like the most horrific family violence statement one could imagine. An unbelievably savage beating at the hands of his murderous grandfather puts the 5 year old protagonist, Alexei, into a near-death fever. For pages he lies unconscious, secretly nursed back to life by his grandmother. It would appear that she saved his life, by telling him stories.
This is what Gorky – a literary self, a child of story – had to say about the big three of the Self, Literature and Beauty:
“The purpose of literature is to help people to understand themselves, to inspire them with a yearning for truth, and to give them greater confidence in themselves; the purpose of literature is to combat human baseness, to reach the good in people and to waken in their souls anger and courage so that they may become noble and strong and be fired with the scared principle of beauty.”